Louis Garneau’s Course helmet doesn’t look particularly aero but the company claims it slices through the wind even faster than the very aero-looking Giro Air Attack. Aero claims aside, it’s also a good road helmet overall, with a sleek and comfortable fit, outstanding ventilation, and reasonably light 263g weight.
- Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, looks good, excellent claimed aerodynamic performance
- Cons: None
Thus far, aero road helmets have mostly been touted as compromise manifested in Styrofoam – you can go faster but you'll probably be hotter, too. The Louis Garneau Course, however, is superbly ventilated, with almost completely unobstructed access to incoming air facilitated by the scoop-like reinforcement cage, enormous exhaust ports, and deep channels running fore-aft to stream cooling breezes across your noggin.
Even on the hottest summer days, we noticed a healthy flow of air at moderate to high speeds. However, the plentiful open areas on the Course also allowed heat to escape from our heads during long and arduous climbs on roads fully exposed to the midday sun.
Fit is impressively comfortable, too, with a middle-of-the-road ovoid headform coupled with generous padding and a highly tunable Spiderlock Pro II retention system. Height can be adjusted quickly but not on the fly, while the circumference is tweaked via the single dial out back, which can easily be twisted with one gloved hand.
Generous padding contributes to the impressive comfort
We also found the Course very durable, with nearly every bit of exterior foam covered with the in-molded microshell. The retention system is virtually indestructible regardless of how carelessly you stuff the helmet into a suitcase. We did suffer one broken strap divider but Louis Garneau insists that our test helmet was a pre-production sample and that all the consumer lids use more heavily reinforced bits.
Visually, the Course offers a very low profile fit that hugs your head all round and omits the swept-back, anime-style tail typically found on road helmets in recent years. In fact, in most respects the Course looks downright normal. As it turns out, though, it’s that trim shape that’s largely responsible for the purported aero performance, combined with how airflow is managed through the helmet's interior.
Get used to seeing clipped-off helmet tails like the one used on the Course
Claimed time savings are certainly interesting – 2min 40sec over a ‘regular’ road helmet on a 40km (25-mile) time trial when traveling at 45km/h (28mph), and nearly two minutes over a less ventilated – and goofier-looking – Giro Air Attack in the same conditions.
Are those aero claims too good to be true? Maybe, and maybe not – unfortunately, we weren’t able to independently verify or refute the numbers in a wind tunnel. Even if the Course is only half that fast, though, the fact that you get free speed from a helmet that's airy, fairly light, comfortable, and good looking – heck, there's even a blinky rear light included – means the potential time savings are merely icing on an already tasty cake.