An excellent entry level helmet, with a streamlined aesthetic, plenty of breathability and features we'd expect from a much higher end model. The sizing was a disappointment and we'd recommend trying before you buy.
No MIPS or similar additional safety technology
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HJC is a brand with a well established reputation for creating motorcycle helmets. Having moved into the cycling market more recently it's got off to a good start with a range of models from this entry level Atara to the Adwatt time trial lid.
Coming in at £90, the Atara is pitched at the lower end of the market, but carries a streamlined aesthetic and quality finishing touches which means it looks much more premium.
Coming from a Moto GP background, HJC has its own wind tunnel laboratory and can test aerodynamics as well as ventilation. The Atara is wind tunnel tested, though HJC doesn't provide data per helmet.
In-mould construction means that the EPS is bonded with the outer polycarbonate shell for further strength. However, there's no further in-built safety system designed to cater for rotational impact - for example a MIPS or WaveCel layer. Whilst a few years ago this was the status quo, MIPS has been widely adopted and independent tests have rated helmets with the tech more highly from a safety aspect.
The Atara features eight vents plus a rear exhaust system. The front vents hold a pair of cycling glasses with ease.
In terms of cooling, the brand has taken the 'Bernoulli’s principle' in fluid dynamics and applied it. For mere mortals this means that cool air enters the front and hot air exits at the rear, helping to keep the rider's head cool.
The same method is used by other manufacturers, and this lid kept our tester's head cool even in the hot summer temperatures of June.
The helmet straps are made from a soft fabric, which is much lighter and less coarse to the touch than those typically found on helmets at this price point. There is adjustment available to offer a good fit under the ears.
The Atara comes with a retention dial, this is a step down from the self-adjusting system on the top end helmets. This was easy to operate with one hand, and offered plenty of opportunity to adjust fit. Our tester found the helmet comfortable, with no pressure points or discomfort.
Weighing in at only 204g, this lid is the lightest we've tested at this price point - others have been in excess of 250g - though that's with the caveat that most recently reviewed have had a MIPS layer, adding to the weight very slightly.
HJC says that in order to determine the ideal helmet shape, it 3D laser scanned the heads of a large sample of people. The helmets are available in small (51 to 56cm) to large (58 to 63cm).
Unfortunately, despite a head circumference of 52cm, the size small helmet was too big for tech editor Michelle's head. This is the first time the smallest helmet from a brand has failed to fit. Instead, the size small was tested by a rider with a head circumference of 57cm - larger than the recommendation, but they were able to find a good fit - suggesting the size chart may need a reassessment.
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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.