Swiss Army knives are massively useful items. They have all these little tools that, in a pinch, can solve a seemingly limitless number of problems. Plus, they’re just plain neat. How do they get all those different things to fit into something small enough to fit in my pocket? We might be able to get a pretty good idea by asking Lazer about the Wasp Air; a helmet that integrates a whole host of features and tools to make you a faster (and safer) rider. What all does this “Swiss Army knife of helmets” do? Let’s go down the list.
A Tail of Two Attachments
Maybe this is your first real aero helmet. Maybe you’re not necessarily the best time triallist in your area and have a less than locked-in position. In short, maybe you’re like the vast majority of riders out there and a short-tail helmet is what you need right now. Of course that doesn’t mean that, one day, you can gain the skill to ride a long-tail. In either case, the Wasp Air has you covered. Its tail is made up of a wraparound attachment that includes the ear cups, and can be swapped out between a truncated tail, which comes standard, and a longer, more aerodynamic, option that’s sold separately. The swap is pretty painless; it’s four tabs and the tail separates from the main body. Simply snap in the new one and you’re done. It’s as easy as that.
If you’re the type who is all about the flat-out fastest setup, you may have noticed that the Wasp Air doesn’t have any vents. This is true… sort of. You see, the visor itself is actually adjustable and can be moved to three airflow settings: fully closed, open about a quarter of a centimeter, and fully open at about half a centimeter from the leading edge of the helmet itself. If you look carefully, there actually are vents underneath the visor, above the brow line. Open up the visor by pulling forward on it, and you’ll get a pretty decent cooling effect, aided by channels inset into the helmet’s inner molding. The only problem is that on sunny days, there’s a hologram effect of your face top dead center of your vision, especially in the aero position. This may just be a quirk of the mirrored lens, or of our position, but it’s something to be aware of when buying. Lucky for you, there are three lens options: mirrored, smoke, and clear. While you can run your own sunglasses, as well, the Wasp Air is really built around the use of their lens to control ventilation. So that might not be the best possible configuration for this helmet.
You’re Doing It Wrong
In swimming, technique is everything. On the bike, position is everything. But dialing in the right position at AeroCamp is only as good as your ability to keep it, and that means practice. Lazer has come up with a programmable sensor for head position to help you out, and it integrates with the Wasp Air like they were made for each other. In fact, they were – there’s a slot in the back of the helmet specifically for the “Inclination Sensor.” Once you tell it what your head position should be like, it can give you a vibration alert or a beeping noise to let you know when you’re out of it. Maintaining optimal aero just got a lot easier.
Beam Me Up
For those who don’t use a heart rate monitor, the Wasp Air integrates with Lazer’s Lifebeam system. Lifebeam is an optical monitoring system that measures bloodflow through your forehead and is both ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, meaning that this will work with nearly any head unit on the market today. Lifebeam installs inside the shell behind the visor, and doesn’t block the vents in the helmet, should you decide to use them.
We Are Experiencing A Little Turbulence
In case that wasn’t quite enough, about halfway back on the helmet is a pronounced ridge running laterally that is not just eye-catching, it’s wind-catching, too. Don’t worry, though, that’s by design. Lazer realized that by creating turbulent air along the back of the rider, they can begin to reduce the low pressure pocket that builds behind you, particularly behind your head and shoulders. This makes you faster, because the air pressure differential isn’t dragging you backward. While we can’t tell you if it works or not—we’d need a few more degrees than we already have—the idea is certainly intriguing. It has a basis in the open-tail designs of modern aero helmets that attempt to do similar things with the air coming through the ventilation of your helmet. At the very least, we would say it couldn’t hurt.
On The Head
The Lazer Wasp Air is a good helmet when you’ve gotten it all dialed in the way you like it. The retention system works well, and is adjustable enough to fit even our strangely shaped head. The mirrored lens is dark enough and reduces glare sufficiently for South Florida summers. The ventilation system works, though as we mentioned before, when the visor is in the “open” position and you’re in direct sunlight, we do get a hologram of our face in our sight line, which only served to remind us why we don’t do YouTube videos. The short tail laid fairly flat against our neck, and seemed to be a pretty good compromise between a fully tailed helmet and our standard Evade. Not too long, not too short. Just right. It feels faster than our Evade, as well, which his what we’re really after, here. Sadly, we didn’t get to test Lifebeam or the Inclination Sensor. When we received the helmet, these features weren’t quite ready yet. Hopefully, we can test those in the future and report back.
Now comes the hard part. The MSRP on the Wasp Air is $309.99. That gets you a single lens, a single tail, and no Inclination or Lifebeam sensors, those are $124.99 and $130, respectively. The different tail will run you about $30, and a new lens will be about the same. Adding it all together, especially if you want the full setup, may be a bit on the pricey side. Although this level of functionality is literally unheard-of in a helmet, let alone an aero helmet, so the price begins to make a bit of sense. You’re buying into a system, with an optional sensor suite – that wasn’t ever likely to be cheap. But it just might be worth it. We think it’s worth a look, especially if you fit into the niches that Lazer has carved out for itself with the Wasp Air. They’ve given buyers the ability to construct their perfect helmet, and that’s worth a lot.