Review: Lazer’s lightweight Nirvana mountain helmet
Seeing as they make one of my all-time favorite helmets, it’s always exciting when new model arrives here at Bikerumor. Unfortunately, the mark left across my forehead after each of our rides together told me that, yes, the XXS-M Nirvana really was too small for my noggin. Happily, local racer Alex was waiting in the wings to put the handsome Belgian (by way of China) helmet to good use. His review starts below the picture…
When the Lazer Nirvana was placed in my hands I thought, COOL. The Nirvana’s sleek colors and stylish air vents makes for a great looking head protector as stated by a fellow cyclocross racer. Besides the smooth lines of the Nirvana, the helmet felt much lighter than other mountain specific helmets I have used, while still maintaining sufficient head coverage. Jump past the break to see how the good looks and light weight stood up on the trail.
The Lazer Nirvana is packed full of little features that make the list price of $140 completely reasonable. The most distinctive being the Rollsys retention system that adjusts the fit of the internal perimeter of the helmet. The fit system is actuated by a knob at the top of the helmet that shortens or lengthens a cable pair of cables that are attached to a retention system at the back and the front pad mount. In practice this translates to a helmet that is easily adjusted to fit all variety of heads. Compared to my standard helmet, a Giro Ionos, I run the Nirvana’s retention system under lower loads while still maintaining a snug fit. I have not had any problems with the Rollsys self adjusting during rides as I thought might be an issue with the lack of a ratcheted adjustment. That said it would make me feel more comfortable about the helmet if the back of the head cradle came a little lower to “cup” the head, instead of relying on the friction of the pads against my forehead and hair to keep the helmet in place. [This change, an adjustable-height Rollsys, is in place for the 2012 Nirvana]
Compared to my trail helmet, Lazer’s Oasiz, I find the Nirvana fits my head much better with more of an oval shape as compared to the Oasiz’s more circular profile. Even with the clever Rollsys it is important that you find the right shape dome protector for your (egg, spherical, conical, pyramidal) head. For comparison I generally ride in a Medium Giro and the Nirvana’s XXS/M fits great.
When selecting a helmet there is always the compromise between surface coverage and air flow. The Nirvana’s open design is definitely more orientated towards XC riding. The 21 vents are designed to channel air moving in from the front through moderate internal channeling and out the back while the vents on top are designed for evaporative cooling. This keeps the air moving around your head even when you are chugging up the steep single track. How this breaks down is that the Nirvana sits right between my breezy road specific helmet and full coverage mountain/trail helmet.
The only complaint I have come to have with use of this helmet is the lack of absorbance of the air pads that are built into the front of the helmet. Lazer’s attempt to maintain airflow at the front of the helmet removed significant amount of padding that would otherwise have been absorbing my sweat. The X-Static pads have yet to develop a funky smell after two months of desert riding without so much as a rinse.
After all of this the part that I still really appreciate is the minimal weight of the helmet. For comparison my standby helmet, the Giro Ionos (a road-specific design) is claimed to weigh 309g- only slightly lighter than the Nirvana at 316g (also claimed weight). Lazer achieves this by the Rigid Brace System, which is a helmet specific molded reinforcement structure that allows for superior protection without added weight.
Last but not least, the visor- which I initially thought was designed simply for aesthetics. With its low profile and pointy design, the visor profile turned out to be unobtrusive in my field of view, while still blocking out glare of our intense southwest sun. Even when I used the Nirvana for local cylcocross races the visor did not bother me from the drops- though for dedicated road use the $135 Sphere is a visor-less Nirvana.
As with other Lazer products the Nirvana has done its job without distraction from the trail, except with some extra sweat drip as compared to some of my other helmets. The look is cool and stealthy (5 other color combinations are available), the fit is great and the weight is light. Simply put, a well thought out design and execution of the reasonably priced Lazer Nirvana.