This is a test that we in the Bicycling Australia office have been waiting for, for some time. South Australian company Euride have had the distribution rights in Australia for at least two years now and throughout that time the Whisper Plus has been undergoing tests by Standards Australia. It’s been a long wait but we’re happy to report that the helmet has passed those tests and now has full Standards approval. As you know, you can’t race without the Standards Australia sticker, so it’s good to know the Whisper Plus is now race legal.
Catlike helmets are arguably the most standout helmet in the pro peloton. You can see them coming up the road from a long way out. It’s not very well known, but a unique-looking helmet is actually a bonus in pro racing because it allows the directors back in the car and the domestiques on bottle duty to easily find their riders in a large peloton.
I can remember watching Simon Gerrans and Thor Hushovd racing in Catlike helmets for the Cervelo Test Team. Even prior to that, Catlike have been a regular sponsor of the Basque Spanish Euskaltel-Euskadi team. This isn’t surprising when you do a bit of digging because Catlike are a Spanish company, with these helmets being created in the province of Murcia and they are currently the helmet suppliers for the Movistar squad. The name Catlike comes from the company’s founder, Pepe Del Ramo, a former Spanish pro cyclist whose nickname was ‘El Gato’ or ‘The Cat’. The company also makes glasses and shoes. Many pro racers put their names to various products, but Del Ramo has plenty of input into the Catlike brand.
Turning the Whisper Plus over and over in your hands you can see that a great deal of thought has gone into this helmet, particularly in the area of ventilation. Many helmets have large numbers of holes and the Whisper Plus is no exception, having 39. The difference here is that these vents are secondary to five rows of furrows that go from the front of the helmet straight down to the back. Every single one of the holes on the outside channels air to these furrows and then over the top of your head and straight out the back. It’s a perfectly clear path and if you were to look through the rear holes you can see straight through to the holes on the front of the helmet. That’s exceptional ventilation. The padding which contacts your head is also quite minimal which all aids the ventilation process. Take it out of your hands, stick it on your head and go for a ride and it quickly becomes apparent that the ventilation on the Whisper Plus is superb. This is possibly the best ventilated helmet I’ve ever ridden.
The straps on the Whisper Plus are similar to other helmets with the exception of the side clasps where the front and rear straps join on each side. Here Catlike have fitted an adjustable clasp, which allows you to minutely choose where the straps fit around your ears and how they affect your sunglass arms. Best of all, you can actually do this while the helmet is on your head. No more taking it off, making the adjustment, back on, try again. Here it’s just like the toggle on a rain jacket. Nice.
There’s probably only one area of the Whisper Plus that I wasn’t so keen on, and that is the ratchet lock on the rear. This is one of the ‘squeeze and move’ types where you have to use both hands and slide the ratchet across. My experience of this type, rather than a wheel, is that one side always moves more easily than the other and the Whisper Plus on test here was no exception. The solution I’ve found is to leave the sticky side in the correct place and only open the easy side. There’s no safety issue, but I do think that the wheel systems work better. On the plus side, the Whisper Plus is available in four sizes, from XS through to L. No ‘One size fits all’ here.
Like many unique designs, the Whisper Plus polarises opinion on its looks. Some people love it and others don’t. Personally, I’m one of the former. I think it has stylish good looks, works extremely well and pleasingly, the medium weighs only 300g. Now that this helmet is available in Australia we can all benefit from the Spanish innovation.
Distributed by Euride