Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Lazer Genesis Helmet

Caution: this post contains multiple selfies, proceed with caution. I'm not apologizing, just stating facts. I thought people would appreciate seeing the helmet in the wild. If I was wrong, sorry I'm not sorry.

I have been a Bell guy since I got my first shop job back in 2007. Giro never fit me correctly (not enough room front to back), but Bell's have always felt great. I've had two Sweeps and am currently rocking the Volt. Both styles have served me well, but I have been getting the itch to step out of the box a bit to try out a different look.

Reaching out to Lazer

I reached out to Chris from Belgium's Lazer, the oldest helmet maker still in operation, who was cool enough to send me three road styles to test out. I've decided to focus on the Genesis since it is closest to my Bell Volt in terms of features and prices, but will also give my take on the Helium and O2 as well in some follow-up videos. Also, make sure to follow Chris on Twitter at @helmeteer_chris when you can - he gives some great behind the scenes looks at the cycling industry.

Update (8/24): Video reviews of the Lazer O2 and Helium posted.

Lazer O2 Road Helmet Review (video)
Lazer Helium Road Helmet Review (video)

From Left to Right: O2, Genesis and Helium

Review of the Lazer Genesis

For reference: I wear a size M in both the Lazer Genesis and Bell Volt, and a L in the Lazer Helium. Sizing specs are a bit different across the Lazer lineup, so make sure you try on multiple sizes/styles.

My local shop phased out it's Bell lineup a few years ago and brought in Lazer to fill the void. The Genesis in particular has been a popular choice amongst quite a few of my peers, competing well with lids from Bontrager and Giro in the mid-to-upper tier helmet market. At approximately $175 online, the Genesis falls directly below the flagship Helium in the Lazer lineup, and just above the $155 Volt.

When I first put on the Genesis, I could immediately tell that it had an even lower profile than it's Bell counterpart, which I really appreciate. I consider the helmet you wear just as much a part of your kit as your bib shorts - part function and of course part fashion. You want to be safe first and foremost, but why not look good while doing so? The low profile look accomplishes that, for me at least.

Fit adjustment on the Genesis is different than many others that incorporate an aft dial system (I've always wanted to use aft in a sentence). Lazer's Rollsys® Retention System surrounds your head, with micro adjustments made by a thumb wheel positioned on top of the helmet. This system tightens and contracts evenly, rather than pushing from the back causing pressure points. I personally didn't need to make many adjustments besides a few small turns to tighten the Rollsys® down - it just naturally fits my head very well, but I can appreciate the smart design.

Thumb wheel on Rollsys® Retention System
Out on the bike I was able to check off a few of the must haves, including low weight (280g), better-than-decent airflow (19 vents) and stability over rough terrain resulting from the secure fit. I can check those same points off with the Volt as well, so on-bike performance is pretty much a draw. Where Lazer goes a few steps further however, is with some of the added (thoughtful) features found across much of their lineup, but not so much from other helmet makers, including:

  • Optional built-in LED taillight that fits into the Rollsys® thumb wheel. 
  • Optional Aeroshell that snaps on to protect from rain or snow, or to increase aerodynamics.
  • (My personal favorite) Rubber band on right ear strap to hold earbud in place.

The Good

I liked quite a bit about the Genesis, including the sleek low-profile design and feel, the great fit with micro adjustments to prevent hot spots, and of course the fun features like the ear bud band, aero shell and internal LED safety light. All of these things make for a complete package and compelling argument against the major US helmet brands.

I also appreciate the subtle styling and color options options available. Some companies (Bell included) seem to go out of their way to create outlandish schemes, which don't really fit well with the trend in kit moving towards clean lines and subtle design. The included helmet bag is a nice touch as well.

The Bad

I truly only identified two issues with the Genesis. The first is that the vent design does not allow for stowing away sunglasses by placing the arms into vent openings on the front of the helmet. I really appreciate this option on my Volt on terribly hot days when my glasses are caked in sweat and I am suffering my way up a hill, or on unplanned evening rides when the sun starts to set and the shades must be ditched.

The second, which applies across the Lazer road lineup, is the inconsistent size options. As I stated above, a M Genesis fits very well, while a L is far too big. On the flip side, a M in the Helium is too small (barely), while a L Helium is much too big (for me). I know size really varies from person to person, but the size system itself can be confusing, especially on Lazer's website. The Genesis for example is shown to come in M-L, while the Helium comes in S/L/XL. Bottom line: there is a helmet out there for you, just try one one to make sure you find what works best for you.

The Verdict

The Lazer Genesis is a great, featured-packed road helmet for someone looking to step out of the Bell/Giro box. With micro-adjust fit, low-profile styling and great color options, I think the Genesis could turn a few heads and definitely change a few minds regarding what to expect out of a helmet.

The little things are what sold me, including the potential to add yet another safety light and the smartly placed ear bud band, which totally beats wrapping the cord around my ear strap and then unsuccessfully searching for the volume/Siri rocker.

When my Volt has seen it's last day from either wear or impact (knock on wood), the Genesis will be right at the top of the list as the replacement. If the 2014 model adds a little more room to stow away my glasses mid-ride, I am all in.

If you're in the market, I'd say go for it - again, just make sure to try one on to figure out the size that will work best for you. more selfie.

Review: Lazer Genesis Helmet
Lazer Genesis
Date published: 08/01/2013
4.5 / 5 stars

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