The Louis Garneau Course helmet might be pricy but it's very cool and comfortable, and the manufacturer claims it is the fastest aero road helmet out there.
We'll come back to those aero claims in a bit. The reason this has become one of my favourite bike helmets over the past few weeks is that it's very comfy. You get plenty of antimicrobial Xstatic XT2 padding inside, soft straps, and an easily adjustable fit system.
Louis Garneau call this their Spiderlock Pro II system and it features a polymer neck support – the bit that cradles the back of your head. You can alter how far this reaches by selecting the angle at which it attaches on the temples to the main body of the helmet. It's really easy to position comfortably and securely.
The small cam-lock dividers that sit below your ears are simple to set too, and once they're sorted you'll never have to think about them again. As usual, you cut the straps to the correct length once you have the fit organised, and melt the ends to stop them fraying.
Fine-tuning the tightness is a matter of turning a clicky dial at the back. It's a one-handed operation so it's easy to do while you're riding along.
One interesting feature is that you get a Spiderlock Vision light included in the box. It's a little waterproof LED that sticks to the adjustment dial via a hook and loop attachment. It's no substitute for a rear LED on your bike, but it's a useful extra with three different modes – one steady, two flashing. The battery lasts up to 80 hours and the whole thing weighs just 12g. Good idea!
The helmet is an in-mould construction with an internal frame within the expanded polystyrene (EPS). Other manufacturers use similar construction techniques, the idea being to enable the use of large vents without compromising the helmet's overall strength.
Louis Garneau reckon that their 'aero cage' optimises aerodynamics. They say that they've used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to up the performance in two ways: to improve ventilation and to reduce drag.
The idea is that you get the highest air pressure at the front of the helmet, causing resistance. The Course is designed so that this air is pushed inside the helmet, channeled over your head and ejected out the back, reducing resistance as it cools you.
According to one of Louis Garneau's scenarios, a 70kg rider on a 9.1kg bike covers 40km in 53:20mins wearing a regular road helmet. In another (unnamed) road aero helmet (presumably for the same power output), the time drops to 51:22mins, and in the Louis Garneau helmet it drops to 50:40mins. Take a look at Louis Garneau's paper on the subject to see if you're convinced.
Personally, I find that scale of difference hard to take and, until we win the Lottery, we don't have a road.cc wind tunnel to test the claims, so all we can do is report them rather than verify or disprove them.
I'd certainly say, though, that this is one of the cooler helmets I've used. There's very little material to stop the airflow to the front and top of your head. I'm not one of those people who normally gets an uncomfortably hot head during the summer – I'm happy wearing a helmet in any temperature – but even I have been pleased to have plenty of ventilation on the few 30°C+ days we've had recently. If you do suffer in the sun, this is certainly a helmet to check out.
Cool, comfortable, easily adjusted helmet that the manufacturer claims to be the fastest of its kind.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Louis Garneau Course Helmet
Size tested: Black Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Louis Garneau say:
* In-Mold Construction
* Super MSB technology: Ring-shaped plastic protection at the base of the helmet reinforces the perimeter for enhanced protection
* Integrated strap system with inner nerves: Inner frame which distributes the shock of impacts, this providing support and protection while being lightweight
* Evacuation channels: Moisture channels provide better airflow and moisture wicking
* Spiderlock PRO II: Helmet stabilizing system featuring a polymer neck support. It can be easily tightened on the head using only one hand, thanks to its dented anti-slip wheel. Its inclination can be adjusted to several positions
* Pro-lock divider: Small and light cam-locking device to quickly adjust strap position
* Wind-tunnel tested: The result is a helmet which follows the shape of the head without excess of material at the back, allowing better air evacuation, from the front helmet to the cyclist's back
* X-static XT2™ Padding: Quick-drying antimicrobial material that inhibits growth of odor-causing bacteria. Its ergonomic design gives you optimum comfort
* Spiderlock Vision light included: Whether you ride to work early in the morning or late at night, the back light will make sure you'll be seen
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Follow this link for Louis Garneau's aero claims: http://www.louisgarneau.com/media/document/2013_01_08FlyerPDFCasqueCours...
You can certainly get helmets considerably lighter for the price, but the Course isn't heavy enough to affect your comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, coolness and ease of adjustment.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is a hurdle.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.