Aerodynamics are important in a bike race and we're seeing the pros concentrating on cheating the wind from every direction, head to toe. 'The fastest closed aero helmet' claims Met about its brand new Manta; a big claim but this helmet is about more than just going fast.
The Manta was launched last year at the Tour de France after the Met sponsored team MTN Qhubeka's sprinters asked for 'an extremely lightweight aero helmet', and this is what they got.
It's a sleek-looking thing with its near-solid shell and compared to some aero helmets on the market surprisingly svelte.
Met claims the Manta saves 10 watts at 50km/h compared to its rivals and although that is hard to test in the real world even half of that isn't to be sniffed at for free. That'll be at an optimal position too, most likely the handlebar-staring, stem-chomping head angle employed by the world's best sprinters but hey, when you're really going for it in the drops the Manta does actually make you feel quick – nothing wrong with a placebo effect.
For the rest of the stage though those sprinters are going to need a helmet which isn't going to make you cook in the summer heat and it's here that the Manta really excels. It may only have seven forward facing vents but boy do they keep you cool as they direct the air in and around your head.
I wore the Manta on a 107 mile ride which took in 2,800m of climbing on a day that saw the thermometer touching 25°C and while I was hot I wasn't excessively so in the Met. It performed just like any other vented helmet.
The wind seems to rush into those two middle vents, so much so it could do with some bug mesh as you can feel the little critters getting sucked in there. The scoop on the top whips cool air in too over the top of your head and out of the six large vents at the rear.
It's the most breathable aero helmet I've worn.
I'm not a big helmet wearer and leaving the whole 'should I, shouldn't I' debate alone I just prefer to wear a cap (road.cc obviously) for comfort.
The Manta has changed all that though, I literally grab it every single ride because it's so damn comfortable. It uses Met's Safe-T Advanced Fit System which runs right the way around the helmet rather than just the back portion. Each click of the dial gives you 2mm of adjustment and the load is spread evenly rather than just focussed on one spot. At the rear of the cradle you get four step options to get that sitting right too.
You get removable foam padding inside which is plush enough but I'd be tempted to go for the optional gel padding (as found in the Met Stradivarius) for optimum comfort.
The straps are called Airlite which Met claim are 15% lighter and more aerodynamic than standard straps, I can't see how or why to be honest but they are comfortable against the skin and easily adjustable.
While we're on the subject of weight it's worth mentioning the Manta is just 215g which is impressive for a helmet of its type and you certainly notice it when you're riding – or rather you don't, if you know what I mean.
Value for money is tough one. A lot of cheaper helmets often do the same job as more expensive models. They pass the same tests; have the same number of vents and so on. But road cycling has, and always will be driven by fashion and what the pros are wearing. If you want to look like them then you'll to pay a premium.
Compared to its rivals, the Met Manta isn't actually badly priced and for me its comfort, light weight and cool looks make it worth every penny.
Our test sample came with a little Met LED light which fits over the rear adjustment dial and it was surprisingly bright for such a small component. With a simple push on for flashing, push again for solid and once more for off it's a simple little 'be seen' option.
Overall the Met Manta is a great helmet if you want to go down the aerodynamic route.
Well ventilated, fast feeling, comfortable, lightweight aero lid that looks pretty cool too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Met Manta Helmet
Size tested: Medium 54/58, Black/Blue/Green, includes a soft bag and spare gel front pad
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?
According to Met the Manta is the "Fastest closed aero road helmet."
Even if that isn't true (it might be) it's very light, comfortable and adjustable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Outer shell construction: Integral inmoulding
EPS liner technology: Inmolding EPS intelligent fusion
Chin strap buckle: Anti-pinch buckle
Straps: Air lite straps
Cam divider: 2016 air lite divider
Strap anchor points: Aerodynamic strap anchor design
Retention system: Safe-t advanced, 360 degrees
Padding: Coolmax anti-allergenic interior pads. Front Gel O2 padding supplied as a spare
Be seen Reflective rear stickers
Transport: Soft bag provided with the Manta for safe transportation.
Medium: 54cm to 58cm
Large: 59cm to 62cm
There is nothing to really fault in its construction but I do prefer helmets wher the outer shell extends around the lower edge of the foam to prevent damage.
It's hard to quantify Met's aero claims but one this is for sure, the Manta is surprisingly cool for a closed helmet considering it has only seven forward facing vents so the channels must be working well.
The straps and retention system all feel pretty rugged with the only downside being the matt finish on the aero section marks easily making the Manta look tatty quite quickly.
Pretty light for an aero helmet.
Subjective as helmets are very personally but I found the Manta a match made in heaven.
For the level of performance, comfort and weight against it's rivals I say the Manta's price is justifiable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellently. You remain cool, you feel fast and it's so comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
Use this box to explain your score
I grab the Manta every ride, and that's coming from a non-helmet wearer - 'nuf said I reckon.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.