Released in the lead up to the 2016 Tour de France, the Pursuit aero helmet from Giant aims to provide riders with WorldTour level aerodynamics, at a more affordable price point. Best known for its range of high-value bikes, Giant also produces a range of quality cycling accessories to complement its range of bicycles, with the Pursuit the Taiwanese company's flagship helmet option.
We’ve had our hands on the Pursuit for the better part of the last 12-months, putting the lid through its paces to find out whether it indeed fulfils the manufacturer's claims of being airy-yet-aero enough for both racers and everyday riders alike.
Who’s it for?: Road riders wanting an aero helmet that doesn’t sacrifice ventilation in the pursuit of all-out speed
What we Liked: Sharp pricing, ventilation you can feel, and the impressive weight figure
What we Didn’t: Helmet straps, scant internal helmet padding.
Aero and Airy
The Pursuit was developed in collaboration with Aero Concept Engineering in France, using a combination of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and wind tunnel data. The collaboration was undertaken to create a lid that’s fast “without any compromises to ventilation or fit”. Giant isn’t the only company chasing the happy medium between aero efficiency and ventilation, with a number of key rivals, such as Specialized and POC also making a concerted effort in recent times.
There’s a fair bit of aero wizardry at play to achieve this feat. Eight large vents feature at the front of the helmet that feeds air through internal channels. The internal channels funnel the airflow to exhaust ports located at the rear of the lid, comprised of five large and two smaller ports. The internal channels combined with the exhaust ports are claimed to aid in transferring air across the head, creating a cooling effect.
Moving up top to the exterior of the helmet, Giant claim that the dimpled, aerodynamic shape smooths airflow over the helmet, minimising aerodynamic drag. A stunted tail also features at the rear of the helmet, aiding in aerodynamic efficiency.
Lightweight Safety and Comfort Built In
As a helmet is a fundamentally a safety device, Giant have understandably ensured the lid ticks all the required boxes for both CE/CSPC and AS/NZS 2063 certification. Much like its rivals, the Pursuit is multi-density, meaning that two different types of foam are used in the construction. Low-density foam features on the upper of the helmet which is claimed to absorb energy from low-speed impacts, whilst high-density foam located on the lower portion of the helmet is said to protect the head from larger impacts. The addition of this multi-density foam hasn’t come at the expense of weight either, with our CE/CSPC sample tipping the scales at 265 grams for a size Medium.
Keeping the Pursuit secure on riders heads is the proprietary Cinch Pro Fit System. The retention system is claimed to straddle the line between comfort and support, cradling the occipital bone at the rear of the head. Antimicrobial padding and weight relieved chin strapping round out the feature list on the wind-cheating stack hat.
Having taken delivery of the Pursuit in July 2017, the lid has served both myself, and other staff in the BikeExchange office faithfully over the last 12 months. From corporate testing duties in the French Alps and commuting responsibilities to long scenic coastal loops, this is one lid that’s been well traveled and well-used during the testing period.
As is the case with many aerodynamic products on the market, unless you’re operating in the top 1% where every watt counts, aerodynamic claims are difficult to quantify in the real world. Whilst there wasn’t a noticeable improvement in my overall efficiency on the bike whilst wearing the helmet, there was a number of tangible differences, such as a rather significant reduction in wind noise, as a result of the smoother airflow over the lid itself. Also noticeable was the air being vented through the helmet itself, which is up there with the best we’ve experienced from an aero helmet. I’d go as far to say that it was on par with my more traditional, ventilated helmet, both at speed, and when climbing, a definite plus for the Pursuit here.
The fit of the helmet is similar to that of Specialized, or Bontrager, suiting the shape of my head nicely, however, those with a narrower dome may want to look elsewhere. The Pursuit is globally available in both a narrow and a western fit (Australia only scores the western fit), with our sample being the rounder western fit. Whilst the fit of the helmet suited most heads in the BikeExchange office, the comfort left a little to be desired. The Cinch Pro retention system does a commendable job at holding the helmet firm to the riders head, however, the rear cradle is devoid of any additional padding. Below, the weight relieved helmet straps are comfortable once set-up, however, adjusting the straps requires a little patience due to their svelte nature. The microbial padding on the inside of the helmet was a little lacking for my liking, whilst I suspect this is the case to improve the ventilation and airflow, making the padding a couple of millimetres thicker would go a long way to improving the comfort of the lid.
Whilst the helmet itself is by no means brand new, wind-tunnel proven aero and ventilation, lightweight comfort and up-to-date safety features all ensure that the Pursuit is still more than capable of holding its own amongst the current crop of wind-cheating helmets on the market.
For most in the market for a new road helmet, the Pursuit should tick more than a few boxes, its svelte weight ensure that it’s never a burden on long rides, the western shape is a good fit for most heads and the ventilation is as good as any non-aero helmet we’ve tested in the past. Provided you can look past the scant internal padding and so-so retention system, priced at AUD$269 the Pursuit is definitely worth considering if you're seeking WorldTour proven aero tech at a weekend warrior price point.
Ride imagery courtesy of Sterling Lorence
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