Product Reviews March 10, 2013

LAS Victory Special Edition Helmet

The deal with Christmas and Birthdays between my wife and I is that we're only allowed to buy things for each other that (a) are either leisure or pleasure items and more importantly (b) are non-essential. I rarely have any difficultly finding gift ideas that match this criteria and it nearly always results in new cycling related kit.........and I decided it was time for a helmet upgrade. I've had my now previous lid, a Uvex 'Magnum', for about 5 years. It cost £70 and has witnessed many miles ridden and fortunately for me, not many falls. 

So what makes a good helmet? Perhaps one that offers premium head protection whilst not incurring any undue weight penalty? Maybe one that offers plenty of ventilation and certainly one that has a high degree of adjustment so you can reach that perfect fit? On this basis, the LAS Victory fits the helmet bill. 

As with everything related to cycling there is a bewildering array of choice. This withstanding I noted one brand, LAS, being continually (and recently) recommended. The LAS 'Victory' helmet had been reviewed and referred to a number of times in Cycling Plus where it scored very highly, being described as the benchmark for helmets in the £100-£150 price point. Indeed, in this months issue, a new helmet, the Carrera Radius was reviewed, scoring 4/5 and retailing at £130. However, the alternative cited was the LAS Victory Ltd Edition; 

"Superb quality with pretty much everything we look for in a lid. Highly adjustable (over 9 cm vertically), with a shell that covers all the exposed edges. The great design keeps the air flowing and it comes complete with winter and summer pads and a padded case to keep it safe when travelling. 5/5."

Cycling Plus, Page 102, April 2013.

On the basis of a similar review, I trawled the Internet for a while searching for an on-line retailer that stocked LAS, but it turned out to be surprisingly difficult. As a consequence I enlisted the help of the local bike shop and they purchased a Victory SE on my behalf. Afterall, I could always return it if it didn't fit. 

I need not have worried. 

I am not a cyclist that needs to worry about weight when it's being measured in grams. The official weight of the Victory is 270 grams, a minimal 30 grams less than the Uvex. More importantly after 10 weeks of use, the major difference is its comfort and the way it sits on my head. The helmet offers a significant amount of adjustment with a large rotary dial at the back that tightens the head clip at the back and at the sides. Likewise, the magnetic chin strap and buckles keep the helmet fixed and firm and offer considerable flexibility. It took a while to find the perfect balance between the rear head clip and the chin strap tightness. Once fitted though the helmet offers a clear view of the road ahead regardless of how you angle your head. I would almost go as far as saying that after a while I forgot I was wearing it. As yet I have had zero fatigue associated with wearing the Victory.

Ventilation is usually a selling point with helmets and there are 27 vents across the surface area of the helmet. In Winter time this is inconsequential as I'm more interested in retaining heat than releasing it. loosing it. In Summer though this will be very helpful, cooling me down as I ride my way across the South Downs. One clever feature is the magnetic chin strap (a system called Fidlock), which you can release one-handed by sliding it apart. So should you need to take your hat off there's no need to remove your gloves, which was the case before. Quite 'handy'........pun intended. Additionally, there's an attachment to fit an integrated rear light to the external 'shell', though I've yet to find the type of light to do so. As a result I've applied my own solution and fitted a Blackburn 3.0 to the rear, being careful not to interfere with the strapping inside. I've found having a rear light positioned at head height to be quite effective since its above the usual driving eye-line plus (obviously) it moves as you move. I'm surprised the benefit of doing this has not occurred to more people. 

There are some nice touches included in the helmet 'kit' too. There's some smart LAS brand detailing on the inside as well as a padded helmet bag and a couple of spare liners. Style wise, the Victory comes in three colours, though at the time of my purchase only white with black trim was available. So I have a white one. The helmet complies to EN standard 1078.

To summarise; this is not the most competitively priced helmet on the market. However of all cycling apparel to apply the 'get what you pay for' adage, the helmet, in my view, is the most important. Sure, there is no need at throw money at it, but comparatively speaking, the Victory SE represents a significant improvement over my previous lid with respect to fitting and comfort. If that means its more effective at protecting me in a fall, I'll happily accept that. The LAS Victory can be ordered via all good local bike shops and cost £140.

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