The Lazer Impala is part of Lazer's new mountain bike range of helmets.
Lazer have been hard at work with their helmet designs. With models like the Blade and Z1 suiting the road, cyclocross and cross-country crowd, until recently the options for a modern trail helmet from the Belgian company were a little limited. Although the Lazer Revolution we tested back in 2016 has some great unique features, it's a bit bulky for some.
Testing the new Lazer Impala fell on my shoulders, or more specifically, my head.
The Lazer Impala is a well-ventilated trail helmet using your run-of-the-mill EPS foam with a microshell that extends to the edge and beyond, meaning the foam isn't going to get damaged from regular handling of the helmet. Let's be clear, there's nothing wrong with an EPS foam helmet. While the MIPS model can add an extra layer of safety for shear forces, and Bontrager's WaveCel layer might reduce the severity of a brain injury from impact and rotational forces, EPS foam is still the basis of helping reduce the shock to your brain when combined with a proper fitting helmet and understanding your capabilites.
Fit is a big thing, as a helmet needs to be secure, not comfortable. Sure, it shouldn't be uncomfortable. But this isn't the sort of item to size up a little for comfort, like a loose-fit jersey. You need to make sure your helmet has a snug fit without pressure points. Three shell sizes and a micro adjust retention system helps for this. The dial is easy to use with gloves on, and the straps are thin with a fine weave, they dry quickly and are easily adjusted so they make a nice Y shape below your ears. You can also adjust the cradle that the retention system tightens up and down, so it really is snug below your occipital bone.
The Impala has 22 vents to both pass air over your head and let it escape. Vent design on a mountain bike helmet tends to be a little different to something like a road helmet, as when you really need the venting you're moving slowly, and airflow is good but really you just want that heat to get out! The large, square shaped vents on top of the helmet do wonders with this, preventing overheating even if you're slogging up a long climb in the beating sun at the pace of an ambling retiree.
Compared to a normal road or XC helmet the Impala has a little more coverage at the back, but nothing like some of the other trail helmets on the market like the Giro Switchblade or Fox Dropframe. Those are a different case again, but if you really want extra protection that's the type of helmet to look at.
Some riders find helmets are like shoes; you know the brands that fit you well. I'm a medium in just about every helmet and my experience is that a medium lazer fits my head really well. The Impala was no different. At 325g it's pretty light for a trail lid, and it doesn't skimp on high quality padding for the contact points. The pads are thin, but have proven to dry quickly and wick sweat away from my head. I have less hair for a cushion than I used to, but there was still no uncomfortable points on the inside of the helmet.
The visor on the Lazer Impala is big, and it can sit in 3 positions. Flat, where the logo lines up ideally, raised, or Enduro cool, which allows space for some goggles to sit on the helmet below the visor if goggles and an open face is your style. The strap sits along the flattish back really nicely, although it can catch on the visor attachment on the sides when you lift the goggles up taking the whole helmet with it. This creates an awkward moment where it feels like the helmet strap is trying to choke you when you're at the end of the trail wanting to fist bump your mates after popping your goggles up, but you're embarrasing yourself instead. Not that that necessarily happened.
If sunglasses are your game, the thin and supple straps sit close enough to the inner side of the helmet so you can run frames over straps. While this is annoying as it means you have to take your eyewear off before your helmet, it keeps the style police happy. You can run them wherever you want.
On the trail I found the Lazer Impala sat in place from go to whoa, was nice and cool and just didn't get in the way. The visor in the middle setting was probably the best on steep trails, but flat was fine on my local trails in SE QLD where nothing is truly steep. I did need to tighten the visor up a little initially to stop it blowing up in the wind or dropping down when landing drops badly. But this took about 3 seconds with half a turn with a multitool.
Considering that the Lazer Impala is so well featured and sells for $179, and the MIPS model is $219, the Impala is really good value for a helmet that fits well, has more protection than a road helmet and is designed for mountain biking. It deals really well with heat (and sweat) and comes in a range of colours to suit even the most fussy fashionista or style conscious shredder.
While the Impala doesn't have a completely integrated mount for a light or a GoPro - they do come with an attachment. Bear in mind this can create a safety minefield and having such an object on top of your head isn't always the best course of action if you're main aim is to protect your noggin.
My best tip if you're looking for a new helmet is to go and try one on in your local bike shop. And don't be afriad to ask for help making sure it is fitted properly - the staff should be happy to help. This is a great trail helmet, and if it's fitted well you'll be comfortable and protected on the trail.
From: Shimano Australia
RRP: $179, $219 for MIPS equipped.