2019 brought about a striking change in design at Rudy Project. Similarly to the Italian brand’s renowned eyewear collection, their helmet range also receives a complete revamp, characterized by new shapes, cleaner lines and trendy contours. A fine example of this trend is the new Spectrum model, which can be spotted at top-level bike races on the heads of the Bahrain-Merida pro riders.
The current crop of Rudy Project helmets all bear this new design concept. The peaked shapes are substituted by more rounded, flowing lines, making these helmets are not only more fashionable and trendy in appearance, but offer noticeable aerodynamic advantages by the same token. The change in design has certainly not abated the technical and functional aspect of the new models, the new Rudy Project helmet collection continues to place the highest emphasis on protection and comfort.
The Spectrum helmet is the top-of-the-line model, rests next to the Racemaster in the Rudy Project lineup. It’s a tad less expensive to boot, at the same time offering virtually the same level of technology and performance. Both of these helmet models are worn by the professional riders in the Bahrain-Merida World Tour team as well as many other top athletes. Riders usually have a choice between the two slightly different designs: from the race footage we gather that Vincenzo Nibali and his teammates reach for the Spectrum at the start line.
The new helmet model contains all of Rudy Project’s current technological features. The Spectrum has one additional chief enhancement, namely the three-piece outer shell construction. Since the rest of the trademark technologies are well-known, let’s begin with this striking novelty! In essence, this new helmet has virtually no surface with “bare” EPS foam. This is done for good reason as sunlight tends to disintegrate the foam core, moreover it’s easily damaged by impacts as well. So it’s essential to cover the helmet from the outside. Most manufacturers try to save costs by leaving the bottom section of the EPS core uncovered, and experience shows, that sooner or later this part of the helmets gets badly scuffed. Even transporting the helmet causes some abrasion. This cannot happen with the Spectrum, since it’s not only completely covered, the protective outer shell folds back under the brim to cover the underside and the some of the internals.
In addition to providing a high level of protection for the rider, the Spectrum was designed to be as comfortable as possible. This includes proper ventilation complemented by a snug but cozy fit all around the head. A high level of comfort is something we’ve come to expect from the Italian brand, a testament of the endeavor to create the best fitting bike helmet for most head shapes. The Spectrum model offers a well-proven 3-dimensional adjustable retention system, which is easy to use, requiring only a single hand movement. The so-called RSR10 ratchet mechanism operates the internal height adjustment, the steps are fine allowing most users to nippily achieve the perfect fit. It’s important to note that both the retention system and the Spectrum’s design are fully compatible with longer hair styles, such as a pony tail. We’ve tried it and it works great!
The “Divider Pro” side buckles are also easy to adjust, but for my head size and shape they were spot on out of the box. This can be said of the new helmet as such: I just put it on and immediately felt an ideal fit for my head shape.
Most modern road cycling helmets these days tend not to have as many vents as before: instead, designers try to boost ventilation by tailoring the internal design. The Spectrum is a perfect embodiment of this trend, while it features only 15 external openings, it offers a level of ventilation that only fully open helmets could previously achieve. If we take a look at the internal design of the helmet, we see a number of air channels running front to back, sucking cold air in and blowing hot air out at the rear.
An additional comfort enhancing feature is the Airframe system. The novelty in the so-called Adaptive Air Frame Band technology is that padding at the forehead is not attached directly to the EPS foam, instead it sits on a netted sub frame serving as the retention system. Thus, air entering the helmet provides cooling for the padding, it dries the moisture the pads pick up from the skin. This system also prevents sweat from dripping into the eyes, which is welcome relief for any cyclist during a hot ride. The sweatiest riders like myself still experience a small amount of perspiration drip, but most will be well protected from salty fluid entering the eyes. Of course the faster you go, the more effective the drying effect is – at least this is what I try to tell myself in order to spur my legs to pedal quicker!
Since I have been talking about padding, I have to mention that the customer gets two complete sets, one containing an insect net and one comes without. I favor he one with no net, since it provides slightly better cooling. So comfort-wise, for my rather short hair, I prefer sans-protection, but others with long and dense hair might experience more problems with insects and would like the added protection.
Although the manufacturer does not list a sunglass holder as a feature of the Spectrum, the rear vents function perfectly for such duties. The Defender eyewear model I was testing at the same time fit perfectly. I need this feature, since I often have to do other chores when I go out riding, then the glasses have to go somewhere and the helmet has been proven to be the safest of all places.
As I have mentioned previously, the Spectrum offers great comfort for my head shape and size. Previously I have experienced fit problems with Rudy Project helmets, however this model proved to be quite a revelation. The manufacturer has not only made changes to the external design of the current helmet models, but the internals seem to have been transformed as well. I believe older generation of helmets were most suited to narrower, longer head shapes, and mine is very far from this.
The same can be said for ventilation. I have tried everything to make my head overheat: I climbed some very steep slopes under scorching sun, and I never felt I want to take the Spectrum off. It may not be the best ventilated bike helmet on the market, but it’s certainly above average in this respect, and good enough even for the warm summer days. On the other hand, helmets which are designed for maximal cooling rarely do a proper job at reducing the aerodynamic drag. Last but not least, the design is not only trendy, but I think it looks great!
Fortunately I cannot report on the safety aspect of the Spectrum. Presumably Rudy Project has done everything in its power to design a safe helmet for bike riders, and the Spectrum has passed all four of the most strident testing protocols. Besides the one in this review, there is four other color variations to choose from: LEAD/TURQUOISE, TITANIUM STEALTH, WHITE/BLACK and YELLOW FLUO/BLACK. I prefer the RED/BLACK I’ve been testing, but each to its own, and you’ll almost guaranteed to find your favorite Spectrum variant.
The Rudy Project Spectrum is a helmet designed for professional riders, and as such, it’s not excessively costly. I believe other helmets models worn in the World Tour are all more expensive than the Spectrum. It’s a fine example of what modern bike head protection technology can offer!
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