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July 2016 Product Picks: Lazer, Giro, Lizard Skins, Mio, OruCase, and Fabric

by James Huang

July 9, 2016


Product Picks heads back to CyclingTips’ U.S. base in Boulder, Colorado, covering a wide range of hard and soft goods for both bike and body. Need a new helmet or shoes? Want to dress up your road bike on the cheap, or travel under the radar? Looking for novel ways to measure your heart rate or attach bottles to your frame? We’ve got you covered.

Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:

Lazer Blade MIPS helmet
Giro Factor ACC shoes
Lizard Skins DSP handlebar tape
Mio Link heart rate wrist strap
OruCase Airport Ninja bike travel case
Fabric Cageless water bottle

Lazer Blade MIPS helmet

by James Huang

The Lazer Blade MIPS borrows its modern aesthetic from the top-end Z1 model, with a similarly compact exterior and a closely related overall design that even includes the same floating arch straddling the Rollsys retention system adjuster dial. The impressively economical Blade MIPS shell is fitted with 22 instead of 31 vents, though, and the shallower internal channels make it easier to pass requisite safety standards without resorting to the Z1’s expensive secondary reinforcement structures.

Lazer's Rollsys retention system is quite possibly the best in the industry.

Lazer’s Rollsys retention system is quite possibly the best in the industry.

Also like the Z1, the Blade MIPS can be customized with a variety of optional add-ons, such as the Aeroshell snap-on cover for protection from inclement weather and better aerodynamics, a rear LED flasher for nighttime visibility, and a pad set with an integrated optical heart rate monitor developed in conjunction with LifeBeam.

Our Blade MIPS edition also features the low-friction MIPS (Multidirectional Impact Protection System) liner, which is designed to slide independently of the EPS foam shell during a crash to lessen the chance of a traumatic brain injury.

The MIPS liner supposedly reduces the chances of brain injury by allowing the helmet to momentarily slide around your head on impact.

The MIPS liner supposedly reduces the chances of brain injury by allowing the helmet to momentarily slide around your head on impact.

Actual weight for our small-sized sample is 292g, plus 43g for the matching Aeroshell cover. Lazer offers the Blade MIPS in three sizes and nine different colors.

Our Take:

Lazer’s most notable advantage over other helmet brands is its superb Rollsys retention system. Unlike most retention devices that typically only wrap around the sides and back of your head, the cable-based Rollsys system runs around the entire circumference of your head. Combined with the adjustment dial’s infinitely fine range and the choice of five height positions for the rear cradle, the Blade MIPS is immediately comfortable with a fit that’s not only pleasantly snug but very uniform.

In addition, the rear cradle is very flexible and nearly impossible to break — a nice bonus for frequent travelers who might be less careful about packing their helmets in luggage than they should be.

Shallow internal channeling lessen the effectiveness of the Blade MIPS' 22 vents.

Shallow internal channeling lessen the effectiveness of the Blade MIPS’ 22 vents.

The Blade MIPS’ comfortable fit, snazzy aesthetics, and a la carte feature set make it a good option for cooler days but its mediocre ventilation performance make it less than ideal for warmer ones.

Shallow internal channels provide little room for air to actually flow across your head, so the Blade MIPS feels warmer than its vent count might suggest. Lazer also hasn’t included any airspace at all between the browpad and foam liner so it doesn’t take long for sweat to build up and drip into your sunglasses — even during a casual road ride on flat terrain in 16°C (61°F) temperatures with low humidity.

The old-school straps are noticeably thick, and the sliders don't lock in place.

The old-school straps are noticeably thick, and the sliders don’t lock in place.

Some of the cost-cutting measures required to hold the Blade MIPS to a reasonable price are also a bit too noticeable. The simple strap sliders don’t lock in place, for example, and the thick strap material isn’t as soft against your skin as the lighter-weight stuff found on some of the Blade MIPS’ competition — especially after they’ve accumulated the salt of several hard summertime workouts. In addition, Lazer has left the lower edge of the Blade MIPS uncovered, meaning it doesn’t take long for it to get dinged up from everyday use.

Price: US$135 / AU$180 / €125 / £90

  • winkybiker

    Cageless water bottles? But why?

    • Karl

      I like my Vincero Design bottles and holder but I’ll admit they’re a bit of a gimmick (and they’ve popped out about 4 times in 5 years). Still… magnets :-). Actually, the biggest downside is only being able to use that particular brand of bidon.

      • James Huang

        I also tried Vinceros a while ago. Lost bottles regularly, had a magnet pop out of the plastic base, and broke a plastic base, too.

        • Karl

          That’s impressively destructive – exactly what you want in a reviewer :-)

    • Aimee Aldrich

      <<o. ?????:?????:?????:?????:?????:?????:?????:?????:?????:?????:::::::!bq526p:….,..

    • James Huang

      There is some niche appeal to that sort of thing. They look clean both with and without a bottle, and there are some distinct benefit for CX and travel bikes. Otherwise, I personally don’t see the point.

      • campirecord

        You mean like trying to pop a bottle back in while the bike is full of gunk. Yeah there’s an appeal for cyclocross… This is the downside to self made entrepreneur who think they can change the world with a gimmick. We still use pins for race numbers. Because they work.

        • James Huang

          “Distinct benefit for CX” as in, for riders that like to warm up with a bottle but not race with one. Cageless designs let you keep a bottle on your bike but then ditch it (and leave a relatively clean profile) without having to undo any cage bolts. Then again, there’s no guarantee that bottle will stay on the bike during that warm-up…

      • Dain Zaffke

        James, thanks for the solid write up of the Factor ACC footwear. Just wanted to chime in about the Fabric bottles… For “Grinduro” style riding, these seem to be the best thing out there. I’ve been riding these bottles on my Stigmata since December and I haven’t dropped a bottle yet… Even on the sorts of descents that have my eyes bouncing in my head — flat spotting rims — general reckless riding that will throw bottles from even King’s ti bottle cages. I literally haven’t dropped a Fabric bottle yet. They do take a bit more care to reach down and grab a sip (especially in a group), but the new version sure holds the bottle in place.

        • James Huang

          As much as I love King Ti cages (I own a couple myself), I’ve actually never found them to hold bottles as securely as many make them out to and am not surprised that your bottles wouldn’t stay in them. Any cage of that design (where it basically pivots open at the bottom) inherently lets the bottle bounce around more than one that uses a stout, split cylindrical layout and a retention lip (like Arundel or Blackburn carbon cages).

    • Cameron Harris

      Maybe I can fit a bigger battery in the downturn one?

  • bleui

    what makes the cleat holes in Giro so special?

    • James Huang

      It’s not that they’re particularly special; it’s just that they’re where they should be to provide a proper range of adjustment. This definitely isn’t always a given.

  • noob_sauce

    On the Lazer Blade, I find mine (regular Blade w/o MIPS) to be adequately cool to temps up to 35 deg C but I don’t know if the MIPS layer affects ventilation. I agree that the internal channels are on the shallow side and a lot of the cooling happens up front.

    Fit with the Advanced Rollsys and adjustable cradle is absolutely first class. May take a while for people to get used to how the retention isn’t indexed but the infinite adjustability and even pressure really make it super comfortable.

    The strap sliders can be a bit finicky but they’re better than say a Spesh helmet where you can’t adjust where the straps meet below your ears. I agree that the strap material isn’t particularly luxurious and can bother some people that really pull the straps tight under/behind their chin. (But that might be a problem with most helmets that have the buckle directly below the chin and not slightly to the side like say, on a Kask.)

    More plastic over the exposed EPS on the underside of the helmet would’ve been nice.

    Overall, good to better-than-most ventilation, first class fit and comfort, top notch looks, straps don’t bother me but may bother some people, but are adjustable, absolutely great quality helmet especially for the price.


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