What first jumps out at you about the Catlike Sakana is its striking looks - a fellow cyclist likened it to a hedgehog. Although I was initially unsure over its aesthetic appeal, I will concede that its looks have grown on me.
Key to this aesthetic are the giant frontal vents, and the equally massive side vents. These form part of a design which Catlike term 'Dual Flow', which apparently keeps 'airflow constant inside the helmet'. In common with many manufacturers at the moment, Catlike have looked at the helmet as a whole and have designed a clear path for the air to flow from front to back. In practice, the result is an extremely well ventilated lid - you can literally sense the air being sucked out from behind your head. When getting up to speed, I could feel my hair ruffling, something I haven't experienced with any other helmet.
As well as excellent ventilation, Catlike are keen to tout the Sakana's enhanced safety. The 'Air Tube System', a technology patented by Catlike, involves a series of small hollow tubes which connect the side fins together. These fins both strengthen the structure allowing other parts to be made lighter, and act as energy dissipaters in case of a crash, much like the crumple zones on a car. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), I wasn't able to test this feature but it's nice to know that some thought has gone into improving safety. It should go without saying that the Sakana meets CE EN1078, the European safety standard. Rear coverage is also surprisingly good for such a race oriented lid, further backing up its safety credentials.
This feeling of safety is reinforced by the brilliant retention system. Whilst some other helmets make you feel as if they are perched on your head, the Sakana's vertically adjustable system really helps to cradle the back of your head - a feeling I really enjoyed. The system also has a wide range of horizontal adjustability which, in conjunction with the two cradle mounting points and 4 model size range, should ensure that all head shapes and sizes are catered for. The only downside with the system is that it takes two hands to operate which could make things a bit trickier when adjusting on the go.
A neat feature of the Sakana, and indeed, most of the Catlike range, is the small chin pad included on the straps. This adds a touch of comfort but also encloses the unsightly strap ends which can flap about in the wind. Whilst a small detail, to me, this demonstrates the effort that has gone into designing the helmet.
If I have a gripe with the Sakana, it's the lack of mesh on the frontal vents. As the temperatures begin to rise, insects are taking to the air and the Sakana seems to be a veritable magnet for the little critters. Having to stop mid ride to try and extricate an angry bee from your helmet is a sure fire way to put a dampner on things.
Coming in at a claimed 290 grams for the Medium size tested, the Sakana isn't breaking any records for light weight, but the ventilation and safety more than make up for this in my opinion. The market is saturated with helmets at this price point and the Sakana more than holds its own when compared to similar offerings from the major players such as Giro and Bell.
A top quality helmet with superb ventilation and enhanced safety features, all rolled into a striking looking package - it's just a shame about the lack of mesh on the frontal vents.
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Make and model: Catlike Sakana helmet
Size tested: White M
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A top-end helmet for riders looking for something a bit different.
According to Catlike, the Sakana features a 'totally breaking look that gave birth to what we called functional design; an spectacular image that responds not only to visual aspects, but also to new improvements in what comes to safety. This design, together with the Air Tube System technology, makes of this helmet an example of reliability. Sakana profits from the new rear retention system produced in double compound, a piece that is clearly responsible of the safety and comfort feeling that this helmet transmits.'
The Sakana is available in four sizes: S(54-55cm), M(55-57cm), L(57-58cm), and XL(58-61cm)
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Conforms to the European safety standard CE EN1078.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Exemplary ventilation keeps your head cool no matter how hot the day. This is especially noticeable at lower speeds such as those encountered when climbing. As a race ready lid, it performs admirably.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Highly adjustable retention system and extended rear coverage result in a secure feeling fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of bug net on the frontal vents.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 20 Height: 190cm Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: What I'm testing My best bike is: Canyon Ultimate CF.7
I've been riding for: 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: Road, mtb
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.