Bontrager Ballista – First Look

The fact that Bontrager was working on a new aero helmet hasn’t been all that big a secret. We first saw a prototype atop Jens Voigt when he broke the hour record. Since then, while we have seen Trek Factory Racing riders regularly using it, Bontrager wasn’t quite ready to share it with the rest of the world (and trust us when we say we asked quite a bit). But that changes today.  Meet the Bontrager Ballista.


The Bontrager Ballista

The Ballista derives its name from the ancient Greek missile weapon. But instead of rocks, this Ballista is meant to project its rider to the finish line.

When Bontrager designed the Ballista, they concentrated on three major design principles – Fast, Cool, and Light. To achieve Fast, the team at Bontrager started with CFD models to determine what shape was fastest as well as the impact cooling vents would have on speed. While doing so, they determined that a mid-length design with three centralized vents offered the best “Fast” without fully compromising “Cool.”


With a design chosen, the team headed out to the low-speed wind tunnel to put the final prototypes through their paces. We think the final results were quite impressive. At a 30-degree angle at 30mph, the Ballista beat all of its tested competitors.


The three vents draw in significantly more air for increased cooling and all-day comfort. While internal, recessed channels manage airflow through the helmet and over the head.


At the rear is Bontrager’s Headmaster II system that allows one-handed adjustment to the helmet circumference.


And lest we forget Bontragers final design principle – “Light.” The Ballista weighs in at a claimed 262g.

The Ballista will be available in July in four color schemes – black, white, high visibility yellow, and Trek Factory Racing kit. In October, Bontrager will add an Asian fit version in both black and white.

Possibly the second most exciting detail about the Ballista (after the aero results) is the price. The Ballista will retail for $174.99, which is one of the cheapest options in the aero road helmet market.

Our Thoughts

We’ve been waiting for details about this product for a while now. In fact, every time we talked to Bontrager about their new products for 2015, our first question has been when would we finally get the full details on their new helmet. Needless to say, between the aero results and the price, we cannot wait to get our hands on one for testing. The South Florida heat is the perfect place to see just how well the Ballista’s cooling technology stacks up. And the best news is that we shouldn’t have to wait long to begin our testing. According to Bontrager, they are already in the process of getting one out to us. Stay tuned for our full review, and make sure to check out the Ballista in action aboard Trek Factory Racing riders on Saturday when the Tour kicks off!

3 responses to “Bontrager Ballista – First Look

  1. Looks good. But you need to ask some more critical questions rather than blindly believing the hype.

    If the claim is that the helmet is fastest, what about the Giro synthe, which you last week quoted as being “16% faster than the air attack”?

    But this misses the point (which only the recent Specialized campaign seems to get), which is that swapping from traditional cycling products to aero products make a huge speed difference. Splitting hairs that product x is 4 grams faster than product y is madness as we all know that helmet test results are very individual and that 4 grams of drag is a tiny percentage of the rider plus bike system.

    So it would be much easier to buy the product if Bontrager positioned it as having the same aero, benefits as other competing aero products, but at half the price.

  2. For the commenter above, check out the BikeRadar review (I think it was BikeRadar) they actually put all the helmets in a wind tunnel and evauluated all the road aero helmets. Bontrager came out on top.

Leave a Reply