Reviewed by Victoria Laube
General assessment: Ah, at last, a light, well-vented helmet that’s comfortable.
During biking season I’ve always had a low grade ache when wriggling my jaw. The pain was just below my ear lobe, the spot where I now realize the web splitter on the chin strap of all my bike helmets rested. Adjusting the straps never helped and it seemed that all helmets had the same problem. I accepted this as a minor nuisance. Imagine my surprise when, after testing the ASPIRE helmet for the last three weeks, the jaw pain disappeared. I looked closely at the helmet and realized the large Trifix web splitter was designed in such a way that it alleviated the pressure on my jaw bone. Wow! Was I impressed.
I was also impressed with the new feature in this women’s helmet: the hairport; a space to park ponytails! The hairport is an opening between the shell and the adjustable plastic strap that controls the fit of the helmet on the crown of the head, big enough for a ponytail to go through.
In the past, with no comfortable space for a ponytail, I would just brush my hair back off my face, shove combs in on both side of my head to keep my hair off my face, and then jam on my helmet. With the ASPIRE, I brush my hair into a neat little ponytail at the back of my head, position the helmet above my head, pull through the tail, and finish off by slipping the helmet onto my head. Now my hair is up and away from my neck. A much cooler way to cycle … a much cooler way to look!
Because I have relatively thin hair that forms a pencil size pony tail, I didn’t have to make any height adjustments on the plastic strap. The helmet fit perfectly. But to accommodate various thicknesses of hair, four adjustments are possible. I pulled apart the adjusting snaps to see how easy it was to snap them back. No problem. A metal plate positioned above the holes in the Styrofoam protected them from damage through misalignment.
As I was checking out the plastic strap adjustments, I noticed the strips of padding inside the helmet shell. They appeared to be made of three layers of material. The two outer layers (the top one turquoise with grey polka dots; the bottom one a Velcro backing for attaching the padding to the helmet) securely sandwiched an inner layer of foam. When I pressed down on the padding it did not fully compress. It seemed to be sturdier than plain foam and probably more durable.
I was disappointed that the helmet doesn’t come with a visor. I’ve read that most ‘roadies’ don’t like them; supposedly they obscure forward vision when cycling in drop-bar position. I’ve never found that a problem and I’ve always had one; they block sun glare during my early morning and late evening rides.
The Aspire helmet I tested is white with grey accents. For women searching for colour in their lives, this model also comes in charcoal/purple.
Victoria Laube, a potter and writer, lives in Lanark County near Fallbrook. She regularly cycles on the Bennett Lake Road, and is quickly and happily approaching three score.
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