Highest safety rating for a road helmet (Virginia Tech/Insurance Institute for Highway Safety); Integrated tail light
Pros: High safety ratings; easy swap between ventilation and aerodynamics; 50% off crash replacement and 30-day money-back guarantee; five colors to choose from
Cons: Charging and illuminating the rear light isn’t intuitive; heavier duty materials make this a heavier helmet
If safety is your biggest priority, Lazer’s Century MIPS scored the highest safety rating of the 99 helmets tested by Virginia Tech and the National Highway Safety Commission. Sure, it’s a tad heavier than others, but it’s also more affordable, and it’s one of the most versatile helmets for riders who race.
- MSRP: $150
- Weight: 340 grams
- Size: Medium
Lazer’s Century MIPS helmet places a premium on safety, but that doesn’t mean it will slow you down. This Lazer helmet has a unique crown design with a removable cap that flips to either give you more ventilation or a more aerodynamic silhouette. The vent cap is kept in place by magnetic retention points, and it’s easy to change modes one-handed, even when you’re riding. I flipped it on a hill climb from aero to air, and the increased ventilation was immediately noticeable. The helmet manufacturer Lazer says that flipping the cap from air to aero can save you watts and time in a race.
While the test unit that landed on tech editor Dan Cavallari’s desk had some issues with the magnetic retention point reliability (the cap often came loose from the helmet at the slightest touch or vibrations), this feature was improved in later models. Subsequent test units of the Century MIPS seemed to be constructed far more reliably. I have been riding the helmet consistently over rough, gravel roads and the cap has firmly stayed put.
Many commuter helmets now have integrated rear lights, but those helmets are typically heavy and suited for city riding, not aero and ideal for racing and training. The Century MIPS has an LED tail light, and there’s almost no weight penalty for it. The single, rechargeable LED is integrated into the rear of the helmet, and the lens is a plastic tube mounted on the rear-center vent.
Together, the light and battery are barely bigger than a square of chewing gum. Lazer says that the multi-mode light will run for 37 hours on a single charge. So even though it’s finicky to get the battery and light out from under the harness for charging, I didn’t need to do it often, and I used the light whenever I was riding to make myself more visible.
The helmet has internal vent channels—cutouts in the EPS foam are visible in the front and rear of the helmet—to channel air through the helmet to keep your head cool. The MIPS liner has matching cutouts, and X-Static treated pads use Nearly-Silver to control odor.
The tough and slippery outer shell is mated to a plastic perimeter guard which runs around the bottom side of the helmet to protects the EPS from wear and tear.
The Century MIPS ultimately ticks a lot of the boxes for the racer who needs a helmet that can offer aerodynamics, safety, and comfort in an affordable package. It’s not the lightest option out there, so weight weenies take note. But the nifty light and the versatility offered by switching between aero optimization and enhanced ventilation makes the Century MIPS a good, do-it-all option.