by Andrew Yee
If you take a look at pictures of any UCI World Cup, say, this year’s World Cup in Roubaix, you’ll see plenty of Lazer helmets near the front of the race. It should be no surprise, as even though the helmets may be rare here in the U.S., the Belgium-based helmet company a big player in Europe in both cycling and motorcycles (as well as paragliding). It’s also the helmet sponsor of the Fidea ‘cross team.
While many of the pros race the $175 Genesis helmet, Lazer launched the O2 helmet for 2009 to make many of the Genesis’ features more affordable and available to more athletes. While Belgians may dominate World Cups, is there something about a Belgian helmet that makes it better for ‘cross?
The 310-gram Lazer O2 helmet’s most prominent feature is the company’s patented Rollsys system, which offers a tightening system that tightens around the circumference of the head as opposed to simply pushing from the back of the head. You tighten the system with just one finger via a roller on the top of the helmet.
The result is a comfortable, secure fit, especially if you have a head that tends to be long but not wide. The Rollsys system uses a padded, plastic-reinforced strap that flexes to wrap around all sides of your head, and thus the helmet doesn’t depend on pad thickness for proper fit. On the road, although comfortable, the difference isn’t really noticeable, but off-road, the helmet is super-secure, which makes it ideal for the bumpy conditions of ‘cross, and it’s become my fave for any trail rides.
It should be noted that the Rollsys feature is so easy to use and tighten, it’s actually possible to go overboard on tightening it. Getting ready for some bumpy trail, I cranked it down, and by the end of the ride, I had a mild headache. It wasn’t until I pulled the helmet off I realized the reason – I cranked it down far too hard – and the result was like wearing a way-too-tight hat. For over zealous fingers like mine, maybe a slip-system that prevents over-tightening would be ideal, but I doubt many folks will have such an issue.
Beyond the Rollsys system, the Lazer helmet has a lot of nice features. 24 vents keep the head cool, Coolmax pads are washable, two-piece in-mold construction keeps it all together and durable, and Lazer’s Rigidity Brace System (RBS) adds extra internal reinforcement on the sides and back of the helmet for multiple impact resistance.
Compared to the company’s flagship Genesis, the O2 helmet is just 30 grams heavier, has a smaller RBS system, and lacks the more complicated six-piece in-mold construction. But it also has five extra vents. But the biggest difference is that the O2 comes in just one universal size, as opposed to the two sizes of the Genesis. It’s a versatile size though, as it fits heads from 53 to 61 cm – as large as the L/XL of the Genesis.
I wore the L/XL Genesis last season, but the universal size of the O2 actually seems to fit my medium-large head a bit better and adds more venting at the expense of less internal RBS reinforcement…something I haven’t tested yet and hope I don’t need to.
The $110 helmet packs a lot of features into one helmet, and with the innovative features, protection and great fit, the O2 represents a great value. I realize $110 is still quite a bit for budget-minded racers, but if it’s comfortable and stays secure, it’s more likely to be worn and also more likely to protect you. Is that worth the price?
Lazer O2 Helmet
Rollsys tensioning system
Washable Coolmax pads
2 piece in-mold construction
Rigidity Brace System
One size: 53-61 cm
For more info: Lazer USA Website