Reviewed by Brian Mullin

I have been wearing the Rudy Project Sterling helmet on and off since late winter, and it's a pretty sweet helmet. The Sterling is the new to 2010, and is their top of the line road helmet from the Italian manufacturer. The helmet is a great-fitting, well-ventilated helmet that offers plenty of protection, and is extremely comfortable.

Rudy Project Sterling
The Sterling helmet has a ton of ventilation holes, 18 to be exact, so it ventilates well and really helps cool your noggin. The helmet comes with an inner bug stopper net with incorporated padding, a second full padding set, a storage bag, and a visor. I really liked the plush helmet bag, something that always seems to lack from most manufacturers, it was a nice accompaniment. The Sterling comes in 2 sizes, a small/medium and a large, and is available in an array of 6 color choices with matte finishes. I tested a size large, and it weighed in at 369.5 grams, which included the inner mesh and visor.

Rudy Project uses a composite skeleton (skeletal system and in-molded shell) to strengthen the helmet, while retaining some wildly open set of sculptured ventilation holes. The opened skeleton removes some surrounding material for increased airflow, allowing for efficient cooling. There is also a "Eyewear Dock" built into the exposed skeleton to hold the arms of sunglasses, which is handy on long climbs or when low light conditions are encountered.


Next » Features

The removable inner mesh net covers about the frontal 2/3rd's of the helmet, and I found it to be quite comfortable, and I used it instead of the optional pads. Being removable also makes it easy to wash, to remove accumulated gunk. Either padding system attaches using small Velcro patches that are glued inside the helmet's shell. The plush suede like padding was soft, and has a comfy tactile feel on the skin, and since it was attached o the netting, the pads didn't drift. The net does a good job of keeping errant bugs from getting into through the front vents, and it can be adjusted to floating within the helmet depending on how you attach it to the Velcro pads. The padded chin strap was a nice feature, which added greatly to the comfort level of the helmet. On extremely hot days, the net can trap heat somewhat, but the ventilation holes do an excellent job of cooling things off.

I found the visor a bit small, and along with the somewhat blunt front end of the helmet, it didn't offer as much sun protection as comparable helmets.


Retention System
The Sterling has an excellent adjustment system that uses a comfort ring along with their retention dial system called the RSR7. I really liked the RSR7, it pulled very evenly, and was easy to adjust, even with gloves on. The RSR7 allows a finely tuned fit, and auto adjusts for both height and circumference with the turn of the dial, giving a secure fit without any excess flopping around on your head. I found the adjustable side straps difficult to use and adjust, but most troublesome was their propensity to breaking apart.


I broke 4 of the adjustable strap buckles in a short period of time, so I contacted Rudy Project about the breakage issue (they were aware of it), and they sent me an updated version that was slightly beefier. The new version lasted a good deal of time, but unfortunately they also broke. I gave up, and used some athletic tape from my first aid kit as a stop gap measure. Mountain biking can be a bit tough on helmets, with a lot of tossing it on and off, getting it caught on hydration packs, etc., but a buckle should stand up to the abuse.


Next » Bottom Line


Bottom Line
The Rudy Project Sterling was a comfortable helmet, with a great retention system, and a unique composite skeleton, that offers strength, durability and good ventilation. The inner net (aka the bug shield) is a highlight feature, being soft and well padded, and is easily removed for a washing. The excellent adjustment system that uses a comfort ring along with their RSR7 retention dial system, is easy to use (even with gloves), and makes fitting a breeze. The Sterling features an open, ventilated design with 18 huge vents and an exposed skeletal frame, which is very trick looking (form and function).

The adjustment strap buckles are a design flaw, and Rudy Projects needs to go back to the drawing board, since it takes away from an otherwise excellent helmet.

- Inner mesh net
- Padded chin strap
- Retention system: RSR7
- Venting system

- Visor is too small
- Adjustment strap buckles break to easily
- Adjustment strap buckles are difficult to use

Overall Rating: 3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers

MSRP: $224.99

Sterling Specs
  • S/M: 12 oz / 349 grams
    L: 13 oz / 374 grams
  • S/M: 54-58cm, 21.25"-22.8"
    L: 58-62cm, 22.8"-24.4"
Retention: R.S.R. 7 Disc

  • CE 89/686 EEC
    EN 1078
    CPSC 12.03
    AS/NZS 2063