We first looked at the Catlike RAPID Tri back in March. And even though it was just being introduced, Catlike had already sent us a helmet to start reviewing. It took us a few more weeks to get the testing process going, but once we did, the RAPID Tri became at least one of our editor’s helmet of choice for not only testing miles, but racing as well. But before we jump into our thoughts, lets recap what Catlike built with the new RAPID Tri.
The Catlike RAPID Tri
The RAPID is actually available in two options – the RAPID and RAPID Tri. The RAPID is intended for track events and short time trials, while the RAPID Tri is for triathlons and long-course TT events. The difference being that the RAPID Tri includes three points of ventilation placed in order to enhance ventilation without compromising aerodynamics. Catlike calls this “TRI VENTILATION.”
Upfront are a pair of two air vents, and another two are located in the rear area. This ventilation, linked by an internal air-channel, ensures continuous airflow in the upper area of the head where heat accumulates. At the same time, Catlike designed the frontal position of the air vents in a way that they say does not compromise the aerodynamics of the helmet. Combined, these four vents create constant airflow to cool the temperature of the head.
The second and third ventilation points are located in the lateral parts of the RAPID triathlon helmet, where the air flows thanks to the openings created in the visor and along the side of the helmet. The ears are a temperature sensor, so these two constant air channels are essential to keeping riders refreshed. These vents are also featured on the RAPID (non tri), while the front vents are not.
Both the RAPID and RAPID Tri helmet include two interchangeable visors. The TRIvisor incorporates two lateral air vents that create a constant airflow to keep the ears fresh. The Nvisor is totally closed for extreme aerodynamics and is best suited for short time trials and track. Both visors are attached via magnets and are easily removed. Interestingly, for those who watched the Tour time trials this week, we couldn’t help but notice that the TRIvisor was the visor of choice for those riding the RAPID.
The RAPID Tri is available for $354.99 and comes with a protective hard case and an included helmet stand. The case is one of the better ones we have seen – soft on the inside but hard enough to withstand the bumps and jostling of travel. And at the RAPID’s price, a case is something we have come to expect included with purchase.
When it comes to aero helmets our biggest point of testing is ventilation. Because no matter how fast a helmet makes you, if you end up completely overheated heading into T2 (or the final 10K of your local time trial), you probably won’t be seeing the podium. Our noggin tells us that Catlike’s “TRI VENTILATION” works (at least while you are moving). While on the move, we constantly feel air over the top of our head and sides of our face. Our ears—the temperature sensors that they are—were kept nice and cool for the entirety of the ride. The only “catch” is that when you come to a complete stop, or go slow enough that air doesn’t flow over the helmet, you do heat up pretty quickly. We encountered this a few times while going up-hill (when speeds dropped below 10 miles per hour or so).
Getting the helmet on and off in transition is a breeze. There is more than enough room to get the helmet over your ears (you do not even have to bend the flaps back; it just fits over the ears). The helmet retention dial is easily reached at the back of the helmet (something we always tighten as we are jumping on the bike out of transition).
Speed is the one thing we cannot really discuss without the benefit of a true wind tunnel test. Catlike tells us this new helmet was designed to be superior to their Aero WT in every way possible, including aero. And knowing that 3rd party tests have shown the Aero WT to be one of the superior aero helmets on the market, we are inclined to believe this is a pretty fast helmet (but only independent 3rd party testing will be able to tell us for sure).
As we have said before, one of the best ways to tell if we like a helmet is if we race it, because while testing is our primary goal, we aren’t willing to compromise a race just for a test (sorry, but while we love our readers, we don’t love you THAT much). The RAPID has been in transition twice with us this season, with another visit planned in just a few weeks. It keeps us cool on the on the course, is easy to get on, and—based on Catlike’s data—it’s fast. What more can you want in an aero helmet?