The KASK brand is distributed by NSquared, in Cape Town, who clearly have a fetish for Italian styled products as they are also responsible for plying us with quality products such as Fizik, Vittoria, Santini and De Rosa (I have yet to have the pleasure of trying a De Rosa out).
A helmet can be subjective as head shape, head size and thickness of hair will all have bearing on the overall experience, so I chose a few criteria upfront to evaluate the helmets; these being weight, comfort and adjustability, price and performance.
Rapido – “Light Value”
The first of the three models I tried was the Rapido which is KASK’s entry level helmet. The Rapido weighs 220 grams (medium) which is a tad lighter than similar helmets in this price range.
This helmet floats in at around the R1000 mark and offers incredible value and comfort. The tightening dial is easy to use even with thick gloves and didn’t loosen while riding. The inner harness is fitted with a pivot that pulls the harness under the back of your skull, so the tightening effect pulls the helmet onto the head and prevents the helmet from moving up off the head, as often happens when a rider changes their head position while riding. The 24 vents spread over the helmet give sufficient in and out air flow to keep your head cool.
On the ride the Rapido is light and the chin strap sits in a comfortable position, but this should be the case for all helmets if they are fitted correctly. On other helmets that I have tried in this range there tends to be excess wind noise around the vents particularly on faster descents, but the Rapido does not boast too much of this. The low fit on the head meant I didn’t look or feel like a mushroom – BONUS!
The internal padding was also a pleasant surprise for a helmet in this range as it offers proper comfort and the required absorbency.
It comes in six different colours, but accents are easily applied.
I am really impressed by the Rapido, it punches way above its price range and offers huge value and still looks every part Italian design.
Mojito – “All-rounder”
Midway through the KASK range sits the Mojito which weighs 220 grams for the medium that I slung on. The 22 vents kept my head cool and, like the Rapido, it sits low on the head so you don’t get the feeling that your heads wants to over balance to one side. The same pivot system on the Rapido is fitted on the Mojito, but comes with additional padding on this model and also pulls the helmet down onto the head for a more natural and comfortable fit which is again controlled by an easy to use dial at the back of the helmet, albeit this dial dresses up a bit with the Italian colours.
The straps follow the industry norm, where two separate straps thread through an adjustable clip, KASK step this up nicely by attaching a soft leather strap which definitely adds an element of comfort over the standard Nylon type strap.
Sufficiently padded on the inside, the helmet is comfortable and although primarily designed for road use I wouldn’t have any issue using it while mountain biking.
From a design perspective the helmet fits into the mould of most helmets in this range which is a little disappointing as I would have expected a little more flair, but this doesn’t really affect the performance as such, but I did find this particular helmet a little less comfortable than the Protone which is reviewed below.
Coming in at around R2500 upwards this model should fit the more serious riders’ needs and budget, and should fulfil a dual purpose role both on the road and MTB.
Protone – “Balanced Comfort”
The last of the three that I tested, albeit the first that caught my eye based on looks, is the Protone worn by team Sky in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this year. I was super eager to get this on my head and out on the road.
In the hand, the medium Protone weighs 230 grams, but on the head it feels as though it weighs nothing and I found myself making sure it was still there on the odd occasion. The cage at the back was small but with a manageable dial for tightening the adjustable pads on the left and right that pull in under the base of the skull for protection and the configuration options make for a super comfortable fit.
Once again, as with the other helmets, the padding was sufficient and soft with plenty absorption to prevent sweat streaming into your eyes.
This is a professional level helmet with safety and protection not compromised for the sake of Italian design.
The ride experience was awesome with little to no noise around the few vents and you just feel more aerodynamic when you get low into the drops.
What stood out for me is the design of the chin strap around the ears as just about 90% of helmets have the stock standard dual Nylon strap that feeds into an adjuster and then continues under the chin, these often get twisted or adjust themselves resulting in rubbing on or under the ear. The Protone has a single strap that runs front to back around the bottom of the ear which sits comfortably. The chin strap itself, as with the Mojito, is a soft leather strap which just improves the overall comfort level.
The biggest problem I have with the Protone is that I really want one and that’s going to cost me around the R4000 mark which is a tad pricey, however for the price you are getting a high level of safety and protection in a helmet that has great aerodynamics and in my opinion also looks ... Bellissimo.
KASK advertise a technology called MIT which marries an outer polycarbonate shell to the inner polystyrene inner which provides additional safety, not really too keen on playing crash test dummy, I am going to take their word for it, but the helmets feel strong and sturdy and in my opinion can be worn with all confidence.