Lazer has made a concerted effort to capture the highly competitive mid-level helmet audience with its new Sphere MIPS. The Belgian brand, known for some of the best road bike helmets on the market, went into considerable detail when it came to unpacking the biomechanical data of riders to promote better long-term comfort and overall cooling efficiency. The findings suggested most road cyclists tilt their heads in a forward-facing position at 15-degrees and this data was used to establish the Sphere’s ventilation blueprint and design properties. It certainly looks premium in execution but has Lazer cut any corners?
Design and aesthetics
There’s no mistaking the Sphere MIPS for anything other than a Lazer product – the company has a distinctive aesthetic and the designers have done well to stitch in much of the brand’s premium DNA styling cues. The helmet is available in six colourways – blue, matte black-purple, matte green, white, red and matte black (pictured here). While black isn’t the best colour for showcasing a product’s form, the combination of gloss and matte surfacing has helped add some level of depth and perspective to the package.
Disappointingly, the Lazer decals on each flank and around the occipital area at the rear of the helmet have already shown signs of wear. This may become increasingly tatty over time so care should be taken when wiping it down.
Lazer also offers an optional snap-on plastic Aeroshell cover, which plugs some of the vents and supposedly increases aerodynamics. It also acts as an extra line of protection against the elements.
Specifications, performance and fit
While ventilation and weight issues have plagued Lazer helmets in the past, the new Sphere boasts no fewer than 18 vents and tips our scales at 272g. It also follows the company’s newfound stance on safety, In fact, according to Virginia Tech’s Bicycle Helmet Ratings the Sphere performs well with a score of 10.3 and earning itself five stars (the highest star rating available). It is ranked 8th overall, and third for the brand behind the Lazer Century MIPS and G1 MIPS.
The helmet is constructed from traditional materials with in-mould construction and single-density foam wrapped in a polycarbonate shell. The Sphere also benefits from Lazer’s Rollsys retention system which is sandwiched between the foam structure and MIPS liner, which tensions the fit through 360 degrees. The company’s trademark fit-adjuster dial mounted on the top-rear of the helmet provides a better fit for all riders and head shapes, including those with long hair or ponytails. Despite the touted high levels of head-fit adjustability, the round shape of the Sphere means you’ll need to fiddle a bit with the retention system to find the correct fit, especially if you happen to have a narrow head shape like me.
Another notable attribute includes what Lazer calls a ‘Roll Cage’ – the helmet features polycarbonate cross-bracing layers which keep the foam together after a crash providing additional protection in the event of secondary impacts. The Sphere also plays nicely with the best cycling sunglasses, thanks to specially shaped slots.
Out on the road, it’s hard to ignore the wind noise when on the move – something which many testers the world over have all noted. It’s nothing too obtrusive but will change in pitch or frequency depending on your head angle and speed. I’d like to try it with the snap-on Aeroshell to see whether or not it can possibly nullify the issue. Despite the wind chatter, the Sphere is actually pretty comfortable (once you’ve dialled in your fit) and the Rollsys system does well to evenly spread the tension around the head.
An area that is often overlooked by helmet manufacturers is strap management. While rudimentary, a strap arrangement can make or break the helmet experience but Lazer has nailed it with the Sphere. Despite the helmet’s rather bulbous form, the straps sit flush against the face and are easily adjustable. The buckle can be a bit sticky at times and hard to fasten and release.
While the Lazer Sphere MIPS helmet’s price point doesn’t quite match that of its budget-friendly rivals, the company’s rich heritage and focus on safety make it a standout option in this highly competitive segment.
It also looks good and fits well (there aren’t any hotspots or pinch points). While extra attention could have been paid to the decals and buckle system these are merely bugbears and neither define nor inhibit the helmet’s fundamental purpose of protection – an area where, with the Sphere, Lazer continues to shine.
While our testing has comprised just a handful of rides, what we’ve experienced thus far has been impressive, to say the least. Further testing awaits but we don’t see our opinion changing anytime soon.
Tech Specs: Lazer Sphere MIPS Helmet
- Price: £119.99 / €159.95 / $159.95
- Weight: 272g (medium, actual)
- Rotational safety: MIPS
- Aero: Semi
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Colours: Six