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The Perfect Helmet—in the words of a man who almost tried them all

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Everyone knows Sid Maderazo as the creative genius behind numerous compelling TVCs—the kind that get stuck in your head the moment you watch them. But when he’s not sitting on a director’s chair brewing another indelible masterpiece, you’ll find him on his P5’s saddle, training his heart out for the next big race. Sid is a passionate triathlete, and is as serious with the sport as with his craft. A veteran of Ironman 70.3 in Taiwan, Hawaii and Cebu—earning a slot in the IM 70.3 World Championship in Austria next year, after clocking in at 5:09 in this year’s Cobra event—he has proven that he’s into the sport not just for the pogi points. When we learned that he owns and extensively uses close to a dozen helmets, we thought of prying his brain open to get his thoughts on which one kicks ass. But we figured it would be best if we just ask him to write about the subject, so we can share it with our readers. Here’s what he has to say.

When it comes to cycling, safety is priority and protecting our heads is of utmost importance. Factors like design, aerodynamics, technology, ventilation, comfort, weight and even wind noise all come into play when we choose a bicycle helmet. I have to admit, I think I own more helmets than normally required, but it also puts me in a position to share my thoughts and experiences with them.

It is also interesting to note that I bought a helmet first before buying a road bike. There really is no perfect helmet—each has its pros and cons, but just for fun, Ill try to come up with a description on what could be a perfect helmet in an ideal bicycle world. I am not a safety guru, however, nor an expert in aerodynamics. Admittedly, I choose (more than I should) beauty over function, and more often than not, design rules over practicality for me.

Basically, I have two sets of helmets for my road bike (Pinarello 65.1) and my tri-bike (Cervelo P5-Three). I have race and training helmets for each, the race helmets being more aerodynamic and the training helmets providing more ventilation. For example, I used my Casco Speed Time full faced helmet in Hawaii IM 70.3 and Cobra Cebu IM 70.3 this year, and used the Giro Selector in last year’s races, specifically Taiwan IM 70.3 and Cobra Cebu IM 70.3. Aerodynamics was obviously the priority, and I wanted to take advantage of that on the fast sections of the race course.

Did using these full aero helmets make me any faster? I have absolutely no idea, but I felt fast and felt good on the bike, regardless of marginal gains. Of course, the obvious tradeoff was that there was less air flow to cool me off and ventilation was definitely compromised. The Casco Speed Time provides a little more over the Giro Selector, since it has a removable ventilation tab at the front. During the bike leg of Cobra Cebu IM 70.3 this year, I grabbed a bottle of water from the aid station and poured it on my helmet and realized there were no vents on top.

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For training rides, I prefer to use more ventilated helmets like the Rudy Project Zumax, Casco Speedster, Giro Aeon and, last but not the least, the Giro Air Attack, which despite having the least number of vents among the four, actually provides good ventilation, if not equal to the more ventilated ones.

Interestingly, I own three Giro Air Attacks—my favorite training helmet for a time. Its BMX-like helmet design looked really unusual for road cycling, but it eventually created a revolution in aero road helmets, with pro cyclists and triathletes donning the now ubiquitous helmet. I like the fact that it doubles as an aero helmet, but it is compact enough to be worn like a road helmet. The easily detachable magnetic visor also is a great addition, plus it gives you a bigger field of view compared to wearing sunglasses.

In all honesty, beyond all the technological breakthroughs in ventilation, protection, aerodymics, etc, ultimately it is about design. Personally speaking, aesthetics play a big role in how I choose my helmets, the same way I choose my bikes based on design and looks. Sometimes I’m guilty of color coordinating my gear—the helmet should match the colorway of the bike, and should match the color of my clothing.

In a nutshell, here are the qualities of a perfect cycling helmet.

1. Aerodynamics and ventilation: Should look smooth and compact, it should have modular or flexible air flow channels that can slide open to cool you down and close when you need more aero.

2. Comfort: For me, comfort plays a big role in choosing a helmet. Straps should be secure enough to hold helmet in place, overall fit of the helmet should be snug but not tight, and it should be fitted with proper padding to keep it comfortable.

3. Design: This, for me, is ultimately the deal breaker. I like sleek, modern looking helmets with built-in visors.

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