Recent innovations in the bicycle helmet world have focused on making road models more aerodynamic. At this year’s Interbike show, however, it was all about protection, with a major focus on convertible enduro lids, trail models with extra coverage, more advanced full-faced options, and lots of new MIPS-equipped choices. Here’s a look at some of the hottest new debuts you’ll find in stores in the coming months.
MIPS, MIPS and more MIPS
Barely a blip on the helmet radar just a few years ago, MIPS helmet liners have been incorporated into a staggering array of 2016 models. Although they generally add $20 to $40 to the retail cost, the distinctive yellow plastic liners are claimed to reduce brain injuries by reducing sheer forces during impact – making it a small price to pay for the promise of increased protection.
Bell has 13 MIPS-equipped models for 2016
Moreover, the liners add negligible weight and have only modest effects on ventilation.
Bell is the MIPS king for 2016, with a whopping 13 equipped models encompassing road, mountain and even commuter categories. One of our favorites is the all-new $125 Annex urban helmet, which features a huge reflective panel, a slick open-and-close venting system, generous coverage and a handy anchor point on the back for attaching an LED flasher. For Star Wars fans, Bell will also offer MIPS in several new themed helmets such as the Stormtrooper or Boba Fett-inspired Super 2R.
The new Bell Annex commuter helmets look fantastic and includes some very neat features to improve comfort and safety
Meanwhile, Lazer was an early adopter of MIPS technology and will be expanding its use, now including it as an option on the top-end Z1 road flagship (which also gets nifty, bright EPS foam and snap-on rear LED flashers) as well as the more budget-friendly Magma and Blade helmets.
The Lazer Z1 gets a MIPS liner
New to the MIPS scene is Louis Garneau with two all-new models for 2016. The $230 Heros MIPS is a low-profile road helmet that in addition to that fancy yellow liner, incorporates a full-perimeter reinforcing ring around the base to help hold it together in an impact. it also boasts Louis Garneau’s new twin-dial Spiderlock 4D height-adjustable retention device, and slim webbing with fixed splitters for more room around the ears. A new RTR (Reclaim the Road) edition adds full-perimeter reflective coating around the base for excellent night-time visibility, too.
Louis Garneau isn’t limiting MIPS to higher-end models, either. At the other end of the pricing spectrum is the new Raid MIPS mountain bike trail helmet, which offers generous coverage and extra protection for your brain, at a retail price of just $100.
Louis Garneau has introduced two MIPS-equipped models
Hot new convertible enduro models
One could easily argue that Giro’s old Switchblade was the original progenitor of the now-hot convertible mountain bike helmet category, but it’s only recently that companies have figured out how to do it well. Joining Bell’s Super 2R is the Revolution FF that Lazer launched a few weeks ago at Eurobike, and now a new prototype from UVEX – the Jakkyl Hde.
UVEX has a promising looking new convertible enduro helmet called Jakkyl Hde
The idea is still the same: climb up with just the upper shell to maximize ventilation and minimize weight, then attach the chin guard for extra protection on the way down. UVEX is using a clever mix of magnetized hooks and thumbscrews to speed up the transition, though, and there’s a clear emphasis on airflow with lots of exterior vents and internal channeling.
We’re still waiting to hear if UVEX’s new helmet will pass the stringent ASTM downhill standard (Lazer says the Revolution FF will), but it looks interesting nonetheless. Retail price will be $270.
The attachment systems uses a mix of mechanical fasteners and slick magnetic hooks
Trail and full-face helmets grow up
Whereas once riders were content to see trail helmets with more coverage, the expectation now is that they also provide exceptionally high levels of comfort, ventilation and weight.
Giro recently announced the new Montaro and now POC has responded with the Tectal Race. Key features include a vent-and-channeling layout apparently borrowed from the ultra-airy Octal road model, an internal aramid fiber reinforcing grid, and an embedded Recco reflector to aid in search-and-rescue operations.
This is the first time we can remember anyone incorporating a Recco reflector into a mountain bike helmet
Claimed weight is 340g and retail price is set at $210.
Full-face helmets also continue to evolve with lower weights, more comfort and much-improved ventilation.
One of the highlights was the new Aircraft from 100%, which features a Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber shell, quick-release cheek pads, titanium D-rings, and a cutout in the top for the Eject helmet removal system. 100 percent claims that the strategically placed external vents and flow-through internal channeling makes the Aircraft “the most ventilated [full-face] helmet available.”
100%'s new Aircraft full-face helmet is impressively light at right around 1,000g, and looks to be quite well ventilated
That fact may be up for debate, but one thing is for certain: the Aircraft certainly looks super rad, what with its angular styling and optional chrome finishes. It’s also wickedly light at just over 1,000g. Retail price is $400.
In addition to the Tectal Race, POC also debuted the Coron full-face, built with a softer M-Forge shell and expanded polypropylene that the company claims is better able to absorb multiple impacts than the polycarbonate and expanded polystyrene materials traditionally used by other companies. Like the Tectal Race, the Coron also features a generous array of internal channeling to help speed airflow across the rider’s head, and POC even says the internal shape has less of an effect on hearing than usual. Retail price is $499.
POC's new Coron full-face helmets use non-traditional materials in search of better protection
Aero still matters
UVEX also showed off a new aero road helmet called the EDAero – a model that unfortunately was announced too late for our recent aero helmet shootout. UVEX is making some pretty heady aerodynamic claims for the EDAero, saying it’ll save a whopping 16 watts of rider effort as compared to other aero road helmets when moving at 38km/h. Which translates into nearly a minute and a half saved over a 40km time trial.
UVEX gets into the aero road game with the new EDAero
UVEX doesn’t mention which competitor helmets exactly were tested, though, and as with any wind tunnel test, the results are somewhat conditional.
The German company isn’t just touting the EDAero’s aerodynamics, though – airflow through the helmet is supposedly excellent, too. Five forward vents feed into an array of wide and deep internal channeling, which lead to three huge exhaust ports out back. Retail price is $220.
Kali is getting into the aero road lid game, too, with the new Tava. A special three-layer foam construction uses a notably lower density in the middle and cone-shaped interfaces that supposedly absorb impact forces much better than single-density liners. As a result, Kali says the Tava can be made with a much lower profile than usual while still meeting industry certifications.
Kali says its new Tava is aerodynamically efficient but also offers better protection than the norm
Inside, Kali foregoes the plastic MIPS liner for its own solution dubbed Bumper Fit 2.0. Inside the helmet is an array of soft and short rubber tubes that Kali claims reduces rotational and shear forces on a rider’s brain during a crash like MIPS, but also cushions low-speed impacts, too. Retail price is $250.
Finally, triathletes get a nod from Lazer with a new variant of the Wasp Air called – naturally – the Wasp Air Tri. Acknowledging that multisport athletes likely have more demanding needs for ventilation than dedicated time trial racers, the new Wasp Air Tri incorporates a new center insert that feeds cooling air right into the middle of the helmet.
Need to cool down? Just squirt some water on to your head
Meanwhile, up top is a spring-loaded hatch that’s perfectly sized for a water bottle nozzle – simply shoot some (preferably sugar-free) water in for a quick cool-down. Retail price is still to be determined but estimates hover around $350.
International pricing for all models is to be confirmed. The helmets within this article pass relevant US and European certifications, Australian approved models are currently unknown.