There’s one at every group ride. You know, the guy who shows up on his Bridgestone MB-1 sporting a 1982 RAGBRAI jersey, laced into some old-school Nike Poobahs and wearing a state-of-the-art helmet from the 7-11 Cycling Team era.
Now, I ain’t no anti-retrogrouch by any stretch of the imagination — I will occasionally don an ancient Giordana Mickey Mouse jersey and I don’t believe the road to happiness is paved with carbon fiber — but I do draw the line at vintage helmets.
Protecting what little brain waves you have left with a good skid lid should be top priority. All the major manufactures — Bell, Giro, Louis Garneau, Specialized and so on — are making helmets at every price point. Technology improves every year, so today’s helmets are safer, lighter and more comfortable than your beloved early-’90s brain bucket. So, it’s time to ditch the retro relic and replace it with something from this century.
One prime example: the Oasiz, one of Lazer’s mountain-specific offerings. It was developed in conjunction with cycling phenom Brian Lopes. I got to test it this summer, and I especially liked its innovative sizing contraption, its magnetic fastening device, and the visor incorporated directly into the helmet’s frame.
But those weren’t the first things I noticed about the Oasiz. Rather, it was all the extra protection at the rear of the helmet. It’s bulging and substantial, but the helmet is still surprisingly lightweight.
The sizing system, which Lazer calls “Rollsys,” is quite ingenious. Just pull the helmet on and spin the adjustment wheel on the top. Within seconds, you’ve dialed in a snug and even fit. This allows you to cinch down your helmet on the fly during more treacherous stretches of trail and back off the pressure while rolling along — not that I condone such behavior.
And though I initially fought with the magnetic strap closure, dubbed the “Magic Buckle,” I learned to appreciate its simplicity. After some practice, it became a one-handed operation.
My first day with the helmet was spent on a “fun ride” at Sea Otter on a surprisingly hot afternoon. Three hours in, the only things I wasn’t complaining about was my helmet. The bike didn’t climb very well, the singletrack was trickier than I remember and the sand was deeply annoying. But my helmet fit perfectly and didn’t overheat, thanks to the ample venting.
The Oasiz is marketed as an all-mountain helmet, but I sported it on a couple of commutes and even did a few longer road rides with it. I found it be very much an “adjust and forget” piece of kit.
So the next time one of your mates lines up with a lid whose memory foam has gone Alzheimer’s on them, tell them to get a new helmet. For their noodle’s sake.
WIRED Rollsys technology allows for quick, one-handed adjustments. Magnetic closure is a snap (ha). Optional extras: insect net keeps the bugs out, insulation keeps the cold out. Brian Lopes wears one.
TIRED Made for the mountain trails — while it works on the road, it’s bulkier than most road helmets. Color choices are a little bland. Miguel Indurain never wore one.
Photo by Jon Snyder/Wired