BY GRAHAM HUTSON
Eyebrows. Big bushy cartoon eyebrows. Once you notice them in the design of Kask’s Protone you’ll see them all the time. At least someone had the decency to make them look a bit dashing, a bit Dan Dare.
Perhaps Chris Froome was in on the joke, perhaps not. If not he’d best not study the photos of his Tour de France success too closely - those eyebrow-shaped vents are far more noticeable on a yellow coloured Protone.
All joking and Dennis Heally references aside, the latest incarnation from Kask is a wonder in aerodynamic achievement. This is, Kask claims, a vented helmet with the sort of air carving ability to rival a full shell lid, with one of the lowest drag coefficients of any vented helmet on the market.
Team Sky have a long and distinguished background in collaborating with Kask on helmet design. Before this they were instrumental in the development of the Mojito, Bambino and Infinity - Kask’s true aeroshell.
The Protone was a different gravy to the previous designs, however. The moment this, or a previous version of it, was seen on the heads of Team Sky on the 2014 Tour, it was clear that Kask had thrown away the rule book.
So began a year-long guessing game as information about the new lid was drip-fed from Kask in Italy. Even the March release offered little respite to the frustration. The reason a lot of those Protones look like pimples on a hippo’s back on a lot of people is that for a good six months only a size medium was available, and those unable to wait for a large simply put up with a helmet that was the wrong size. The large was eventually released in late summer.
Those fresh looks, while clearly a reaction to the new direction pioneered by Poc, are far from being simply cosmetic. The shape is a result of so-called computational fluid dynamics software, which Kask says has resulted in giving the helmet one of the lowest drag coefficients of any ventilated helmet.
Does this mean anything? Well it’s interesting that the software also helped make the Protone particularly attractive but if you’re buying in the belief you will go a bit faster you’d be better off eating one less pasty. The weight might be a selling point however - it is a claimed 210g which puts it in the featherweight league.
Weight aside, the things you will notice are the way the helmet sits atop the head, with added protection for the sides of the skull and neck. You’d also appreciate the Coolmax padding and the lack of head-stink that you might get from the antibacterial and antimicrobial treatment to it.
Then there’s the signature Kask luxury chin strap, which is made from pleather, a fact you might actually be grateful for after a few months of use.
But the best feature is probable the way your glasses sit nice and securely in a pair of vents shaped specifically for that purpose. And it’s not the eyebrow vents.
Over a few months of test which included an ascent of Sa Calobra in 35 degree heat, we can atest to the venting and Coolmax qualities on the basis we didn’t succumb to heat stroke. We can also confirm the Protone hasn’t begun to kick up just yet.
The comfort factor goes well beyond the venting. This is a marked improvement on previous models, helped by the fact that it is easily adjustable with a satisfying click from a behind-the-neck dial.
Summary: Kask’s Protone is now available in a large, opening its availability up to a whole swathe of the population with a head size bigger than 58cm. But it’s been well worth the wait. Ground breaking design and solid build quality, and you get a free pair of Dan Dare eyebrows to boot.
4.5 / 5