Lazer Oasiz Helmet
Ten years ago mountain bikers were pigeon-holed by helmet manufacturers as either cross-country riders or downhillers; you could either buy a lid that varied by little more than colour from a road design and offered scarcely adequate levels of protection for off-road riding, or a full face helmet that gave you tunnel vision and a serious overheating problem. Fortunately things have changed, and most major brands now offer a ‘trail’ helmet combining low weight and great ventilation with more extensive protection for your brain, especially at the back.
Released in 2011, Lazer’s ‘Oasiz’ has now passed Australian Standards testing and is available Down Under, selling for around $179. This helmet aims to be the all-round mountain biker’s best friend; it comes in two sizes, a wide range of colours (including the Brian Lopes signature editions), features 21 vents, and uses Lazer’s Rollsys adjustment system as well as their funky magnetic ‘Magic Buckle’ to keep it all in place. Lazer claim the smaller size weighs just 330g with the visor, although ours came in slightly heavier at 360g.
Straight off the bat there’s some nice things about the Oasiz (stupid spelling notwithstanding); the rear comes down nice and low, and the plastic outer shell covers the lower edges of the helmet to better protect it from general wear and tear. Although it’s not adjustable, the visor is well positioned to block the sun without getting in your field of view and it’s securely attached by four very snug push-pins. The vents do a good job of keeping heat build-up to a minimum and the inner pads are made with a material called X-static, which uses silver ions to help fight pong-causing bacteria. Although they’re removable for washing, the X-static material works extremely well, so you can expect a long time between trips to the tub. The straps are the usual 20mm wide but are particularly thin, so they conform easily to your face for a bit of extra comfort.
The Magic Buckle on the Oasiz is a pretty clever design and is intended to make fastening and releasing the chin strap much easier. To close the buckle you just position the two halves close to each other and a strong magnet pulls them securely together from the side rather than end-to-end; to release, you simply push the two halves sideways and they disengage. There’s no need to start freaking, because the buckle isn’t relying on the magnet to hang together, but rather the shape and structure of the buckle itself. It’s a little hard to describe, but if you imagine curling your index finger on both hands and hooking them together you’ll have some idea of the basic principle. Suffice to say that it is definitely easier to use than a traditional side-release buckle.
Oasiz or Mirage?
Fine-tuning the fit of the Oasiz is done with Lazer’s well-regarded Rollsys mechanism, which is adjusted via a single, step-less wheel on top of the helmet. Turning the wheel tensions a thin wire that travels through the secondary retention mechanism and cradles your head. This almost continuous loop provides a very comfortable fit with no obvious pressure points, and even after prolonged periods it doesn’t feel like it’s squeezing your brain like some other helmets can.
We do, however, have two reservations about this version of the Rollsys. While the Oasiz extends a fair way down at the rear, the rear cradle sits relatively high. It makes the helmet feel like it’s perched on top of your head—it really seems at odds with what you’d expect from this style of helmet. Apparently we’re not the only ones to think this, as a number of Lazer’s newer models have an adjustable cradle that can be lowered to tuck under the back of your head.
Our second reservation lies with the Rollsys system, as we had an issue where the adjustment wheel failed on one helmet. While we were assured by the Australian importer that this was the first time they’d seen this problem, the design does seem comparatively complex with more potential for things to go wrong. That said, our replacement helmet continues to perform without fault.
The straps could also do with some revision; they are so thin that they kept slipping through the buckle. Stopping to tighten your chin strap every hour or so may not be the end of the world, but we’ve got other helmets that need adjustment once or twice a year, not once or twice a ride, so it definitely detracts from the small improvement in comfort these straps provide.
As it stands the Oasiz isn’t a bad helmet, with a very comfortable fit, low-stink pads and a very clever buckle; however the way the retention mechanism sits on your head and the insecure chinstrap prevent it from being a really good one. If Lazer can sort these issues out, the Oasiz could well be the ‘draught in the desert’ that draws all mountain bikers towards it.
Bike Sportz 1800 808 181 / www.bikesportz.com.au