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The Cannondale Utility Helmet and Accessory Kit is a comprehensive package aimed at commuters and 'utility' riders who want a practical lid that's more befitting casual clothing or street smarts. It's well made, but there are lighter and better-ventilated options.
Conforming to CE1078, it's constructed using the standard in-mould production technology, where shock absorbing EPS liner and polycarbonate shell are simultaneously formed. Theroretically this reduces weight, improves safety and keeps costs lower.
As you'd expect from Cannondale, standards of finish and construction are very high throughout. Matt black looks really sharp and the rounded 'Cromwell' shape goes well with street dress.
Subtle reflectives prevent it from slipping right under the radar. Ten relatively small vents run, Mohican fashion, along the centre strip, which might improve overall safety – fewer vents mean a more solid structure, theoretically – but have some definite implications for climate control.
Inside, Cannondale has shunned the familiar 'fuzzy felt' pads for a low-density, sweat-guzzling monocoque piece and leatherette chin strap cover. This, along with the serrated thumbwheel, makes fine-tuning fit an absolute cinch.
On the safety theme, noticed that triangular badge? This is designed to be scooped out with a blunt knife (flat-bladed screwdrivers common to most multi tools also work just fine) and replaced with Cannondale's six-digit, three-mode LED, which comes as part of the 'kit', along with a helmet cover and ear covers.
Obviously this isn't intended as primary lighting, but the integral lens and switch ensures winter glove friendliness and it sits quite nicely at driver eye-level for some additional presence.
General consensus suggests visibility from 150 metres in town, 200 along semi-rural sections. It seems well sealed too, passing my garden hose torture test without a flicker. That said, you'll need a jeweller's screwdriver to access the battery come replacement time.
Compared with standard road and trail lids the Utility helmet sits lower, supposedly improving protection. This hasn't fouled cycling-specific rucksacks or messenger bags when glancing left to right or making those minute over-the-shoulder checks.
The rear cradle also seems more accommodating of pony tails, which might be another draw for those of us with longer manes.
A wider front profile also seems to improve peripheral vision, which is very helpful in rush hour traffic. The polyester rain cover incorporates a subtle grey/Scotchlite pattern that looks neutral by day but comes alive under vehicle and street lighting.
Modest ventilation means you'll only start feeling soggy after 20-odd minutes in torrential stuff, but the relatively breathable cover fits in seconds and pretty much guarantees your head will remain dry when it's pelting down.
Many of us don't like our ears covered, but the plug-in padded ear covers in the kit might be welcome when temperatures plummet and are easy to whip on and off.
Commutes around the 10 mile mark, with temperature and average speed around the mid-teens, proved a little warm but nowhere near brain boiling territory, and the additional weight was remarkably unobtrusive.
That said, the better-ventilated commuter-touring types out there are superior options for longer distances and even a bit of trail action too. Several 20-mile trips averaging between 18 and 20mph resulted in a hot, sweaty scalp.
Well made, comprehensive package but less versatile than commuter-touring designs which are lighter and better ventilated
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Make and model: Cannondale Utility Helmet and Accessory Kit
Size tested: 54-58cm
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?
Full function, all condtions, urban commuter.
* Multi-Mold Polycarbonate shell technology bonds the outer shell with the EPS shell for one-piece integrated design and great durability
* 12 Flow-through vents control comfort by maintaining airflow through the helmet
* Heat-sealed moisture wicking pads keep the sweat under control
* Comfortable SOFT-TOUCH webbing with easy to slide dividers offer secure adjustment and all-day wear ability
* System Integrated micro dial w/ Ergo-fit EVA occipital pad delivers a precise fit
* Leatherette chin strap
* In-mould visor for all condition riding
Comprehensive, refined and well made helmet for commuting and utility riding but commuter-touring models are better choices for those who want to commute longer distances at a quicker pace.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
1. Dual density EPS technology
Cannondale's helmet designers took a cue from car manufacturers when building our revolutionary, cone-shaped impact-absorbing zones into our helmets. We call these zones Peak Protection. The two-layered, co-molded EPS foam in our helmets employ high- and low-density foam zones that disperse and redirect the force of an impact.
2. EXOSKELETON REINFORCEMENTS
Get bigger venting, improved airflow, and zero loss of protection. Cannondale's SI ALLOY REINFORCMENT bridges span critical intersections to simultaneously boost helmet strength and cool factor.
3. EMBEDDED CHASSIS
Embedded into every CANNONDALE HELMET is a nylon chassis that helps maintain integrity in the case of a crash. The benefits are superior strength, superior ventilation, superior protection - while still looking beautiful.
Consistently good throughout, which is what I would expect from Cannondale.
Has withstood the rough and tumble of everyday riding very convincingly.
Its 400g is hardly svelte, but it feels much lighter in practice.
Comfort is much better than modest ventilation would suggest and 10-mile round trip commutes at 15mph didn't boil my brains or leave me looking like a drowned rat. Longer journeys at a smarter pace were less pleasant.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
My preference errs towards commuter-touring versions, which are well equipped and better suited to longer rides at quicker paces. That said, the Cannondale is a well conceived and generally comfortable helmet for utility riding. It feels lighter than its weight suggests and breathability isn't any worse than several comparable designs I've tested in the recent past.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Refined, stylish (with the right clothing) and generally well made.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Ventilation could probably be improved without detracting from the styling.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Clever, stylish and refined helmet for short to medium haul commutes at slower paces.
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)