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Bell Star Pro aero road helmet

The Belkin pro team will be sporting the new Bell Star Pro aero road during the Tour de France.

The Belkin pro cycling squad has a new weapon in its fight for Tour de France glory. On Friday, team helmet sponsor Bell unveiled a new aero road helmet, the Star Pro. Top of the marquee features include a magnetic shield interface and retractable vents, allowing riders to choose between better air flow or improved aero efficiency without switching helmets. It's called active aero.

The Star Pro will be available in three sizes and six colors, and is CPSC and CE EN certified. MSRP is $240 ($280 with shield) and it will be available in October.

"We worked with the team riders to find out what they needed," explained Bell marketing boss Azul Couzens at a press launch event in Harrogate, finish town for stage 1 of the Tour de France. "They want all the advantages they can in a stage race like the Tour. That means reducing aerodynamic drag. But we also realize that a lot of aero equipment has a singular focus, either ignoring weight or venting. So people were forced to decide between being fast and being cool."

bell-star-pro-top bell-star-pro-vents-closed Vents can be opened (left) or closed (right) with a simple slider mechanism on the back of the new helmet.

Bell, of course, claims to have split this difference with its new brain protector. It says it started with a bare head form and then had engineers go to work and build outward. This was in contrast to the usual design first-engineer second process.

Bell went so far as to build its own miniature wind tunnel and says they were there almost every day during the design phase, making subtle changes along the way to fine tune the final product. The key metric was what's known as wind averaged drag, which Bell says is a more real world test that gives a net average, and is a better standard of how to judge aero efficiency.

Without delving too deep into the minutiae, Bell says the difference between the new helmet and its Gauge model was about a bike length in a 300 meter sprint. That's the difference between a spot on the podium and heading back to the team bus with nothing.

Wind Tunnel

Bell claims its new helmet is top of the food chain among the aero road market - and that it's cooler than most.

When measuring the Star Pro's cooling efficiency with vents open, it proved to be near equal to a traditional road helmet over a 30-minute period, and cooled faster than a bare head during the initial five-minute period giving the cyclist the ability to cool their head mid-ride. Ventilation over the brow regulates temperature by drawing air in to intake ports and circulating it through air channels that push air out through the exhaust ports.

Progressive layering includes a two-layer liner that has softer density EPS foam on interior sections and stiffer EPS foam on exterior zones. The magnetic shield can be removed and stored on the helmet exterior when not in use.