You know why people don’t like wearing helmets – they are uncomfortable, sweaty, and mess up your coiffure. Plus, they totally steal all the joy and freedom that exists from the beautiful experience of riding a bike.
Three out of four isn’t bad. While I think that last one is a completely ridiculous claim, and there is little anyone can do about the hair thing (except these guys), a decent helmet these days can go a long way against eliminating the first two.
What’s in the box
While most helmet brands are constantly bringing out lightweight and well-vented product, Limar takes this to another level with their Ultralight+.
Obviously the with a name like that, weight is the primary selling feature, and it really delivers at just 175 grams (171 grams on my scale). Lets put that into perspective. That’s lighter than a banana. About the weight of one of your pedals. Your phone. Far lighter than one of your road tyres, and not much heavier than a tube. It’s light.
A top-end helmet can’t skimp on quality, however, and the Ultralight+ delivers here as well. The shell has a clean finish with no rough edges, a nicely incorporated bug net, an adjustable and really easy to use retention strap, and decent pads. It comes in five colours and two sizes to accommodate most heads.
Holding it in your hands, it feels and looks like a top quality helmet that is, of course, stupidly light. But is that really necessary?
How it works
First up, the fit. If it isn’t comfortable to wear, it doesn’t really matter how light it is. The shape of the shell is a little narrower than some helmets, such that it fits me width-wise, but only just. At first I thought it wasn’t going to work for me, but I think that was because the initial impression of the Ultralight+ is influenced by the fact that it is so minimal.
There are fewer contact points between the Ultralight+ and your head, and you can feel each one of them individually. Like I said, at first I wasn’t too sure about the fit, thinking it wouldn’t be comfortable, but I have found that once you adjust the retention strap and snap the buckle up under your chin, it all falls into place.
The retention system is as minimal as the shell, having just one connection point on each side of the helmet and nothing at the back. This not only saves weight, but actually gives it a less intrusive feel on the back of your head (not that I’ve found that to be a real problem in the past, but it’s less so here…). The dial is nice and clickey, smooth in both directions, and there are no problems getting your fingers around it, as I’ve found on some helmet’s fiddly dials.
Depending on the shape of the back of your head, the retention strap is adjustable vertically in a number of positions for the best fit. For me, it ends up fitting reasonably low, which happens to give it a more secure feeling anyway.
There is nothing fancy about the chin straps, being made of a fairly standard material (not rough), with fairly standard adjustment snaps for the ears (easy to open with gloves on), and a fairly standard buckle (nice and snappy without being too hard to open), which is to say that it all works perfectly well. No points won or lost here.
The 22 vents are fairly large, but no different than any other helmet with 22 vents in it, of which there are many. The bug netting is a plus, especially if you live in a place with lots of flying critters (I do not), and doesn’t seem to impede air-flow at all. Compared to my usual helmet (Lazer Genesis), it’s neither warmer nor cooler.
This leaves the weight. Does that really make any difference?
Is lighter better?
In a word, yes. Now, one way Limar cut weight from the Ultralight+ is by using less helmet. There couldn’t be a more obvious thing to say, but what I mean is that there is less helmet to cover your head than most others, and that is particularly in the back.
You can see that the helmet, from front to back, running along the bottom, is nearly flat – there is no lower section past the ears, and generally speaking, it sits a little higher as well. Is this a problem? Well, it’s legal, so the government says it’s good to go, but one of the first things I did when I put it on was place my hand on the back of my head, and it seemed that there was quite a lot of exposed cranium.
Practically speaking, it’s pretty unlikely that you will end up hitting the area at the base of your skull on anything (it’s usually the side or front that gets hit in a crash), but even if you do (and that of course is possible), there is enough helmet there to save the day… if it’s a flat surface like a road, but then there aren’t many helmets that will protect the base of your skull from rocks and such… Anyway, it’s just not what I’m used to. If it’s legal to race in at the highest levels, it should be fine for us, right?
Predictably, where the weight really makes a difference is in the fact that the Ultralight+ just isn’t that noticeable when on your head. You hardly notice that you’re wearing a helmet at all. Give your head a good shake and there is no mass to resist each change in direction. It doesn’t move about if not done up super tight. There is that much less weight on your neck if you are spending a prolonged period of time in the drops. There is no bulk. It really is like you are not wearing a helmet.
If the reason you don’t like wearing a helmet is because it compromises your coiffure, then the Ultralight+ won’t help you. If a helmet simply ruins the entire experience of riding a bike, then I have to wonder how much you like riding a bike in the first place (and you won’t be reading this review anyway…). If, however, you wear a helmet but find them a bit clumsy and heavy, then Limar’s Ultralight+ could very well be just what you are looking for. It looks good, fits well, everything works, and, as much as a helmet can, simply disappears once on, which is the point. Plus, at $229 AUD, it’s pretty good value for a top helmet.
Would I recommend it? Yes I would.