Met's Strale helmet strikes a balance between aerodynamics, cooling and comfort that makes you wonder whether you really need to spend any more on a polystyrene lid.
Last year I tested the Met Manta Aero helmet and it became my favourite; I'm still wearing it on practically every ride, or rather, I was until the Strale turned up.
The Strale is half the price but offers nearly the same performance. No doubt there'll be some data out there to say it doesn't save as many watts at a given speed, but for the majority of your riding that probably doesn't matter.
With eight vents up front, the Strale has a lot fewer than most traditional helmets but you certainly don't overheat when you're wearing it. A few weeks ago the temperature in this part of the country was nudging 30°C and I spent the week riding in the Met without issue.
Met says that it uses the Venturi effect, scooping air in at the front, and with the small gap between your head and the inside of the helmet, the hot air from your head is forced out of the rear to keep you cool. If it is working then you can't physically feel it, but I certainly never felt like I was baking in this matt black helmet.
When the speed is low and you're working pretty hard – like on a climb, for instance – you will sweat, but I didn't feel noticeably more sweaty than when wearing a helmet with 20 vents. The pads inside the Strale do soak everything up pretty well too.
Met's shape and fitting system suits the shape of my head so I find its helmets really comfortable as I can get them fitting snug without any pressure points anywhere. That's pretty good from a helmet that only adjusts the rear section for size rather than the full circumference, like the cable system used on my Poc.
The fit is controlled by the Safe-T Duo Fit System, which is adjusted circumference-wise by a small dial with close increments to get everything just right. You can also adjust the position vertically by four settings – and flop your ponytail through, too, if necessary.
Size-wise, this test model is a medium, which fits a head size of 52-58cm, while a large comes with a 59-62cm circumference. There are seven colour choices.
The only niggle is the small LED light that clips over the adjustment knob for some extra visibility in the dark. Each of the light's three modes are plenty bright enough, but the actual fitment to the helmet isn't that great. It didn't seem to really connect with the dial by clicking into place or anything.
Comparing the Strale with some of the other helmets we've tested recently shows there is even more to like. The Salice Levante, for instance, is a similar styled, semi-aero lid which is both heavier (277g) and more expensive than the Met by about £25.
For a similar price, there's the Giant Strive MIPS helmet, but that weighs 80g more at 320g. Not a massive amount, admittedly, but it's more weight on your neck muscles.
Taking all this into account, the Met Strale looks to be a very competitive all-round package.
An excellent balance of aerodynamics and cooling in a well-priced package
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Met Strale Helmet
Size tested: 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?
Met says: "The Met Strale utilizes the Venturi Effect via an air channeling system that pulls in cool air and pushes heat out.
"Feather-light, wearing the Strale is unobtrusive, as any top range all-around helmet should be."
The Strale offers a great balance between aero and cooling.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Met lists these features:
Outer shell construction In-Mould
Inner shell Shock absorbing polystyrene
Chin strap buckle Anti-pinch buckle
Strap and Divider Anti-slip cam divider
Fit system Safe-T Duo. Ponytail compatible
Comfort Anti-allergenic interior padding. Hand washable
Be seen Reflective rear sticker
Compatibility Duo LED light
Certifications CE, AS/NZ, US
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The fit is great.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's an excellent all-rounder for the price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A minor quibble, but the rear light could do with attaching more firmly.
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
The Strale is a great helmet if you want to go down the aero route without the associated price tag. Back that up with an excellent fit and comfort levels and there is very little to fault.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!