What's Cool In Road Cycling

LOUIS GARNEAU Course Helmet Review

As you might have guessed, Louis Garneau was founded by a guy named Louis Garneau… He started the company back in 1983 after a long and successful career on the bike and put that same competitive fire and focus into building what’s become one of the benchmark brands in cycling…

 

One might say that the effort was worthwhile as in just 5 years he and his wife Monique went from borrowing a few square feet in his father’s garage to 118 employees and a 32,000 square foot building.  That was 1988 and, as you probably know, they’ve continued to grow.

The brand now has over 400 employees in multiple countries and are producing a range of over 2500 products in clothing, protective equipment, bags, accessories, nutrition and cycles themselves, to reach into Nordic ski products and beyond.

While Louis Garneau have all of that going on, it’s the dead of summer here in Phoenix AZ and the priority here is all about keeping cool. With that in mind the subject for today is the Course Helmet

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Before you get all puffed out and tell me how your “heat wave” is tickling 100 degree’s and you’re about to die, consider this… It was 101 here yesterday (Aug-16).

AT MIDNIGHT.

So Phoenix is no place for “adequate” venting… When your ride stats in the mid 90’s at 5am, You damn well better have great ventilation flowing over the top of your bean.

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In fact, you have to have that ventilation flowing over the entirety of your head, including the sides (which the Course handles well)…

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And to achieve that air flow, internal channeling is arguably more important than the number and shape of vents…

Maybe the most apparent difference to the eye between the Course and past LG models is the detailed molding process that creates deep channels for the well placed venting locations…

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The channels are plenty wide and run end to end creating a clear path for airflow… They’re also notably deep. Something that sets the Course design apart from a lot of helmets is that the channels are exceptionally deep given there is no foam at the most shallow point between the vents…

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This is possible because the vent sections themselves are not separate vents but a part of an enclosed full support structure… The Aero Inner Nerve cage…

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This is the backbone of the design but it offers much more than just support for the foam sections…

The venting sections that form the openings and the deepest part of the air channels are carefully shaped to allow air to enter freely and move with minimal interruption. They’re also designed so that the flow continues through the helmet all the way to the back…

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It’s this design that really gives the Course an odd one-two punch of both venting well and reducing drag versus a lot of designs that get close to this level of ventilation.

The trick is pushing a large amount of warm air out of the back of the helmet and focusing that exhaust toward the center of the rear of the helmet where air is typically swirling around more and creating drag.

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The back of the Course looks nearer to the front view of a lot of helmets you’ll see… You don’t generally get this big a view of ventilation in this key area, and it’s quite easy to see how the ventilation is allowed to aggressively blow out the back causing the exhaust to blow right where a pocket of air usually forms behind most helmets.

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The Flow illustration below would normally show quite a bit more dark Blue behind the riders head (1.) with most standard helmet designs. Instead you get a very neutral (low drag) area that’s mostly green with a small pocket of turbulence (swirl of blue) separated further behind the head (2.)…

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I’ve had a couple of offers to review “Aero Road” helmets here at home and I’ve found myself politely passing simply because ventilation was sacrificed too much. After taking a look at the Course, I wasn’t sure how it would work, but it at least looked like something that would vent enough that I wouldn’t pass out during evaluation. I’m happy to say that ventilation is handled well despite the drag relief suggested.

As for Drag reduction numbers, my neck, while being abused to the point of near failure over the years, is not so sensitive that it can give you gram reduction data… I can tell you that LG spent time in the tunnel developing this helmet and did quite a bit of work with CFD programs and I noticed this helmet is fairly quiet.  LG have a video on their development as well…

Of course the primary function for any helmet is one of safety and this is handled in part with the internal skeleton that acts as a framework for the foam as well as an anchor for the retention system and straps.

Adding to that, the Course has what Louis Garneau call their Super MSB Technology. This is a solid ring of material that is one piece around the entire base of the helmet structure that reinforces the critical area around the perimeter of the helmet.

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Retention is handled by the Spiderlock Pro II mech. It’s very easy to adjust both tight and loose by raised ridges on a single wheel.

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It’s a fairly comfortable design that, like other top line helmets, brings the retention around the back and attaches up nearer the front of the helmet to help spread the load around your head instead of just pressing it forward. With that, the helmet will fit more head shapes because it’s less dependent on shell shape.

The large contact area in the back spreads the load across the neck well and also has a bit of grip.

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It’s also compatible with a damn snazzy rear light that attaches via velcro right to the Spiderlock Wheel.

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Three flashing modes (circular, flash and solid) operated by a simple button press… It’s a feature that all helmets should have in some form or other.

Capping It Off
The Louis Garneau Course is the best helmet to come from the brand hands down. It features easy adjustment, a neutral shell shape accentuated by a retention system that will suite many different head shapes and a well thought out safety structure. But beyond all of that, it is the best venting “aero’ helmet that I’ve tried to date.

SRP is $239.99 and they’re available now at retailers and at LouisGarneau.com

• Check prices at Amazon.com here.

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan
[email protected]


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