With more than a million units sold to date, Kask’s Mojito helmet has proven to be a very successful model for the 16-year-old Italian helmet maker. Sure, the arrival of the Protone, its new premium flagship in 2015 somewhat took the limelight away from the Mojito largely thanks to Team Sky’s success. According to Kask, sales of the Mojito remained steady.
The Mojito, now in its 10th year within the company’s burgeoning line up, was first updated back in 2018 after a seven year run. The upgrade was minimal, save for the gravel variant with its removal visor. I honestly can’t differentiate between the two generations if they were presented side by side in identical paint.
The newest third generation that was just announced today, aptly named Mojito³ for obvious reasons is a whole different beast altogether.
At first glance, the Mojito³ looks like a Valegro with less vents (sorry Kask). On second thought, it looks like a mash up, a tasteful one mind you, of the Valegro and the outgoing Mojito X.
Weighing in at a claimed 230 grams in size medium, the Mojito³ is ten grams heavier than its predecessor. It has a smaller volume than the X but it has 900 cm² worth of open space to keep one’s head cool, despite the number of vents decreasing from 26 small ones to 17 decidedly larger vents.
The helmet shell follows Kask’s method of wrapping the polycarbonate outer layer around the edge of the helmet for better shock absorption. Its fit adjustment has also been upgraded from the old Up & Down Fit System to the same Octo Fit system found in its higher end models. The signature faux leather chin strap remains.
Together, Kask claims an improvement of up to 32% on rear impact, 25% on frontal impact, and 12% on top impact. There is no MIPS option but the Kask is quick to point out the Mojito³ passed the European Standard CEN TC158-WG11 shock absorption test which includes rotation impact.
The Mojito³ is available today in six colors and three sizes for $199.
That was my first impression of the POC Octal in 2014. Yeah, the bright colors were dope and all, but I had a hard time liking its shape. Plus, I just got a new helmet that I really, truly loved so I was not about to drop a few more Benjamins.
That didn’t stop me from keeping tabs on the Swedish firm’s progress. It’s pretty hard not to notice them on the road either. Similar to its fellow swede compatriot Volvo where you can unmistakably spot one from a mile away, it’s easy to pick out a POC amongst of sea of helmets, not that that’s a bad thing or anything.
The time finally came when it was time for a new lid. I was curious about aero helmets because seriously, who doesn’t like free speed these days. I also despise the feeling of wearing a bucket. I already get that when I have to wear my fire or ballistic helmet, thank you very much.
But I do want a do-it-all helmet.
POC just happened to drop the Ventral SPIN aero road helmet around the same time, so I decided to give it a run. We covered it during its initial launch so I’ll spare the technical details and will focus on how it works on the road. Touted Aerodynamics and ventilation aside, I was especially intrigued with the blue SPIN padding between the shell and my noggin’ that made more than a splash: Lawsuits against those seemingly benign, albeit squishy pads were filed (and settled). Is SPIN finally a challenger to MIPS?
I ended up wearing my all-white Ventral SPIN for almost two seasons now, and it’s time to taIk about it. TL:DR: I am a happy camper.
Sure that POC look takes some time to get used to, but what helmet doesn’t? The Ventral is a bit bigger, more bulbous, and perhaps has an even thicker appearance than a lot of helmets, but it’s a shape that grew on me as weeks passed.
From its frontal view, its generous five intake vents doesn’t give away the fact that this helmet is meant for speed. There are six large exhaust vents in the back that are aggressively shaped with sharp lines like the back of a Lamborghini Huracan. Bold. A dedicated dock for sunglasses is also neatly integrated out front.
Large air vents usually mean ample ventilation at the cost of aerodynamics, but POC mapped them to essentially force the wind in and out of the helmet on a specific flow math to create what is called the venturi effect. In Ventral’s case, the guided airflow utilizes moving air to its advantage to vent and cool heads while producing a more efficient air flow minimizing turbulence.
All those prominent statements aren’t easy to validate without a wind tunnel, but I can say with great certainty that it is a very comfortable helmet to wear day in and day out. The Ventral channels air well, and run cooler than other aero road helmets that I’ve tried while performing admirably in terms of airiness just below the exceptionally airy, climbing oriented Kask Valegro.
But while Kask fell short in the internal padding department, POC’s SPIN pads, short for Shearing Pad Inside were wonderful. Its silicone composition gave it a decidedly more fitted feel compared to regular foam pads.
Visually, it’s difficult to see beyond a humble padding that goes between one’s head and the helmet, but the very same blue pads, or precisely, the allowed movements of the pad’s gel-like center, is POC’s secret sauce to reduce rotational impact and brain damage. The concept does exactly what MIPS does with its movable helmet liner, but POC’s integrated solution is arguably cleaner and more subtle.
At $290, the Ventral comes at a premium, even some $40 more than the Ventral Air, its newer, lighter and more ventilated little brother. I am curious to see how it’ll pit against Giro’s Aether with its new MIPS Spherical system that eliminated the hard plastic slip plane of the original MIPS, or the evergreen Kask Protone. But one thing that’s certain: The Ventral is one heck of a lid one should consider when looking for an aero helmet that excels all around besides free speed.
Remember the Aeroshell? Lazer’s innovative, if simple, plastic helmet fairings have allowed users to convert ventilated models to aero alternatives for several years. It’s a smart accessory adding versatility for users, but with no way to stow it, you better make peace with the level of head sweat you committed to at the start of the ride.
Enter the Bullet 2.0, the latest iteration of a creative, aero-profile Lazer lid that allows quick and easy toggling of the closure of its front-facing vents. Riders can keep things breezy when desiring better comfort and close the vents for better aerodynamics when needed, all without the need for some additional accessory. How does this interesting approach perform in the real world, and how does the 2.0 improve on the original?
First, the specs. Lazer reports the Bullet 2.0 weights 315 grams in size small. The helmet ships with several swappable panels (more on that later) and large Zeiss lens that is specific to this model. Lazer built a rear-facing red LED into the ratcheting retention mechanism for the Bullet 2.0, and finally, there’s a branded cloth bag with a drawstring to keep everything together. Prices vary, but this tester found costs of about $270 online.
The headlining feature of this helmet is clearly the ability to change modes on the fly. The default front vent is more complex than it might appear to a casual observer – there are four “fins” in the sliding mechanism that direct air over the head and pivot to sit flush while closed. The whole system is easy to operate, though this tester found it tricky to apply enough force while in motion in the saddle without much to grab on to. Still, it’s easy, and it works.
It’s difficult for a layman rider to comment on the aerodynamic benefits of “closed” mode, but Lazer offers some figures. If users swap for the alternative panels included with the helmet, turning the transforming vents into a flat surface, the Bullet 2.0 unlocks seven watts of power at about 35 miles per hour. Lazer says this equates to about eight meters in the last kilometer of racing, and for those out there who have lost races by millimeters, it’s a compelling statistic.
Some reviews of Lazer’s first version of the Bullet complained of inadequate airflow even while vents were open, but this was no issue for this tester with the 2.0 version, even on hot summer days at Portland Oregon’s Alpenrose Velodrome. The 2.0 has deeper channels in the helmet than the original version, and a new top-of-the-helmet vent Lazer calls the Venturi Cap is meant to accelerate the air flowing over the top of the head. Even with the solid panels installed, users can still open up the front to reveal a decently large port.
The fit is extremely comfortable – this tester has been using Lazer helmets for years, and true to his previous experience, the Bullet 2.0 applies even pressure around the head. Lazer secures the helmet using what it calls the “Advanced Turnfit System,” a back-of-the-head dial reminiscent of other helmet brands. This tester wondered whether the pivot from the Rollsys system Lazer uses for its other high-end lids would impact fit, but while the Advanced Turnfit System is bulkier in appearance, it is comfortable – and the build-in LED is a nice touch.
The Bullet is noticeably heavier than this tester’s typical high-end lid, about 100 grams heavier. But weight isn’t everything – the old adage was that aero came at a weight penalty, and for weight weenies, Lazer’s own Z1 is advertised at 190 grams for size small. It’s all relative, as this tester’s go-to helmet for many track events is Lazer’s Victor, a space helmet that exceeds 400 grams.
The Zeiss lens for the bullet is a really great touch. Lazer argues that the lens improves the aerodynamics of the helmet, and it fits flush, via magnets, to create a smooth and rounded profile facing into the wind. The optics of the lens are excellent, and there are zero contact points on the face. A single magnet exists at the rear of the helmet to stow the lens when desired.
One minor issue for this tester was that the Bullet would seem to tilt forward over time in an aero position and the un-cushioned bridge of the lens would wind up resting on the nose – I wonder whether a lightweight pad might make for a nice contingency, though perhaps it wouldn’t be worth it in terms of aerodynamics and weight. For those who prefer to use different shades, I had no issues with compatibility with long-armed eyewear such as the Oakley Radar.
Lazer manufactures a host of helmet accessories, and the Bullet is compatible with a heart-rate monitor and an alarm to remind riders to keep their head in the proper position.
So what was life like with the Bullet 2.0 this summer? For this tester, the Bullet addressed a very annoying problem at the velodrome – carrying two helmets. This tester would traditionally use an airier lid for warmups on the track, and only break out the space helmet for time trials. The ability to lean on an all-in-one helmet was a great convenience.
For the versatile competitive cyclist, the Bullet is just a great everyday lid. Keep it open for road climbs and training rides, close it down for criteriums, swap for the solid panels for time trials. With the Zeiss lens and the interchangeable panels, this is a very versatile helmet and a great way to buy some free speed.
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’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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.