In recent years the race for helmet development has been largely centered around aerodynamics - yet for a lot of riders comfort and ventilation are far more important. MET have aimed to answer their prayers with the Strale, which puts adjustability and breathability above all else despite its somewhat aero appearance.
Italian brand MET have been targeting the female audience of late, adding ‘Small’ sizes in many models that were previously only available in Medium or Large. Initially I was disappointed to hear that in the case of the Strale they'd chosen to maintain a ‘Medium’ as the smallest version. However, I was told being a compact lid designed to suit a 52 to 58 circumference, women would be catered for, and true enough a Medium did fit my genuinely tiny noggin (albeit with the retention system almost at its max).
On lifting the Strale from its box, my first observation was the lightweight shell – at 255g in a Medium it definitely falls into the ‘quality helmet’ category despite the relatively value orientated £79.99 price tag.
There are seven colour options available in the Strale, and we tested a white/pearl with a pink rear. The pink certainly stands out, whilst the pearl white is subtly feminine. In terms of shape, though the helmet fitted closely on my head, the overall volume is quite large – it’s not a small and unobtrusive helmet and perhaps a little bubble-like in appearance.
Ventilation on the MET Strale Helmet
Ventilation came first and foremost for MET when they created this helmet – and they wanted to take a new approach to that which is seen elsewhere: namely lots of vents. Instead, they wanted to maximize the performance of the vents they did have to ensure they were working at their optimum.
In total, the Strale contains fourteen vents – the pivotal airflow provider being a wide channel at the centre. The central cut out is so important it even has a name: the NACA vent. This has been designed around the ‘Venturi effect’ which in brief refers to the reduction in pressure when fluid flows through a constricted area. In more human terms, the idea is that cool air flows through the narrow area created, before being pushed out of the wider ducts located at the rear. There are side vents too, but all of them are directed to the large rear section, where hot air can be directed away from the rider.
Having worn this helmet predominantly through winter rides, it’s hard to comment on the effectiveness of this ventilation system. This said, I did don this protection on some intense rides and never found myself suffering from sweaty head syndrome or overheating beneath the lid.
Adjustability of the MET Strale Helmet
Being a fairly small headed individual what I can really appreciate is the adjustability of the helmet.
Any modern helmet will have a retention system – probably with a dial that brings the cage closer to the rider’s head - and of course MET offer this. What’s additional is the ‘Safe-T Duo’ system that offers three vertical adjustments so that the cage can be brought slightly lower or higher on your head, for optimum fit.
With the system already pre-set to the smallest option, I didn’t actually adjust it before initial testing. However, close examination showed me that should I want to create a higher cage, I could widen the system by pulling two plastic tabs in the centre of the helmet in opposite directions. This allows for an adjustment of around two centimeters, and it’s a nice feature that helps to offer a snug fit for all (even if I was happy with the pre-set option).
One feature I have found lacking in helmets elsewhere is adjustability of the strap dividers. I’ve worn many an ill-fitting helmet with no strap divider adjustability – the result being twisted straps sitting well below my ears, making it hard to keep the clasp central below my chin. MET have created sliding dividers, that can be unclipped, adjusted to the optimum (just below the ears), and replaced in the perfect position. I did really appreciate this feature – though the straps themselves are more akin to the budget end of the helmet market, where more expensive options will use thinner and lighter ribbon-like materials.
At the rear there is a large coloured block – in this case pink – but there are seven versions on offer. There is space for a ponytail to thread through the system – and I’d always find this more comfortable, whilst my colleague (pictured above) who has more volume to her hair (yes, I am jealous) would tend to forsake it, opting for a side ponytail instead.
If you are threading your ponytail through, it’s worth bearing in mind that you will lose the benefit of MET’s other party trick – an LED light can be fitted to the retention dial but this will be lost behind hair easily. However, there is an additional visibility aid in a reflective strip on the rear of the helmet, too.
Verdict on the MET Strale Helmet
The MET Strale is a comfortable lid, with tons of adjustability on offer to help rider’s fine the perfect fit - it was this comfort and 'invisible feeling' fit that most impressed me. The ventilation system has been engineered to offer optimum breathability, and the science really stacks up. I certainly didn’t overheat, but it’s hard to offer an absolute assessment after wearing the lid from November through to January. The nods to visibility are a nice touch, though pony-port users will need to choose between the LED light and hair comfort.
RRP: £79.99. See it here.