(The Gear Loop) - If you want an idea of how important Lazer’s latest helmet technology is to the Belgian safety specialists, you really had to be at the original media briefing. It ran to almost three hours.
Yup, three hours of insight and background and chat about a new proprietary impact protection technology that shuns industry standard MIPS (you know, the stuff that mitigates against rotational forces in the event of an accident) and sees EPS foam "crumple zones" built into the helmet instead.
It’s called KinetiCore and Lazer is very excited about it, building it into some of its best-selling cycling helmets, from urban classics to dedicated mountain bike lids.
Lazer claims that because its tech is built into the helmet, rather than bolted on, it has enjoyed a freedom of design not experience by rival helmet-makers. The Vento KinetiCore is arguably this footloose innovation incarnate.
A helmet is a very personal choice and for some, the enclosed aero styling of the Lazer Vento KinetiCore might not appeal.
That said, it proved perfectly cool on hot days and the fit was comfortable, even when worn over extended periods. It’s a particularly flattering shape and design for smaller heads too, lacking the bulk and bulbousness of more traditional road helmet designs.
But with cheaper and equally safe MIPS systems out there, are those small aerodynamic gains really worth the additional outlay? We’re not so sure.
Lazer Vento KinetiCore
- Great airflow
- Five-star independent safety rating
- Sleek & compact looks
- Very expensive
- Not as cooling as non-aero helmets
- Eyewear dock is annoying
Lazer’s KinetiCore tech is not only very safe, it's also supposed to be cheaper than simply bolting MIPS onto an existing lid, but any savings the firm is making are currently not being passed on to customers, because the Vento KinetiCore is one of the most expensive helmets Lazer produces… and one of the priciest in the market full stop.
Designed primarily as an aero helmet, the Vento KinetiCore shuns the overtly vented styling of a typical road helmet for a more enclosed design, yet packs a series of Venturi tunnels to aid cooling of the rider’s head.
It’s a serious "marginal gains" piece of eqiuipment that also benefits from an independent five-star safety rating, meaning serious cyclists can slice through the air knowing their helmet will perform in the event of an accident, which can't be said for all aero lids.
The design and side profile is impressively slim and sleek, which benefits those with smaller heads, as they won’t look as ridiculous as they might when donning the traditional bulky aero offerings.
Lazer says the Vento KinetiCore is designed to be fastest in a sprint position at a 15° angle, meaning the front of the helmet packs most of these previously mentioned aero flourishes, effectively sucking air into two large front vents and pushing it out of the rear to maximise airflow.
Unlike other fully enclosed aero helmets, there are a total of eight vents at the rear, all designed to circulate cool air and eject hot air out of the rear during longer rides and tough efforts. In fact, Lazer says it is the only manufacturer to have proprietary equipment that can analyse and simulate head temperature in a lab environment. And yes, the Vento scored top marks when rigged up.
Fit adjustment is via a fairly typical plastic "basket" that wraps around the head and is tightened or loosened via an oversized rubber wheel at the back. It’s supposedly in a more aero position too, but all we know is that it’s easier to interact with when on the bike than some of Lazer's previous jog-wheel efforts.
Better than a traditional dial? We’re not 100 per cent sold on that, but it’s a neat styling touch that stands it out from a fairly homogenous crowd.
The serious business occurs on the inside of the lid, where Lazer has incorporated a series of patented deformable EPS foam "crumple zones" that help dissipate energy in a crash.
These slightly squishy nodules festoon the inside and sit comfortably against the head. We didn’t independently test whether or not they outperform rival MIPS (we’re not completely mad), but KinetiCore was awarded the full five stars from Virginia Tech’s helmet safety rating department.
The Vento KinetiCore feels small in the hands and upon first glance, we were convinced it wasn’t going to fit. But it did and proved perfectly comfortable over longer riders. The ScrollSys adjustment system is great for making micro adjustments on the fly and it's very easy to locate.
That said, we found the plastic basket that grips the head gets in the way when wearing sunglasses.The arms annoyingly pinched up against the fit system and placed a little unwanted pressure around the temples.
On the subject of sunglasses, we found the "garage" area at the front of the helmet - designed to safely house sunglasses when not in use - erred on the wide side. Despite it's rubbery grip helping keep things in place, we had to bend the arms of our wrap-around Oakley shades to fit.
To be honest, we had a similar experience with the latest Specialized Evade II aero helmet and it likely comes part and parcel with having pre-defined vents, rather than lots of open channels.
Temperature control wasn't an issue though, as those Venturi vents did a really good job of keeping the air flowing. It proved warm enough on cooler days but never felt sweaty during a handful of the UK's hotter moments. It even coped well with a very slow and very muggy gravel ride, never once causing any irritating head sweat.
Without jumping in a wind tunnel, it’s impossible to tell whether the aerodynamic design makes a huge amount of difference to average lap times, but we really enjoyed the general fit and feel of the Vento. We find that typical road helmets can feel quite bulbous, but the Vento KinetiCore is flatteringly slim for someone with a pea-sized head.
It’s also worth noting that Lazer offers a bespoke rear light that cleverly clips to the back of the helmet for increased visibility. Without getting hold of one, we can’t really say whether or not it’s worth the extra money, but anything to draw additional attention on the road is usually a good thing, right?
There’s no denying that Lazer’s Vento KinetiCore is packed with about as much technology and R&D you can possibly force into a road cycling helmet. It’s also light, comfortable and easy to adjust on the move thanks to a new ScrollSys belt system. But despite its many fancy Venturi tunnels, it’s not as ventilated as other more traditional road helmets, MIPS protection systems are just as safe as KinetiCore (and cheaper) and only those at the very top of their cycling game will benefit from the proposed aero gains.