After months of teasing and testing with its Trek Factory Racing road team, Bontrager has officially tossed its hat into the aero road helmet arena with the new Ballista. Some might feel that the shape is somewhat derivative but Bontrager says it works, offering wind tunnel-proven aerodynamic benefits plus excellent ventilation.
As with many other aero road helmets, the Ballista sports a trim and tightly fitting profile that tapers down dramatically out back. According to Bontrager, testing at the Low Speed Wind Tunnel in San Diego, California has shown the Ballista to be faster than key competitors such as the Specialized S-Works Evade, Giro Air Attack, and Louis Garneau Course.
Bontrager has finally entered the aero road helmet market with the new ballista: bontrager has finally entered the aero road helmet market with the new ballista
Bontrager says its new Ballista is the fastest aero road helmet around
Aero road helmets aren’t solely about going fast, though. If they were, we’d all be racing in full-blown TT lids.
Bontrager says the Ballista is also very well ventilated with three centrally placed vents up front to suck in air plus deep internal channeling and generously sized exhaust ports to help that air pass through unencumbered. There’s plenty of space in between the browpad and forehead as well – an area BikeRadar has found to be critically important not only for keeping your head cool but minimizing the amount of sweat that drips down into your eyes.
Low-speed ventilation looks to be quite reasonable, too, with louvered upper vents that apparently have minimal effect on drag at higher speeds but let hot air escape upward when laboring on slower and steeper climbs.
Six exhaust ports out back help air flow freely through the interior of the bontrager ballista: six exhaust ports out back help air flow freely through the interior of the bontrager ballista
There’s actually quite a lot of room for air to move around inside the new Bontrager Ballista aero road helmet
Other features include Bontrager’s Headmaster II retention system with easy one-handed operation and adjustable height, standard antibacterial pads plus an alternative (included) ‘NoSweat’ set that incorporates a strip of silicone rubber designed to help channel sweat off to the sides of your forehead, lightweight webbing, and compatibility with the company’s rather neat NeoVisor add-on brim.
Bontrager will offer the Ballista in small, medium, and large sizes in its standard ovoid shape plus three ‘Asian fit’ sizes for riders with rounder heads. Actual weight for a standard, CPSC-approved Ballista in size small is 253g.
One of the keys to a well ventilated helmet is lots of open space around the brow, which the bontrager ballista has in spades: one of the keys to a well ventilated helmet is lots of open space around the brow, which the bontrager ballista has in spades
Lots of room between the forehead and helmet bodes well for airflow, too
Retail price is US$175 / £160 / €240 / AU$200 and Bontrager says the standard-fit Ballistas will be available in stores beginning in July in four styles: black, white/silver, hi-vis yellow and Trek Factory Racing. Two Asian-fit sizes will follow in October in black and Trek Factory Racing in select regions. BikeRadar has already been testing one for the past few weeks, however, as part of a wider-reaching aero road helmet shootout. Stay tuned for the results shortly.