S-Works McLaren TT helmet

The very promising Specialized S-Works + McLaren TT helmet makes its global debut today in the Tour de France on the heads of Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer of Team Omega-Pharma Quickstep, Chris Anker Sørensen
and Nick Nuyens of Team Saxo Bank Tinkoff, plus Alexander Vinokourov and Jani Brajkovic of Team Astana.

But while only a small number of these helmets will be produced, you can be sure to see quite a few of them in Kona at the Ironman World Championships this year.

Tony Martin is one of the favorites in the prologue today and is sporting the new S-Works + McLaren TT helmet here.

UCI TT World Champion Tony Martin posing to show the helmet in action.

At first the helmet appears to be without vents, but look closer at the Gill Vents on the side.

These Gill Gents were designed with the help of McLaren and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

This is the actual paint scheme of the S-Works + McLaren TT helmet that will be available to the public. The one above is a custom team version.

The Specialized crew in the wind tunnel with the brand new mannequin especially designed for this task.

Once the air is drawn into the gill vents on the side it gets pulled out the exhaust port in the tail to reduce the aero drag and increase ventilation.

The proud crew with the S-Works McLaren TT helmet

Specialized spent 8 days in the wind tunnel and tested sixty concept models. But they also tested competitor helmets in various yaw angles.

"We tested basically every production helmet we could acquire - built over the past 15 years - in comparison for wind tunnel testing. The graph we provided was one final piece from our final testing, but along the way pretty much everything in every configuration, yaw angle, and tail angle of attack was studied. The helmets on this graph were the best of the best," said Mark Cote to slowtwitch.

Vents typically increase aero drag, but in the case of the Gill Vent, by pulling air through the sides of the helmet and out the rear exhaust, aerodynamic drag is reduced. This Specialized graph shows the tested effects of covering the vent and the exhaust. As shown in the data, in both cases when they are covered, aerodynamic drag actually goes up.

The helmet will be available in the spring of 2013 in very limited numbers. Rumor actually has it that only 350 of these might reach consumers. But there is the promise that we can expect more projects along those lines.