Lazer is a Belgian company, and its helmets have long been popular in the motherland of cycling. The Lazer Z-1 MIPS is the brand's top-of-the-line pro-level road racing helmet. Lazer did not follow the current trend of trying to create a semi-aero helmet, rather they stuck to tradition with the Z-1. Heavy venting and a classic look are the stand-out characteristics of the Z-1. The ARS fit system is tensioned using a dial on the top of the helmet rather than the click wheel design seen on every other helmet we have tested. The Lazer stands out with class-leading comfort, on par with the Giro Synthe, winner of our Editors' Choice Award.
Lazer Z-1 MIPS Review
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Z-1 was one of the most comfortable helmets we tested. The padding is minimal, but high quality and placed in the right places. The ARS fit system is responsible for the amazing level of comfort; a dial-like mechanism located on the top of the helmet is turned to increase or decrease tension. The ARS system is the closest thing we tested to the Giro Roc Loc Air. The circumferential adjustment bands wrap nearly all the way around the head and are anchored at the front of the helmet. When tension is increased, there are no pressure points due to the design. The Y-buckles and straps are also excellent. The straps lay flat against the face and are made of soft, single-layer webbing.
The Z-1 is a very adjustable helmet. The ARS system does not use a ratcheting dial, but moves the tensioning system anchor on a threaded rod. This provides almost infinite adjustment within the 55-59cm range - we like this system better than the click wheel design used by other manufacturers. The ARS system is decent, but overall, the Roc Loc Air system found on the Giro Synthe is slightly better, due to the uninterrupted nature of the tensioning band. The straps are fixed front and rear on the Z-1, so centering the chinstrap buckle is out of the question if you fall on the upper or lower end of a size range. The Bell Gage and the Smith Overtake both have a non-fixed rear strap system that allows for greater adjustability.
The adjustable Y-buckles on the Z-1 are excellent. They allow the webbing to lay flat, and are amongst the easiest to adjust of any helmet we have tested.
The Z-1 is one of the heavier traditional style helmets we tested. Our digital scale puts it right at 284g. Compared to the 225g Giro Aeon, which has a similar design, the Z-1 is a bit portly. However, our test version has a MIPS liner that adds on 30g, so if you deduct that, the helmet is within striking distance of the featherweight Aeon. It's not the lightest helmet available, but the comfort almost makes up for it.
Looks and Design
The Z-1 is the epitome of classic helmet design - loads of vents and a rounded profile up front. We like the look of the Z-1, and apparently so do Belgian cyclocross racers, as it seems to be one of the most popular helmets among the European cyclocross elite. The Z-1 comes with a soft storage bag and a spare set of pads (as every helmet should). Lazer also includes its Magneto sunglass retention system. The Magneto system consists of two magnetic clips that attach to the vents on the back of the helmet, paired with Lazers Magneto glasses that use the magnetic clips as an anchor point.
You will have to buy the glasses separately if you are interested in this feature, but the helmet clips are included. Another feature that is unique to Lazer helmets is the optional Aeroshell. The Aeroshell is a plastic shell that clips onto the Z-1 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.
The Lazer Z-1 leaves little to be desired when it comes to ventilation. It is one of the best-ventilated helmets we tested. It has a total of 31 vents; more than any other helmet we tested. Both low and high-speed ventilation are excellent. Our testers ranked the Specialized Airnet MIPS higher, but the Z-1 is no slouch. The MIPS liner is cut perfectly to prevent blocking any vents. If ventilation is a high priority then the Z-1 will not disappoint.
The Z-1 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. Helmets such as the Smith Overtake have proven it can be done while still maintaining a competitive weight. All other components worked flawlessly during testing and we expect that the average owner will get many seasons out of the Z-1.
The Z-1 is best suited to road racing and training. It is also a great warm weather cyclocross helmet, and could do double duty in the cold months with the purchase of the Aeroshell.
The Z-1 is an expensive helmet and retails for $310, making it the most expensive helmet we tested. Despite the high price, we feel it is still a good value, especially for the rider who wants a bit of Belgian flair.
The Z-1 is a top-of-the-line road cycling helmet with a price to match. It 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 addition of the Aeroshell could be a good solution for the rider who wants one helmet, but would like the option of an aero helmet for specific events or cold days.
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Most recent review: February 17, 2017
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