The Protone caught more than a few sets of eyes when it was first unveiled. And it has lived a fairly long life for a single iteration of helmet, helped in part by the fact that Team INEOS (ne, Team Sky) continues to sport the lid year after year. Well, it caught my eye not long ago, too, when I found myself in the market for a helmet again. So I got it. I like the compact shape (it doesn’t make me look like a mushroom). I like the balance between aero and vented design (tasteful). And there’s one simple ingenuity that really gets me feeling warm and cozy about Kask: it’s that pleather or naugahyde chin strap the company adds to avoid salt encrusted nylon webbing from rubbing the neck raw. What a simple but beautiful design detail. Somebody was thinking … logically, helpfully, and with the rider’s best interests in mind. I think of photosynthesis, the invention of the ball bearing, or Benjamin Franklin hanging a key from a kite in a thunderstorm. Good, wholesome stuff to have with us. And so I really have only one bone of contention about the helmet.
There are engineers out there fueling the industry with bold plans on how to implement the next cog, for stepping up the performance of battery powered shifters, and creating apps for your smart phone that allow you to arrange the buttons on your levers just to your liking. Beautiful actors will demonstrate how badly you need these in your cycling routine. And yet, the bicycle persists as chiefly a mechanical device, and enjoyed by us all tremendously for the fact. Aside from that, it’s the naugahyde chin strap that really makes you happy on your twenty-five mile burner after work. First and foremost, there’s the riding of the bike, and then the little improvements along the way. Now what Kask needs to do is invent a soft gutter system that can be embedded in the foam pad that hugs your forehead when the helmet is on and cinched down. Really, why hasn’t someone figured out a way to channel sweat away from your brow and down your temples? I saw a shot of Sagan in the Tour de Suisse this year sitting up in his saddle and spraying down the lenses of his sunglasses with his water bottle, and I felt a kindred spirit. The Protone just dumps it right beside the bridge of your nose, and soon enough you’ve got a river of brine flowing across your field of vision. Kask, please make this new sweat diverting invention for the padded inserts backward compatible so that I can get it for my Protone.
There are some elite cycling apparel companies that just now are touting proprietary designs in men’s bibs that introduce a pocket-like feature in the chamois that gives your bits resting room up front without compressing them with an unforgiving lycra panel. Duh! It could have been done decades ago. But those companies feel it necessary to introduce the design as though they were leading some kind of brilliant revolution in fit and comfort. Meanwhile, Kask quietly introduces a simple chin strap that makes it more comfortable to wear your helmet. I hope they do the same, in the same fashion, sometime soon for a dribble proof foam head band in their helmets. That will be a revolution.
As for the flimsy plastic cradle pieces in the back that some reviewers have experienced breaking after time, mine are still intact after several months. Touch wood. They are flimsy. But still doing their job.