Product Test: Three Italian Helmet Shootout

LEM, Limar and Rudy Project go head-to-head-to-head

ITALIAN SKID LID SHOOTOUT

LEM has been a player in the motorcycle industry since 1972, and just recently they’ve jumped into the cycling
market with a growing range of helmets.

Limar brings a helmet to the table that was designed in cooperation with the WorldTour Astana squad that is built to be aero with ventilation for the warm days.

Equally well-known for their eyewear as they are their helmets, Rudy Project has a new aero helmet on a budget and features the comfort and safety-driven designs the marque is known for.

THE TECH

LEM: Following in the footsteps of their initial release of the Tailwind, LEM’s latest lid is the Motive Air, and it’s constructed with a multi-shell polycarbonate outer and filled with an expandable polystyrene foam in-mold. Designed for maximum airflow, 23 vents are connected by nine rows of deep channels that allow warm air to escape and filter fresh air through the helmet. The LEM uses a minimal retention system that is tightened by a rear dial aided by seven adjustment slots that allow 25mm of vertical adjustment.

Limar: In the center of the brand’s aero-optimized helmet lineup, the Air Master’s low-profile and narrow three-piece outer shell take the middle ground in this Italian helmet shootout. First launched at the Giro d’Italia in 2018, the Air Master was tested by WorldTour professionals to provide modern aerodynamic advantages. A comfortable amount of ventilation provided by 15 vents connected by shallow channels for continuous airflow. 

Limar’s AirFit retention system features a rear dial and three positions to account for 15mm of vertical adjustment. And just to let you know, if the tri-color accents didn’t give it away, all Limar products are designed and styled in Italy.

Rudy Project: Since we’re talking Italian helmets, it’s worth noting that Rudy Project’s Volantis is the only helmet here that is both designed and manufactured in Italy. So for the purists, this might be the only “real” Italian helmet. Additionally, Rudy is also the helmet of choice for the Bahrain-Merida WorldTour team. Rudy Project designed the Volantis to maximize its aero efficiencies.

 A broad polycarbonate shell with nine vents and a three-quarter rear covers a layer of impact-absorbing EPS foam. The Volantis has the most head coverage out of the three helmets in the shootout, which Rudy Project claims, gives it an aero advantage by allowing the wind to form to the shell rather than deflect off multiple vents. The Volantis also has the most robust retention system using Rudy Project’s RSR 10 wraparound design with three slots for 10mm of horizontal adjustment and four slots over 15mm of vertical adjustment with a rear dial to secure the fit.

THE RIDE

LEM: At 232 grams the LEM is the lightest of the trio and has a well-balanced weight distribution, which gives it an even lighter-than-it-is feel. The deep-channeled design efficiently allows air in and out, which kept our heads less sweaty than the other two helmets. The LEM feels similar to the Giro Aether, but at a more modest price of $225. 

Durability was the downside to the LEM, owing to the flimsy straps and retention system. The straps are hard to center for a proper fit, and the retention system was easy to pop out of position and difficult to put back
into place. 

Limar: Limar’s Air Master effectively blends comfort and performance. It’s low-profile shaping and 239-gram weight make it reasonably aerodynamic without the weight penalty helmets at its $175 price point often have. The helmet is a bit weighted more in the rear, but it was not much of a factor when out pedaling on the road. Limar’s use of 15 vents helps the Air Master breathe in most conditions, but on days over 100 degrees, a better-ventilated helmet like the LEM would be appreciated. A bonus to the Limar was its tri-color paint job, which made it stand out in a sea of black and white lids.

Rudy Project: The burliest of the bunch, the Rudy Project tipped our scales at 297 grams, but it is packed with aero gains and safety features. The three-quarter shell design offers added protection for your dome and reduces drag caused by wind tumbling off the rear of a helmet. However, the added weight in the rear is noticeable and takes some getting used to. A mount for a Rudy Project Optical Shield is included, which creates an awkward cutout in the front for those who do not use the additional $65 shield. 

THE VERDICT

This shootout came down to which helmet we would choose to use as our only helmet, and taking the top spot is the Limar Air Master with the LEM as a close second. The Air Master’s combination of weight, breathability, performance and style set it apart from the others. At $175, the Limar is reasonably priced when compared to similar aero competitors, like the S-Works Evade 2 and Abus GameChanger, both of which are priced at $250. 

The LEM’s biggest blow was its minimalist design with construction and resulting durability faults. Still, its light weight, breathability and styling kept it in the running. 

Unfortunately, our testers found the benefits of the safety functions of the Rudy Project’s design not enough to outweigh the bulbous design and extra weight from its aerodynamic profile.

PUNCH LINES

LEM: Lightweight but under-built

Limar: Looks like an Italian and performs the best

Rudy Project: Aero-driven design

STATS

LEM

Price: $225

Weight: 232 grams

www.lemhelmets.com

Limar

Price: $175

Weight: 239 grams

www.limar.com

Rudy Project

Price: $175

Weight: 297 grams

www.rudyproject.com

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