Aero - a word bandied about as the springboard to all of your cycling-related aspirations. An abbreviation for aerodynamic, in cycling aero encompasses your riding position, bike, and any modifications to specific components in order to reduce the amount of air resistance (or drag) generated as you ride - with the aim, obviously, of going faster. Very sciencey stuff.
Although these items, (apart from riding position, which is trained), can be purchased individually to make you more aero, getting aero isn't just one thing - It's a delicate balance of a number of factors - each of which make little difference on their own.
A popular upgrade for those looking to shave off precious seconds, or even minutes depending on the distance, is an aero helmet - first made popular by Ironman competitors who are instantly recognizable in their crop tops and, ahem, these:
When worn correctly, these puppies can save a pro athlete more than 4 minutes off their time over 180km. This might not seem like much, but when winning is synonymous with paying your bills - I guarantee you'll take it. Like all modifications though, it comes at a cost. In this case, the very real potential of cooking your brain due to the lack of cooling and airflow.
Enter the everyday aero road helmet - a shorter, stumpier version of its pointy cousin. These new forms of aero wizardry have opened the door to a market which is growing by the day and worn by professional roadies and Commuter Cup competitors alike. Each of the major manufacturers has one, with a different 'air tunnel tested' method of maintaining the most important qualities of aerodynamics while still allowing a bit of air flow. Here are some of our favorites:
For those that like to alternate between casual and beast modes, Kask's approach to their new aero helmet involves a unique sliding section which can means vents can either be covered or open, depending on the activity.
2. Giro Synthe
The Giro Synthe offers a balance between ventilation and aerodynamics - not by covering the vents but by changing the size and shape of them, channelling the airflow through enlarged vents and tested in wind tunnels.
Another example of altering the size, shape, and position of vents in order to channel air aerodynamically (rather than cover the vents completely), the Evade may be odd looking, but the jet intakes up the top and 'exhaust ports' at the back mean maintaining airflow while in the aero position.
A bit spacey looking, and definitely on the closed-in end of the aero spectrum, the POC Octal Aero boasts a single forehead vent to direct airflow through the helmet and out the does an admirable job of pulling air through the helmet and out the large exhaust port at the back.
A different approach, again for those wanting the best of both worlds, the 'aeroshell' is a removable and form fitting cover that clips onto your (Lazer) helmet snugly, blocking the vents to achieve that aerodynamic airflow.
NOTE for Australian cyclists:
As shown in this article, Australia has the most stringent rules regarding helmet use and standards. If you are investing in a new helmet for racing purposes, always make sure it meets Australian Standards - particularly if you purchase online.