New helmet design to give a pro cycling edge. SCOTT Sports collaborated with Sports Engineers from the University of Adelaide to design a new bike helmet for the Australian professional road racing team Orica-GreenEDGE. The primary objective of the collaboration was to significantly reduced drag. The helmet recently made its first public appearance during the 2013 Milan-San Remo road race in Italy.
The story began one year ago when the ORICA-GreenEDGE riders approached SCOTT Sports to propose an evolution of the Vanish EVO helmet for flat and sprint stages. The team requested a helmet with the lowest drag coefficient possible, an advanced aero solution, a dynamic ventilation system, and of course the same great adjustable and comfortable fit.
The project involved investigating the aerodynamics of cycling helmets in action, and the design of a smooth outer helmet surface to minimize drag in all racing conditions, from cruising, through to flat-out sprinting.
"We had to understand the air flow around the helmet...at all the various positions and head angles a rider takes while racing,” says Associate Professor Kelso. “Cyclists will be cruising with their heads up in the peloton, then the head will go down when they are out in front pushing hard, and the position will change again when they are sprinting for the finish.”
In each of these positions...there are different head angles and different flow patterns. The development team needed to find a helmet shape which offered the best balance of performance for all positions, additionally; they needed to maintain the helmet’s protective properties.
Extensive wind tunnel testing...was carried out with the pro team to optimize the helmet’s shape with regards to both aerodynamics and rider integration. Around 40 prototype designs were tested in the University’s wind tunnels, analyzing drag forces, side forces, ventilation and surface flow patterns. Wind tunnel testing provided more holistic, real world data for each design iteration and ensured that the final Vanish Aero shape achieved its class leading performance.
"The challenge was...to perfectly match the ideal aerodynamic shape given by the wind tunnel study with the manufacturing and the cooling requirements, while also keeping an attractive and aggressive design’’ states Alexandre Dimitriou, helmet engineer at SCOTT Sports.
To keep riders cool...the helmet features 3 ventilation holes on the front surface. The shape and location of these vents were established through evaluating a number of different hole configurations. Scott Engineers were enthusiastic to eventually find a shape which offered the required cooling and also proved to have no impact on the overall drag. The combination of the front vents and the extensive inner cooling channels ensures the team could wear the helmet in quite high temperatures without overheating.
A small excursion into science...
Sketch of a covered helmet, identifying key features and modifications.
Graphs 1 - 3 show an overview of the wind tunnel testing. It documents % improvements in Drag Coefficient of the best-performing prototype helmet cover configurations, compared with the unmodified Vanish EVO helmet. The results demonstrate that the two round-edge helmet covers, with trip wires, offer significant drag reductions in all three helmet positions. (University’s School of Mechanical Engineering Adelaide: Investigating the aerodynamics of cycling helmets in action and the design of a smooth outer helmet skin to minimise drag in all racing conditions, 2012)Find the graphs and drawings here. It was decided that the final choice of helmet cover was:• Round Cover 2, Open notches & central vent, 1.2mm trip along Rib 2 Taken this into consideration, the result was a helmet with reduced overall drag of about 30%, with the best improvement in the sprint position when low drag is needed the most.
“Admittedly we are not the first manufacturer to provide an aero road helmet to our pro team, but we were determined to do it right, and not just glue an uncut standard shell on our existing helmet. Responding to the request from team ORICA-GreenEDGE, our development team partnered with the University of Adelaide, renowned for excellence in aerodynamics. As a result of this collaboration we are very proud to offer our riders a helmet with a real competitive advantage, based on solid science” says John Thompson, Helmet Product Manager at SCOTT Sports
SCOTT Vanish AERO Specs:
Shell Construction: Multiple Density EPS
PC Micro Shell
Standards:CE EN 1078
MRAS II Fit System
Adjustable Cam Dividers
The Vanish AERO will be available from December 2013 in stores.