Bontrager Ballista Helmet Review

 

Since the beginning of this year I have wanted to try an aero road helmet.

It seemed to be a logical concept. Why not make a helmet as aero as possible for road racing. For various reasons, I didn’t pull the trigger on purchasing any of the offerings that were on the market in early 2015, and then with the pro cycling spring classics, we got to see Trek Factory Racing sporting a new Bontrager Aero helmet. I bet on the fact that this would be released to the public later in 2015 and I bet right!

Here is my Bontrager Ballista helmet review!

Ballista helmet review

The Bontrager Ballista successfully mixes aero and good ventilation

By late July, Bontrager was ready to release the Ballista helmet. I stopped by my local Bontrager dealer and they happened to have snagged a matte black version of the helmet. I tried it on at the shop and was surprised at how comfortable it was.

Ballista Helmet Review

The Ballista has a comfortable and secure fit.


I expected the Ballista to be a clunky helmet compared to my Bontrager Velocis helmet that I have been using all season. The Velocis weighs in at a scant 224g in size medium.  While the size large Ballista was 70g more than the Velocis, it didn’t seem to be the difference that I expected.

 

My real concern in purchasing the Ballista or any other aero road helmet was that of ventilation. I was worried that much like a TT helmet, the Ballista would not be good at ventilation and that his would be the major trade off with a standard helmet.

Bontrager Ballista Helmet Review

The Ballista helmet channels a high volume of air over the head to keep you cool!

Well I took the Ballista home with me and put it to the test. I tried it in all sorts of conditions. The fit was a little different than I was used to. The helmet comes down around your head, more so than just sitting on top of your head. That meant that the front came down closer to my brow line and the sides were almost touching the tops of my ears. Still, it was comfortable.

Bontrager Ballista helmet review

The Ballista wraps around the side of the head to push air smoothly around your ears

But how would it be to wear during hot days and muggy rides? Well, I took it out on some of those days we get in south central Pennsylvania when it’s 90+ degrees and 80% humidity and you start dripping sweat just thinking about going for a ride. The kind of days when your kit is sopping wet at the end or a ride like you rode through a rain storm because the air just won’t take any moisture away from you.

Bontrager Ballista helmet review

Three large front vents allow a large amount of air to flow directly over the head to keep you cool and pushes the rest of the air smoothly around your head, where it all meets up at the back of the helmet with minimal turbulence.

Well I was surprised how well the vents on the Ballista worked. There are three big vent intake holes on the front of the helmet and these channel the air over your head and out the back of the helmet. I really liked how they worked. I used the helmet on a warm and sticky day to pre-ride the state championship TT course and chose to wear the Ballista instead of the Velocis or my TT helmet and I was really surprised how much better the venting was than my TT helmet.

I used the helmet on many other occasions in the heat and did not experience any feeling like I was overheating from trapped heat in the helmet.

I liked the Ballista in several criterium races that I raced as well. As a bigger rider, I am looking for any aero advantage I can find to help even the playing field to the smaller guys who I am always sticking up above when in the peloton.

If you are considering this helmet, I would say that unless you live in extremely hot climates or want to have a super light helmet, this is certainly a helmet that could be a good all-around helmet.

I did not find any significant detractors from using this helmet for most racing or everyday riding and training. If you like to spray water on your head from a bottle, you will probably find the helmet too closed to accommodate this, but otherwise, I like the aero advantage over the increase in weight.

I also believe that this would make a great helmet if you didn’t want to have multiple helmets but regularly compete in time trials or triathlons where an aero advantage is even more appealing than road racing.

Thanks for reading my Bontrager Ballista helmet review. I hope you’ve found it helpful, but if you have any questions, leave a comment and I will answer them as soon as I can. If you’re looking to improve your cycling, or want help with your training or reaching your goals, head over to my coaching and training plan page.


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