Outlandish cycling helmet design under review by governing body

CNNOnlookers have likened a new bulging cycling helmet to something out of Star Wars, while others just think it’s plain ugly. But a leading cycling team hopes that its futuristic-looking design will lead to a “big improvement” in time trial performance.

That is as long as the design passes a review by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s global governing body.

Team Visma-Lease a Bike riders debuted the large helmet at the Tirreno-Adriatico prologue in Italy on Monday. Manufactured by Giro, the Aerohead II helmet has a sizeable front end and is almost as wide as a rider’s shoulders.

Although the outlandish design has prompted comparisons to stormtroopers and aliens on social media, Visma-Lease a Bike hopes that it will make riders faster in time trials

“The collaboration with Giro has been without any boundaries, we are really happy,” Paul Martens, the team’s head of rider apparel, said in a video on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Of course, the appearance, you already see that it’s totally different,” he added. “It’s a new way of thinking about the aero helmet and we really think we have found a big improvement in our old system in the TTs [time trials]. Hopefully, we can show it today.”

Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard was the first Visma-Lease a Bike rider in Monday’s time trial. He finished ninth, 22 seconds behind winner Juan Ayuso of UAE Team Emirates.

The helmet caused quite a stir when it first appeared at the race.

“It’s a thorn in my eye … a firm no from me on these helmets,” said Eurosport commentator Robbie McEwen. “They’re ridiculous.”

In a statement on its website, Visma-Lease a Bike said that it is “very pleased with the new aerodynamic design” and the fact that the helmet meets current safety regulations.

However, on Tuesday, the UCI referenced the new design while announcing a review into its rules around helmets in competitions.

“The UCI acknowledges that while this may not directly contravene existing UCI Regulations, it raises a significant issue concerning the current and wider trend in time trial helmet design, which focuses more on performance than the primary function of a helmet, namely to ensure the safety of the wearer in the event of a fall,” the statement said.

The statement also named the Rudy Project Windgream HL 85 helmet, which has been used by the Bahrain Victorious team, and the POC Tempor helmet, used by a number of teams, when announcing the review.

“In view of the evolution of these situations as well as other problems encountered in recent years, in relation to the requirement for commercial availability, the ban on non-essential components and the shape and size of time trial helmets, the UCI will undertake a review of its rules on the design and use of helmets in competition,” the UCI said.

In the same statement, the organization announced that “head socks” – balaclavas built into cycling helmets – are set to be banned at international events from next month.


The ban, which will be effective from April 2, has been introduced following a review to determine whether the TT5 helmet, manufactured by American company Specialized, aligned with the UCI’s equipment regulations.

As part of the review, it was decided that the head sock was deemed a non-essential component.

According to Cyclingnews, the TT5 helmet first appearance at the Tour de France in 2022 and has been used regularly since then.

Wacky helmet designs are nothing new in cycling, a sport constantly looking to maximize a rider’s aerodynamics over the course of a race. As part of its helmet regulations, the UCI insists that all helmets used by professional riders are also available to the public.

CNN has contacted Specialized, Visma-Lease a Bike, Giro and Rudy Project for comment on the UCI’s review into helmet designs.