Road Gear

Reviewed: The versatile Lazer Z1 helmet

Logan VonBokel has a new favorite helmet in the lightweight and well-vented Z1. In a snap, the Aeroshell makes it warm for the winter miles

When one thinks of a helmet, “versatile” might not be the first adjective that comes to mind. But that’s exactly what the Lazer Z1 is. Thanks to its aftermarket Aeroshell, the Z1 can transform from a lightweight and airy summer helmet to a windproof lid, perfect for winter riding.

The Z1 is a top-of-the-line helmet through and through. Its weight — at 276 grams for a size large — is within grams of Giro’s Synthe and Smith’s Overtake. It is also attractive. Ventilation is superb, and the Z1’s price backs all of this up. At $270 the Z1 is $20 more expensive than the Synthe and Overtake. Its price is comparable to the Poc Octal, but the Lazer Aeroshell will set you back an additional $20. If you live anywhere in North America, you’ll get use out of this add-on at some point, though it likely won’t be in an attempt to make yourself more aerodynamic.

On a days below 35 degrees, the Aeroshell keeps threatening winds at bay, while a winter cap with ear flaps, like the Pearl Izumi Barrier Cycling Cap, will insulate your head. The Aeroshell easily snaps on and off the front of the Z1, completely closing off all of the front vents.

When the temperature rises, the Z1 — sans Aeroshell — is a top performer, far better than the Synthe or the Overtake. On slow, hot climbs, the new crop of aero road helmets, like the Synthe, do not perform at the same level as more traditional, heavily vented helmets, like the Z1. The Z1 has 31 vents, for those who keep track of such things, but internal design, vent size, and placement have greater impacts on ventilation than the sheer number of vents. That being said, Lazer’s airiness is superb. Rivaled only by the Poc Octal, a helmet that coincidentally, retails for the exact same price.

The retention system is an updated version of the Z1’s predecessors — Lazer’s Helium, and the Genesis before that. One considerable improvement is Lazer’s tri-guide, which slides securely on the straps but without a buckle. It’s a bit larger than normal tri-guides, but you can fine-tune it on the bike without needing to stand in front of mirror to get the straps to lay flat.

The Lazer Z1 looks attractive, even in a size large — some helmets look like mushroom caps atop my narrow face. The colors are also attractive. If the Gulf GT40 colorway doesn’t do it for you, black and white are available, as are a myriad of other bright colors. And if the Aeroshell idea sounds appealing, but you don’t want to throw down on the ultra-light Z1, the Helium is still available for at least $50 less and has its own Aeroshell.

Suggested retail price: $270
We like: $20 Aeroshell for windy winter riding; without the shell it is as well ventilated as anything on the market
We don’t like: Price tag. At $270 the Z1 is one of the most expensive helmets on the market.
The scoop: The Z1 is light, airy, and — if you want — warm; all while being good-looking.