Lazer Helium Helmet
The Lazer Helium helmet has two big draws for us. The first is the shape. The rounded silhouette seems to fit closer to the head and more closely approximate a human form, not so much perched on top of the head, but surrounding it and mimicking the shape. We like to pretend that there's a human under bike helmets and if we're that human, we want it clear to others that we're not some kind of alien. Maybe it will help in our constant tussle with drivers if they're quicker to realize we're identical life forms.
The second in the secondary retention system Lazer uses. From the greater contact area to the airy cradle segments in back, the secondary system seems to need less overall pressure to hold our head snugly. This second feature should be good for everyone as it promises to hold heads that are neither perfectly round nor perfectly oblong with equal ease. We don't know which one is our head, but we've had moments where the Giro ProLight seems to put too much pressure on our forehead, possibly because the shape of our noggin might not be quite right for the helmet.
We went with the Medium/Large size, as we find our skull close to the limits of several brands Medium-sized helmets. We take Medium in Giro, Bell, and Catlike. Turns out, our head feels a bit small in the M/L. We tried out a friend's Genesis in XS/M and we could fit it, just barely; no caps under the helmet if we went with this size.
The Helium is supposed to be their light helmet, with ultra-thin ribbon-like straps replacing the typical double-layer straps found on most helmets. The helmet has carbon-fiber pieces holding segments together. There are two different densities of foam on the inside to further lighten it. Right out of the box, we could tell it's not competing with the Giro ProLight. Our helium, size Medium/Large, weighs in at 336g. Which puts it on the heavy side of high-end helmets these days. Odd.
We asked the United States representative for Lazer about this. He told us that they had a much lower target weight for the helmet, but in order to meet not only the European Community CE standards, but the U.S.'s CPSC and Australia's AIS, they needed to revise upward. The CE standard is the least stringent, followed by CPSC and AIS. "Our priorities are always safety, comfort/fit, performance in that order and we felt it would be too much sacrifice in the first two priorities to hit the third."
The weight is a disappointment. But the fit is quite good. With the Rollsys roller at the top of the helmet, it's easy and quick to snug the retention belt around your head. The skull-pressing scoops at the back don't feel like they're there at all. The pressure is as spread around the noggin as we imagined and the helmet can stay in place with what seems to be very little pressure.
While we're never going to not notice helmet straps, these ribbons feel better than most. They're similar to the straps on the Giro ProLight, but softer, smoother, and possessing a glossier finish. Lazer has the straps in blue and red, matching the red/white/blue team Katusha color scheme and helmet, for a bit of flash. These are adjustable, too, in the way that most helmets are these days. Locking buckles under the ears and a quick release under the chin, and a rubber strap for the excess material. Unique to Lazer, is a second rubber strap on the ribbon strap by the right ear. This is marked with a phone icon and can be used for threading an earpiece. We used it to keep the straps close to our head without cutting them.
Also similar to Giro, the Helium uses X-Static pads. These are wicking, anti-microbial pads that are machine washable, though rinsing them in water and then air-drying should be more than sufficient. The idea is they'll dry faster and won't stink as much, and when they do, you can toss them in the wash. They do dry pretty fast, and in almost two months of riding, they haven't gotten ripe. But there could be a second reason the pads work well. The pad that goes around your brow is what Lazer calls an "Airpad," meaning there are air channels built into the pads which match up with the Rollsys belt to let air through to your head. This indeed seems to help with cooling and keeping the pads dry.
In terms of venting, the Helium is pretty good. We came from riding the Catlike Whisper Plus in oven-like temperatures, which was excellent, and the Helium didn't seem its match, but for most conditions, the wind running through the helmet is plenty. The vents almost look small from the outside, but when you turn the helmet over, you can see the holes are big and the channels ample. If there's a place the venting doesn't seem great, it is looking at the inside and not making much sense of the exhaust channels. It's hard to determine if this is what separates the Whisper Plus from the Helium or not, but it's something to wonder about.
In terms of aesthetics, we like the red, white, and blue colors and how they blend in the helmet exterior. The combination of navy blue and pearl white with red lines slicing through is striking and fast. The silver carbon-fiber pieces are bright and modern. We're not crazy about having "Katusha" on the helmet, not so much for the tie to the missile of the same name, but for the team, which, with the exception of Joaquim Rodriguez and Alexandre Kolobnev, bores us. Luckily, the Katusha logos are stickers and can be easily peeled off. They should have come with the helmet but not stuck on; maybe others will get it this way.
Lazer makes a number of worthwhile accessories for this helmet. The lid comes with a nice black helmet bag that is smooth on the outside and soft on the inside. No reason to bash your helmet during travel. The bag is also a good place to stow sunglass case and sometimes socks, jersey, and shorts, if it's hot out. Lazer also makes a winter liner and a snap-on cover called the Aeroshell. We like both. The liner can substitute for a hat and a helmet cover that can quickly snap on for cold, rainy days seems like a great idea. It's a shame these aren't included with the helmet, but since they don't, we're considering them as additions to our winter wardrobe. With the Aeroshell, you have to get them specific to the helmet model and size in order for it to fit, but with that, there are some cool options, like a Lion of Flanders cover for those who want to channel their inner Museeuw.
With the Helium, the weight is a disappointment, particularly after riding with some very very light helmets. After that, the helmet seems pretty good, a solid performer that puts a premium on fit.