Nearly every cyclist understands the importance of reducing aerodynamic drag. Almost 80 percent of overall resistance affecting a rider comes in the form of aerodynamic drag, and a helmet is one of the most effective upgrades to reduce this force. Unfortunately, there is not a single helmet design that works for every rider, but Ekoi Racing’s latest submission to the aero-helmet market checks many of the performance boxes, and at a friendly price point that the French brand has gained a reputation for.
Founded in 2001, Ekoi rose to prominence in Europe as an early adopter of the direct-to-consumer sales model that undercuts much of their competition. In 2021 Ekoi’s Aero14 caught our eye, as the helmet was hard to miss in the Tour de France. Ekoi sponsored more teams in the race than any other helmet brand and could be seen on the likes of Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, Qhubeka’s Victor Campenaerts, Arkea Samsic’s Nairo Quintana and the Cofidis team. The helmets are still a rare sight here in the States, and the Aero14 was the first product we’d gotten our hands on from Ekoi.
Starting with a high-density EPS base, the Aero14 is covered in a two-piece shell that meets European standard CE regulations and recently underwent testing to meet the CPSC standard in the U.S. This has made it it a relatively rare sight outside of Europe but more should be making their way stateside. The inside of the helmet is channeled to increase airflow from the four front-facing vents to the rear. A total of 12 ports provide ventilation for the helmet.
The touchpoints of the Aero14 feature smart design cues. The straps use a three-piece construction with two strips of thin material around a mesh center to reduce sweat buildup. A set of five pads are placed along all contact points; with the head, the highlight was the padding on the two-axis-adjustable retention system that provided a snug fit. The magnetic buckle adds simplicity to the build, and the padded chin strap was a premium touch.
The Aero14 is available in three sizes. From small (52–54cm) to large (59–61cm), our size medium (55–58cm) hit the scales at a competitive 221 grams. For comparison, the $275 Specialized S-Works Evade II is 265 grams and the $250 Abus Gamechanger is 301 grams.
On the road, we noticed how well-balanced the Aero14 is. The lightweight build paired with the air channels provided an uncharacteristically well-ventilated experience for an aero helmet. This held true over extended testing, and on warmer days, sweat was minimal on the straps, as well as the frontal padding. Sweat tended to drip off to the side rather than down the center of the helmet.
We have no equipment to test the aerodynamics of the design. In general, aero helmets improve aerodynamics by up to 20 percent compared to standard helmets. But, unlike many of the heavy, unventilated aero helmets we’ve tested in the past, the Aero14 stands out, as it feels much more like a standard helmet on the road.
Our main complaint was the lack of eyewear storage on the front of the helmet. Of the four openings, the center two were too close together, and the outer two were too wide apart to confidently place our sunglasses in. It’s a small but notable blemish on the Aero14 design.
Our experience with the Aero14 was positive overall. Ekoi’s smart design diverges from the general notion that aero helmets are bulky heat shells that are reserved for sprinters and triathletes. The French design proved itself on the road for the 1000 miles we tested it. We’d recommend it to friends for its relatively low price and well-balanced design, as one could pay nearly twice as much for a helmet that may be aerodynamically more sound but likely less well-rounded. Plus, this helmet is a rare sight, so it was often a conversation starter that left more than a few group-ride mates interested to learn more about Ekoi.
A well-balanced delight
New to the group ride