Which of the latest crop of lightweight cycling helmets fits the best, cools most efficiently and provides the best comfort? We’ve tested half a dozen to find out…
1. BONTRAGER VELOCIS £159.99
Tested weight (size M): 219g
The Velocis has a feeling of security. The click-wheel closure is low on the back of the head, adding to this all-enclosing sensation, and this adjuster is child’s play to use. The straps are easily tangled, but obviously solid in use once adjusted and fastened. The internal padding is some of the most comfortable here, and venting is copious… We counted 13 vents and 11 exhaust holes, and it really does flow air efficiently on to and away from the head.
2. BIRO SYNTHE £189.99
Tested weight (size M): 237g
Giro’s new Synthe is the choice of many pro cycling teams. Its shell is compact, hugging the head rather than sitting on top of it. The interior is very snug, especially at the forehead, where some helmets can exert painful pressure over time. It’s a bit of a bind to set the straps up, but it only needs doing once. Rubberised points in the sides ensure sunglasses don’t fall out when stored on your head mid-ride, and the venting is near-perfect for spring.
3. LAZER Z1 £199.99
Tested weight (size M): 236g
The only helmet here to eschew the usual dial closure for a helmet-top barrel adjuster – it works brilliantly, and you can feel the internal structure of the helmet closing around your head evenly and comfortably. The venting works ultra-efficiently, and if it’s raining or very cold (or if you’re racing), you can fit the included ‘aero shell’ over the top. Everything about this helmet screams quality. It’s not the lightest lid on test but it’s the one we’d reach for every time.
Overall: 5/5 and our winner!
4. MAVIC COSMIC ULTIMATE £165
Tested weight (size M): 201g
Mavic’s offering sits high on the head, and has a bit of a ‘mushroom effect’ on your appearance. That said, it has some of the best venting here, and impressed with its low weight. The interior’s padding is supremely comfortable, aided by spongey material at the nape, ensuring a good all-round fit that remained unobtrusive for hours of riding. It’s one of those helmets that you quickly forget you’re even wearing. The dial adjuster at the rear is easy to use.
5. SCOTT ARX PLUS £74.99
Tested weight (size M): 254g
Scott’s new helmet is designed to roll, countering rotational forces in the event of a crash, but feels secure. It’s very well vented, while the outer shell extends further down the back of the head than some. It’s easy to get the perfect fit, while sunglass arms are quickly stored in the side vents thanks to simple channeling. Its score is helped by its low price in this company, but it can’t quite match the Lazer for comfort, versatility and weight.
6. SMITH OPTICS OVERTAKE £200
Tested weight (size M): 268g
On the cusp of being an aero helmet, the Overtake has minimal venting at the front, and one of those three air holes is blocked by forehead padding. The honeycomb inner shell is said to vent air upwards from the head. This worked well, at least in cool conditions. The straps are sturdy, and easy to initially set up; the padding is amazingly cosy. The shell extending down behind your ears also protects the head well and adds to a feeling of ultimate security.
WORDS: Marc Abbott IMAGES: Joseph Branston
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