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Rudy Project Spectrum helmet review

5 Jun 2019

As worn by Vincenzo Nibali and Bahrain-Merida, the Rudy Project Spectrum is good enough for the pro but not without flaws

Cyclist Rating: 
• Comfort • Secure fit • Looks pro
• Poor ventilation on hot days

Like a champion racehorse throwing its jockey at the last hurdle, it’s always extra bitter when something falls short at the end. It’s because, for the most part, it executed everything perfectly but at that final moment, it falls down, showing a big chink in its armour.

The Rudy Project Spectrum does the above. It’s a helmet that does so well but falls short at just the last hurdle. It’s light for an aero lid, it’s comfortable, it fits securely and well, it has slots for sunglasses and it looks pretty pro. Consider all these things and the Spectrum is a spectacular lid.

But then I remember there’s an issue with ventilation and I remember that it has come so close yet fallen at the very last gate.

The nitty gritty

Helmets these days can be as technical as a rocket ship in their pursuit to balance comfort, weight, performance and, ultimately, safety. The Spectrum holds true to that.

Buy the Rudy Project Spectrum helmet from BikeInn

For this particular lid, Rudy Project has used something called ‘in-mould technology’ which it claims ‘allows it to cast the external polycarbonate outer shell directly during the injection stage of the expandable polystyrene (EPS) impact-absorbing foam.’

This combination of processes is what keeps the helmet light without compromising on safety and at 260g this helmet is pretty featherweight, especially considering that the design hasn’t just opted for copious amounts of vents to keep the number on the scales low.

Rudy Project has done well in making it one of those helmets that are light enough that you almost forget it's even there when riding, without compromising on fit.

It may sound strange but the Spectrum is also a good helmet for those with round heads. I say this because my life has been largely based around finding bike helmets that fit my big, spherical head.

My head measures at 62cm which really pushes the limits of a large and so far it seems that only Kask and now, thankfully, Rudy Project have answered my woes.

From experience, what these two brands have in common is that firstly the shape of the helmet is more round than long - something you’ll find on most aero helmets as that shape tends to be faster.

Secondly, the Spectrum is almost convexed allowing greater room for my head to fit. I appreciate fit can be a very personal issue but when something is able to fit my head, I know that very few others will struggle with size.

It also seems quite a deep helmet. My head falls in further than I’m used which makes me feel more secure and there’s certainly less lateral movement if I’m moving my head around.

Kudos also goes to Rudy Project’s RSR 10 adjustable retention system for providing that secure, hugging feeling. It encompasses the parts of you head you need it to while remaining minimalist and also easy to adjust on the fly.

The retention system sits just below the dip on the back of the head, just the right place for it.

The Spectrum was like Marmite when it came into the office. Some hated it, calling it ‘ugly’ but I’m not so sure.

In fact, I think it’s one of the best looking aero lids out there especially in the black colourway or the Bahrain-Merida team colour scheme which is also available. It looks pro and not just because the Shark of Messina, Vincenzo Nibali, wears one.

It looks especially pro considering how neatly sunglasses slot into the front vents, too, cleanly tucking in if the sun has gone behind the clouds or you need some clarity of thought.

If it wasn’t for riding with the Spectrum at the Tro Bro Leon sportive on Easter Weekend I’d have been tempted to give this lid a five-star review.

Buy the Rudy Project Spectrum helmet from BikeInn

But, with the 30-degree temperatures and five hours in the saddle, the Spectrum’s biggest flaw is brought to the fore.

The Spectrum is a hot helmet. The minimal vents do little to keep your head cool with the problem was amplified when climbing uphill. It was akin to a sauna at some points, to be honest.

Ride in conditions below 20 degrees and the lack of ventilation is not really an issue but put in a sizeable climbing effort or ride on a hot, summer’s day and I guarantee you’ll be wanting to douse yourself in water before long.

Is this down to the front five vents being relatively small? Is it down to the 'bug-stop' netting attached to the internal padding reducing airflow? I couldn’t work it out but it needs addressing.

If Rudy Project could sort the problem of ventilation then the Spectrum would be a go-to helmet for me. Until then, it will have to be reserved for colder days in the saddle.