Sub 260 Grams, 18 Whopping Vents, and Italian Comfort
When I think great Italian Design, I picture Ferrari’s and Forzieri’s: sexy sports cars and fine leather shoes. Add Rudy Project helmets to that list.
Manufacturing helmets confronts a designer with a host of challenges. A helmet needs to be appropriately attractive, light, comfortable, and pass various safety standards, the strictest of which I am told, are set by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
When designing the Sterling, Rudy Project unabashedly stated they were out to challenge “the big three” in helmets: presumably that includes Giro and Bell and I’m not sure who number three is. They’ve done a great job.
At just under 260 grams, the Sterling isn’t the lightest helmet on the market (some are coming in at 195 grams and still passing CPSC standards) but it still falls in the very very light category and is well ventilated with 18 large vents and airflow channels to pull air past your sweaty cranium and out the back of the helmet. And the fit is superb.
It is counter intuitive but a helmet designer once explained to me that the more vents you have, the heavier a helmet gets. The simple explanation is that vents—while adding crucial air-flow and comfort to a helmet—reduce the strength of a helmet, requiring the manufacturer to engineer a structural “skeleton” (usually using plastic or carbon) to add strength and hold the helmet together. Foam weighs less then the added “skeleton” so helmets with fewer vents can be lighter. So achieving adequate ventilation and still keeping it light and strong is a challenge.
Rudy used the fore-mentioned plastic endoskeleton to add strength to the helmet. The carefully designed plastic piece is visible around the top of the helmet and cleverly doubles as a sunglass holder (Rudy calls it an eyewear dock) for those times you’ve dripped so much sweat on the lenses you can’t see through the salt stains.
To keep the Sterling attached to your skull, Rudy uses their version of the standard dial lock at the back of the helmet. Adjustable with one hand, the rubberized dial tightens a fat plastic strap that wraps the helmet from the ears back. Good adjustability in height and tension secures the helmet nicely without creating pressure points. The chinstrap system is nothing new but functions well and is easy enough to adjust with clip lock buckles and has a nice thick chin pad.
The sterling comes with two pad sets: a one-piece suede like unit with bug nets and a standard multi-piece pad set. The one-piece unit is great—bug netting is critical—and is easily removed for washing (although the first time I pulled it out, it took a few of the stick-on Velcro tabs with it-but when doesn’t that happen?). It comes with a visor if you’re into that and is available in 8 color combo’s (Titanium Red-Matte pictured).
Whether I was on the trail or on the road, the Sterling was a pleasure to ride in. The initial fit setup was quick and painless and the strap system kept it on my head without making any hotspots.
With their new Sterling Helmet, which is designed and manufactured in Italy, Rudy Project has combined the Italian flare of a Ferrari with the fitted comfort of Forzieri shoes, and wrapped it with a CPSC approved safety net to go on your head.—B. Riepe
Find more info at Rudy Project USA
|Rudy's Sterling comes with two pad sets, pictured is the one-piece unit with bug netting. The suede like material is comfortable and it's easily removed for washing.|