The Catlike Vacuum helmet is a quirky looking, comfortable lid that employs interesting technology, keeping the weight down and the ventilation up.
Instead of a wholly EPS construction, the Vacuum employs plastic air tubes - Catlike's Air Tube System - for inner stability and impact protection. These sit well away from the head and allow air to circulate easily around the 19 large, angled vents. Don't be guided by the number of vents – this is a very well-ventilated lid and definitely one to consider if you ride during the heat of the day.
I found the Vacuum very comfortable to wear, to the point of forgetting it was on. There is a fairly generous level of padding inside but no insect guard, so a bit of fly build-up added to the 320g weight after summery rides. The simple straps are nothing to write home about; I'd prefer to have padding under the chin rather than bare plastic.
The rear size adjustment system is very thin, but its strength belies its wiry looks and the dial allows for very fine adjustments to the circumference. Catlike say they have configured the back of the helmet with 'Low Nape Protection' to protect the occipital area. I'm not quite sure how this works, as on me the middle of the occipital (lower skull) area was not covered by the helmet at all (you might have spotted that's not me in the photos), though there was more side protection around the back of the helmet than most other makes provide.
Being at the mid-range of the sizing for the helmet (I'm 56cm and the helmet is 55-57cm) I was surprised that there was such a large gap between the back of my head and the helmet – around 2.5cm. While the adjustment dial kept the helmet tight on my head, I think the overall circumference could have been reduced to suit this size bracket.
This version of the Vacuum did make me look less Klingon-like than previous incarnations, though, and I like its matt black finish and quirky looks. There are small reflectives on the back and sides, and the option of a visor in the same striking hi-vis yellow as the detailing and air tubes. Although I didn't have to test its crash-worthiness, it conforms to the EN 1078 safety specification.
At £79.99 this is a fairly expensive helmet. If you like the looks and need the ventilation then go for it; if it doesn't melt your cool-o-meter there are cheaper ways to protect yourself.
Quirky looking but comfortable, with air tubes to keep weight down and ventilation up
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Catlike Vacuum Helmet
Size tested: Vacuum Black Matt Fluor Md With Visor
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?
Catlike say: "This is one of the models in which you can notice clearly our design policy of creating helmets in which volume is as reduced as much as possible. Vacuum is a mix of design and technology taken to the minimum expression. The simple lines contrast with the use of the most advanced technologies, also present in our top of the range helmets."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shell Material: in-mold EPS (foam)
Ventilation: 19 vents, ATS (Air Tube System)
Fit Adjustment: MPS (Multi Position System) eVo
Visor: yes, removable
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Ventilation is great on hot, sunny days (when we get them).
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
I can't help feeling they could have tried to come in a little lower than 320g.
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:
You can go cheaper, and more expensive.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The naked chin strap.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If it matched my bike.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, especially for training rides in the summer.
Age: 36 Height: 5'7 Weight: size 16
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: Commuting, general fitness riding, leisure
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