Polycarbonate shell with carbon fiber exoskeleton; lightweight and well vented; no MIPS
Whopping 23 vents; carbon exoskeleton protects EPS foam better than other materials; extremely light
No MIPS; brow pad edges feel sharp; pads aren’t treated with antibacterial
Made for road, gravel and cross -country mountain biking, the MotivAir has a polycarbonate shell with a carbon fiber exoskeleton that LEM says together give this helmet low energy and oblique impact management without a MIPS liner. Extra strength on the outside lets LEM build in a record number of vents without compromising the helmet's structural integrity. And they can use a low-density polystyrene foam underneath because the beefed-up shell will hold the foam together better in a crash. We like it because it's super light and well-vented. Climbers will love it.
The MotivAir’s name really sums it up: Lem’s motive here is the lightest helmet it can make. And indeed, the MotivAir is feathery, though not the lightest on the market. So it’s clear: this is a lid for climbers and weight weenies, and as such, you’ll do without the thick, comfy padding or a focus purely on aerodynamics. For the right type of rider, that’s just fine.
LEM says that the MotivAir’s full-carbon exterior shell elevates this helmet’s protection factor compared to standard helmets, with a best-in-class strength-to-weight ratio that also maximizes cooling without compromising structural integrity. That’s because they use polycarbonate plus carbon fiber shell over low-density foam, not the high-density foam used in most helmets. High-density EPS foam helps protect primarily against high-energy impacts.
The low-density EPS foam used by LEM combined with the shell and exoskeleton allows for better management of low and high-impacts, according to LEM, as well as oblique impacts. Hit the carbon outer layer, and LEM says the energy is dispersed across the whole helmet, not simply absorbed by the spot that took the impact. No other cycling helmet manufacturer is using this approach.
On-or-off road, the lightweight, high-performance MotivAir was deliciously cool and comfortable. LEM got aggressive with its EPS molding and created deep front to back channels between fore and aft vent ports to force air across the rider’s head. That also minimizes contact points between the helmet and the rider, which made this helmet so cool and light at times I actually forgot I had it on. With so many vents, it’s almost as airy as wearing no helmet at all.
The pull-to-adjust harness system made it easy to achieve a perfect fit, though I wish once I had that fit I could lock it in. When I tilted the helmet on my head, the rear adjustment slipped. And the brow pad felt sharp on my forehead. That may break in, over time. LEM did a great job adding reflectivity to this lid. Side and back logos shine bright, which I appreciated when I wore the MotivAir at night.
The MotivAir nails the airiness you expect from a climbing helmet, and if the company’s claims are to be believed, you’re getting some good impact protection, too. You’ll do without MIPS or another rotational force system, largely to keep the weight of the helmet down. And while the fit system snugs up nicely, it could hold better, and the thin padding means you could get some pinching at the forehead. But minimalists will delight in this featherweight for its great ventilation and wispy appearance.