What's Cool In Road Cycling

Great Head!: Pez Gives You Helmet

…REVIEWS – that is! The PEZ series on helmets starts with Specialized Super-vented S-1 and the Carapacho from Carrera. Remember when helmets weren’t cool? We check some new offerings with lots ‘o vents, that are pretty… er, cool!

Warning! You’ll find a common theme in these reviews with ventilation, security and protection getting the exposure. You’ll hear about vent channels and retention systems and lots of it will sound similar, because it is. That said, the manufacturers call the same stuff by many, many, many, many different names (sometimes they need 5 names for 1 thing…), so there will be a little variety, but lots of it will mean the same thing.

First cut goes to the S-1 from Specialized

Since Specialized seem to spend as much time naming things as they do designing them (as a company only Mavic can find a bigger name for a smaller feature than Specialized), we will say thank you for spicing things up. And first mention goes to easily the best feature on the helmet; its 4th dimension Cooling. The 4 features (dimensions) are the mouth vent, in line vents, rear vents and deep channeling.

The mouth vent works well and is placed in a great spot. Other top line helmets have very little material up front as the way to better ventilate the forehead, but this works best and might be a bit safer… One little annoyance is that some may find the windblast is directed down and behind your glasses, but if you use a cap under your helmet, or a headband, it’s not a problem (although this may negate any cooling effects!). Given the vent effectiveness, it also does a nice job of drying sweat on your chosen under-helmet wear before it dribbles down into your eyes.

The in line vents are on every helmet we tested so that’s not anything special, and rear vents are too, so two of the dimensions are a little weak as they stand alone, BUT… when you consider the channels that join all the vents, it all comes together nicely (very nicely).

Most manufacturers talk about the number of vents they have, but Vent count is really a non issue, as it’s the vent position and the internal air movement that are the real keys to ventilation. Specialized obviously have a set of these keys… Take a look at the front view and you’ll note that you can see straight through to the back across my closely cropped noggin (genetically enhanced…). An easy rule is that if nothing is blocking your view through the inside, nothing is blocking the winds ability to get in, do it’s job, and get out, taking heat with it.

The name of the game is moving more air across more of your bean. Specialized moves massive amounts of air over your noodle and does so in a good-looking and light package.

The one feature I wasn’t a fan of was the retention system. The Brain Trust 2 Vert system is absolutely comfortable. What it is not is very a secure hold (and I tried a size down and up…). It’s not a huge problem, but even at the highest tension setting, the helmet still moves around more freely than I would like, actually wiggling a bit on high-speed descents. The big spring loaded swing arm also conflicts a bit with Caps turned backward, or headband knots as well.

The S-1 gets top marks for ventilation and looks. It also has well shaped vents that work very well without being too big (reducing direct sun exposure). It is priced competitively and, as with anything from Specialized, is backed by a company that stands behind it’s gear and is U.S. based so warranty issues are handled easily and in plain English…

Super Visor!

Next up: The CARRERA Carapacho

As they are new to the market this year, they didn’t have their top line Energy lid to send over, so we instead got the super Euro-cool Carapacho. It’s not an official helmet as most standards go, and we need to make the lawyers happy so we’ll call it a slightly padded sun visor. It is made of an impact absorbing Eva foam and it is extremely light.

Ventilation is very very good, and this is a great example of the b.s. that manufacturers are slinging at you when they say “we have 436 vents!!!” This has what, 7? But they are huge and allow massive air flow (the pads inside help keep space between your head and the “visor”, which also aids the airflow).

The pads on the inside can be removed to customize fit (but we don’t suggest that) and the Retention system is a simple expandable strap that actually works pretty well (better than the S-1, but that’s not fair since this isn’t a helmet).

The one weak part of the “Sun Visor” is the clasp area. I have had helmets like this before (Rudy sells the foam Atmosphere in Europe) and the squeeze clasp will break if you are not careful with it. I do love the Reversed Visor, as it keeps the Phoenix Sun off my neck very well…

Carrera also provide the helmets for lots of Euro Folks and it’s about time they take one to us Yanks. The Energy is usually the chosen model, and this shot includes the TT windshield (also used in cold months).

I had one of their Dragonfly’s from a Saeco rider after the San Fran GP last year and it was good stuff. We might have an Energy here before long and will get it up as soon as we do. Till then, you can see more of their gear at Carrera Sport USA and look for them to show up in shops any day…

Dealer inquiries should go to Mick: [email protected] Get ’em before everyone else has it…

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 protected]om

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