SUOMY GT-R Time Trial Helmet
Suomy isn’t a brand that many in the triathlon scene have probably even heard of, let alone thought of for their next helmet purchase. Suomy is a relatively new company, having been founded back in 1997, starting out predominantly as a motorcycle helmet manufacturer. The founder of the company, having worked for Yamaha for many years decided to commit to producing his own Italian-made brand of helmets. Along with his two brothers, one a motocross racer and the other a nuclear engineer came Suomy, pronounced Su-oh-mee (a rather Japanese sounding name), that quickly grew in various sports, with its fluorescent red “dot” becoming unmistakable on its riders heads.
After starting in motocross and then taking the superbike market by storm, being worn on the heads of superstars including Troy Bayliss, Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi, the company took off on the world stage. Suomy also had their share of other sports keen to utilise the protective equipment, including fencing, jet skiing, speedboat racing and even a fashion line with its own fragrance! Can you get any more Italian? Having realised that there was a decline starting within motorcycling, the founders knew they needed to diversify, and Eco-friendly sports such as cycling were targeted. With such a strong reputation in motorcycling, when Suomy stepped into the cycling arena in 2013, you would expect some pretty safe helmets. What you also get are some pretty unique looking helmets. With three road helmets and one time-trial helmet to choose from, there is something for all triathletes. In this case, the Suomy GT-R time-trial helmet is what we are looking at and, as we mentioned, it is quite a unique looking helmet
Straight out of the box the Suomy GT-R is quite striking. In a world where most brands have gone down the mono-colour route, Suomy are quite the opposite, with more colour and flair that reflects their Italian heritage. The model we trialled, while predominately white, had swirling black graphics and a bright fluoro red/orange tail, and a rather prominent Suomy logo on either side of the helmet. As with many time-trial helmets these days, the GT-R is a short-tailed helmet, although not quite as short as two of our favourites in the Kask Bambino and Giant Rivet TT helmets, and as such doesn’t sit up into the wind that much when you look down. This is particularly important for triathletes because, on the whole, we are racing in longer events than time trial cyclists and have a habit of moving our heads around, and up and down a lot more.
The GT-R comes with a few specific features that make it a really attractive helmet for triathletes. First up are the nine vents and six channels throughout the helmet, which are designed to keep air flowing through the helmet and to eject warm air from your head, keeping you cool. Secondly, to the visor, which we tend to think can make or break the riding experience. Made well, they are really useful, as they mean you don’t need to fumble around trying to get sunglasses on with a tight fitting helmet. The one that came with our test helmet was clear, but other tints such as smoke are available. The one caveat being the need for ventilation holes in the visor to help prevent fogging. The visor on the GT-R not only comes with the aforementioned ventilation holes but an anti-scratch and anti-fog finish. The last feature is the matte finish to the helmet, and while you would be forgiven for thinking it was a style feature, it is actually an important design feature. According to Suomy, the matte finish is actually more slippery than a gloss finish, thus making it a faster helmet, and we all know that free speed is good speed.
“The GT-R comes with a few specific features that make it a really attractive helmet for triathletes.”— The Test Lab
So, how does the GT-R perform? We took it to the racetrack and velodrome to find out. Getting a TT helmet on in the heat of a race can be difficult at the best of times but with the GT-R being a bit wider than some others it slips on very easily (as a side note the visor doesn’t interfere with the process in any way), and clips up quickly. Unlike the Kask and Giant helmets we mentioned earlier you don’t need to bend the ear flaps out to get this helmet on and while this doesn’t necessarily make it faster to put on, it does give you some peace of mind that you are not damaging the helmet.
On the road, the GT-R doesn’t seem to heat up at all and is very comfortable. When looking down, or to the left or right there is very little wind catch, in fact, you quickly forget you are using a TT helmet at all. The adjustment dial is easy to use, although trying to get it as close to right before the race would be the best option. However, should you need to adjust the sizing during the race, rest assured you can do it. One other benefit of using the visor is how quiet the helmet is. It’s like being in your own little bubble. Having said that now seems like the right time to say that we would recommend only using this helmet with a visor. It really does appear to complete the sphere like shape allowing it to be very slippery in the wind. Without the visor, the helmet feels like it would catch a lot more wind and not be the as effective as helmets designed to work with no visor, such as the Giant Rivet TT helmet. So, if there is a reason you need to wear sun
nies, such as prescription sunglasses, either use the clear visor or maybe look at another helmet.
At $379 the Suomy GT-R is a really neat product, and amongst time-trial helmets, this puts it in the mid-range for pricing. It comes with the visor, soft bag for protection and replacement padding, but only comes in the one size, 54-61. The helmet weighs 385g and despite this low weight, feels very sturdy. Overall, once we embraced the graphics and large logos – the visor, fit and ventilation alone made this one of the best time-trial helmets we have tested, and would highly recommend it to anyone. In fact, we might try and hold onto this one until the end of the season to see what impact it has on our racing.