I decided recently that it was time for a new helmet. I usually try to have two helmets on the go at any one time, one which is adapted for night time riding and is therefore covered in mounts and velcro etc plus an unadorned “good” one for the rest of the time. The every day helmet is eventually replaced as it gets too old or damaged and the good one becomes the one festooned with plastic add ons and so the cycle continues. Following a tumble a while ago my second helmet broke; it saved me from injury as I fell off a platform, flew over the handlebars and head butted the ground. After such a heavy impact the foam inner had snapped in a couple of places and so it had to go into the bin. I therefore decided to use my “best” helmet as the night riding one, pending the onset of spring when I promised myself to splash out on some fancy new head gear.
Helmets come in all shapes and sizes in a range of colours so hunting for a new one can be a time consuming process. Imagine being a kid in a sweet shop with a pocket full of coins – well that’s what it is like. The first, and most important, job is to find one that fits properly; if it more or less perches on top of your head has tight spots or fits as well as an egg in a 40 gallon oil drum, then it doesn’t fit you. A helmet that doesn’t fit properly will not protect you and could even cause additional injuries so it pays to take your time and get the best fit you can achieve. In my experience, take your time, go to your local bike shop and try on everything they have in stock (within your price range). Ask for help, the shop assistants in a good shop will know their onions and can prevent you making a bad mistake. When you have tried everything on, fleeced the shop assistant for every last ounce of knowledge, do the decent thing and give them your custom. If you wander off and buy online you may save a few quid but one day the local bike shop won’t be there any more and then what will you do? Buy something that doesn’t fit probably, give up in dismay and maybe not wear a helmet. They won’t save you every time but who is going to take the risk? I have hit the deck at nearly 30mph during a (closed circuit) road race and apart from the (very sore) road rash, ripped up clothing and mangled helmet, I walked away to ride another day. Make sure you get the chance to walk away too!
The Kompact Pro shares one quality with all Catlike helmets… the price can make you wince. At a few pennies short of £90 I might have thought twice if it had not been funded by others (a birthday present). Still, it looked pretty flashy and it came with a peak – still a mandatory feature as far as I am concerned. On a more serious note, I was impressed by the quality when compared to other brands. The fact that it fitted first off was an added bonus.
The hard shell is glossy and wraps seamlessly around the foam body with no sharp bits protruding from the join; the finish just screams attention to detail. There are nine large vents on the top of the helmet with the front three having an insect net placed directly behind them… no angry bees or wasps in the summer then! There are two forward facing vents at the side. The rear of the helmet boasts eight vents so the helmet seems more hole than hat!
Head retention system is courtesy of a ratchet system with a wheel for adjustment. Inside there is the usual array of padding and each helmet comes with a set of additional pads for fine tuning. The chin strap is a fairly ordinary set up with buckle adjustments but a nice touch is a layer of padding which sits under your chin. I can see this getting a bit sweaty in the summer but as long as you wash it regularly I can’t see it being a problem.
As far as fit is concerned, I guess I was lucky. It fitted like a glove although I found the front sits lower than my usual helmet (Met Veleno). There were no tight spots and I was able to use the easy adjustment feature to create a perfect fit.
The helmet is still in pristine condition, waiting for its first outing. I hope not to need to try out its’ protective properties but I will be interested to find out how well the venting system works and how comfortable it is when riding.