Keep A Cool Head With The KASK Valegro

Aerodynamics has been front and center for many racing helmet developments in the last few years, so I was surprised to see KASK ignore aero with the Valegro, basically calling it the best lid for climbing and hot weather.

This lid definitely caught my attention. I must confess I love marginal gains from wearing an aero helmet, both perceived and actual, but I also keep finding myself gravitating towards my “regular” helmet for better ventilation and frankly, better aesthetics.

When the helmet showed up last May my first impression was the Valegro was one good looking helmet that also happens to be darn light, thanks in part to its 37 vents. My size large CPSC-certified version tipped the scale at a mere 236 grams. The Valegro uses the Octo Fit retention system, carried over from the flagship Protone helmet. It doesn’t have the tech built in to combat against rotation impacts like MIPS, but it does have an extended polycarbonate layer that wraps around the edges, and a design KASK claims makes a safer helmet. 

Out on the road those 37 vents proved to be super effective. The Valegro is by far one of the best ventilated helmet I have tried. It kept my head cool on those slow long summer climbs to the point where there wasn’t any noticeable heat build up throughout. And for these very same reasons I would strongly advise against wearing one during the winter months.

The slim profile, especially the frontal brow area is also quite evident, especially compared to the POC Ventral I was concurrently testing. Sadly, there is no dedicated place to put your sunglasses, and the small vents were not particularly friendly to stick my glasses into.

To save weight, Kask forgoes the buckles under the ears with a non-adjustable sewn junction which fit me perfectly, but could possibly be problematic for some. The adjustable chain strap also differs from other brands in that it uses a faux-leather chin strap in favor of the traditional webbing, which I found it to be soft to the touch and comfortable on long rides. Note to Kask: Please get rid of that white “Made In Italy” label on the black strap. It’s just plain ugly on a otherwise gorgeous helmet. 

The inside of the helmet is lined with seven thin strips of 5mm thick antistatic and antibacterial padding. It’s comfortable, breathes well and dries fast, but there were not enough of them to soak up all the sweat pouring off my sweaty brow. As a consequence, excess sweat dripped on my face with more frequency compared to other helmets with more built in absorption. A horizontal brow pad would probably alleviate those unintended showers. My workaround is to wear a sweatband or a cap, but that reduces the very purpose of having an airy helmet. 

So who is this helmet made for? KASK developed it for Team Sky to use during those hot July stages of the Tour. The $250 Valegro fulfilled its purpose of being a lightweight, airy helmet. Despite the sweat dripping issue holding it back from being the perfect helmet, it’s still a helmet I would love to have around for those long, hot days in the saddle. Come on Kask, fix it and it’ll easily be my all-time favorite helmet. 

Kask Revamps Mojito, Hello Mojito X And Mojito X Peak

Kask’s Mojito helmet, a mid-range helmet amongst the Italian helmet maker’s burgeoning lineup, has got itself some storied history. It was Team Sky’s top flight helmet of choice between 2012-2014, before the brand (and Sky) really took off. The Protone and the Valegro have since taken its place as the flagship helmet(s), but the Mojito remained popular due to its fit, ventilation and competitive price.

And Kask is now ready to bring forth the next iterations of the Mojito: The Mojito X and Mojito X Peak.

Kask Mojito X Mojito X Peak
(L-R) Breathable, low-density EVA paddings and dual pivot fit adjustment system controlled via a single ratchet in the rear.

Both helmets are essentially identical products featuring 26 vents, a dual pivot fit adjustment system controlled via a single ratchet in the rear, breathable, low-density EVA paddings as well as Kask’s signature eco-leather chinstrap. The only difference between the two helmets is that the gravel-oriented X Peak comes with a flexible removable visor to combat glare and natural elements one might encounter on a dirt ride. 

Kask Mojito X Peak
Kask Mojito X Peak

Moving onto the helmet shell, both the Mojito X and Mojito X Peak borrow technologies found in the higher-end offerings such as co-molding that combines the impact-absorbing polystyrene cap with the hard polycarbonate outer shell into one cohesive unit. The polycarbonate outer shell, in what Kask calls MIT technology, is also said to offer better protection by extending its coverage beyond just the top of the helmet and into the back and the base of it. The decals are also reflective for better visibility in less than ideal conditions.

Kask Mojito X Mojito X Peak

Four sizes from 46cm to 64cm are now available. The X will come with 14 different colorways (above) for $199.95 whereas the X Peak will only be offered in black, red and white (below) for $206.95. 

Kask Mojito X Mojito X Peak



Giro’s Aether Integrates MIPS To A Whole New Level

Giro Aether MIPS
Photo: Giro

The Giro Aether MIPS may have the appearance of the much-loved Synthe MIPS, but the similarity ends there. The new flagship road racing lid is definitely not a 2.0 version of its predecessor. It’s got all the goods under the hood.

The Santa Cruz helmet firm has been one of the early adaptors of integrating MIPS (short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System) liner into its helmet lineup. Since then, having MIPS in a helmet is like having Gore-Tex in a rain jacket. Simply put, MIPS got all the buzz (for obviously good reasons of course).

Giro Aether MIPS
Photo: Giro

At the heart of the Aether MIPS is the new version of MIPS called MIPS Spherical. First used in Giro’s Avance ski helmet, the new design ditches the plastic slip-plane liner in favor of a two part progressively-layered Nanobead EPS foam liner where the inner foam behaves like the old plastic liner that rotates in the event of a crash.

Giro Aether MIPS
Testing the Aether MIPS at Giro’s own state-of-the-art test lab. Photo: giro

It’s very much like a helmet on top of a helmet. Not only does the new integration free up some of the precious headroom but it also eliminates the chance of rubbing one’s melon against a hard piece of plastic due to worn pads. MIPS Spherical seamlessly integrates the core function of MIPS to reduce rotational energy. Without the plastic “net,” the Aether is said to be significantly more comfortable and better ventilated.

Giro Aether MIPS
Photo: Giro

With that, Giro went further in refining the helmet with a slew of other innovations. The outer EPS liner is covered by a six-piece polycarbonate shell between the deep venting channels where it forces air over the scalp for the maximum cooling effect. For better safety, the Aether is supplemented with a translucent shatter-resistant arch across the top called AURA, short for Aerodynamic Ultimate Reinforcing Arch. Speaking of aerodynamics, Giro’s own wind tunnel testing shows it’s a decent performer in that regard as well.

Giro Aether MIPS
The translucent, shatter-resistant AURA arch. Photo: Giro

No helmet is complete without a retention system in the rear. Giro paired the Aether with a Roc Loc 5+ Air featuring independent left/right cradle adjustment, three step height adjustment and of course, the iconic fit dial adjuster.

Giro Aether MIPS
Roc Loc 5+ Air. Photo: Giro

But wait, there’s more. The Aether, like many of the top of the line helmets these days, has an integrated docking port for sunglasses and anti-microbial padding throughout. As a final touch, the Giro logos on both sides are laser-cut and pressed in to create a 3D look. A medium CE certified Aether MIPS is said to be 250 grams. We will be getting a test unit so stay tuned for our in depth review soon.

Giro Aether MIPS
One piece laser-cut and molded logo. Photo: Giro

The Aether will be available starting August 1st for $325/€299/£260/AU$475 in 3 sizes, with 9 different colors including three limited editions.

Utopia: A New Slippery Fast Aero Helmet From Kask

Utopia 3
Utopia 4
Utopia 1
Utopia 2

Aero helmets have seen many changes over the past few years. Gone are the days where they looked more like inverted buckets over the head and reserved only for time trials or triathlons. Italian helmet specialist Kask introduced their first take with the Infinity in 2013 and they are now following up with their 2.0, the Utopia. Check out the video below:

The Utopia is said to weigh 235 grams for a medium and will be available later this year in three sizes. Pricing to be announced.

Go Bag Essentials For The Gnar

I live in earthquake country and sadly I am more prepared to run out the door for a chance at some hero dirt than I am for a big shaker. But then again, maybe it just means I have my priorities straight. Because statistically I feel like I am more likely to get invited to a knobby tire adventure, than I am to be around for the “big one.” This might be foolish thinking and in the end I might regret my decisions, but it is much more fun shopping for new knobbies, than shopping for bottled water and C-rations.

Oddly, I have given this a lot of thought. Since I mostly travel with my road bike I am always trying to find some way to get in a little dirt when I am on the road. This means I have to beg, borrow, plead or rent my way onto a mountain bike. Below is the short list of things I try to pack to make sure I am not only able to ride, but am stoked when the opportunity arises.

Kali, Interceptor $180

Rolling over the top of a blind-pitch, headed to god-only-knows where, the last thing going through my mind is whether-or-not the person who designed my helmet knew what they were doing. Luckily, for me I’m wearing a helmet designed by protection nerd, Brad Waldron, at Kali Protectives. The Interceptor is one of many choices in the newish “enduro” helmet market, designed to give more protection than a weight-weenie cross country helmet, but not the no-holds-bar protection of a downhill helmet. The Interceptor has great coverage, style and plenty of ventilation for all day comfort and just the right amount of “holy shit, about to have an epic yard sale” piece-of-mind for your melon.

Five Ten, Freerider Pro Shoes $150

Sticky feet make for happy trails and the Five Ten reputation defining Freeride Pro is the perfect go-bag shoe. Pull them on, wear them through the airport, out to dinner and onto the gnar from the trailhead. The Freerider Pro is perfect for rolling all over the mountain and honing your mountain biking skills. If you’re not wearing Five Tens, what are you wearing?

Mission Workshop, The Hauser $215

Who knew staying hydrated could be so sexy. So very sexy. Mission Workshop’s Hauser hydration pack falls on the pricier size of packs to strap to your back during your shred and we know form is supposed to follow function, but in this case we wanted a Hauser long before we ever figured out if it was any good. Luckily, for us and for you, this is one quality ripping sack.

To start, let’s get the double bummer out of the way. First, the hydration ready bag, even at over 200 clams, does not come with a hydration bag. It seems a little silly to design a backpack specifically for hydration and to not include a bladder. Fortunately, for me I had one of Osprey’s Reservoirs on the way and can now attest it is one of the nicest and easiest to use bladders on the market. Second, this may not be the best backpack to pack on a scorching hot day. Although, we don’t get many of those here in NorCal, but having this in my go-bag as I prepare for a trip to the Arizona desert has me a little concerned. It just does not vent against the back as well as my Camelbak Mule.

Now on to what we did like about the Hauser. We already mentioned how amazing it looks, but with those good looks comes stellar construction. This pack is built to withstand any major yard sales, comes with an additional tool roll, has plenty of pockets for organization, is waterproof and we chose the larger 14 liter version which sits nicely on the back without hindering mobility. And we would remiss if we didn’t mention these beauties are made right here in the ol’ U.S. of A. and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

We like it. And we think it brings out the color in our eyes.

Shimano, Saint MX80 $60

These Shimano flat pedals are not the lightest or the thinnest pedals on the market, but they are reasonably priced and workhorses ready for anything you can huck off of or pedal up. The other nice part about packing these MX80 pedals instead of clipless is they will, arguably, make you a better rider. They will make you find a better balance on the bike, teach you to weight and un-weight more efficiently and will give you more confidence on a strange whip.

DynaPlug, Air Tubeless Repair $74.99

The hardest decision I have when putting my go-bag together is which tool, hell how many tools, do I “need” to feel comfortable on the trail with someone else’s bicycle. The first thing I make sure I have is some duct tape. I usually wrap a nice helping around a hand pump I bury deep in my bag. I then pack a giant multitool, with a chain breaker, into my bag. I love the tools from Lezyne, Park and Crank Bros. Which brings us to the DynaPlug Air and our love of all things DynaPlug and CO2. With this little wonder you just find the puncture, push the repair dealie into the punture and twist on the air. The air plugs the hole and fills your knobbies back to pressure at the same time. Of course, this won’t help if you have a side tear, but that is why I carry a tube, extra C02 and duct tape.

Silca, Maratona Gear Bag $180

I have been using my North Face duffel bag as my catch-all, stuff it full and go-bag for the last couple of years and I have had no complaints. The only problem being that although the duffel swallows everything I can think to throw into it, but that also means I can spend way too much time, sometimes in a panic, digging around in its gluttonous innards in search of this or that.

Along comes Silca’s new Maratona gear bag with a spacious amount of room and ample organizational opportunities. You have the option of three different carrying straps or make the quick conversion to make it a backpack. The Maratona is designed to meet airline carry-on regulations, so whether you are going around the corner or around the globe, your go-bag is ready to go.

Clif Bar, Crunchy Peanut Butter $1.79/ea, $17.88/box of 12

Sure they are better when they are fresh, but even an old Clif Bar is better than no Clif bar at all. Sure you could do a gel or a block or another bar, but I’ve been gnawing on Clif Bars so long they feel almost like comfort food. Ok, maybe not like a big bowl of mac-n-cheese, biscuits and gravy or a piece of pumpkin pie, but these bars have gotten me through plenty of oh-crap-I-am-about-to-bonk situations.

Light&Motion, Seca 1800 $350

Let there be light. With the days shortening, but the weather still within acceptable riding temperatures, it is the time of dawn and dusk patrols. It is also time to break out the blinky lights and headlamps. The Seca 1800 is an excellent choice for these extend the day jaunts. The quad LED array throws enough light to gobble up the dark and make you feel secure in your line choices on any trail you find yourself pedaling. We ran the Seca on our bars and we ran the Seca 1800 (as in 1800 lumens) on our helmet and didn’t feel like we were asking too much of it in either spot. Add in the fact this chubby, but lightweight light is waterproof and it will get you where you need to go, even if you should have gotten there hours earlier.

Giordana. Monsoon Jacket $380

The cycling rain jacket has come a long way in the last 5 or so years. Not that long ago rain jackets made for cycling were basically fancy garbage bags with zippers stitched in for good measure. You basically pulled it on and let the sweating begin. And lord forbid the rain eased before the ride ended and you had to remove your jacket… you were soaked through and through. The new generation of rain jackets is not only windproof and waterproof, but also “somewhat” breathable. The Monsoon jacket is cut plenty long, with great length on the elastic sleeves, taped seams and packs down to a surprisingly small footprint. I also love my Mission Workshop’s The Orion jacket, the Castelli Tempesta jacket and the Shower Pass Club Pro.

Kitsbow, Shorts $125

This is the first version of Kitsbow’s Base Shorts and I keep them at the ready for any last minute rides. They are beautifully constructed, bombproof and super cozy. I’ve put them permanently into my go-bag, knowing full well they are ready for anything the trail can throw at me. If my bits are protected and comfortable, I can always ride in a pair of jorts and a flannel shirt, so as long as I have my Kitsbow base shorts I am good to roll.

Killer Women’s Kit From Kask

KASK Protect Your Style Kit
Photo: KASK

Better known for their gorgeous lids used by teams such as Team Sky and Wiggle High5, the Italian helmet maker Kask is launching a new women’s specific apparel collection dubbed “Protect Your Style.”

KASK Protect Your Style Kit
Photo: KASK

KASK Protect Your Style Kit
Photo: KASK

Designed by former Dutch National Road Champion Iris Slappendel, the kit, a special edition Protone helmet with matching jersey, cap, and socks, is part of the company’s “KASK For Women” initiative which aims to “empower and inspire women to pursue their dreams equipped with the highest performing products to meet the specific expectations and needs of female users.”

“I design cycling clothes that are fashionable, so you have more fun on your bike. When designing the Protect Your Style range I was influenced by bold colours and geometric lines. It was great fun experimenting with where they would fit best and I’m really happy with how the items have turned out. They work really well together,” said Slappendel.

The 100% Italian-made kit will be available in small, medium, or large in mid-December at selected stores worldwide. The jersey will also be available in XS and XL for a more comprehensive fit range.