The LEM Gavia helmet offers safety, comfort and style. Its ventilation is excellent and a decent range of colours means you've got a good chance of getting one to match your bike/kit. The only potential drawback is its lower than average profile, which might interfere with certain sunglasses.
LEM might be new on the cycle helmet scene, but it's not new to head protection: for 30 years it has been developing and producing helmets for motorsports. It's now focusing on cycling and is offering seven different helmets, in 50 colours, covering road, mountain biking, commuting and kids. If you like to match your kit with your bike you're in with a good chance here: the Gavia is available in seven different colours, each in small, medium and large.
The adjustment levels of the Gavia match that of the Volata. The five-point height adjustment of the cradle is worth taking time to get right – once set, it won't need moving again. The dial pulls the cradle in from the temples and it feels exceptionally secure and comfortable, more so than many low to mid-range helmets that tighten only at the rear.
I did find that it sat quite low on my head, with more temple coverage than many helmets I have tested. This is clear if you compare it with photos of, for example, the Giro Isode. My sunglasses sat plush against the Gavia – in fact it was a perfect setup for my slimline glasses; they were held rigidly in place and didn't budge all ride. But it is possible that the lower shell might be a problem with a chunkier pair of sunnies.
I am also used to passing my hair through a gap in the rear of many of my helmets, something that isn't possible with the Gavia, but it's a minor detail really, and not something many people will want to do.
The interior padding is just the right thickness to provide a decent level of comfort when the helmet is tightened. The padding at the rear (where the dial mechanism sits) is clinging to a very thin strip of rough Velcro, and I suspect that prolonged use and some salty sweat will eventually see it detach. Maybe it'll prove me wrong... I removed it to wash it a couple of times, and it's fiddly to get back on in exactly the right place. The Gavia doesn't come with spare pads.
The strapping is really easy to adjust and isn't fixed at the rear. LEM has created a closed loop with the strap, so there are no loose ends to flap about or fray.
As with the cradle height, it's worth taking the time to set up the lateral clips precisely so that you don't have mess with them again. The straps are soft and flexible, though the reflective weave isn't particularly effective.
LEM has nailed ventilation with the Gavia. The 27 vents really do prevent a build-up of heat under the lid. The padding at the front includes a bug net for the five forward-facing vents, leaving the largest central vent open. This vent is the main source of airflow through the lid; it's shaped at its rear end to channel the flow through and away.
The Gavia is by far the most effective in terms of ventilation in comparison with other helmets I've used.
The Gavia fares well on weight when compared to others of the same price. At the same cost, Sweet Protection's Outrider comes within 5g of the Gavia. Interestingly, LEM's Volata is only 10g heavier than the Gavia. If you fork out an extra £20 you can save 43g with a Kask Mojito X, though I can't say whether this is a detectable difference. The Gavia certainly doesn't feel weighty when on.
It comes with a visor that attaches securely – no wobble or play – and is easy to get on and off, but as the helmet sat pretty low on my head I didn't really appreciate having the visor attached; it wasn't obscuring my forward or lateral vision, I was simply aware it was right above my brow. I haven't experienced this with other helmets with clip-on visors attached, such as the Specialized Sierra or Endura Humvee.
If ventilation is not a priority then you might be paying over the odds by buying the Gavia, as you could easily get something for half the price that'd do the job, but overall it's a tidy looking, comfortable helmet with above average ventilation for a mid-range option. If the profile appeals then it's a good buy for those who value a cool head. If you can, it might be worth trying on the helmet with your regular sunglasses to ensure that the fit is okay.
Above average comfort and ventilation, and easy to adjust, just beware the profile might interfere with some sunnies
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road.cc test report
Make and model: LEM Gavia 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?
LEM says, "Built for the passion of cycling, the Gavia road bike helmet brings lightweight protection for everything from steep climbs to fast descents. It takes its name from the iconic Italian Passo Gavia in the Alps - one of the most feared and famous uphill grinds in the Giro d'Italia. Persevering through whatever Mother Nature throws your way, the Gavia is the best road bike helmet for all-around cycling, and combines comfort and technology in a well-balanced package that provides road cyclists a competitive edge and inspires victory. The Gavia harkens back to LEM's 30-plus years of innovative head protection and helmet design, and improves every minute you spend road cycling."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
LEM lists these features:
-LEM Flow-Thru™ ventilation system offers large intake and exhaust vents to keep you cool
-27 vents for built-in cooling and comfort control
-LEM Tech Integrated™ multi-shell EPS in-mold technology
-LEM FS2™ Padded Occipital Lobe 5 position height adjustment fit system for custom-fit feel
-Compact design, easy on/off snap visor
-Helmets Comply with U.S. CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets for Persons Age 5 and Older in the US, and in Europe with EN 1078 CE
And these tech specs:
Weight: 245 grams (w/o visor) Visor: L-Fix Attached
Fit system: FS2-5 Padding: LEM-Tech w/Bug Mesh
Number of vents: 27 Reflector: Yes
Webbing: Polyester Reflective
I worry that the interior padding at the rear may not last long, though all's fine at the moment. There are no replacement pads.
Superior ventilation than others at this price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Protection with above average ventilation.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good ventilation and easily adjustable basket that tightens from the temples to give a great fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Initially I disliked how low it sat on my head, but I've grown used to this and quite like it.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are cheaper options out there, but ventilation may not be as good.
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 overall score
It's a very good helmet, with excellent ventilation and a secure, snug fit, though the padding attachments need improving and it's a shame there's no spare padding.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…