Rudy Project Wing57 Review
Review of the Rudy Project Wing57 Time Trial Helmet
Upgrading to a time trial helmet is an easy and affordable way to shave some seconds of your personal best. The Wing57 is the time trial and triathlon offering from Rudy Project and is jam packed full of features. Popular among triathletes, the Wing57 was the most worn helmet at last fall’s Ironman World Championships in Kona. Designed in collaboration with aerodynamics and fit guru John Cobb, the Wing57 went through extensive wind tunnel testing and was designed not only to be fast but to work for more riders’ positions.
The Rudy Project Wing57 shares many features with its road oriented sibling the Boost01, thankfully not the shape though meaning the Wing57 worked with my head for a comfortable fit. The Wing57 uses the same Center Pressure Balance which shortened the tail of the helmet and added material to the front in order to move the center of pressure forward which reduces the swiveling forces caused by crosswinds.
The swiveling forces of crosswinds is further reduced by the Dorsal Ridge, a central ridge that converts sideways forces into forward propulsion. Rudy Project drew inspiration for this design from sharks, which is way more bad ass than Zipp and their whale wheels. A lot of work was put into reducing the twisting effects of crosswinds with the Rudy Project Wing57 and I can’t recall experiencing much of those forces during the testing period.
Finally, like the Boost01, the Wing57 has customizable air management and includes 2 covers for the front vent, one mesh and one fully closed, to let you customize your aerodynamics and ventilation. With the front vent completely closed, there is virtually no airflow into the helmet which makes it quite warm. That problem can be resolved by choosing to run the vent fully open or with the mesh insert, but you are than sacrificing aerodynamics. So make your air management choice based on your event and weather conditions.
As part of designing a helmet that works best for all TT positions, Rudy Project and Cobb included a piece called the Jet Stream on the Wing57 which is a removable magnetic tail to extend the helmet’s length depending on the rider’s back and shoulders. It attaches on the underside of the Wing57’s tail in order to reduce the gap between the helmet and the riders back helping smooth the air’s transition from the helmet to the rider’s back.
Enough with the technical mumbo-jumbo and marketing spiel, lets get down to the things us common folk can actually understand.
The fit of the Rudy Project Wing57 is spot on. Unlike the Boost01, its shape actually worked with my head but that doesn’t mean it will work with every head. The Wing57 uses a ratcheting dial to adjust the fit, as you expect in a high end helmet, which has tight steps to let you really dial the fit in. Rudy Project also clearly put a lot of thought into the straps which I like to see. The excess strap ends are handled effectively by elastics and a little piece of padding covers the buckle to reduce irritation on the neck, a pretty unique feature to the Wing57.
The only problem I had with the fit of the Rudy Project Wing57 was that I found the ear flaps put uncomfortable pressure on my ears. They also don’t have much flex to them so they do the classic ear mangling thing when putting the helmet on.
The Rudy Project Wing57 also comes with a visor that was difficult to install. It took a lot of effort to get it to click into place the first time and I was worried I was going to break it. Since its so difficult to install, you have to install the visor before putting the Wing57 on which makes slipping it on a little tricky as the visor smooshes your face and gets smudged.
Also, the visor of the Wing57 didn’t allow for air to get behind it. When combined with the lack of ventilation when fully closed and a small forehead pad, while wearing the Wing57 I had some issues with sweat dripping down my face and into my eyes. A distraction one wishes to avoid while your legs and lungs scream at you as you battle against the clock.
My biggest issues with the Rudy Project Wing57 all seem to revolve around the visor which Rudy Project recently updated and has offered as free upgrade to existing owners (just pay shipping). It still installs in the same way, but the new visor flips up which will make it easier to put the helmet on with the visor installed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it has improved airflow behind the visor though. It would be interested to see if this updated visor solves all my issues with the Wing57.
If you are not comfortable on your bike or in your aero position, how are you going to go fast? And I think that’s what the Rudy Project Wing57 is all about: comfort and speed.
The Rudy Project Wing57 is clearly a well thought out helmet with a lot of attention paid to all the details, both big and small. With the help of aerodynamics and fit guru John Cobb, Rudy Project has created a helmet that is not only faster for more riders but is also comfortable and reduces the swiveling forces of crosswinds. While the Wing57’s visor is the helmet’s weakest point, Rudy Project has already addressed that with an updated visor. I completely understand why the Rudy Project Wing57 was the most popular helmet at Kona 2016.
Rudy Project Wing57 Good:
- comfort first design
- reduce swiveling effect of crosswinds and pressure on neck
- faster for more positions, not just the ideal
Rudy Project Wing57 Bad:
- tricky visor installation
- no ventilation when fully closed