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 Valergo, 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 Valergo 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 Valergo 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 Valergo 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 Valergo 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’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.
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.
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.
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.
The expo at Sea Otter has always been an integral part of the festival where enthusiasts can see, touch, purchase the latest gear, rub elbows with the pros, and score free swag. If you like any of the aforementioned things, then the 2018 edition which happened exactly a week ago with a sold out exhibit space featuring 500 exhibitors, would be right up your alley. It was even better than InterBike to be honest, and here’s a condensed version of what I saw.
Bikepacking is all the rage now and I spotted this sweet saddlebag from German bag specialist Ortlieb. Besides the use of obligatory waterproof fabrics, the $145, 11-liter, medium sized Seat Pack M features a stiffened bottom for stability while its small footprint is full-suspension and dropper post friendly. It’s got a roll top and bright orange compression straps to keep your content from bouncing around, but Ortlieb upped the game further with the inclusion of a purge valve on the side to enable users to compact it down even more.
Instead of showing a complete lineup of their rigs, GT had this little booth highlighting their history in full-suspension. There was a RTS, LTS, i-Drive, iT1… You know it. This 1998 STS-DH Lobo still looked amazing and oh the memories.
Shimano didn’t have a whole lot of new stuff to show, but they did show us their newest Ultegra RX rear derailleur which is basically a road derailleur with a Shadow Plus clutch to combat against chain slap and retention over rough terrains. The target audience? All you cyclocross gravel riders. The $109.99 RD-RX800 mechanical derailleur is compatible with both 1x and 2x 11-speed drivetrains and up to a 11-34 cassette. Available this summer.
Besides the RX derailleur, Shimano also has this purpose-built trail work rig for the organizers of the Trans-Casadia race. Built around a Shimano Steps e-bike system, the custom Sycip bike comes with a rack to carry a chainsaw, extra fuel and battery for the bike, full internal cable routes, and is adorned with more bling bits from ENVE. I just want to take this bike when I go camping.
Goodyear is diving head first into bicycle tires. We’ve covered the road-going Eagle All-Season in detail in another post. And here’s an up close look at their Newton tire intended for aggressive trail, enduro and downhill. The level of detail Goodyear has put in to it from its textured, reinforced casing to the precision-molded knobs is simply amazing. The Newton comes in both 27.5 and 29 from $70-$90 depending on the compound and casing selected.
Fi’Zi:K is an official sponsor of Team Movistar and it’s nice to see the Italian company offering their top of the line Infinito R1 shoe with Movistar blue trim equally for both men and women. It’s nice to see companies stepping up their efforts in treating women’s pro cycling equally, plus this special edition shoe looked GREAT in person.
Since we’re talking about shoes, Speedplay’s founder Richard Bryne showed me his latest project: An ultra thin carbon outsole. It doesn’t look like much but Bryne told us his latest creation with Shimano SPD-SL cleat is about one centimeter lower than a pair of Shimano shoes with the same cleat. The outsole has just been granted its own patent and while there wasn’t any word on when it would ever hit production, the original Speedplay pedal started out as a personal project too…
Vision has had the Metron 4D aero handlebar for a while now but the latest version, the Metron 4D Flat M.A.S, is aimed at those who might want to mount a time trial extension from time to time for that one time trial or triathlon. Besides the obvious cable routing for electronic wires and a comfortable aero flat top, Vision engineers added a mounting slot on both ends near the center clamp where one can quickly install the extensions and be done with it. It’s perfect for those who can only have one bike.
Kask introduced the $249 Valegro helmet with Team Sky at Tour De France last year and these lightweight lids are finally available in the States. Weighing in at a claimed 180-grams for a size small, it’s generous 37 air vents means your noggin’ will stay cool in the heat of the battle. It also includes antibacterial, fast-drying padding and Kask’s signature eco-leather strap to make every ride a comfortable outing.
Swiss apparel maker Assos not only showed up in their trademark Mobile Showroom, but they also brought their newest XC collection to show. The XC jersey comes with an earthier color palette and is tailored for riding in a more upright position which mountain and gravel riders are more likely to be in. Say goodbye to road jerseys pulling all over the place.
Assos also showed a pair of their new off-road Rally bib with a more activity-specific cut and an outer panel now interwoven with Dyneema polyethylene fiber to protect against abrasion and be more durable because mishaps on dirt happen way more than we’d like to admit and it sucks to ruin a pair of bibs worth a few Benjamins.
Longtime grip maker ODI got the usual collection of its Lock-On clamps in all kinds of colors but they also have these grip-inspired drink coozies for your cold one. These $8 sleeves come in 8 colors and grabs just as well as its line of grips. Also works as a joke to tell the unsuspecting that it is a new grip diameter standard.
These Italian-made Mint socks not only look sharp, but for every pair purchased a dollar goes towards National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Minted plans to release new, one and done designs in limited quantities on a quarterly basis so don’t wait before they’re gone for good, and for a good cause.
Steel is still real and New Jersey-based Von Hof showcased the ACX painted in eye-popping orange. Handbuilt in the US with the intention to be a dual cyclocross and gravel adventure machine, the Columbus-steeled ACX features a liberal use of custom-shaped tubes with a racing geometry, 40mm tire clearance, front and rear thru-axle, and then surprised us with a T47 bottom bracket. The $2,395 ACX comes in six standard sizes in two-color paint of your choosing with a matching ENVE CX Disk Fork. If stock sizing is not your thing, VonHof is also happy to make a custom one for you starting at $3,250.
IRC is making a comeback to the tire scene and the Boken is the Japanese tiremaker’s latest gravel tire. Available in 36c and 40c, the $80 tire uses a proven diamond center tread for speed with taller knobs on the side for cornering over rough roads. It’s tubeless ready and IRC have decided to go with a single-ply casing to be lighter and conform to the terrain better than multi-ply tires. We were told the tires were a hit at the recent road-heavy Belgian Waffle Ride and can’t wait to try ours.
Oregon-based Sage titanium showed off their prototype Flow Motion hardtail. According to owner David Rosen, the Flow Motion will come with a few firsts. It will be Sage’s first mountain frame and first model to be built entirely in-house. Designed to be paired with a 120 to 150mm fork, the long-travel hardtail is what Rosen envisions as a do-it-all dirt bike with room to accommodate up to 27.5x 2.8 or 29x 2.35 tires. The Flow Motion will be available for $3,900 frame only and customers will be able to build their own bikes on Sage’s web configurator.
Silca had a relatively small booth this year but they did have a few of their prototype Sicuro titanium bottle cages lying around.
Syncros almost broke the internet on the first day of Sea Otter with these super lightweight Silverton SL carbon hoops. OK, lightweight carbon hoops, we’ve heard that before, what makes these Syncros so unique, however is that the entire wheel from its 31mm (26mm internal) hookless rim, carbon spoke, and hubshell (with DT Swiss 190 ceramic hub guts) are tensioned and molded as one piece that is said to improve its strength and stiffness. At $3,500 per set, these Centerlock-only puppies sure ain’t cheap but what is $3,500 in the name of marginal gain?
I am a dad now so kids bikes are always on my radar and I couldn’t help myself but to stop and stare at this wooden Early Rider Bonsai balance bike. Besides its one-piece Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified marine ply birch veneer frame, the other visually striking part about the Bonsai is its one-sided rear wheel that makes it almost too gorgeous to be a kids bike. It’s got 12-in Kenda tires rolling on sealed hub bearings, a real 1-1/8 headtube with a real headset, an aluminum cockpit and a classy riveted saddle. It’s also only $159. Here’s a kids bike I actually want to keep around in my house for once.
Continental might seem comparatively slow in terms of tire development but they are by no means slackers. The German tiremaker takes their time in development and opts to perfect the product and safety instead of just throwing it out there. Tires such as the Grand Prix 4000 is a prime example of how they prefer getting it right the first time and thus remains to be a popular choice all these years. For 2018 they have revamped their mountain bike tires, not one, but four of their bestsellers: The Trail King, Race King, Cross King, and Mountain King. Highlights include updated thread patterns, improved casing with Cordura to eliminate sealant leakage, a less pronounced checker pattern on the sidewalls and finally, thread on the Mountain King (second tire from left) co-developed with fellow compatriot and frequent collaborator Adidas based on the trail running specific Continental rubber outsole. The new tires are available in 27.5, 29 and also 26 because they know many of us still love to ride our “outdated” bikes with 26in wheels.
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.
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.”
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.