Review: Lazer Z1 Helmet
(2016) Often when I was working in a bike shop a customer would ask me to provide information about helmets. Naturally going through the same speech informing the potential customer of protection, ventilation, and weight, more times than I care to think the customer would ask next, “What’s the cheapest helmet you have?” I would always respond with, “How much is your head worth?”
Allow me to admit it’s an unfair response. If a cyclist is coming in for a basic helmet to get him out on his comfort bike, he’s probably not looking for the latest in aerodynamic cranial-protection technology. Conversely I would never steer a criterium racer into an entry-level helmet with a brim (if for no other reason than visors being illegal in sanctioned races). Secondly a criterium/ road racer needs the research conducted on impact zones to dive into corners with the added security that, should things go horribly wrong, s/he is outfitted with the best chance of walking away.
In the cycling rotation of things I found myself needing an updated helmet. I’ve used two other companies’ helmets and found them to be lacking in certain areas. One was thick on the front. It offered limited airflow. I also seemed to go through the helmet spider regularly. Once its recommended three years were up, I moved on to another helmet company. The second was more comfortable but had a discerning retention stirrup that allowed the back of the helmet to essentially “flap” when pushed on. Though the helmet fit correctly, the stirrup system was bolted straight into the chinstrap. I had visions of the helmet lifting off the back of the cranium when it needed to be there most. After these experiences I knew what I needed.
I’ve had my eye on Lazer helmets for quite sometime. Their aero helmet, the Wasp, first attracted my attention when I dabbled with time trialing. Instead of the ridiculous oversizing many of the leading companies were insisting on, Lazer focused on the visor and behind the head area to make an attractive helmet. Once departing from the TT world, I continued to keep an eye out for their goods.
For the past two weeks I have been riding around with a Z1 strapped to my head. It’s been on the market for a couple of years, but I felt it has been a solid platform for that time. Initially I had sized myself for a large, but upon receiving that size it was immediately apparent it was incorrect. In a first, I sized down to a medium helmet.
I sized up the Lazer in no time. Easily enough the Rollsys device made the fit adjustment easy. It expands and contracts with minutiae. I can see it being adjusted easily in the middle of a pack during a ride or race. According to Lazer, the internal retaining system is built to keep the helmet together as best as possible should a second strike happen. Believe it or not, this is a concern I was asked often when selling helmets. Sometimes people asked how many impacts the helmet could take. I am always worried about cyclists who believe they would be hit more than once in a single scenario. One area of concern is the fact that the chinstrap has been loosed completely. Should I need extra room I suppose I’m out of luck. On a positive note I am without extra flapping chinstrap material.
The first time I rolled out the door with the Z1 was a breezy day, which I am glad for. It highlighted the helmets ventilation immensely. This helmet deflects air to particular portions of the head while vacating it where necessary. It was remarkably cooling to use the lid on that warm spring day. It will certainly come in handy as the summer temperatures creep upward.
Another feature of the Z1 is the temple protection, or T-Pro as Lazer calls it. The shell and foam come down a bit farther on the sides of the forehead provide some extra forward impact protection. Further engineering comes about with the cutaway across the forehead. For lightning-fast sprinters like myself having to hold my head a bit farther up to see around the bottom of a helmet is a real-world concern. Oh who am I joking? The cutout is nice and allows a natural head position when looking out the top of the sunglasses.
Speaking of eye protection the Lazer Z1 comes with strap magnets in case one wants to utilize the Magneto glasses/ helmet combination. For the sake of brevity, Lazer makes stubby glasses that attach to magnets. This alleviates the lengthy sunglasses arm struggle of having it go under the stirrup to dig into the head or over the stirrup to promote sunglasses movement. When not needed- and Lazer thought of this, too- the vents are structured to cradle the glasses smartly without bouncing around when going up the favorite Alps climb. I will say a set of Radars fit in the vents nicely too.
One last comment about further accouterments capable of being added to the Z1 include an Aquapad, a Z-LED integrated light system, and the ever-popular Aeroshell. The Aquapad is a cooling forehead padding system that forms to the rider. Lazer helmets tout the attachable Z-LED light for safety purposes in low-light conditions. The ever-remarkable Aeroshell can be snapped onto the Z1 for extra aerodynamics or for added warmth. Or both. Who knows when you’ll need an extra bit of wattage in cooler races?
Whether it’s pledging allegiance to Belgian cycling by purchasing a helmet designed in Belgium, or the attractive color combinations, maybe it’s the safety features and optional accessories, the Lazer Z1 helmet is comfortable well-engineered helmet. Let’s hope we never have to test its impact technology because I'd like to think my head is worth quite a bit.
The Lazer Z1 helmet comes in more than eight colors and retails for $270. It is available through QBP, which means you can support your local bike shop by ordering there if not already stocked.