While my Specialized Centro helmet served me well, it got one too many unintentional knocks and tumbles from mishandling, and had to be retired and disposed of in the interest of riding safety even without actually crashing on it. Fortunately, a buddy of mine got me on board with a good deal on Belgian brand Lazer and its entry level road cycling helmet, the Blade.
This is also one of the very first helmets that is offered in a version equipped with MIPS, the “multi-directional impact protection system.” I had heard of its advertised benefits in the reduction of brain trauma from rotational forces. While I’m not too keen to test out just how effective it is in a real crash, I am looking forward to seeing how differently a MIPS-equipped helmet would feel in everyday use…even though I don’t have a non-MIPS Blade to test against back to back.
- Weight: 265 g at size Medium (55-59 cm head circumference)
- MIPS liner equipped for mitigation of rotational forces
- “Advanced Rollsys” adjustable retention mechanism
- Adjustable chin strap and ear strap junctions
- 22 vents for ventilation
- 8 color variants
- Size availability: Small, Medium, Large
- Comes with four extra Velcro patches for pads
As with the Centro, I’m a little disappointed that the Blade MIPS doesn’t come with any yellow variants – and no, the MIPS liner doesn’t count. Mine is primarily white with red detailing.
One pleasant surprise is how closely the helmet comes to its claimed weight, coming in at 270 grams on my scale. By comparison, the outgoing Centro is 330 grams, a far cry from its claimed 275 without visor.
While the Blade MIPS isn’t expressly a commuter-specific helmet like the Centro is, it’s nice to see Lazer includes a single long reflective decal stripe at the top of the helmet. Also very discreetly hidden in the rear vents are two more black reflective stickers that will catch headlight illumination.
One thing Lazer does differently from other helmet makers is their retention mechanism, which they call Advanced Rollsys. Almost everybody else puts the adjustment knob at the base of the rider’s skull; Lazer mounts their knob at the very top instead. This takes a bit of getting used to, but the design does benefit lady cyclists because ponytails now have somewhere to go.
The Advanced Rollsys cradle is anchored at the front of the helmet. Turning the non-ratcheted knob offers a smooth transition between tightening and loosening the cradle. A closer look reveals that the adjustment knob is a long plastic bolt, with a red plastic anchor climbing up and down its travel providing the cradle’s tension.
There’s another point of adjustment for the cradle itself at the rear of the helmet, obscured by the yellow MIPS liner. This slider raises or lowers the cradle as it sits on the base of your skull. In the default “3” position, you’ll mostly feel the cradle tightening around the top and back of your head. I lowered this to “2” for a more secure fit, although be warned that it’s got a very notchy action and is almost reluctant to move.
On the outset, ventilation seems generous with twenty-two vents. The Blade MIPS is certainly a quiet helmet at speed, which says something about its aerodynamics, I guess. In terms of ultimate cooling, however, the Centro has the edge because of its deep internal channeling allowing incoming air to flow more freely through the shell.
The Blade also has these channels molded into its foam shell, but they’re both shallower and obscured by the MIPS liner. In actual use, get used to having the long brow pad saturated with sweat on a regular basis. If you’re particularly daring, you could unhook the four rubber nubs that anchor the MIPS liner and remove it completely…but that’s nothing more than a bad idea.
In terms of fit, the Blade MIPS suits my head shape as well as the Centro did. The basic helmet shell is roomy for my head, which the measuring tape says is 56 cm in forehead circumference. It trumps the Specialized helmet in terms of actual fit adjustment, since the ear strap junctions are movable and allow that last bit of customization. Lazer’s chin strap is a bit on the stingy side in terms of ultimate length, though – I have mine almost at the end with barely any slack left, and this makes the helmet fit feel tighter than it should be. Friends with the same helmet share this observation.
So what about the loud yellow MIPS liner? Slightly impaired ventilation aside, I don’t feel it at all once the Blade is on my head, which is the best praise I could give it. Its creators say that it’s easily added to most helmets, and I feel my experience with the Blade certainly bears this out. Transparent safety? I’m all for that.
Unlike the Centro, the Blade MIPS has a rising brow line in its shape. It seems like the perfect curvature to fit a cycling cap underneath, but the look does take a bit of getting used to next to other helmets which have a more forward, downward brow line. It’s also a little more svelte, with less of a mushroom-like profile when worn.
One suggested improvement is the addition of a protective plastic molding around the bottom rim of the helmet, to protect its naked foam from underside stratching, gouging or damage in day-to-day handling.
At PhP4,500, the Blade MIPS isn’t exactly cheap and not the last word in ventilation, but it’s impressively lightweight, offers good fit, and very good value, with MIPS protection serving as icing on a great cake. There is a more affordable version without the MIPS liner as well. For most road cyclists this may be all the helmet they need.