The Lazer M2 Magneto and a Lazer Blade helmet chilling in sunny NorCal. Photo: Eric Gneckow/Element.ly
Plenty of vents on this Lazer Blade. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Lazer AeroShell deployment. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
Let’s get this out of the way—yes, you will feel like a gigantic Fred when you first click Lazer’s Magneto M2 shades to the specially-designed magnetic bits that hold them to your helmet straps. “What will they think of next?,” you’ll ask yourself, as you lament today’s cyberpunk age of cycling while reminiscing fondly of Bernard Hinault’s aviators gleaming in the sun.
But once you feel the air flow over your unencumbered ears, you’ll quickly get over it.
Long among the rarified “I can get this because I work in a bike shop” helmet brands (for me, anyway), Belgium-based Lazer has gained widespread attention in recent years for a series of thoughtful accessories that solve problems many riders never knew they had. The M2 is the second-generation flagship of the company’s Magneto line of sunglasses, which ditch the armature of traditional shades in favor of a stubby magnetic attachment.
Magnets, how do they work?
The magnetic anchor points are easy to install on the straps of any helmet—in this case, Lazer’s own Blade—and provide a great deal of adjustment in combination with multiple rows of magnets on the sunglasses themselves. After a few minutes of fiddling, the arrangement provides a snug fit mimicking that of typical shades.
It’s hard at first to understand why any of this actually matters, but it hits you after the first pedal stroke. Other high-end shades have various intakes to channel air across the ear, but Lazer’s system has nothing in the way that would limit air flow. It’s glorious, and it only gets better as the sun cranks up and the miles tick on.
Have you ever wrapped up a huge ride and found your ears sore from your sunglasses? Sure, you’ll probably survive, but it’s not even an issue with the Magneto system. The attachment also comes with the ancillary benefit of keeping your helmet strap well-behaved by providing a rigid axis across the front of the face—another example of Lazer solving a problem you didn’t realize existed until these crafty Belgians figured it out.
Zeiss is nice
This all would be moot if the business end of the shades were crap, but Lazer did a fantastic job with the M2. The Carl Zeiss lenses are stunningly clear with zero distortion, and the close-fitting design does wonders to block the wind. A treatment to the lenses also keeps them from fogging up, though it’s hard to say if that will last over the long term.
Lazer kindly includes an easy-to-swap set of spare armatures that convert the M2 to a more traditional design, but in a bit of irony, the arms actually extended back far enough for this tester to hit the structure of the company’s Blade helmet. It is possible to get them into position with some determined wiggling.
Over-engineering you’ll love
The Blade itself is a lightweight lid with an updated version of Lazer’s cozy Rollsys system, which tightens the helmet through a top-mounted rolling mechanism instead of the more common rear ratchet. I’ve found it to be the most comfortable fit mechanism by far among the many I’ve tried over the years, providing light and equal pressure across the head reminiscent of a well-fitting (and safer) beanie.
The simple strap guides along the sides of the helmet are also a slam dunk in a subtle way—the stay-flat design spreads the straps wide around the ear, making it easier to achieve a comfortable fit. The low-profile helmet still manages to wrap around a large portion of the head, providing ample protection in a stylish package.
But wait, this is Lazer! Simply making a helmet is not enough! This Blade also comes with an optional plastic windshield called the Aeroshell, a tight-fitting cover offering an aerodynamic boost at the expense of ventilation. It can be a fair trade-off depending on the circumstances, be it racing a time trial or even just a spin on a cold day.
The Blade is also made to work with many of the Lazer’s other bits and bobs—a helmet-based heart rate monitor eschewing the old-school chest strap, an always-there rear LED and a little strap-based lock for quick coffee breaks. It’s a trove of well-considered accessories that each address a nagging problem, issues that Lazer has thoughtfully accommodated in a way that improves the overall pleasure of cycling.
Add on the Magneto system, and it’s a lot of goodies on offer for the humble helmet. A Lazer spokesperson was not available to confirm whether the company is developing a sleek helmet mirror for the Blade, probably due to the fact that I never attempted to identify or contact that person.
I will say that the Blade probably doesn’t come out on top of the competition in terms of ventilation, something I’ve longed joked is a consequence of the company’s Belgian roots. Yet Lazer has appeared to improve significantly in this area since the similarly styled Genesis was my go-to lid, and with so much going on with the Blade and Magneto combo, it might be time for another look.