Now available in Australia – with local helmet standards approval – the KASK Wasabi features an open-or-shut top section that allows either ventilation or aerodynamic benefits.
– A product review and video (click link below to watch part 1: the unboxing)
KASK continues to expand its range of helmets with Australian Standard approval. The Wasabi, which features a sliding top section for either ventilation or aerodynamic benefits – was launched internationally several months ago. Now it’s available in Australia, complete with local compliance (AS/NZS 2063, issued by SAI Global).
There’s racing taking place again on Australian roads, criterium circuits and velodromes and this is a helmet designed for competition. Want to get a bit of an advantage over your rivals? Slide the lid forward, close the vent and get a bit more aero.
Conversely, out training in the heat and need to cool down a little? Slide the lid backwards and let the air flow through the helmet a little more.
The concept isn’t new, and it’s not exactly rocket science tech; still, if it’s done poorly and there’s any risk of rattling sounds emanating, it would put potential customers off before they even got out of the shop. As it is, the engineering that allows for the moving top section is effective, easy to use, and the mechanism seems sound and reliable.
Straight out the box, it was obvious that the vent or no-vent concept is the key selling point of the latest road/track helmet from KASK. It’s an amalgam of a few main features for modern helmets and it presents – as do all helmets from this Italian company – as a very neat, comfortable product that is bound to be popular.
There are some other new features for the Wasabi too, including a Merino wool inner-lining which will surely be of benefit in the warmer months when the stink of sweat can become prevalent. The wool is also likely to be less irritating than some synthetic liners, particularly for the folliclely challenged.
But really it’s the vent or no-vent that is the main selling point of this helmet. With the lid pushed back, you get an 18mm vent at the front, and it also reveals another opening further up the helmet that allows air to move into the hard shell and provide a bit of cooling.
The effect of the ventilation is obvious when riding. The testing protocol is simple: slide the lid forward then backwards and take note of the wind that’s flowing over your noggin’. Truth is, you do notice it.
As for claims of it being more aero… well, that takes a little more science to prove… but from a visual standpoint it certainly looks more efficient. (No, that appraisal doesn’t count, but I’m not going to make any statement about how much faster I went or how many watts were saved because of the closed lid.)
Matching with KOO sunglasses
KASK and KOO are from the same stable and in my appraisal, the Wasabi is best matched to sunglasses like the Demos.
The modern trend in cycling is for helmets to almost come into contact with the top of sunglasses, this is for aesthetics and – in theory at least – also offers some performance gains (ie. you’re a little more aero… or, at least, that’s the look it presents).
After having used an Oakley Sutro / Giro Helios sunglasses / helmet combination for the last couple of months, I can attest to better aesthetics. This is subjective, of course, but I reckon it looks a lot better to have my sunnies nestled in nice and tight with the helmet rather than having a centimetre or two of my forehead showing.
The KASK / KOO combo is good but, in my opinion, not quite as neat as what I’ve been using. Still, it presents very well and the benefit of matching the two elements – one each from KASK and KOO – is obvious when on the bike. There’s a slight opening and therefore a little more airflow into the top of the sunglasses and so less risk of fogging up when sweating or simply stopped at the traffic lights.
Strapping and rear fastening
In my appraisal, KASK is a market leader in the rear fastening configuration as the system at the rear (dubbed ‘Octo Fit’) is simple to use and allows for fuss-free on-the-run adjustments. Raise or lower it on the go, find the position that provides the best comfort, tighten the dial, and keep riding.
The “chin pad with synthetic leather chinstrap” is very much in keeping with other cycling helmets by KASK. It also traditionally fits my head perfectly direct from the box. I’ve joked in the past that my head (matched to a medium KASK helmet) must be akin to the completely average Italian – ie. usually I pull the helmet from the box, bang it on my head, fasten the clasp and off I ride… no adjustments needed.
With the Wasabi, it was a little tight right out of the box and although I’ve only ridden with this helmet once, it’s clear from the images taken on that beautiful Sunday ride that it would be worthwhile investing a bit of time to get the fit more precise before my next ride. Notice how the strap juts out a little from my jawline?
With a little more fiddling, I’m confident I could get this just right (ie. closer to my jaw, and more like the comfort I’m used to with the other KASK products I’ve used).
The strap is listed as ‘Eco Leather’ on the KASK home page which then goes on to explain that it is synthetic leather. It is the same as on my Protone, which I have used for years – in all kinds of conditions, with plenty of sweat and all the effects of rides in hot weather – and it’s as good now as it was out of the box. Once the length and fit are fine-tuned, the strap on the KASK helmets I’ve owned have always been great.
The notes about the strap also mention a couple of key features “hypoallergenic”, “washable”… “avoid skin irritation”. I concur with the all points.
If you watch the video (link at the top of the page, or click here) you’ll see my initial reaction upon sighting the Wasabi. I’m excited about the open-or-shut vent option, impressed by the look of the helmet, and also concerned about how I might carry my sunglasses when they’re not on my face. Sorry to make a bigger deal of this than is necessary for a helmet review, but I’m riding outside again (after a considerable period in lockdown) and I’m still wearing a mask when in crowded areas.
Sometimes the mask/sunglasses combo doesn’t work out (ie. when you’re fitting a face mask while riding, you don’t always get the perfect fit and there can be some fogging of the sunnies). My solution has been to tuck my Sutro sunnies in the vents of the Giro helmet and continue riding.
Furthermore, I like to be able to have my sunglasses on or off depending on the lighting (as I’m often on the bike in the pre-dawn… but return isn’t until the sun is high in the sky).
With the Wasabi, there are no front vents that could double as sunglass storage, so I’ve gone back to the other method (ie. slipping them onto the back of my head as I demonstrate in the video).
On that topic, it’s worth noting that – with the Oakley / Giro arrangement – I tend to flip the sunnies upside down before slotting them into my helmet. When I do this, it’s apparent that airflow is limited (ie. the sunglasses blocking the vents does restrict the cooling feature of what is a fantastic helmet). I explain this because it highlights how only a little shield here or there can impact the flow of air… and so, we come full circle and start talking about the open-or-shut ventilation option of the Wasabi.
It’s only a little opening when the lid is lifted, but the difference an 18mm high vent makes is obvious. Surely when it’s closed that air flows around the helmet instead and so it doesn’t create the turbulence or air capture of the ventilated option… ie. it’s more aero. That is, at least, the theory… and, even after only one ride, it’s noticeable.
– By Rob Arnold
Weigh-in* (and comparison)
- KASK Wasabi (medium): 282g / AUD$409
- KASK Protone (medium): 294g / AUD$389 (gloss) or AUD$429 (matt)
- KASK Valegro (medium): 205g / AUD$299 (gloss) or AUD$309 (matt)
- KASK Mojito 3 (medium): 231g / AUD$249 (gloss) or AUD$269 (matt)
*Note: weights relate to the figures from RIDE Media’s scales, not the weight claimed by KASK.