Where Formula 1 meets Star Wars: Inside the radical TT helmet heading to the Tour de France

'It wasn't about looks ... it was about speed': Uno-X and Sweet Protection team up on social media-stirring Redeemer helmet.

Photo: Wordup Projects

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It’s got Formula 1 thinking, Star Wars looks, and it’s bound for the Tour de France.

The new time trial helmet on top of Team Uno-X racers is touted as one of the fastest in the peloton, and its radical design is blazing its way across a premier calendar from Paris-Nice through the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes.

Developed in collaboration with Uno-X’s U23 time trial champion Søren Wærenskjold and former hour record holder Joss Lowden, the head-turning (excuse the pun) Sweet Protection Redeemer 2Vi helmet already caused a stir.

“It gets some attention because of its looks. The Eurosport commentators said spaceships landed on our riders’ heads,” Uno-X commercial manager Erik Nordby said in a presentation this week.

“But it wasn’t about the looks. Obviously within the design parameters, we try to make it as good-looking as we can, but it was about speed, about creating something fast – that was the focus.

“And that is what we ended up with.”

‘It’s really, really fast, and really, really safe’

Uno X TT
The Redeemer debuted at the Volta ao Algarve in February. (Photo: Szymon Gruchalski)

Sweet Protection produces accessories, and apparel for skiing, cycling, paddle sports, and more.

The relative newcomer to the pro peloton currently works with just Uno-X on the road, but boasts personal partnerships with gravel stars Ivar Slik and Alexey Vermeulen as it looks to crack the burgeoning U.S. scene.

The Norway-based brand piled resource into its wild new Redeemer creation.

Pioneering Swedish brainiacs Mips collaborated in what Sweet Protection claims to be an extra-safe, extra comfortable helmet.

Formula 1 aerodynamicist Kyle Forster oversaw a 15-month design and test process that unfurled through a saga of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis and wind tunnel testing.

Uno-X’s premium powerhouses Wærenskjold and Lowden became test specimins replicating riders of both ends of the size spectrum.

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The result?

A helmet likened to that on top of Darth Vader defined by its huge splayed shoulders, flat back, and a so-called “Laminar Flow Bypass Duct” air vent on the crown.

The overall effect is claimed to reduce drag on both the unit itself and the full “system” of the bike and rider.

In an era where TT helmets are becoming more bizarre by the season, it’s the flared shoulders that stand out on Sweet’s Redeemer.

“The rider’s shoulders have a very specific pressure pattern where they have a high-pressure region,” Forster said in a launch event this week.

“The tighter you can get around the shoulders, the less uncontrolled losses you’ll have coming out. And the less fluctuation and turbulence you’ll have will result in slightly improved drag and improve downstream flow effects.”

And the hole at the top?

Social media speculated it was a cooling vent, but not so.

The Laminar Flow Bypass Duct internally passes air from the top of the helmet through those oh-so-controversial shoulders in a bid to optimize aero efficiency.

“The pressure on the front of the helmet in the central area is reduced because we’re allowing some mass flow to bleed through,” Forster explained. “It’s essentially as if we had a much smaller helmet in this region.”

Weighing in 490g for a size large, the hefty-looking Redeemer is on par with its competition.

And despite how it looks overall, the lid isn’t busting out of the UCI’s regulation size boundaries or breaking barriers with its vitals.

“When you create something a bit radical, people are always going to come with guns blazing. They can say whatever they want about it. But we know it’s a fast helmet, and we know it’s a safe helmet, so we’re happy with it,” Sweet Protection design chief Thomas Larsen Røed said Tuesday.

“It’s not the widest, it’s not the longest helmet, it’s not the tallest helmet. It’s just really, really fast and really, really safe.”

No numbers?

Former hour record holder Joss Lowden was involved in the design and test process. (Photo: WordUp Projects)

Uno-X and Sweet Protection are loud in touting the Redeemer as “a new benchmark in aerodynamics” that would “redefine speed.”

Yet the Scandi pairing is reluctant to put numbers on its Star Wars-style design.

“People are tired of hearing about how many watts you save from this that and the other, because it’s so dependent on the protocol. Where do you do the test, what speed you do the test, the yaw angles, the test facilities. So I’m very hesitant on giving exact watt savings, because it depends on the scenario,” Uno-X’s performance expert Casper von Folsach said Tuesday.

“But from the testing and the benchmarking we’ve done against other helmets, I can say without a doubt that this is the helmet I would prefer our team to be riding.”

The Redeemer made its debut at the Volta ao Algarve last month, where Anton Charmig finished best-placed of Team Uno X’s starters at 20th.

The Scandi seven that donned the lid at the Paris-Nice team time trial this week finished 21st of 22 squads.

Look to the TTs of this summer’s Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes to offer Uno-X and its Redeemer headware the ultimate chance for redemption.

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