The Lazer Ultrax helmet is designed to sit between lightweight, airy XC helmets and full-on Enduro lids and does a good job of taking the best features of each. Looks-wise it follows a more traditional XC helmet design but on steroids and lower at the rear. It has plenty of coverage for protection and also 23 sizable vents to keep the air-flowing. So, whilst it’s not as cool as an XC helmet, it’s cooler than an Enduro one (reviewer verified) and whilst not offering the protection of an Enduro lid, it has more than an XC helmet (due to no large crashes, this is not reviewer verified). You get the gist, right?
I was really impressed with Lazer’s Advanced TurnFit System (ATS) adjustable retention system. It works to equally tensions up the front and rear baskets of the helmet by the turn of a large dial at the rear. This retention system gives a really securely fitting helmet, accommodating all the contours of my bonce without any pressure points. Unlike most other helmets I’ve worn, I haven’t needed to cinch up the retention dial each time I’ve put it on, even though I’ve got a squashy pony tail to work around. To get a good fit, the rear basket is adjustable on a ratchet strap. This can be a bit tricky to release but you’ll only need to do this a couple of times when you’re first sorting the fit. The range of adjustment of this part of retention system is such you can get it sitting really firmly and comfortably around your occiput contributing to an excellent fit and a real feeling of security.
Whilst the retention system was perfect for my head, my ears were much less keen on the straps. The adjustment here is fairly straightforward – moveable clips which clamp the fore and back ear straps under your lobe – but however much I tried I just couldn’t get them to lie without sitting uncomfortably on the front or back of my ear. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve been having this problem, my ears are of fairly standard size, shape and placement and it’s not something I normally have problems with. My best guess is it’s due to the straps being reasonably thick and so have lesser flexibility meaning their edges press onto my ear rather than just lying across.
The peak is adjustable by a small ratchet under its front centre. As well as adjustment, the ratchet also holds the peak firmly in place which makes it much less prone to on-trail alterations by tree branches. The small button-like catch is straight forward enough to operate off the bike but not easy to do whilst you’re riding. Personally I only adjust my peak occasionally on the move, and that’s usually when I’ve bashed it out of position, so given this peak is held securely it hasn’t bothered me that you can’t adjust on the fly.
The Ultrax comes in a number of different shell and peak colours (white, blue and black shells with black, white, green, yellow and orange peaks) so you should be able to find one to match your bike (or not, depending on your will). Size-wise there is a medium (52-57cm) and large (59-61cm) and the medium fitted my 56cm head nicely. Claimed weight for the medium is 290g but tipped my scales at 312g, a hefty 100g more than my Specialized S3 but within one gram of my Smith Forefront.
The Ultrax doesn’t feature some of the higher end technologies and so is reasonably affordable compared to some modern day helmets (if you want to pay more money for more protection the Lazer Revolution is available). A bonus is that Lazer is one of a decreasing number of manufactures to offer a crash replacement for their helmets at a decent percentage discount. They will replace your Ultrax for £35 (less than half price) if it’s less than three years old and you still have your proof of purchase so it’s definitely worth holding onto your receipt.
Overall: I never used to give my helmet choice any thought but after a few recent crashes I’ve started to consider the pay off between the lightweight and airy comfort of my skinny XC lid and the reassurance of my bigger Enduro helmet. The Ultrax has proved to be neither one nor the other which makes it the perfect balance for most of my riding.
|Tested:||by Rachel Sokal for two months|