Lazer Z-1 MIPS Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lighweight, comfortable, good ventilation
Cons: Unique adjustment dial might not be for everyone
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lazer Z1 MIPS performs well across the board but stands out for its lightweight comfort and its impressive ventilation thanks to 31 vents. The Z1 earns our Top Pick Award for the best lightweight ventilation.
The Z1 MIPS is a comfortable helmet with a unique headband system and adjustment dial. The built-in Xstatic T-Pro padding is quite minimal, but is of high quality and is placed in just the right spots. The Advanced Rollsys System (ARS) headband provides comfortable full circumference support around the entire head, and is easily adjusted with a unique dial mechanism built into the top of the helmet.
Our testers found the profile and volume of the helmet to be very comfortable for a variety of head shapes and sizes, and the ARS headband system provides balanced support without any uncomfortable pressure points. The Y-buckles and straps are also excellent. The straps lay flat against the face and are made of soft, single-layer webbing.
The Z1 MIPS loses a couple of points in this rating metric because the ARS headband system sits pretty high on the head compared to most other helmets we tested. The headband systems on most other models extend further down the back of your head to provide extra coverage and support, while the ARS headband barely extends beyond the shell of the helmet. For riders with larger or non-perfectly symmetric heads, this could limit the comfort and the ability to find the right fit.
The Z1 MIPS is comfortably adjustable, with the previously often mentioned ARS headband system that uses a unique threaded rod to adjust the system tension, rather than a more traditional ratcheting dial. This provides a smoother adjustment tolerance within the 58-61 cm size range (size Large) which riders will appreciate to help dial in a perfect fit. While this system is unique and perfectly functional, it does take a little while to get used to the location of the adjustment dial, and some users may prefer the standard rear dial location on most other products.
The adjustable Y-buckles on the Z1 MIPS are excellent. They allow the webbing straps to lay flat against the face and are among the easiest to adjust out of any helmet that we have tested. The straps are fixed to the front and rear of the helmet, so re-centering the chinstrap buckle is out of the question if you fall on the upper or lower end of a size range.
At 305 grams in a men's size Large that we weighed ourselves, the Z1 MIPS is among the lightest helmets in our lineup. There are a couple of competitors that weigh a bit less by forgoing a built-in MIPS liner, but once you account for the 20-30 grams attributed to the liner, the Z1 holds its own with any other lightweight model.
With a comfortable fit and plenty of ventilation in addition to its slight stature, the Z1 MIPS makes an excellent option for racing and fast training rides. Because of its lightweight construction and 31 built-in vents, the Z1 wins our Top Pick Award for Best Lightweight Ventilation.
The Z1 MIPS is the epitome of a classic helmet design. It has loads of vents that are symmetrically placed throughout the helmet, a rounded profile upfront, and a slight spoiler extended from the back of the helmet. Our testers really like the look of this helmet and apparently so do many Belgian cyclocross racers, as it seems to be one of the most popular helmets among the European cyclocross elite.
Our extensive online research and testing of previous versions of this helmet indicate that some versions of the Lazer Z1 include an optional magnetic sunglasses retention system. The Magneto system consists of two magnetic clips that attach to the vents on the back of the helmet, paired with Lazer's Magneto sunglasses that use the magnetic clips as an anchor point. While our current testing version does include several of the previously mentioned accessories, we did not see any magnetic mounting system included in the package.
Another feature that is unique to Lazer helmets is the optional Aeroshell. The Aeroshell is a plastic shell that clips onto the Z1 helmet. Lazer claims the shell enhances aerodynamics and will keep your head dry in the rain. We did not test the Aeroshell, but it is a nice option to have to provide additional versatility for weather protection and aerodynamics.
The Lazer Z1 MIPS leaves little to be desired when it comes to ventilation. It is one of the best-ventilated helmets we tested with a total of 31 vents; more than any other helmet in our lineup. Ventilation at both low and high-speeds is excellent. The MIPS liner is cut perfectly to prevent blocking any vents. If ventilation is a high priority, then this helmet will not disappoint.
Besides the sheer number of built-in vents, another key to the Z1'shigh-end ventilation performance is the shape and location of some of the vents. Many of the vents sit pretty low on the helmet, extending downward to the forehead and temple area of the rider's head. We found that vents in this location are much more effective at circulating air around the entire head, rather than only across the top of the head. This vent configuration is very efficient and is noticeably cool and comfortable while riding.
The Z1 MIPS is a high-quality helmet, but skips a full wrap polycarbonate shell in favor of weight savings. We wish that every helmet manufacturer would include a full wrap shell for durability reasons, protecting the delicate EPS foam inner liner from bumps and abrasions. Other models have been able to strike a reasonable balance between the durability of a full shell while still maintaining a competitive weight.
All other components of the Z1 MIPS worked flawlessly during our testing period, and we expect that the average owner will get many comfortable seasons out of this lid.
The Z1 has always been on the more expensive end of our lineup, but it appears that the retail price has come down a bit in recent years, putting it closer to the middle of the pack. With a reasonable price for Lazer's top-tier helmet, excellent ventilation, and a lightweight and comfortable build, the Z1 could be a good value for a rider looking for a little bit of Belgian flair. It also comes standard with a soft storage bag and a spare set of pads and velcro attachment strips.
The Z1 MIPS is a top of the line road cycling helmet that was one of our favorites during testing. The range of optional accessories is unmatched by other brands and allows the rider to customize the helmet for their needs. The unique ARS headband adjustment system, the light and comfortable design, and the impressive ventilation make the Z1 stand out from the pack, earning it our Top Pick Award for Lightweight Ventilation.
— Nick Bruckbauer