From Inside Peloton: The Direction of Protection
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
NEW HELMET PROTECTION
Much like bikes, apparel and wheels, helmets fractured into different categories a few seasons ago—aero helmets, lightweight helmets, and helmets with all the fit bells and whistles. And, like those other products, helmets have begun to morph into single products that do it all. New helmets are light, aero and well ventilated with comprehensive fit systems.
Smith Optics is not a name we would have nominated to reinvent head protection, but the new Overtake, based on technology debuted in its mountain helmet, the Forefront, has done just that. Another helmet that defies category, the Overtake, is only 250 grams, features a 360-degree fit system and a new concept for ventilation, and according to Smith is the second-fastest road helmet on the market, only fractionally slower than the Specialized Evade.
Smith combines EPS foam with a tubular structure called Koroyd that allows the manufacturer to use less material than EPS alone, creating a smaller overall helmet, which is where the aero savings and weight savings come from. Smith calls the combination Aerocore and it lives up to all the relevant safety standards, despite the thinner construction. Smith is also offering an MIPS upgrade, a low-friction layer that dissipates angled impact, for $60 and an added 30 grams.
Next Level Thinking: In addition to its other benefits, Koroyd’s tubular structure and open cells create continuous cooling at any speed without a reliance solely on evaporative cooling like standard EPS helmets, making it very effective on slow, hot climbs. $250; 250 grams; smithoptics.com
Lazer Genesis LifeBeam
The Lazer Genesis is not a new helmet, in fact it’s almost 10 years old. That its fit and styling have held up for so long is a testament to how ahead of its time it was in 2005. Not surprising from a company as forward thinking as Lazer. For 2014, it has breathed new life into the Genesis thanks to a partnership with LifeBeam. A monitor integrated in the existing headband at your forehead relays your heartbeat to a unit at the back, which sends it to ANT+ or Bluetooth devices. Say goodbye to your heart-rate strap.
LifeBeam is a company born from the military and aerospace world that designs wearable biosensors, and the Lazer helmet is one of its first consumer products.
Our sensor has run between 12 and 20 hours on a single charge with a mini USB and provides a satisfying “beep” and a blue light to let you know it’s up and running. Synching with a Garmin head unit has been seamless.
Next Level Thinking: Lazer’s Rollsys fit system and its progressive circumferential fit adjustment synchs perfectly with the LifeBeam optical sensor. It stays put under heavy sweating and extreme motion with no irritation. $250; 285 grams; lazersport.com and life-beam.com
In terms of segmenting its offerings Giro was one of the first. It had the featherweight ProLight, the slippery AirAttack and the all-purpose Aeon. The Synthe essentially replaces them all, it is 16-percent faster than the Aeon, 13-percent lighter than the AirAttack and even a touch cooler than the super-ventilated Aeon. The Synthe is actually faster than the AirAttack in all but a head-down position and only 28 grams heavier than the Aeon. With a Roc Lock Air fit system and Giro’s well-loved head form, fit doesn’t suffer either.
Designed in CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and verified in the wind tunnel—like just about everything except chamois cream these days—Giro hit upon Aero Mesh as a way to channel air flow cleanly over the helmet and through the vents, increasing cooling and reducing drag. The Aero Mesh also provides a secure dock for your sunglasses. When we said the Synthe was full featured we meant it.
Next Level Thinking: Light helmets that fit well can feel like they disappear on your head, but the Synthe takes it a step farther thanks to its aerodynamics. It eliminates so much wind noise your ride is both calmer and safer. $250; 250 grams (MD); giro.com
Mavic Cosmic Ultimate
A relatively new player to the helmet game, Mavic has been leveraging its relationship with ski giant Salomon to create more wearable products. Its first helmet, the Plasma, fit well, had stand-out looks and provided good ventilation, but it fell short in one important regard: it was fairly heavy. The new Cosmic Ultimate tips the scales at 210 grams, shaving more than 100 grams from the original Plasma, without sacrificing fit or retention, with fit features dubbed ERGO Hold SL and ERGO Shape.
Rather than base its head form on what was already on the market, Mavic studied thousands of cranial scans. The result is a rounder shape then either Giro or Bell and, with 6cm of micro adjustment at the rear dial, it fits a broad range of heads very comfortably. Generous dual-density pads help pull moisture from your head and the massive venting and internal channeling whisk it away to cool you down.
Next Level Thinking: Like all its products, Mavic’s Cosmic Ultimate sets a new standard for product finish. The seams are perfect, the foam edges are clean, and no glue is visible. Beautiful. $200; 210 grams; mavic.com
Bell Star Pro
Beware when asking your sponsored athletes what they want out of a product. Bell asked the Belkin team riders what they wanted out of a helmet and heard: “As ventilated as traditional helmet, but more aero than the best aero helmets.” Yeah, good luck with that. Bell’s answer was the Star Pro and it just happens to be as ventilated as a traditional helmet and as aero as the fastest lids in the peloton. Bell achieved this through adjustable vents called Active Aero. Of the 15 total vents, 13 can be closed with a lever on the back. Bell claims that, when closed, the helmet is faster at 25 mph than the Specialized Evade and the Giro AirAttack across most common wind angles.
The Star Pro also features a removable shield by Zeiss Optics that fixes with magnets, as well as a new fit system called Float that has more vertical adjustment in the rear cradle. With vents open, the Star Pro is no slouch when it comes to cooling; it’s almost equal to its heavily vented cousin, the Gage road helmet.
Next Level Thinking: Maybe this isn’t next level thinking, but we love the moto-inspired silhouette. The name itself calls back to Bell’s long history in motor sports—its top-of-the-line helmets are all called Star. $240 ($280 with Zeiss shield); 280 grams; bellhelmets.com
From Issue 33.