Plenty of start-up brands have tried to integrate full 360-degree lighting into cycling helmets before, but the resulting lids have largely been rather ‘challenging’ in terms of aesthetics. The Nutcase Vio, however, is a rather sharp-looking urban helmet – no surprise given the brains behind Nutcase is a former creative director at Nike.
The coverage is more generous than a road cycling helmet, yet the Vio still includes decent venting via the three front-to-back channels and deep vents in the EPS (expanded polystyrene) core.
Padding is well placed and generous, and the rigid peak is removable depending on your style choice. The rear cradle is in a fixed position but the micro-adjust dial works brilliantly.
The Vio scores with the inclusion of MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which uses slip-plane technology to reduce rotational forces from angled impacts. The MIPS doesn’t encroach on the fit and I also love the Fidlock clasp on the straps, which is easy to operate with one hand and fits securely.
The real USP of the Vio, though, is its built-in and USB-rechargeable lighting system.
There’s a band around the rear and up to the temples that contains LEDs – on the rear they’re red and up the flanks these blend to orange. On the front, a ‘Nutcase’ badge hides a bank of four ultra-white LEDs to complement the 60 LEDs that circle the helmet’s shell.
The front LEDs give 100 metres of visibility while the rear can be seen from 180m, and the lighting system offers three modes (standard, bright and flashing).
It’s brilliant for safety and, because it’s all based on low-energy LEDs, I had 2.5 hours of run time on the brightest setting (on the standard setting, Nutcase claims 3hrs, on flashing even longer). It charges in two hours, though the USB port’s rubber cover can be fiddly to refit.
The light system, battery and MIPS do add weight, of course. My XL weighed 509g, but it’s a helmet for getting to and from work safely not trying to win a WorldTour race.
The Vio offers everything I’d want from a commuting helmet. The fit is comfortable, it has MIPS, 360-degree visibility and it looks pretty good too.
At £120, it’s not cheap, but it offers heaps more than your average pick.