Reviewed by Laurel-Lea Shannon
The Dux Helm is an innovative new helmet with a built-in retractable lens. The retractable lens has two main advantages: it eliminates the need for expensive cycling glasses, and it shields your forehead and eyes from grit and bugs. That’s a welcome and useful addition to the traditional cycling helmet. Bugs aren’t just a nuisance on the bike, they can cause serious accidents.
How the retractable lens works
The retractable lens is designed simply but brilliantly. The front part of the helmet is a little wider than a regular helmet to accommodate the lens. An extra layer of foam forms the housing that the lens retracts into. On the top of the helmet there’s a plastic slider. Slide it forward and presto! the lens drops down to cover your eyes. Slide it back and the lens retracts into the helmet.
Comfort and safety
The Dux Helm still has all of the important features of a quality cycling helmet. It’s built using an in-mold system that evenly distributes impact, minimizing damage to your head if you crash. In an in-mold system the polycarbonate outer shell is fused with the inner foam liner, making the helmet tougher and lighter. At just 285 g (for the medium helmet) the Dux Helm is super-light. A size-adjustment ring at the back allows you to easily dial-in the snugness you want.
With 24 large air vents the ventilation should be excellent. However, when I tested this helmet, I was cycling in temperatures between 0º– 5ºC (32º – 40ºF). To stay warm, I had to wear a beanie under the helmet, so I couldn’t test the air flow. There is one thing to note about the ventilation. When the lens is retracted it partly blocks the two front vents. But that shouldn’t be a problem. You would most likely always have the lens down while you ride. And it’s removable.
A generous 7 mm cool-mesh padding inside the helmet keeps your head comfy. The padding is easily removed for cleaning. The chin strap comes with a removable chin cushion, adding an extra level of comfort. And for extra safety there’s a reflective sticker on the back of the helmet.
Switching the lens is easy
The first day I tested the Dux Helm it was hard to determine what lens I needed because every time I looked outside the weather had changed. The helmet arrived with a mirrored lens attached (not offered for sale on the Dux website) but it was cloudy outside so I thought I should put the clear lens in. I read the helmet manual and was surprised how easy it is to switch lenses, at least after the first time, which is always a bit fiddly. Just make sure you follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.
Before I left home, the skies cleared and the sun came out, so I went back to the mirrored lens that looks, oh, so cool.
When testing products on the bike the most important feature for me is that the product augments my ride, it doesn’t distract from it. For the most part the Dux Helm passed that test. On the road it was light and comfortable. The lens, because it has no frame, allows for a panoramic view that you can’t get with glasses. Cool! It made no noise and stayed firmly in place, no matter how bumpy the road. And believe me, after the snowplows get through with them, the early spring roads in eastern Ontario are very bumpy and full of potholes.
The quality of the lens is good but not high-end, like, for example, Rudy Project glasses. According to John Park, the business development manager at Dux Outdoors Inc., they are working with a new lens supplier for better quality lenses, which will be available in three months. Dux Outdoors is also working with manufacturers to create polarized and photochromic lenses that will be ready in about six months. But don’t let that stop you from buying a Dux Helm now. The lens that comes with the helmet is fine. And you can purchase new lenses as they come available.
Like sunglasses, the lens is UVA and UVB protected. Unlike sunglasses, the lens is more like a face shield, sitting further from your face. In the warm weather this is probably good because it allows for extra ventilation, but in the cold I got some wind in my face, which made my eyes water. But that was temporary. I didn’t notice it at all once I was in the drops.
Like most helmets the Dux Helm comes in two sizes: medium (53 to 59 cm) and large (56 to 63 cm). I tested the medium black carbon helmet with the cubic pattern. It’s a snazzy looking helmet, but I had one problem with it. I’m rather petite so the helmet, while it fits perfectly, looks a bit boxy on me. The lens is also a bit too far from my face. But there’s a silver lining to that. For short rides I can wear my Rx glasses under it, and don’t need to wear contact lenses.
The base Dux Helm sells for $169 CND and comes in black, blue, red, green and yellow. Or you can get the cubic-coating version for $199 CND. The helmet comes with a protective carrying bag. It also comes with a lens bag that has a small strap with buckle and a Velcro strap, allowing you to attach it to your other bike gear if you want to carry extra lenses with you on your rides.
Bottom line: A good-looking, innovative helmet at an affordable price. The retractable lens eliminates the need for costly cycling glasses. Additional lenses are available for $25 CND.
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