Vent frustration

October 3, 2012

Helmets have it easy. As a helmet, all you’re doing most of the time is sitting on your owner’s noggin, trying (and failing, usually) to not make them look like… well, a total helmet. Just maintain a purposeful and protective appearance, while the wearer resembles a bulb-headed alien, and you’re fulfilling the everyday functions of being a cyclist’s crash hat. And to their credit, the helmets I have owned carried out this role with a stoical pride. Until, after many long rides, one cracked. Quite literally.

The fissure on my 15-month-old Specialized Prevail was not the result of a crash or any abuse. I have no idea how it got there. I simply took the helmet off last week, and there it was: a crack right at the front, underneath the vent.

Sigma, who sold the helmet to Jen when she bought it for me as a birthday present, enquired about getting a replacement as it was still within the warranty period. Specialized told them that wouldn’t be possible, because the damage wasn’t the result of a crash. The guy on the other end of the phone told them the same thing had happened to his Prevail. I thanked Sigma for their efforts and rode off in a bit of a huff, wearing a helmet that probably wouldn’t be as much use as it should be in the event of an accident.

To improve my mood, and my level of crash protection, I pulled up at Pearson Performance, went in and tried on a Kask Mojito, a light, compact lid which apparently is the team issue crash hat at Sky. Despite the middle-aged-dad-trying-to-be-cool name, I loved it. The helmet has a leatherette strap and a low profile, both of which remind me of the early crash hats from the ’70s, although the Kask lid doesn’t resemble a hairnet or a bunch of bananas. So I am now the proud wearer of a Mojito. The Mojito’s on me, guys! (Gah! No amount of wordplay is ever going to make that naff name better, is it?)

What this black and white beauty doesn’t have is a vent at the front. And come the summer, I’ll probably miss that nice little gap funneling a breeze onto my forehead as I descend the big hill in Richmond Park. The Prevail, like all helmets, has to conform to safety standards, so I am sure it is up to the job in that respect. But if the man from Specialized is to be believed, this isn’t the first time that the thin part of its structure has inexplicably broken. Let’s see if the helmet with an uncool name lasts longer than the one that leaves you with a cool head…

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