A helmet is different from all other gear. For starters, you wear it every single time you ride. What other piece of gear is that true of? Maybe sunglasses, but even then, those are removed in dark woods, or at dusk. A helmet though stays on, all the time. If you're moving, its on your head. Doesn't it make sense then that you pay attention to what kind you're putting onto your head? After all, it IS providing you priceless safety in the event of a crash...
In January of this year, we got a Bontrager Ballista. Now, there is nothing conventional about the Ballista which is fairly clear the first time you look at it. There aren't a massive smattering of vent holes all over it, nor does it curve nicely around the back of the head. It's sort of oblong shape will throw off some and make it perhaps a less desirable option when browsing for a helmet. But, of course, like everything else Trek does, there is a very specific reason for it.
A third party did a test of helmet performance across of a variety of variables, but namely focusing on aerodynamics and venting. Of those helmets tested, the Ballista outmatched them all taking the top ranking for having both excellent aero properties while venting exceptionally well. With those results fresh on my mind earlier in 2016, I took the plunge and ordered one.
The question that comes up frequently these days is: aero helmet, or not? To me, the choice is simple. If I'm going to be uncomfortable in a helmet, and notice it/be bothered by it, no aero advantage will be worth that. But if it offers me free time savings simply by wearing it and isn't uncomfortable, then heck yeah let's get some free speed!
The very first thing I noticed putting it on hundreds of riding hours ago, was its weight. It felt impressively light given how smooth the top material is, and how few vents were present. The dial in the back secures the helmet well and there are a lot of different positions the helmet can be secured in, making for a nice custom fit that I loved. Given it was winter, I was looking forward to it blocking a bit more wind than a traditional fully vented helmet and it did just that. The real test was going to be the opposite though; once the weather heated up, how would it vent?
Well the weather turned and the temperature rose. A lot. It's been a super hot summer, and riding around with the Ballista has been absolutely fantastic. There are internal channels that funnel the air from the front vents straight over the head, clearing the heat out and keeping the head nice and cool. On high speed descents you can really feel it in action to!
The road was great, but I was wondering how hot, slow, humid, wooded mountain bike races would go. I tried it out at the Iron Mountain 100k, and had absolutely no complaints. With long, technical climbs, I spent a lot of the day barely moving and yet I never once thought about my head getting hot.
And that's when a helmet is perfect right? When the data shows it's aerodynamic, it fits you well, and you never think about it. Great job Trek, I love this helmet.