By Ed Pavelka
Ever heard of a cycling helmet that comes with an asterisk? This one does. Limar claims its Carbon Pro 104 is “The World’s Lightest Helmet*” It says so on each side of the one I tested for 10 weeks. But at 245 grams it’s nowhere near the 170 grams indicated on the packaging.
Then you follow the *. It refers to the medium-size Ultralight Pro 104, not the Carbon model Limar sent to RBR.
Regardless, the Carbon Pro 104 is light. On the scale it equals or betters top models from major makers such as Bell, Giro and Specialized. Limar, based in Italy, is a much smaller player and obviously is using lightness to attract buyers.
Most attractive to me is this helmet’s conservative styling. It lacks the finned, bobtail look of most current skidlids. If aggressive styling makes you feel a bit self-conscious, if not downright silly, when cruising around the countryside at 16 mph (26 kph), the Carbon Pro 104 or the similar-looking Ultralight version will be more your speed. In an unusual about-face, the lighter model costs less, $150 vs. $200.
Another distinctive Limar feature is mesh screening in the 7 forward-facing vents. The idea is to stop large insects from entering, especially ones that can sting. In my testing, the mesh was effective. No big bugs got in, although I occasionally felt a smaller one meandering around my hair. The mesh’s holes are 4-mm in diameter so these critters may have gotten through one, or through the 2 unprotected top vents when I had my head down. But I never got stung.
The nylon mesh may play a second role in rider safety by holding the helmet together for better head protection in a crash. However, I don’t see that claim being made by Limar.
The straps are a soft, comfortable material with an easy-to-adjust plastic chinstrap buckle and clips for the Y below each ear. All standard stuff among good helmets. I like black straps better than the Pro 104′s silver because black shows how much salt is lost on rides, but that’s a minor point.
The back-of-head cradle is snugged or loosened by turning a plastic wheel. It engages finely spaced teeth so you can get the adjustment just right — not loose enough to let the helmet bounce or vibrate, not so tight that there’s uncomfortable pressure. Just put the helmet on, reach back and dial in the fit. A 3×5-cm pad under the wheel keeps you from feeling the whole cradle.
Nice touch: You can dial the cradle wide open to fit the helmet over a sweatband, cap or hair pulled back, then dial it down to take up slack for a proper snug fit. Quick and easy.
Besides the cradle pad there are 5 other internal pads, and They’re all thin. The result, in combination with almost nonexistent interior channels in the core foam, puts the Pro 104 very close to the head. Although heat can radiate from the 22 vents, air has a tough time flowing through this helmet from front to back. It isn’t a showstopper in cool or even warm temperatures, but the Pro 104 is not the helmet you want for rides in the mid 80s (30C) or above.
For example, I wore my test helmet for 3 consecutive centuries in a July heat wave. The afternoon temp each day reached 90-94 degrees (34C). Riding along at 16-18 mph (26-29 kph) on the sizzling asphalt, no matter how I tilted my head it was hard to detect any air moving through the helmet. Until then, on rides less sizzling in the spring and early summer, I hadn’t realized there was an airflow problem.
If you don’t mind the bogus “world’s lightest” marketing label and you don’t often ride when heat is an issue, the Carbon Pro 104 is an attractive helmet. It’s lightweight, comfortable and can accommodate most things you might wear underneath. The protective mesh in the front vents might save you from a nasty sting, or even a crash from reacting to a bug buzzing inside.
It’s just a shame that the trim, head-hugging design — intended to make lightness the Pro 104‘s forte — comes at the expense of ventilation.