Personal Struggles in Helmet Buying
My helmet broke. I actually really liked this helmet. It was a Lazer O2 and the cable tensioning system snapped on me. It was sleek and low profile, made me look like a pro but more importantly it didn’t make me look like I had a mushroom head in a circus side show. It was time for a new helmet and after noticing the cable flaw in the Lazer tensioning system I began my quest for a helmet with a check list of qualifications that I’m sure every cyclist has gone through. I’ll tell you my quest for a new helmet in hopes that maybe it’ll help some of you along the way find your perfect helmet.
I’m a bit nitpicky but you should be
It may seem absurd to hear that my number one helmet buying criteria is looks when you should be judging a helmet by its safety, but, come on, you’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t first and foremost care about what you were going to look like in it. I’m sure you started cycling without a helmet at one point because they just weren’t “cool” as you whipped your fixie tail between traffic, but, later on after one too many accidents you decided you liked your brain matter in your skull and not on the road and decided that if you were going to get a helmet it needs to look cool. All too many times I found myself in a store trying on helmets and looking in the mirror and then throwing it aside because I looked I was sporting some helmet from Bell’s day’s past. Well I wasn’t going to settle for that, I needed to look like I was born from design and ready to aero dynamically take on the Tour de France. Which, is exactly where I started. What were riders on the Tour wearing. There was a whole lot of new technology out there and they needed their helmets to be low profile and fast. So I wrote them down to do a Google search.
Searching and Searching…
Now onto my criteria in the new helmet. It needed to be the aforementioned sleek non-mushroom –head looking helmet, it needed to have quite a few holes in order to properly cool my head in the dead of summer, and it needed to have a tension system that didn’t use a thin little cable. That got rid of Lazer helmets but in searching my list got larger.
That year on the Tour I noticed quite a few people sporting a new bike helmet from a skiing and snowboarding company called Smith. I had never heard of them before but the helmet looked pretty great and I saw nothing but good reviews about their ski helmets. On top of that, I was drawn to the honeycomb design in the helmet’s vent and had to research why they went with such a unique design. Let’s start here.
After a Google search I saw that the honey comb shell design of the Smith helmets were put in place to allow for more vents in the out shell and were slanted in a way to let more air into the helmet without sacrificing safety. This is accomplished by when the helmet is in a serious accident the honeycombs crumple and thus protect your head. I cared about it because it made riders look like they were wearing a Star Wars rebel Endor speeder bike helmet. Sign me up. I ordered one off Amazon.
(Side Note: order off Amazon for helmets if you are going my route of finding the perfect one. Just keep buying and buying. I’m a Prime member and not only can you get it in a a day or two but they literally do not care if you rode and sweat in it for a week and return it, allowing you to test and test to your heart’s content with different models.)
I received the helmet and threw it on, damn, that is a comfortable helmet. It’s not the sleekest helmet but it didn’t look obnoxious. I liked it, and for a helmet, it actually turned a lot of heads. I constantly was stopped and asked about the helmet. I didn’t mind the attention. It added to a new criteria in helmets, must inflate ego.
As far as cooling my head off, well they weren’t kidding about their design. All those holes kept the flow of air going straight through and exhausting out the back. I felt great. On top of that, the padding didn’t itch or rub uncomfortably on some hot spots I normally have.
Here is where it all went wrong. My head tends to itch when it gets hot. It was itching and I went to stick my finger in one of the holes to scratch it without taking off my helmet. DENIED! “What!? Crap! The light is green, I can’t take it off now. ARGH Head needs to be scratched!”
I tried to look beyond that and wore it for another couple days but I noticed the second flaw. The strap triangle that goes over your ears laid on top of my ear lobe and it wasn’t adjustable. I couldn’t get it to properly open around my ear. It was time to send it back. I wish you worked out for me.
This was another helmet I saw on the Tour, maybe not this exact model but it at least gave me a name to look up. I saw some pictures online of others wearing it and it looked rather aerodynamic, looked sporty and out of the 3 colors, at least the matte black didn’t look offensive.
Snapped this up off Amazon again and it was on my head in a day or so. After one or two days the padding was already falling apart. The padding was thick like a hotel pillow and very comfortable but the Velcro on the inside keeping it up in the helmet just couldn’t hold it together and it all was falling out.
I also much have a huge head because this just didn’t fit. It certainly was the right size and fit long ways on my head but there was so much space on the sides of my head. It left a huge gap between head and helmet and just jostled side to side. Too much movement anf that just isn’t safe. Also, due to width it caused the mushroom head look.
Onto the straps again. This helmet caused me to once again add another check box to “things I’m looking for in a helmet”. The strap isn’t threaded anywhere into the helmet or tension straps, this caused some issues when putting the helmet on. With the loose helmet straps you would place it on your head and they would get pulled up between the top of your head the inside of the helmet which caused you to have to pull them down over your ears. Sure it wasn’t that big of a deal but it was annoying having to do this EVERY TIME!
I could go on about the wheel which tightens the helmet but maybe I’ll get a good review in the future.
Giro Atmos II
Got it, looked like a 80’s foam Bell helmet with some plastic carelessly glued around it. NOPE, returned!
I’m not even sure where I saw this helmet. It’s possible I caught some cyclist wearing it on Instagram and it looked like it might fit like my Lazer. I looked at their website and saw that it looked like KASK implemented some really premium features on it. Importantly, it had a feature I didn’t know I actually wanted on a cycling helmet and that is a fully articulated rear head strap, the plastic piece that wraps on the back of the head. This had multiple swivel points on this piece which allowed for adjustments down and a little swoop under the rear crown of your head. You could place it in multiple locations on your head to give you a rather secure, safe feel.
The pads are comfortable and plush and the straps are fully adjustable to allow my ears to fit in the triangle. On top of that the straps that go under your chin are made of leather giving it a premium and comfortable feel.
On top of everything the helmet is close to the head and sleek. It does not give me that hateful mushroom look.
This isn’t really a review here, this is just some help for anyone looking for the right helmet. To allow you to come to terms with your indecisive side. You don’t just have to settle for what ever is sitting on a shelf. You’re allowed to be nit picky even if it is a looks thing.