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Ridden and Reviewed: Specialized S-Works Helmet versus Catlike Whisper Plus Helmet

July 6, 2010

by: Daniel Curtin

So it’s new helmet time for you.  You know helmet basics, how they should fit, that some brands fit certain head shapes better, and of course that safety and comfort are paramount.  And you’re thinking that with the heat climbing and your ride time increasing as the days get longer that it might be worth stepping up to a higher end, lighter, better-ventilated helmet.  Maybe you’ve been looking over Carter’s post on helmets.  But you want the skinny on the fancy stuff.  You want to know if the “pro” lids are really worth the big bucks—is it really that light, is it really that cooling?  Here’s your answer on one of the most popular helmets in the peloton and one of the most asked about helmets out there.

The Specialized S-Works Helmet: 360 degrees of helmet perfection!

As Chris mentioned in his Beat the Heat article, and according to Specialized, this is the lightest helmet in the world to comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.  This helmet is all about low, low race weight, maximum ventilation, and super comfort.  Specialized utilizes dual density material where heavier materials are focused on higher stress areas while simultaneously using lighter materials in lower stress areas to reduce the overall weight.  After all, nobody wants to have a brick on their head as they hit the streets or the trails in Central Texas!

Despite the use of light materials, Specialized keeps the safety high by utilizing a Kevlar inner matrix.  That skeletal system allows for incredibly large and deep vents that really maximize airflow keeping you cool.  This is the first helmet that I’ve ridden where I really feel the breeze flow through the helmet! In my opinion, the key feature of the helmet is Specialized’s Pro Fit 360 Degree closure system.  No more hard, high-density helmet material up against the forehead!  Instead, Specialized’s padded inner “cage” surrounds the head comfortably and securely. Did I mention that the vents on the S-Works helmet are massive!  Between the deep vents on top of the helmet, the “mega mouthport” on the front of the helmet, and the rear exhaust ports—all in line—it’s no surprise this helmet is so light and so cooling!

One problem with my S-Works helmet is that I have an older version.  That means I don’t have the newer 4x DryLite straps that are softer and stay dryer than traditional helmet straps.  I guess I need a new S-Works helmet!

Catlike Whisper Plus Helmet: for the euro racer in you!

Okay, as of right now you can’t really get this helmet too easily in the U.S.  Word on the street is that our friends at Serotta are going to start bringing this helmet over from the Continent.  But until then, you’ll likely have to do what I did and pick one up when traveling out of the Country.  I picked mine up at a great pro shop in Vancouver a couple of months back, as I had always admired the appearance of the Catlike Whisper Plus.

About the appearance, this is a love it or leave it lid, no doubt about it.  You’ve likely seen it atop riders from the Cervelo Test Team.  I simply like it because it is so different with its 39—yes, 39—round vents. On the comfort front the Whisper Plus feels like a lot of other helmets out there—good, but not great.  There was no “wow” moment from a comfort perspective when I put this helmet on.  In fact, I was taken back a bit by the sizing.  I have a large head size and I typically wear a large helmet, regardless of brand.  The large Catlike seemed too big, but I couldn’t event get a medium securely on. Frustrating to say the least, but I picked up a large because I just had to have the helmet.

The Whisper Plus has a fairly traditional closure system that mounts to the helmet shell near the temples and straps that are less than ideal in that they can’t readily be untwisted from one side, to the back, to the other side.  Disappointing. On the road the Whisper Plus is well ventilated, particularly when riding low on the bars or when looking down at your computer.  I can’t say that it feels more ventilated than my S-Works lid, but it certainly isn’t worse, which is somewhat surprising considering that the Whisper Plus vents aren’t particularly large or deep.  I guess it pays to have 39 vents in that case!

Overall, I like the Whisper Plus.  But that’s mostly because of what I think are its sharp looks!  Since it is about time to replace my S-Works helmet, I think I’ll go with another one of those since I find it more comfortable, particularly with the newer soft straps.  If you’re like me and are in the market for a new helmet, be sure to stop in and check out and try on all the helmets for road, mountain, and kids, on offer at Bicycle Sport Shop!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron Sanches permalink
    February 8, 2011 9:35 pm

    You found the helmet too big?
    What is the circumference of your head? 59?

    I am thinking of ordering one I just can’t decide, usually I wear a medium.

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