review

Casco Speedster aero road helmet

8
£149.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Well-ventilated, light aero lid with surprisingly great built-in visor.
Weight: 
332g
Contact: 

Aero road helmets are a trend we're seeing more and more of these days, as the focus for marginal gains moves from weight to aerodynamics. Casco were one of the first manufacturers to introduce such a helmet, their distinctive Speedtime helmet being a staple on the track. The Speedster helmet we've got here looks to take some of that knowhow and translate it to a more realistic price point (relatively, of course).

In common with some other aero helmets (Giro Air Attack for example), the Speedster is designed to be used with an integrated visor, which both improves airflow as well as providing for a better field of vision. The attachment to the helmet is via a simple clip on each side, and is really easy to use if you need to remove the visor for cleaning, for example. The visor is attached to the clips by elastic which means that it can also be lifted up onto the helmet, useful for when climbing at low speeds to stop sweat fouling the lens, or when putting the helmet on and taking it off.


"I am the Law"

The lens itself is a high quality item which wraps around the whole of the frontal section of the helmet. The test model came fitted with the grey lens, the most reflective available, but clear and orange (low light) lenses are also available to purchase separately for £50. Additionally, the helmet is available with no visor at all for £100.

When it comes to aero helmets, the difficulty is in balancing the competing interests of low drag and adequate ventilation. Compared to other similar helmets, the Speedster has quite a lot of vents, which makes it look almost like a 'normal' helmet (if you take the visor off). The result is that ventilation is good and shouldn't be an issue except in the hottest conditions. For the UK, I would be happy with wearing the Speedster all year round.

The key to the Speedster's aerodynamic slipperiness apparently comes down to its ventless side panels and the 'adaptive' (though they looked pretty fixed to me) vents at the rear. The intention is to provide direct channels for the air to flow front to back through the helmet, while minimising the intake/expulsion of air from the sides which would increase drag.

Whereas the difference in speed between a normal road helmet and a full-on TT helmet is noticeable – often a good couple of kph – the comparison of the Speedster to a standard helmet is much more subtle. Without the controlled setting of a wind tunnel or covered track, it's difficult to quantify the reduction in drag, though I think it's safe to say that the Speedster will be faster, even if by a small amount.

The Speedster employs a fairly standard looking retention system that makes use of a dial to tighten or loosen the cradle. The dial is big enough to handle with gloves on, and has a nice, positive click action to let you know exactly what's happening back there. Casco have also seen fit to include quite a thick bit of padding back there, which certainly helps in the comfort stakes. The system has 3cm of vertical adjustability in 1cm increments, which is just about acceptable for a top end lid. Those who like to position the cradle low on the back of the head might find the Speedster a bit limiting in this regard.

One of the unique features of the Speedster, and indeed, many of Casco's other helmets is that it uses a clippie thing (that's a technical term) instead of a more usual buckle. Instead of joining beneath the chin, the clip attaches to the metal loop which is used to connect the forward and rearward sections of strapping, placing it directly beneath your left ear. The result is that the section of strapping under the chin is free from any protrusions that could cause discomfort, and a further bit of foam padding has been added to reduce potential chafing even further.

At first, this fixing system felt very fiddly and difficult to operate without resorting to using both hands, but eventually the technique required for single handed operation became more natural. It's probably a stretch to say that this system is any better than a bog-standard buckle, it's just different.

One disappointing thing about the straps is that the positioning of the webbing around the ears is non-adjustable. In my case, the straps were perfect and lay flat against my head, but it would still be nice to have some adjustability here, for those with different head shapes and/or preferences.

Out on the road, the first thing that strikes you is the feel of having an integrated visor, and in particular, the quality of the lens used. There is virtually no optical distortion which makes for a very clear and crisp view ahead. This is accentuated by the fact that there are no sunglass frames to get in the way, so peripheral vision, and vision up the road when in a more tucked position, is excellent. Despite using the darkest grey lens on some decidedly overcast days, I never felt like I was missing any road detail, such was the clarity of the optics.

One potential source of concern, which was voiced by a number of riders, was the issue of having the lens fog up. In my time testing the Speedster, fogging was only an issue on one occasion, when climbing very slowly on a humid day, and even then it wasn't a problem at all. I suspect this is because the lens sits quite some way in front of the face, which allows plenty of space for air to circulate behind it.

The distance between lens and cheek has another, possibly unintended, benefit too, which only became apparent after taking the Speedster for a slide along some asphalt at 50 kph. The helmet itself did its job, soaking up the impact (and cracking in the process) and preventing me from anything worse than a mild concussion, while the damage to the visor indicates that without it, I would've done quite a bit of damage to my face also. As it was, I walked away with only a few scratches on my lip and cheek.

Undoubtedly, some people will find the idea of wearing an aero helmet with integrated visor out on a training ride ridiculous, and in the past, I'd be one of the first to agree with them. However, having experienced the quality of the optics and the unlimited peripheral vision it offers, in addition to the extra safety, I'd be quite happy to suffer the sniggers of my fellow cyclists and wear the Speedster all the time. If I hadn't destroyed it, that is.

Verdict

The integrated visor is the stand-out feature, but the Speedster also offers up a well-ventilated and reasonably light helmet, at a price point cheaper than most of the competition.

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Casco Speedster

Size tested: White, 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?

The Speedster is designed as an aero road helmet, therefore suited to faster races and perhaps the odd time trial. That said, it performs well in the day to day too, making if perfectly acceptable as a training lid.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

- 27 vents total

- "Adaptive" rear vents to improve airflow at different head angles

- Casco-LOC retention system

- Integrated Class 1 visor (grey, orange or clear), which can be removed of flipped up in use

- 310g claimed weight (medium)

- Available in medium (54-58cm) and large (58-62cm) sizes

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Generally very good, though the reflective piping could have been neater.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Though the aerodynamic benefits are marginal over a standard helmet, comfort, weight and ventilation are all pretty good which means that there's no real compromise to be made. The visor optics were excellent and offered great peripheral vision.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Didn't really have the helmet long enough to test this as I crashed and wrote it off quite early in the test period.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10

At 310g it's not super heavy, especially considering the integrated visor.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Generally good, but it could've used a bit more vertical adjustability in the retention system.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

One of the cheapest aero road helmets around, and considering the visor is included, looks to be quite good value.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well - the Speedster felt no different from a standard helmet when just riding around, whilst still offering some aero benefits. The optics of the integrated visor are excellent.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The integrated visor.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Limited vertical adjustability of retention system.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 190cm  Weight: 69kg

I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Semi pro

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, mtb,

 

For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.

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