Tested: Kask Protone Helmet

The Italian company Kask was founded in 2004 and produces helmets for a variety activities as diverse as horseback riding, skiing, mountaineering, and even working on a construction site. Oh, and they also make bicycle helmets, too. In the company’s relatively short history, it’s seen some impressive levels of success, thanks in no small part to the brand’s partnership with the Sky professional cycling team and its most popular riders over the past few years, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome–both of whom won, among other things, Tour de France titles while wearing Kask helmets.

Among its lineup of six road helmets are the entry-level Rapido and 5onta models, as well as the higher-end and popular Vertigo and Mojito models, with the Mojito being the preferred choice of Sky riders on hot days of racing, or whenever they’re looking for maximum ventilation. The Infinity is Kask’s most aerodynamic road helmet (they also produce a time trial helmet, too) with minimal ventilation and a unique, sliding top section that can close all vents in order to become as aerodynamic as possible. Splitting the difference between the highly ventilated Mojito and the ultra-aero Infinity is Kask’s latest model, the Protone.

The Protone is made in Italy and comes in two sizes, Medium and Large, and in a staggering 12 color schemes. The frontal area sports a series of long, deep ventilation channels, while the rear end of the helmet’s top section is closed off, designed to help smooth airflow when one’s head is in the on-bike position. There are several exhaust ports in the back to help maintain continuous airflow across the top of your head.

Unlike the Vertigo and Mojito, which feature a robust and, some would say, overbuilt retention device, the Protone’s is quite minimal as far as Kask models are concerned, more reminiscent of the latest popular models from the likes of Giro, Specialized and others. It has a simple, single hand-operated dial and a fair bit of vertical adjustability, while the actual plastic bits that make up the retention system are thin and minimally designed, which we suspect is an attempt to help keep the overall weight down. Our test model Protone is a size Medium, which Kask says fits heads with circumferences of 52-58cm, and it weighed in at 230 grams. For comparison, a Medium Mojito weighs a touch less at 220 grams.

Other details on the Protone include a leather chin strap with the buckle positioned so that it rests along the side of your face rather than directly underneath your chin, which is a feature we’ve found very comfortable on the Mojito model. The Protone’s Coolmax padding is removable for washing, as well.

THE RIDE
Fitting the Protone to our head was a simple procedure. The retention system is easy to operate and the adjustment dial at the back provides for plenty of customization in terms of the amount of tension you can employ. The sliding adjustment clips that sit below your ears are also easy to adjust. The chinstrap, on the other hand, required a bit more effort to dial in, largely because of the leather strap which is quite thicker than nylon alternatives that are found on pretty much every other helmet on the market.

Regarding fit, the Protone has a very similar shape to the Vertigo and Mojito models. That is to say, it’s the tiniest bit on the round side (as opposed to oval), but should fit the vast majority of riders’ heads comfortably. The Protone’s shell also felt just a touch bigger on our head than the Mojito that we had recently ridden with, and a side-by-side comparison between the two post-ride confirmed this. The Protone’s padding is top-notch and very comfortable and, like the Mojito, the complete finished product felt to be of very high-quality.

Right at the start of our testing, we quickly realized that the Protone doesn’t offer the same level of ventilation as the Mojito. But even on hot and humid rides, our heads received enough airflow to keep us comfortable. If the temperature ramped up to the 90s or above, however, we found ourselves opting for a more ventilated model like the Mojito. As for added aerodynamic efficiency over the Mojito, our  various rides sans wind tunnel didn’t exactly yield an accurate scientific test from which we can draw conclusive results. But if what the bike industry at large has gleaned from the past few years’ of aero helmet development is true, then the smooth surfaces and the closed-off portions of the Protone should give a marginal increase in aerodynamics over models like the Mojito and Vertigo.

PUNCH LINES
– Plush padding
– Well-ventilated among aero-road lids
– Pricey, but high quality

STATS
Price: $299.95
Weight: 230 grams (size Medium)
Sizes: Medium/52-58cm, Large/59-62cm
www.kask.it