Review: Casco SpeedAiro-TC Plus aero road helmet

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This past year at Eurobike we got a closer look at the new special TC Plus edition of Casco’s SPEEDairo road helmet, and wanted to try it out. That large integrated lens/shield and distinct styling had caught our attention before in some other color configurations, but the gloss-on-matte black finish of the TC and the inclusion of several accessories as part of the Plus package got us thinking about its versatility. Come past the break with us to see how we have ridden and raced the helmet over the past half a year, and how it has fared in different setups with diverse use from the road, track, cyclocross, and even just getting around town…

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The SpeedAiro was one of the early crop of helmets claiming an aero advantage when it was introduced a couple of years back. Either with or without the integrated visor/windshield it claims to offer an aero advantage over a traditionally vented helmet. While from the front it looks quite vented with 7 forward-facing vents, the sides are completely closed reducing drag. Of course when you add in the neatly integrated visor air flow is even more smooth across the lens and along the sides of the head.

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Our SpeedAiro-TC Plus is a matte black ordeal with low-key graphics. It combines 7 long narrow intake vents blocked by mesh in the front with unrestricted exhausts. The imbedded metal mesh seems to partially direct wind from the front over the top of the helmet, but also does double-duty keeping insects out while riding.

The helmet then includes the large SPEEDmask, an enormous wrap-around wind-shielding visor that can be adjusted on the go. It is held in place by two heavy rubber bands snaps into channels along the lower edge of the helmet’s shell. It can also be lifted up and rests securely on top of the helmet to let more air in. It is also this position where the visor needs to sit to put the helmet on and take it off.

The movement is very easy to do with both hands, simply grab the carbon (effect) piece on the sides of the visor and pull forward against the tension of the rubber bands and it effortlessly moves up out-of-the-way. But while riding it is a bit more complicated. The visors are very thin and flexible (and you don’t want finger prints on it) so with one hand you pretty much need to grab it at the nose piece and pull forward in the same motion. One of our testers had a bit more trouble with it on the bike, but practice makes perfect.

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From the back the SpeedAiro has plenty of exhaust vents. Casco calls the large vents broken up by smaller fins Adaptive Aerodynamics. The fins themselves are said to maintain an aero advantage from multiple positions, even when the rider drops their head. Inside the helmet gets a nice dial retention setup, also with up and down adjustment. The entire helmet sits suspended on a mesh hammock of sorts, so your head never quite touches the shell allowing for great airflow. Plus the whole thing inside is very adjustable. Both mesh and internal strap supports gets four snap in points that can be really well-adjusted to each head size. It is without a doubt the helmet that has best been able to be perfectly fitted to multiple users that we have tested.

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Of course riding with the SpeedAiro (in fair weather, more on that later) has been all about its excellent optics. The huge field of vision from inside this lens is great, and is like wearing the biggest wrap-around sunglasses you’ve every tried on. At the same time, there is no getting around the fact that we looked like a bug riding in this thing. On the track nobody batted an eye, but even in road races we got a few looks. And trail riding and cyclocross racing, lets just say we turned a lot of heads and got a few comments.

Tech Details

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The medium SpeedAiro TC Plus that we have had on test weighs 336g with the visor installed. The helmet comes in 2 sizes M and L to fit heads 54-63cm in circumference. The TC Plus kit version we’ve tested also retails for 270€, although the base helmet can be had for 200€ without any accessories.

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This TC Plus version includes a dark gray tinted lens, a 4-season cover, and a snap in visor, and a head tube (Buff-copy). (These are all compatible with the standard SpeedAiro variants and are available separately for 50, 15, 15 & 9€, respectively.)

We also have been reviewing an extra VAUTRON automatic darkening photochromatic lens (120€) with a microfiber lens cover (9€) in addition to the gray version that came in the kit. The gray visor is a little bit darker overall and has a much more reflective finish from the outside. It is mostly suited to sunny riding. Once our indian summer was over, we mostly opted for the Vautron visor, as its lightest shade was still fine for riding until dusk or on our poorly lit local indoor velodrome.

The helmet uses a one-handed Casco-Loc closure, which took a little getting used to as it is a very different interface than most helmets, but in the end is easier than any buckled helmet we ride. Just hook the plastic clasp over the metal d-ring and pull and it snaps into place securely, and then a gentle pull on the small hanging tab releases the hook. In fact, trying to use two hands at first made it much harder to operate.

Lastly we added a  few of the hook-in MyStyle colored accent stripes (10€ for each color) to our test for a little bit of color, which are essentially just bungees that keep the visor from getting scratched in the upper position and claim some tiny aero improving turbulence effect as well. The helmet came with brown stripes with a bit of reflectivity, but in the interest of stealthiness we’ve been mostly using the silver reflective ones. Although with spring around the corner maybe we’ll pop in a bit of color?

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Casco says that the SpeedAiro and SpeedMask fits with glasses, but it is not quite as simple as that. As a longtime corrective lens wearer, I have built up quite a stable of prescription eyewear. And out of say 5 or 6 pairs I will regularly wear only one fit under the lens without touching. Most glasses that I wear touched at the widest part of the temples against the visor. Look close on the left; in the most extreme example the pressure kept the visor from seating properly in its groove (just below the C in Casco) and resulted in a lot of pressure on my glasses’ nose piece. Maybe the size large would have been a better fit for glasses wearers like myself, but with my more wraparound style of glasses I didn’t have any issue, so was fine.

One other fit point was the large foam nose piece of the visor. While it never bothered me personally one of our testers thought it was distracting to see in his filed of vision. After a longer period with the helmet he said the effect went away, but for someone not used to having something always in front of their nose, it is noticeable.

Long Term Thoughts

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So riding and racing with the helmet for more than half a year, we have really figured out the time and place for the SpeedAiro. While it is a versatile helmet, it won’t replace all others especially for the hottest conditions. It is certainly not the most vented helmet we have ridden, so heavy sweaters will likely need to look elsewhere for warm weather use.  But while an aero advantage is hard to quantify (especially at everyday amateur speeds), when there is no other downside, I can’t see why not to try it.

On the road riding and racing the helmet with its visor has a great feel and an amazing crisp field of view. With no wind blowing in your face and eyes it is an almost surreal experience. Even when you are sweating behind the visor, sweat just runs down your face and doesn’t blow into your eyes or onto your glasses. What happened is sweat rolled down my nose and the foam nose piece, making it feel like my nose was running.

Six small vents cut in the top of the visor do a decent job of letting warm air out, so as long as you are moving quickly fogging up was never a problem. One thing we did notice was that at higher speeds the visor tended to whistle, especially with steady cross winds. It never really bothered us too much, but it was definitely noticeable. But at the same time more intense efforts like stopping and starting in cyclocross meant that the visor would fog up when we slowed down for barriers, run ups, or even tight switchbacks, necessitating flipping it up. For the same reason, mountain biking made it a little less practical as well. In the hot air of the indoor velodrome, we sometimes had the same issue, but fast movement kept the fog at bay, so it was usually just an issue when finishing a training effort.

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The helmet itself has really shined in the cold and deep winter here in Prague. The TC Plus’ included 4-season cover is just a vacuum molded piece of clear plastic that fits over the top and is held on by the bungee stripes, but adding it makes the helmet versatile far below freezing temps. We regularly use a similar snap on shell for a Catlike helmet, and really think every helmet should include this option.

The visor is a great addition in super cold temps as it prevents your eyes from tearing up in sub-freezing temps and fogging isn’t an issue, so we took to commuting with the helmet and visor through the winter. Unfortunately the great optics of the visor are easily spoiled by fingerprints, rain spots, and mud, so longer riding in poor conditions with the visor is a compromise. Cleaning of the visor on the go isn’t easy, so when there was a probability of road spray or mud splattering we tended to ditch the visor and use a pair of sunglasses that were easier to keep clean.

In the end we have been very pleased with the helmet and the accessories bundle. The snap-in sun visor which just added a 1cm brim never seemed like much use so we never used it, but the different visors and 4-season shell have been excellent and really broadened the functionality of the SpeedAiro. The customizable fit on the head, and its relatively low profile has made the helmet pretty desirable in our EU office, so we tend to fight over who gets to use it each month. Some riders like the visor more than others, but on at 25°C/77°F or below the view from inside is great. And if it is hotter than that or super cold, we’ll just pop the visor off to eek out a little aero gain and enjoy the ride.

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Comments

8 thoughts on “Review: Casco SpeedAiro-TC Plus aero road helmet

  1. I think these forgot that roadies aren’t into the whole “form follows function” thing. Have you seen a roadie get-together at your local coffee shop in Marin County? Calvin Klein would be proud.

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