With aero road helmets quite popular in the pro peloton and interest increasing from riders the world over, it was only a matter of time before Italian brand MET joined the fight for aero supremacy. At the Tour de France, MET has not one but two new aero road helmet models, the Rivale and the Manta.
The Rivale is more vented and designed for for aero efficiency and comfort, while the Manta is aimed at sprinters, offering bigger aero gains at high speed.
Both the Rivale and Manta are noticeably more compact than rivals from Specialized, Kask, et al. The Rivale is quite shallow at the crown, where the long, front-facing vents end. MET claims the Rivale will save you 3 watts at 50kph, with the design based on pulling air through the large front vents and out of the rear exhaust vents.
It's not just aerodynamics that MET concentrated on; the company also incorporated its own HES construction method to help disperse the force of an impact in the event of a crash instead of restricting it to just the point of impact.
The Rivale also debuts a new retention system called Safe T Advanced (surpassing their previous top-line Safe T smart). It's 25% lighter than before but using a softer material and a larger cradle surface area with more ventilation, all claimed to improve comfort. The dial on the cradle offers 2mm per click of incremental adjustment and four positions of vertical adjustment too. Bound to this are new, lighter straps.
The new MET Rivale
For those who like to ride when the light fades, the Rivale will have an aftermarket USB-charging LED rear light that fits into the retention systems dial.
Usually on aero helmets the penalty is increased weight over a standard road lid, but the Rivale tips the scales at just 230g for a medium which puts it right on the money weight-wise.
The closed-design Manta is even more impressive in the weight stakes with the medium tipping the scales at just 200g. By our reckoning that’s the lightest closed aero design on the market.
The Manta shares the HES construction, new retention system, lighter straps plus the light-compatible dial as seen on the Rivale, but it gains a fill second set of pads made from hypo-allergenic biomedical gel, which MET claims helps keep you cooler, are more durable and won’t get smelly like a traditional material pad-set.
The new MET Manta
As for its aero credentials, MET claim the Manta gives a 10-watt saving at 50kph, significantly higher than its stablemate.
At the Tour de France, the Rivale also formed part of sponsored team MTN-Qhubeka’s Mandela Day celebrations, with the whole team wearing a special orange Mandela edition version for Saturday's stage, which was won in spectacular fashion by Britain’s Steve Cummings. It was Cummings' first Tour stage, and MTN-Qhubeka’s first in the Tour too.
The team is auctioning off these special-edition helmets, signed by the riders, to benefit the Qhubeka Foundation's goal of putting 5,000 African schoolchildren on bikes. Qhubeka is the South African brand of World Bicycle Relief.
The Rivale is set at £110 / €130€ / US$190 for the Rivale, and the Manta at £170 / €200 / US$250.