review

Hexr helmet

6
£349.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Very clever design but quite heavy and expensive, and some minor issues that need addressing
Weight: 
352g
Contact: 

The Hexr helmet has safety as its primary aim. It sacrifices weight, though this isn't the issue I thought it'd be, and the price is incredibly high right now. There are some wrinkles to be ironed out – the fit, while great across the head, sat very low causing issues with sunglasses, and the retention system could be better – but overall, this is a good road helmet.

  • Pros: Safety figures stack up; nice fit across the skull; extensive area protected; loads of data is reassuring
  • Cons: Weight could come down; sunglasses compatibility issues; retention system is uncomfortable

I won't preach to you about wearing a helmet while cycling. It's your head and all that. But as a keen helmet wearer I'm happy to see improvements in safety taking precedence over weight; I'm tired of the helmets hitting the market with a focus to be as light as possible and relying on a safety standard that was created around 20 years ago. New technology, like the Mips system and Wavecel, is starting to make a change, and now there is a new kid on the block with a 3D printed honeycomb construction that independent testing says performs 26% better than the average lid.

> Buy this online here

Parking the safety discussion for a moment, the process of ordering one of these helmets is a little different to walking into a shop and deciding that you're an S/M instead of an L/XL. You buy the helmet online, but then you'll need your head scanned. My Mum has been suggesting that I have it done for years, and Hexr can either post you a scanner or you can pop down to its London HQ. It'll take five weeks for your helmet to be created, at which point you can try it out for 30 days with a full refund if you're not keen. Hexr will also reprint your helmet if there's an issue with the fit.

It sounds like a long time to wait, but Hexr does at least keep you entertained with fun facts about your noggin. Mine is 59.8cm in diameter, weighs 5.421kg and has the volume to hold 4,928 Skittles, which is great because I really love Skittles.

My first review sample had a misprint so it was a few more weeks before I got the finished article. Putting the helmet on for the first time, the custom-fit is instantly noticeable. The helmet is a snug fit and cradles the whole head perfectly. The front, sides and back of the helmet drop very low, giving excellent coverage, and once adjusted, the straps fit like any other. If you have any fit issues with your new helmet, Hexr will reprint it for free.

I'm not a huge fan of the retention system at the back of the helmet. Not only does it not feel very secure at its anchor points – just three clips hold it in place – but the system presses the central dial into the head, focusing the pressure on one point. For such an expensive helmet, it feels like this part has been overlooked.

Hexr is looking to get the retention system embedded into the helmet when the 3D print is made. That should be a much better system than the recessed clips that the current system relies on.

Safety testing

Safety is the main point of the helmet and Hexr, like Mips, has been keen to look at rotational forces as well as the standard linear force. Independent testing carried out by Professor Remy Willinger at Strasbourg University showed that the Hexr performs exceptionally well in two of the three oblique impact tests. You can read the full study here, but overall the Hexr helmet comes out 26% better than average when the three oblique impacts and the linear force tests are combined.

What does this mean if you should have a crash? Well, the data suggests that you're pretty well protected. Hexr's linear G test score was 134.3G, well under the 250G pass mark required by the EN1078 standard test. That's still higher than Poc's Octal Mips (85.3G), though when I spoke to Jamie Cook, founder of Hexr, he pointed to the thickness of the Poc EPS as the probable cause for the difference.

The oblique tests provided mixed results, with two of the tests marking the Hexr as 'the best that has been recorded for a road helmet'. The results here were a 16% injury risk from an oblique impact causing rotation on the X-axis, and a 24% on the Z-axis. Typical results are 25% and 50% respectively. The third test, however, wasn't so positive with a 34% injury risk from an oblique impact causing rotation on the Y-axis. The typical result here is 25% injury risk.

Why do the oblique tests matter? Well, according to the Folksam testing (2019) 'the most common brain injuries often occur in oblique impacts', hence Hexr's and Mips' push to reduce rotational forces on the brain.

Weight and structure

The honeycomb structure (210g) features an I beam design to spread impact forces over a wider internal surface area and keep weight down. This layer is actually made up of two separate layers. The first, inner part is the bit that is custom made for your head. This then transitions into one of six standard size outer layers, allowing Hexr to maintain the aero shape. Covering the honeycomb structure is the aeroshell (88g). The retention system is just 17g with the minimal padding weighing 22g and the straps adding another 26g. It all adds up to a system weight of 363g which is heavy.

While I did spend time above bemoaning the weight obsession, some will be put off by the weight penalty. That said, it only weighs 2g more than Bontrager's WaveCel (£199.99), but Lazer's Z1 Mips (£169.99) comes in over 100g lighter. Both are significantly cheaper, too. I will say, though, that the Hexr doesn't feel ridiculously heavy on the head. The weight is a little noticeable at first, but I can't say that my neck was struggling while out riding for over four hours.

Road testing

Thankfully, despite having to wait for the reprinted helmet, I was able to get out in some pretty warm weather to test the ventilation of a helmet claimed to be seven seconds faster than Kask's Protone. The ventilation is good for an aero helmet. It'll get hot if you go slogging up steep climbs in very hot weather, but for the most part this is a pleasantly cool helmet to wear. There was no build-up and then sudden release of sweat in an eye-stinging torrent.

While I mention aerodynamics, it's rare to get a brand go into such detail and publish actual data that supports its claims. While we can't verify the aero testing carried out with TotalSim, designer of Team GB's helmets for the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics, I can say that the helmet felt perfectly speedy out on faster group rides.

> Should you buy an aero helmet?

The way that the sides of the helmet extend so far down the head did give me some issues when wearing sunglasses. The sides of the helmet were pushing the arms of my sunnies down onto my ears. It got rather painful after a while, and taking the sunnies off presented a new problem: the width of the ports for the sunglasses caused the frames to be stretched out quite dramatically. It's not like I could pop them on the back of my head either – that pushed the arms into my ears again. I resorted to hooking them on the collar of my jersey, resting on my back.

The ports for the sunglasses are also really low down, meaning you'll be able to see your sunnies quite clearly if you do pop them in there. It's a small thing, but one that Hexr is working on. It's reluctant to put channels in the honeycomb structure as this might compromise safety.

My issues with sunglasses aren't unique to this helmet – I've had others that haven't worked with my favourite sunnies – and part of this is due to the custom 3D printed design and my head shape; others may not experience the same issues.

Eco credentials

The material that Hexr uses to make the honeycomb structure is very interesting. The structure is made 'from a plant-based material called polyamide-11, made from 100% castor bean oil'. This is in comparison to EPS foam which apparently takes 500 years to decompose and generally ends up in landfill.

With each helmet custom printed, Hexr is cutting down on the material used as it's not holding stock or transporting masses of product. Everything that attaches to the honeycomb structure is interchangeable, giving the main bulk of the helmet a longer lifespan. Once the structure is finished with, Hexr will take it back and recycle it. It's a bold effort to be more sustainable.

Value

Value is slightly hard to judge as, to the best of my knowledge, there are no other custom helmets on the market. In terms of safety, the Giro Trinity Mips is the closest road helmet at 16% better than average (compared with the Hexr being 26% better), though we can't find it for sale anywhere. Specialized's S-Works Prevail II is the next best on safety and is much cheaper at £175, but 'next best' is only 14% better than average.

> Buyer's Guide: 19 of the best high-performance helmets

For me, the Hexr helmet presents an interesting balance of great points and things that really need work. The great points are safety data that Hexr can support with evidence, aero data that it can support with evidence, and a fit that shows the benefits of 3D printing a custom shape. Add to that the eco elements of the helmet and, if we left it there, you've got a very good helmet.

The bad parts include the whopping price, which would need to come down a bit for me to consider it. Then there's the weight; again, if this came down more towards the level of Mips helmets, it'd be a contender for my cash. Smaller issues to address are sunglasses compatibility and the retention system.

All in all, though, this is a good first attempt that will gain Hexr many fans.

Verdict

Very clever design but quite heavy and expensive, and some minor issues that need addressing

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Hexr helmet

Size tested: Custom

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?

Hexr says, "The world's first custom-fit helmet. Engineered at the University of Oxford and crafted to the exact contours of your head."

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

From Hexr:

MADE TO YOUR EXACT SPECIFICATIONS

Every HEXR helmet is a one off. Made to the precise dimensions and curvature of your head.

PERFECT FIT

Why guess sizes? Our scanners build a 30,000-point model of your head in seconds, creating your perfect fit.

BREAKTHROUGH SAFETY

Extensive testing proves the highest safety on the market. Our oblique tests prove better than any of our competitors.

100% RENEWABLE MATERIAL

HEXR's honeycomb core is created from a 100% bio material produced from castor oil. We use sustainable packaging, and no inventory is ever sat on a shelf gathering dust.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

The retention system and how it attaches to the shell could be improved. Otherwise, very good.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

Perfectly cool and comfortable on the head, but there are issues with the retention system, sunglasses compatibility and weight that can't be ignored.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
3/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

It's expensive, but it's custom made.

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

As an aero helmet, it is pleasantly cool and very comfortable. It performed well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The fit that the 3D printed design provides.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price, considering the number of basic issues that I've had with the Hexr.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

A lot higher than rivals with Mips. Though none of them are custom fit.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Not at this stage.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not at this stage.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Clever design features like the 3D printed custom fit and data to back up claims of improved safety and aerodynamic credentials are slightly let down by the small, but important issues. And the price.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 24  Height: 177cm  Weight: 62kg

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!

Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.

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