A familiar player enters the bicycle helmet rotational safety fray with its own proprietary alternative to MIPS. Lazer launches KinetiCore.
MIPS, the bike helmet industry’s ubiquitous technology akin to GORE-TEX and BOA, was once an unknown acronym, the merits of which had to be widely accepted.
That was 2012, and the brand that helped bring this marvel of engineering mainstream back then was Lazer, the first helmet to incorporate the “slip layer.”
It took years for an alternative to rise, but eventually one did — in Bontrager’s WaveCel. That iteration used markedly different tech, but it still hinged on an internal layer within the EPS foam shell that helped absorb rotational energy.
Today, Lazer again seeks to launch a helmet safety revolution, this time with its own proprietary tech. And now, it claims to have achieved the same 5-star independent safety rating as its MIPS and WaveCel competitors, only this time without the use of an extra layer.
Here’s the scoop on Lazer KinetiCore.
In short: Lazer does away with the added safety layer by engineering “crumple zones,” like on your car, in the form of blocks and channels molded directly into the EPS foam.
By doing so, Lazer’s Jackal KinetiCore achieves greater ventilation as well as less weight and material than its MIPS cousin.
First Look: Lazer Jackal KinetiCore MTB Helmet
We received an early sample of the Jackal mountain bike helmet, equipped with KinetiCore. In addition to this model, Lazer will offer KinetiCore versions of its Vento and Strada road helmets, CityZen urban commuter helmet, and the Nutz and Pnut kids’ helmets.
Out of the box, the Jackal KinetiCore is noticeably lighter than many other MTB helmets. It tips the scales at 340 g (a hair under 12 ounces) — a full 50 under the Jackal with MIPS.
What’s more, Lazer claims that having 13% less material overall improves ventilation. Intuitively, it makes sense; if you don’t have an extra layer inside the helmet shell, there should be less material to block airflow.
In our preliminary test rides, the Jackal‘s 16 ventilation channels provided great cooling. Although, most of our testing was on Midwest trails in March, so we were hard-pressed to work up a serious sweat. We will update this after summer hits to confirm.
The rear vents are also goggle-compatible, so even with a goggle strap, you’ll have open channels.
Perhaps the most outstanding attribute of the Jackal KinetiCore is its fit. Not having to incorporate a slip layer into the overall fit schema allows this helmet to secure around the head evenly without noticeable pressure points, using the common rear dial method.
This, combined with the lightweight profile, makes the Jackal KinetiCore perhaps the most comfortable mountain bike helmet we’ve tested.
The Jackal also comes with an action camera helmet mount, magnetic buckle chin strap (which is easy to operate one-handed), and adjustable visor.
The Jackal KinetiCore retails for $220.
We did not attempt a header to validate Lazer’s safety claims. Instead, we left that up to Virginia Tech, the industry standard for helmet testing.
Like its WaveCel and MIPS counterparts, KinetiCore topped out the 5-star safety score. But it’s worth noting that this iteration strives for the same outcome — absorbing rotational energy — from an entirely different approach.
Namely, whereas MIPS and WaveCel add a layer to hold onto your noggin while the EPS foam absorbs energy by moving around it (WaveCel take a slightly different approach to MIPS, but they operate under very similar principles), Lazer engineered the foam itself to better absorb energy in an impact, direct and rotational, and preserve the helmet’s valuable cargo.
Time will tell if this tech replaces the current industry standard from a safety perspective. But from a purely comfort standpoint, the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore is a home run.