For the past few years we’ve noticed Julie riding her bike all around our city. At first, she had her daughter in tow on a bike seat on the back of her bike, then she started hauling a kid trailer with either her daughter in it or a few bags of groceries, or both. This year we actually got to meet her — our children go to the same school and she drops her daughter off everyday on her bike. So when we noticed she needed a new helmet, we asked if she’d be willing to try out a few models for us. Her 12+ years of daily bike commuting give her a good perspective to review two Lazer brand helmets the Urbanize helmet with winter liner, MSRP $105 (plus an extra $20 for the liner), and the Genesis, MSRP $175. Click ‘more’ to read what she thought…
Julie: Although the Lazer Urbanize helmet doesn’t look like a traditional bicycle helmet, I am beginning to prefer the look. This helmet looks more like something I’ve seen moped drivers wear. Actually, I feel like RoboCop when I’m wearing it. It doesn’t look like it was made for speed, in the way that traditional bicycle helmets look like the wind has pushed them into their shape. The way it looks makes me feel like a bike commuter – that I’m headed to school or work and not just biking strictly for the exercise. Regardless of looks, there is a lot to say about the things that are of most concern for me – comfort and safety.
My first impression of this helmet when I put it on was that it feels safe. It covers more of my head than any helmet that I’ve owned before. I also noticed the weight. It is heavier than other helmets, however, my head is definitely more protected as a result of the extra bulk. I like the way this helmet moves with my head. I thought that the adjustable size feature would be fairly complicated to match to my head. It’s not! I just put it on and rotate the spinning wheel on the top of the helmet, which either cinches the wire frame together, pulling it closer to my head, or rotate the wheel in the opposite direction to let the wire out. Because of this feature, the helmet truly does feel like it moves with my head.
The most important feature of this helmet is the winter liner. As a year-round biker, I have tried every combination of winter hats, scarves, and helmets that I could think of. One of the problems with attempting to fit a winter hat under a helmet is that even the thinnest winter hat (I’ve tried one made of spandex and several types of balaclavas) moves independently of the helmet, causing slippage between the helmet and the hat. A thin winter hat is never warm enough, and attempting to fit a thicker, warmer winter hat under a helmet compromises the safety of the helmet, as the helmet will not fit comfortably to your head once you have the helmet over the hat. Another problem is that my ears have always been cold regardless of which helmet and hat combination that I choose.
The Lazer winter liner insert has basically changed my year-round biking life! The liner is easy to insert with small Velcro pieces in the top of the helmet and loops on the liner for the helmet straps to fit through. This allows the liner to move with the helmet. No more slippage! No more crooked helmet on top of a bulky winter hat! No more attempting to move my head as little as possible when looking for traffic so that the hat/helmet combination doesn’t fall out of sync! The liner also has flaps that come down over my ears, but that do not block noise because there are mesh vents in the middle of the flaps. Also, this liner is much thicker than a spandex hat or a balaclava, providing more warmth. The very top, however, is completely mesh, so that my head doesn’t get sweaty (important for when I arrive at work!).
Overall, I am incredibly impressed with the Lazer Urbanize. I will use the Lazer winter liner with the Urbanize helmet every day this winter. I really wonder how I made it through 12 years of biking year round without this helmet, especially when I lived in the Midwest, where winter is more than a season, it’s a way of life which must be adjusted to if one is going to bike year round.
(Editor’s Note: The Urbanize now comes standard with an integrated helmet light, which we did not have for review. )
The second helmet, the Lazer Genesis, is also a truly amazing helmet. Like the Lazer Urbanize, this helmet also has the dial on the top of the helmet to adjust the size of the helmet to your head. This helmet feels extremely lightweight and also moves with my head when I turn. The plastic “frame” on the inside of the helmet curves to the back of my head so that it feels like the helmet was custom made for my head. There is no possibility for this helmet to fall off my head while going downhill (which has happened while wearing other brands of helmets). I have actually had helmets in the past that loosen while I’m riding, so much so, that the helmet has slipped off my head and falls down onto the back of my neck. This helmet has locking plastic clamps on the straps by the ears to ensure that the straps don’t loosen. An amazing helmet. My one complaint is that it fits so well that when I get to work I have “helmet forehead.” I’m willing to wait for the marks to fade in the morning at work. It’s a good trade off for the safety provided by a better fitting helmet!
Final thoughts: It is really not fair to compare other brands of helmets to these Lazer helmets. I have always bought cheap helmets from Wal-Mart or Target thinking that which helmet you buy doesn’t matter much, but what’s important is that I wear a helmet. I have learned that a good helmet makes all the difference! It’s comparable to the first time that I had disc brakes on a bicycle. I didn’t think that it mattered, but once I had them, wow! Same thing with helmets– having a good helmet really does improve my cycling life!
DETAILS & WEIGHTS
The Urbanize comes in at 420g without the lights. The Genesis is 315g. Both feature the Rollsys adjustable tension mechanism to customize the fit of the lower rear retention. Both are XXS-M sizes.
For 2012, all Urbanize helmets will include the front and rear LED blinky lights. They’re easily removable, though, if you want/need more ventilation.
For a full coverage helmet, it has plenty of internal channels and large enough openings. Claimed weight is 410g, not too far off.
In the cold, the Winter Kit replaces the standard pads for a warmer system that includes ear covers designed to still let sound through.
The Rollsys dial is easy to use even with winter gloves. The Genesis’ claimed weight is 309g, also close to what our scales showed.
Lots of vents and channeling inside, and a fully adjustable strap with earbud retention loop integrated.