These guys have been around since 1919, and are also the same Lazer guys that protect the heads of Cycle racers at 200mph (the motorized kind of which I am one). Lazer’s first priority is protecting your head. But they follow that up with a little Euro-flare (Belgian like) and also understand that a bicycle helmet needs to protect you, but also be one of the last things you are feeling on a bike.
The helmet is solid all around, but it’s not a heavy helmet. It has a standard in-mold process where hard shell wraps up softer foam core. This is all wrapped around some internal bracing that they call RBS (rigidity bracing system). The little wing you see in the front is actually an exposed part of an internal skeleton that is popular on a few high end helmets now. It’s a nice feature in that helmets are looking pretty skinny now and this endoskeleton kinda thing makes me feel a little better about a helmets ability to keep what little brain I have protected.
Of course none of this matters if the thing doesn’t stay on your head, and Lazer have a good retention system. They call it the “one hand fit system”, I call it good.
Retention systems need to be flexible enough to form to the shape of what ever part of your head you choose to fasten them to (flat spots for big buckles don’t shape well to round heads…), but also be strong and secure enough to stay put. They also need to move up and down as well as just getting tighter, so that they work with what ever you wear under your helmet (head band, Cap forward or back etc.). Lazer has a good retention system. Find the right height, and opening and closing it are easy and you can make it as snug as you like.
Lazer also give you the little touches that should always come with expensive gear. They give you a visor, like many others, but they also throw in little visor hole covers. Lazer also add a helmet bag/ cover that is nice and allows you to stuff other gear along with your helmet on trips… These are not big things, but with lots being equal, the little things are nice. It’s like spending 200 bucks on a stem, and not getting a little nut cover for the steer tube bolt. It works without it, but it’s better with, and it shows that Lazer take the time to do the little extras that matter when they are doing other things (like making sure your helmet is well made.
The ventilation on the Lazer is very good. Very large openings at the back help in the pull through, and there are mid depth channels throughout that carry the air through, and let heat and air out along the way. Well thought.
Looks wise these are pretty slick. Plenty of colors that let you go from conservative to pop within the line, and a shape that doesn’t try too hard to look flashy. That said, Lazer have had to make em in red, white and green, Solid green, and just the other day they had one in TDF yellow… Check them out at LAZERUSA.com.
CAT GOT YER HEAD?
The Catlike Kompact is not new but, in the US, it’s new for this year. I had the old version (and crashed in it) and had no troubles, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out, at a glance, what is different this year, but it is… There may be a touch more material inside now (near the top), but that’s a guess… That said, It’s great when a manufacturer makes a helmet safer, and that is what Catlike did for 04. In fact, if you have an older version they will swap it for the reinforced one (contact them for details).
I first noticed these on a junior Spanish team a few years ago, and after holding one, traded furiously to keep it…
These are light weight (this is the new version by the way) and very well ventilated. They remind me of the Specialized without the eyebrow vent, which I like, as a little less wind blast is directed behind my glasses with the Catlike.
Deep channels front to back make sure the air has no reason to stop on it’s way out (sorry, I lost the picture of the inside, but the channels are deep!), and the shape of the vents are a good combination of airflow and Aero (the vents don’t stick out and grab air much, but still ventilate very well. That’s as much to do with letting air out as from letting air in…
Maybe my favorite part of the helmet is it’s very simple and extremely functional retention system. It does exactly what a system should do. Take up very little room, tighten and loosen easily and securely, flexible enough to form against your head (regardless of shape) and adjust up or down as much as it needs to in order to suite the rider. Tightening and loosening the very thin fit adjustment is a breeze, and it slides up and down the back straps (but doesn’t fall out of place) for height adjustment.
Larger, more popular helmet companies could take a lesson from Catlike on it’s retention system.
The only negative has nothing to do with the helmet, but Catlike could use a face lift on the website, and provide more info on their helmet. Catlike get the award for worst information available for a great product, but that’s changing as we speak (or at least it is at the Catlike.esp website).
Take a long look at these helmets if you’re in the market, as they are well done. They show up on the heads of some pretty popular Orange guys at Euskaltel and also on Phonak riders (although Tyler’s bell seems to be rung by another brand at the tour). adn as said above are super breathable super light and might have the best retention system available.
Check out CATLIKE-USA.com for very little info on the helmet and no place to buy them (as we write).
The Canadian Distributor is www.CoolEuroStuff.com and has a bit more info.
Where To Get ‘Em
Check out the Catlike’s online at ProCyclingKit.com
Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!
Send your comments to: email@example.com