10 April 2008

bikefix Initial Review: Uvex Supersonic RS & GT helmet

Back in November, Charlie wrote favorably about the Uvex XP 100 helmet that he's been sporting for over a year now. After talking to the folks at Uvex's US distributor and in the market for a new helmet, I decided to give their Supersonic a go. In January, a very Pro looking white & red Supersonic RS arrived at my door and was immediately pressed into service. The German-made helmet seems very well built, with in-molded upper and lower shells, which serve to keep the helmet together in a crash as well to protect it during everyday handling. Rather than having a large number of vents (23 here), the Supersonic has a number of large vents, and I have little doubt that the total open area is on par with or greater than most others on the market. A dial-driven and height-adjustable retention system allows for easy adjustment and can accommodate a wide range of head sizes (52-58cm for my xsmall/medium) and is particularly nice in the winter when different thickness hats are needed for different temperature rides. A Uvex signature feature is their Bee Stop mesh, which prevents insects from getting sucked into (and getting angry in) the three large front vents. While it's useful, the mesh can interfere with some lights' helmet mounts, but can be easily (if permanently) removed with a pair of scissors. While the included (removable) visor isn't adjustable or color matched to the helmet, the straps are, which is a nice touch. Speaking of the straps, they feature a multi-position buckle which I never really take advantage of- but some folks may appreciate.


Compared with its predecessor (Giro's excellent but aging E2), the Supersonic is lighter by about 45g (or about an ounce and a half). In practice, though, it felt significantly lighter. I have a feeling that this is because it fits my head that much better than the Giro. Don't get me wrong- I love my E2s (the last was my 3rd) and never felt that they was moving around on my head. That said, the Supersonic is noticeable for its complete lack of movement. It may be because I'm at the upper end of the size range (usually wearing a Giro medium), but even with the retention system completely relaxed and the strap unclipped, I can put my head between my legs and shake it without the helmet coming off. This is pretty remarkable as it comes without any pressure points or headaches. Also noticeable for its absence is any interference between the retention system and my sunglasses. While not usually an issue with the E2 either, on longer rides, things sometimes shift and the pinching can cause nasty headaches (Giro have addressed this by creating eyewear with short, cycling specific arms). The dial-adjustable retention system is also far easier to tweak while riding and the adjustment has never changed unintentionally.

As far as complaints go, I only have one so far- and it's fairly minor. The pads on this $90 helmet seem a bit cheap and early-90s. The fleecy pad material, while very comfortable, doesn't seem to breathe as well as other brands', which wouldn't be a big deal if there weren't an uninterrupted foot-long pad running from ear to ear (see picture, right). This, I imagine, is in place to act as a sweatband, though its still too cool to know if it works well in that capacity. As a result, the helmet can feel a bit warm on low-speed off road climbs, and it hasn't yet topped 70 degrees here. It should be noted that I have almost no hair on my head, so I may be more sensitive to a helmet's warmth than hairier folks. On the road bike, though, at higher speeds, this hasn't been noticeable at all.

One of the most important things to look for in a helmet is fit. Over 1,000 on- and off-road miles in, the Supersonic fits me better than anything I've ever owned, which is fantastic. While there are a number of very good mid-range helmets out there, Uvex is one of the only brands sold in the US the majority of whose helmets are manufactured in the West (Germany), under the EU's strict environmental and labor regulations- an added benefit. The difference between the $90 Supersonic RS and $100 Supersonic GT is the finish: the GT has a more modern/urban/stealth rubbery matte finish, while the RS is shinier. Finally, for $120, the Black/Gold/Pearl Supersonic GT can be ordered with coordinated Crow Pro sunglasses (which sell on their own for $70)- a helluva deal. While I'm hoping not to have to test the Supersonic to its full capacity, I'll touch base in 6 months or so to let you know what I think then.

marc

www.uvexsports.com

2 comments:

Mos Dafe said...

I have the Supersonic GT and it's a great helmet. It is light and holds onto my head perfectly. I can also put on my thin balaclava and adjust it quickly.

The vents are decent, allowing for moderate airflow from front to back.

I'd recommend this helmet to anybody.

bikefix said...

Mos,

That's great- everyone I've talked to has raved about the fit- its certainly the best I've tried in quite a while. Glad you like it too!

marc