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REVIEW

Lazer's new Jackal MIPS MTB Helmet: Reviewed

Words Cam McRae
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Dec 14, 2020
Reading time
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Lazer uses a magnetic buckle similar to Fidlock. It works easily, even single-handed.

Until recently Lazer has been off my radar. I didn't have much exposure to the 101 year-old Belgian brand and when I did notice, the helmets didn't pique my interest. There was a time when it seemed like every Lazer helmet was modelled after the leather hairnets Tour de France racers wore in the 50s, which makes sense considering how popular road and cyclocross racing are in Belgium.

Lazer Jackal MIPS - Features

  • 399g (as weighed) size Medium
  • Rubberized goggle grippers
  • Lightweight magnetic buckle
  • Universal goggle grip
  • Strap on camera or light mount
  • 3-position goggle-friendly visor
  • 180 USD // 249 CAD
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Visor in the top position of 3.

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Visor in the bottom position. Middle position not shown. But it exists.

Shimano snapped up the Lazer brand in 2016 and recently they've been pushing harder in North America. Newer off road designs, like the Impala, have begun to line up better with the MTB aesthetic, and the Jackal continues the move in the right direction. Features are on the money as well with eyewear placements and a ledge with a rubberized portion to keep your goggles in place, if you are feeling bold enough to go full enduro. The 3-position visor also moves high enough to plant your goggles there when goggling isn't required. It's seemingly not removable which is good from my perspective because it means there are no bolts to lose and it's easily adjustable even from the saddle during a ride.

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There are no bolts holding the visor in place, so you mavericks who go visor-less should probably look elsewhere.

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The helmet extends down in the back for more cranial protection and the retention system is lower still for added support.

Venting seems good but it can be a little tricky to determine that in December. Channels beneath the MIPS direct air from the front vents to the rear, creating a Venturi effect to cool down your noggin. I think. Any helmet with MIPS internal, as opposed to the ball and socket strategy of MIPS Spherical as seen on the Giro Manifest, will be compromised in terms of airflow because the MIPS structure, while aligning with the vents, blocks the channels that run along the helmet's interior.

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MIPS all over the place. Hopefully it works.

Virginia Tech's 5 Stars?

Several helmet manufacturers have recently been touting their "independent" ratings from Virginia Tech. The institution claims that, "Simply stated, the helmet ratings identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk." The Lazer Jackal gets 5 stars (out of 5) which must mean it's virtually impossible to sustain a concussion wearing this helmet (Note - to be absolutely clear, I am not saying this is true).

I find this system interesting considering I've never seen any study proving that the use of any helmet reduces concussion risk. To be able to create a scale with gradients to rate the effectiveness of something that hasn't been proven to be effective at all (to my knowledge) is quite an achievement.

Shockingly, I'm skeptical of Virginia Tech's findings, not in relation to this helmet (which received 5 stars) but in relation to every helmet. I had a phone call with a representative from VT and I asked about these findings. When I asked how it was possible to create these ratings despite a lack of evidence that helmets prevent concussions, the young woman on the other end of the line told me enthusiastically, "but we have proven it!" While her enthusiasm was inspiring, she wasn't able to tell me how researchers had proven this or point me to any studies. To be clear, this is absolutely no judgement about Lazer's fine brain protector but I find it disappointing that any helmet manufacturer would push ratings that seem (based on my admittedly preliminary research) to have questionable validity.

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When I first opened the box to this helmet I didn't notice the strap-on GoPro mount, and it was clear there wasn't one that snapped into place like some others. Fortunately, this system may be even better in the end.

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I spent close to 10 minutes trying different strap configurations, each of which barely worked. By that time I had mostly written a scathing condemnation of poor design in my head... and then I figured out the right method. In the end the strap system feels much more secure than even the best snap in solutions. No GoPros for me, but I prefer attaching lights on this way.

In terms of fit the size medium Jackal just barely fits my 58cm noggin. At first it seemed a little uncomfortable but after I adjusted the retention system to sit lower on the back of my head the fit is good. It doesn't feel like it was made for my head like some others but any pressure points I felt at first are no longer noticeable.

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The retention structure is easily adjusted and it tightens easily with a single gloved hand without having to remove the helmet. An issue I found, because I am so close to needing a size large, is that the arms of my eyewear don't easily fit between the plastic retention structure. It's possible that more fiddling with up and down retention adjustment will reveal a sweeter spot but I haven't found it yet.

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Comfy, well-vented and solid, I've been pleased with the Jackal thus far. Since this photo was taken I have moved the buckles up closer to my ears for a more secure fit.

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Nice protection for the back of your cranial skull bone.

Overall this is a nice looking helmet with lots of attention to detail, modern safety features and solid airflow.

More info at lazersport.us

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Age - 55

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 160lbs/72.5kg

Ape Index - 0.986

Inseam - 32"/81cm

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Fifth Horseman

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 475-490mm

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Comments

oldmanbike
+2 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman
OldManBike  - Dec. 14, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

I try to follow helmet-concussion-safety developments pretty closely, and I share your skepticism that VT's testing is authoritative. More info here. Key point: VT "us[es] the methodology that MIPS uses: sticky headform, tight strap, severe anvil angle, rough grippy anvil, no neck. That methodology couples the headform more tightly to the helmet than it would be in the real world. It would be expected to favor the MIPS models, unlike the Snell Foundation's research that showed no benefit from MIPS."

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+3 khai OldManBike Pete Roggeman
Cam McRae  - Dec. 14, 2020, 10:54 a.m.

Good find OMB. More from that article; "There is still no consensus that the Virginia Tech formula for rating helmets for concussion pinpoints the helmets that reduce concussion the best. Changes to the tested helmets to improve their scores might not result in fewer concussions in the field."

So it's possible manufacturers are changing helmets to improve better in the tests but there is no evidence these changes improve concussion protection, which means it could even make them worse.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 15, 2020, 11:02 a.m.

This happens in other categories as well - for example with handlebars and breakage due to certain forces or use cases that don't exist in the real world. Government authorities settle on a testing protocol and standards, and brands design products that adhere to or aim to beat those standards even when they know there are better ways to test things because they don't have much choice. Then you start hearing that those brands also create their own testing standards that they feel do a better job. That part is good news as it means brands are taking responsibility on their own and designing better testing protocols.

However, once a brand invests years into doing things a certain way based on their interpretation of best design & safety, it's hard to get them to agree on a unifying standard because they won't have the exact same opinion and their designs and commitments are pointed in slightly different directions. Back to imperfect testing protocols and standards. Stalemate. 

So a 'respected, independent 3rd party' comes along and everyone is keen to help publicize their results when their product does well. That 3rd party gets more grant money for more studies when they can show they're doing meaningful work, and the cycle continues...but we don't know if helmets are really getting better at the pace they could be.

What we can say is that after talking to the people doing the actual development work at companies like Specialized, Smith, Kali, Giro, Bell, and others, is that they really care about making helmets safer. You can't fake that part. We've seen it when we visit those labs. Of course they want to sell lots of helmets, but that doesn't have to be at odds with making those helmets as safe as they can and using their own rigorous methods to achieve that. We just don't have good empirical evidence yet of how successful they are.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+2 OldManBike Cam McRae
AJ Barlas  - Dec. 14, 2020, 10:59 a.m.

And on it continues. Great discussion about VT's ratings, Cam. I wonder what the reluctance is to combine testing methods, assigning rankings/findings based on results from both the MIPS methodology and Snell's?

Reply

khai
+1 Sean Chee
khai  - Dec. 14, 2020, 11:50 a.m.

What's the head shape? As the owner of a beach ball for a noggin, many/most of the "oval" headforms don't fit me well. And the ones that do sit comfortably tend to fall forward over my eyes when the trail gets rough. Yes, I have adjusted the height of the rear cradle but thus far the only way I've been able to eliminate blindness is by cranking down the ratchet far more than I'd like...

Reply

4Runner1
0
4Runner1  - Dec. 16, 2020, 10:04 a.m.

Have you tried Bell?

Reply

khai
0
khai  - Dec. 16, 2020, 10:20 a.m.

I've tried pretty much everything in store that I've been able to find, including most of the models offered by:

  • Bell (I own a Sixer but I have to really crank that cradle down at the top of each run to get it not to move - that's annoying but ok for shorter runs but not something I can leave for an entire ride)
  • Smith (I really wanted the Forefront 2 to work)
  • Giro
  • Oakley
  • Fox
  • POC
  • Specialized
  • Bontrager
  • 100%
  • iXS
  • Troy Lee Designs
  • Leatt (currently own a DBX3 which while imperfect, appears to be the best fit thus far - it's due to time out and is in need of replacement)

and probably a few others I can't recall at the moment.  At this point I'm chasing smaller/lesser stocked options like Lazer/Fly/Kali/7iDP/Bluegrass...

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Dec. 19, 2020, 3:18 p.m.

The Lazer doesn't fit my head as well as others and I think that might be because it is a little more rounded than some of the others so it might be an option for you. Lately Giro, Poc and Bell fit me very well. Poc in particular I'd say. 

In the old days, when Giro and Bell fit differently, I was definitely a Giro head, which I think makes me more oval.

Reply

Bad-Sean
0
Sean Chee  - Dec. 18, 2020, 11:19 a.m.

Given shimano make shoes up into really large sizes, it's a bit disappointing that lazers sizing tops out at 62cm.

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