Kask Utopia review
Vern Pitt find the Kask Utopia through it's paces
Thomas More was sceptical that the utopia described by Raphael Hythloday in his novel was possible or even desirable. In that respect the Kask Utopia exceeds the billing it has been given. If you can afford the premium ticket price, then this is a voyage to Utopia worth boarding.
Cooling system is excellent
Lightweight and low bulk
Wide range of fit adjustment
Firm and minimal padding
The Kast Utopia was selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval.
Not many bits of cycling kit can trace their roots all the way back to 1516, but this one can. Sort of. That’s when British philosopher Thomas More wrote his landmark book Utopia, describing a fictional perfect human society. The marketing department at Kask has, it’s safe to say, given this premium aero road helmet some fairly lofty standards to live up to.
For the most part it meets them. My initial fears for it were threefold. The first was fit. According to Kask’s fit guide I was right on the border between medium and large but straight out of the box the medium helmet fitted like a dream (I consequently suggest going smaller if you’re between sizes).
The Octo Fit cradle system has the now fairly familiar dial at the back to adjust it to the diameter of your head but more impressively the height adjustment is excellent. The plastic bit that runs up the back has teeth like a zip tie and so can be adjusted in millimeter increments and extends quite a long way down too.
My second concern, as has always been my trepidation about aero helmets, was cooling - I get hot very easily. Luckily the UK was experiencing an unusually hot spring when I got this so I immediately set out to test it in 25C riding up some steep climbs where I figured my lower speed and higher work rate would mean the venting and channelling would be at its least effective.
Kask has put a lot of work into this with deep channels throughout the helmet moving air from those sizable front vents over your head. Less obvious on first inspection, but more significant I think, is the gaps in the brow. Most helmets will have a pad running across the front soaking in sweat, but the Utopia forgoes this in favour of channels that help take the air bouncing off your brow back through the helmet. All this adds up to something that cools as well, if not better than, any regular helmet I’ve ever worn. At no point did I feel I was trading cooling for aerodynamics. You can even stick some pairs of glasses in the top vents - my Oakley Flight Jackets slipped out but my other flatter topped shades didn’t.
The major negative to the venting and channelling system, and probably the biggest bugbear with the Utopia, is that to make the channelling system work the padding consists of just two fingers that extend down from the top of the head onto the brow are made of a fairly firm high wicking material Kask calls Resistex. The firmness is a necessity as they’re the main contact points but when I put the helmet on it could initially feel a bit like an ogre was grabbing my head from behind. It’s course fingers looping down onto my forehead. I tended to forget about it after ten minutes though.
My third worry was weight, the closed top looks like a big old hunk of plastic. I care about this a disproportionate amount. Boffins will, rightly, tell you aerodynamics are more important than weight to overall performance in almost every situation. But light stuff feels nice, especially when it’s being supported by the puny muscles of my neck. At 266g (just 50g more than the claimed weight of Kask’s lightweight Protone offering, but 31g heavier than the brand's claim) the Utopia was lighter than the regular multi-vented helmet that swiftly found itself relegated to a shelf, my neck still in tact.
Let’s face it though aerodynamics is probably your biggest concern if this is on your shortlist. I wasn’t able to test this in any scientific way and Kask makes no specific claims for it other than aerodynamics are at the “forefront of Utopia’s design”. I didn’t feel it ever slowed me down, but I couldn’t claim it was faster either so it’s not really possible to make a recommendation on that basis alone. However, if you’re in the market for a premium helmet you may as well have the aero benefits, such as they are, because you really aren’t losing out on anything else.
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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.
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