Just in time for the Tour de France, Specialized has unveiled the S-Works + McLaren TT Helmet. It’ll be worn by Omega-Pharma QuickStep riders, Levi Leipheimer, and TT World Champion Tony Martin.

After spending many hours in the wind tunnel for their first collaboration on the Venge road bike, this second collaboration claims have used twice as much time in testing. The result? The fastest aerodynamic helmet in the world, according to Specialized, and it promises to be just the beginning of future aero development. The collaboration with McLaren on this helmet let Big S take advantage of their aerodynamics knowledge learned through years of F1 racing, with the vehicle manufacturer providing better measurement and interpretation of the wind tunnel and CFD data.

It’ll be available in “extremely limited quantities” in early 2013. UPDATED: More tech info added below…

2013 Specialized S-Works + McLaren TT helmet

Air enters through vents just behind the ears and escapes through small “slits” and the large central exhaust port. We’re waiting on word from Specialized on the internal channeling or other features, along with pricing and weights. Their data suggests this design actually reduces drag further then if the intake vents were covered.

2013 Specialized S-Works + McLaren TT helmet

Dual density EPS foam inside let them keep the helmet pretty thin without affecting safety, which Specialized says gave them more leeway to shape it the way they wanted at the front.

Specialized says the McLaren TT helmet is not only more aero in a straight line, but also in cross winds and when the rider is looking down (tail up).

2013 Specialized S-Works + McLaren TT helmet

Mark Cote, Specialized’s Aero R&D and Triathlon product manager, told us “the helmet is worth about 0.5 secs/km over the best helmets in the TdF today.”

2013 Specialized S-Works + McLaren TT helmet

2013 Specialized S-Works + McLaren TT helmet


  1. While this is quite cool, 98% of the riders won’t be affected by this tech. Also, I can’t wait till they introduce the long fins on the back of the riders, so it will help clean the air for more passing.

  2. Maybe McLaren wouldn’t be second to Renault if they weren’t wasting their time with the Specialized Marketing Department.

    • Gliders and sailplanes have relatively large surface areas with streamlined shapes and transitions between their components. It has been known for quite some time in the aerodynamics world that shapes with sharp or complex transitions can benefit from disrupting the air attached to their surfaces. I’m not trying to say that what specialized is selling us is gospel, but aerodynamics can get quite complex when dealing with compound shapes.

    • That view is way too simplistic. Tripping a boundary layer is a tool used quite often in aerospace apps as well as sporting apps and other fluid dymanics apps. Tripping the boundary layer does cause an increase in skin friction (which is low with laminar flow) but reduces pressure drag by altering where the boundary layer re-attaches. Done correctly, the result is an overall reduction in drag (where in this case drag has two components: pressure drag and skin friction).

  3. So the graph shows almost no improvement over the spiuk kronos…. not sure their marketing department should have let that one out….

    • If I’m reading that wonky graph correctly, it IS only marginally better in the most ideal position but it remains much more consistent, aerodynamically, over various head and yaw angle positions

  4. correct me if im wrong , but the dimple effect causes a lift by forcing deferential airpressure when it is spinning. it contorts the airflow into the shape of a airplane wing to cause lift too.

  5. I am on the Surf City Cyclery Triathlon Team (Costa Mesa Ca.). I wanted a new TT helmet and my store did not carry it at this time. When and where can I buy one now? Please advise..

  6. Really like the performance of the Specialized, especially in the tail up position. Too bad it’s not available in the US since it is not CPSC certified. I have owned the Spiuk Chronos and just ordered the CPSC certified Spiuk Aizea which is similar to the Chronos (according to the website). However the Aizea also has a removable visor and tail. I wonder how it would compare to the Specialized helmet with the Aizea tail removed and the visor left on.

What do you think?