We were lucky enough to be invited over to the Winter Bike Connection Event in Massa Marittima, Tuscany to check out the latest products and technology from a handful of exciting European companies, and to actually ride some of it on the beautiful, well-maintained singletrack of the Trail Brothers’ trail network. We have a number of first ride reviews from this event coming your way; this one on the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore mountain bike helmet is the first.

Lazer is looking to make waves in the world of bike helmet safety with KinetiCore, their take on an integrated approach to rotational impact protection. The concept takes a less-is-more approach, actually removing EPS material from strategic locations throughout the helmet body leaving behind variable shape blocks that function as “controlled crumple zones” in the event of an impact. We have covered how exactly the technology works elsewhere.

Here, we turn our attention to one of six new helmets benefiting from these controlled crumple zones; the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore MTB Helmet. Though we certainly appreciate the benefits of the KinetiCore technology itself, our overall experience with this helmet has been a bit of a mixed bag. Read on to find out why.

lazer jackal kineticore eps blocks pattern arrangement

Review: Lazer Jackal KinetiCore

Before going into the fit and comfort of the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore, I’ll quickly skip to the final, possibly most important feature of this helmet that I investigated; the controlled crumple zones made of variable size and shape blocks of EPS. I wanted to know how the EPS crushed down under force without actually crashing in the helmet.

Pushing down on four of the blocks, I was able to crush them very easily by hand. They do actually crush down laterally, as well as vertically. They only completely sheered off when I applied a bigger force with my thumb.

lazer jackal kineticore review crushing eps blocks by hand in controlled crumple zones

Look closely at the four smaller blocks near the centre of each image. In the left image, the blocks are intact, and in the right image you can see they’ve been crushed down, with the more triangular shaped block having started to sheer off the EPS base

It seems the technology does work exactly as it is intended, with Virginia Tech awarding the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore helmet a 5-Star Rating. What’s also cool about these controlled crumple zones is that it’s super easy to get a quick visual of just how big an impact you took to the head during a crash, as you should be able to see where the EPS blocks have crushed down or sheered off by removing the one-piece comfort liner (harder to lose in the wash than multiple component comfort liners).

My head measures up at somewhere between 52cm and 55cm, depending on where I measure. Thus, I opted for the small helmet that caters to head circumferences of 52-56cm. I would say I was satisfied with the fit, but not entirely delighted with it.

testing lazer kackal kineticore mountain bike helmet massa marittima italy bca 2022

We appreciated the ability to alter the strap length fore and aft of the ear to position the divider directly underneath the ear lobe. There was a fair bit of surplus strap that would flap about in the wind unless it was tucked away underneath the cam divider. Credit: Rupert Fowler – Bike Connection Agency.

lazer jackal kineticore fidlock magentic buckle snaps into place

We liked the Fidlock magnetic buckle, finding it easy to use with one hand, even with gloves on. The magnet helps it snap into place when the two parts are near one another.

For me, the most secure fit was found with the retention system set at its lowest position, with the cradle in its most extended position. Here, it cups the occipital portion of my skull securely while allowing the front of the helmet to sit quite low on my forehead. Tightening the retention system I did notice undue pressure points from the sides of the head belt, just behind my ears. I can alleviate that by running the retention system closer to the middle of its height adjustment range, but at the expense of less coverage at the forehead.

lazer jackal kineticore review retention system height adjustment ratchet slipping

Claimed weight for the small Jackal KinetiCore is 320g – ours weighed in at 336g on a Park Tool DS-2 Tabletop Digital Scale. Credit: Rupert Fowler – Bike Connection Agency.

The Jackal worked nicely with the Julbo Quickshift goggles. The strap sat securely around the back of lid, held in place by a rough V-shaped surface. There are actually two places you could position a goggle strap. Lower down the rear of the helmet is a U-shaped strip of rough fabric that also grips the goggle strap well, preventing it from slipping up or down while riding. With the peak in the high position there was plenty of room to sit the goggles underneath.

lazer jackal kineticore review goggle strap placement

Credit: Rupert Fowler – Bike Connection Agency.

The problem I encountered while riding

On the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore helmet, the vertical positioning of the retention system is adjusted using a ratcheting mechanism. It is here that I identified a notable flaw (at least with my sample helmet). I found that very little force was required to push the height adjustment through its range of positions, to the point where the helmet actually moved through those positions during riding.

lazer jackal kineticore review vertical height adjustment flaw

Steep features such as this one were enough to cause the retention system to slip through its ratchet, causing the helmet’s position to alter during riding. Credit: Rupert Fowler – Bike Connection Agency.

On particularly fast, rough trails, and even on much slower technical trails littered with small drops, I was able to hear the height adjustment mechanism of the retention system slip through its positions. This caused the helmet body to rotate back off my forehead leaving it a little too exposed for my liking.

lazer kackal kineticore review height adjustment forehead exposure side view

The optimal vertical position (left), versus the position the helmet rotates to due to the slipping ratchet by the end of a fast, rough descent (right)

A comparably priced mountain bike helmet I have tested recently is the Troy Lee Designs A3, and also the less expensive Fox Speedframe Pro. These ones use a different approach to retention system height adjustment, one that ensures slippage can’t occur. They have notches in the EPS foam into which a plastic tab from the retention system is pushed to secure it in place. You can only adjust the height by pulling the tab out, and pushing it back into a neighboring notch. Granted, this is a little more labor-intensive but I see it as the safer option.

a comparison of retention system vertical height adjustment mechanisms; lazer jackal kineticore versus troy lee designs a3 versus fox speedframe pro mips

Retention system height adjustment mechanism on the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore helmet (left) versus that of the Troy Lee Designs A3 (middle) and the Fox Speedframe Pro (right).

We raised the issue with Lazer, sending our original test helmet back for assessment. They sent a replacement out which, unfortunately, shares the very same issue. My colleagues over in the US also received the Lazer Jackal KinetiCore helmet to test, and I’m happy to report they did not find this flaw on theirs. Lazer says the helmets delivered to editors in Europe were early production, while the helmets shipped to North American editors were pulled directly from consumer stocks.

Mike Smink from Lazer commented that they “often face feedback that vertical adjustments is too harsh rather than too easy. The vertical adjustment system on our new Jackal KinetiCore helmets has been designed to enable vertical adjustment in a smoother and easier way than before. This allows an easier adjustment of the helmets as such and a better overall fit in the end”. Unfortunately, it was simply too easy on the two helmets that were sent to me.

lazer vento kineticore aero road helmet vertical height adjustment of retention system

The vertical adjustment mechanism on the Lazer Vento KinetiCore Aero Road Helmet

It’s important to note here that the vertical adjustment mechanism of the Jackal KinetiCore is not shared by the other helmets across the new KinetiCore range. Zach’s Lazer Vento KinetiCore Aero Road helmet appears to have a different, more robust adjustment system (review coming soon).

Rear Light and GoPro Mount

lazer jackal kinetic mtb helmet with gopro mount

Lazer gave all journalists at the Winter Bike Connection event a personalised version of the Jackal KinetiCore

The Lazer Jackal KinetiCore mountain bike helmet is shipped with an action camera mount that attaches to the top of the helmet via a velcro strap. The mount lacks a metal threaded nut to accept the threads of the pin, so you’ll need to source an additional nut to secure the camera in place. I haven’t tested this feature as I feel the weight of a GoPro atop the helmet would only exacerbate the issue with the retention system.

lazer jackal kineticore with 40 lumen rear light

Five of the six new KinetiCore helmets, including the Vento and Strada road helmets, feature a mount for Lazer’s new Universal LED. On the Jackal, the light attaches to the helmet via the retention system dial. You simply push it in and twist it 90° clockwise to secure. 

lazer jackal kineticore with accessory removable universal led rear light

The light comprises a set of 4 LEDs with a light sensor and a motion sensor. There are no fewer than five modes to choose from, the most powerful of which (Boost) produces a solid 40 Lumen light. “Safe” is a pulsing 5 Lumen light, “Pulse” is a pulsing 20 Lumen light, “Move” is a 40 Lumen flashing light activated when movement is detected during day or night, and “Night” is a 20 Lumen pulsing light activated when the LED is in motion at night.

The Universal LED is USB rechargeable, said to be fully recharged after just 1 hour. It is sold separately, RRP to be confirmed.

Jackal KinetiCore Pros

  • Very well ventilated
  • Well-padded one-piece comfort liner
  • Lightweight
  • Good coverage for an open-face helmet
  • Removable rear light

Jackal KinetiCore Cons

  • Helmet’s position shifts while riding (not experienced by test editor in North America)
  • Head belt pressure points

Pricing & Availability

The Lazer Jackal KinetiCore mountain bike helmet is available now in sizes S-XL, certified to CE-CPSC and AS safety standards. It retails at $219.99 USD and is available in no fewer than eight colorways.

Lazersport.us

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WhateverBikes
1 month ago

I understand the focus was on the KinetiCore system here, but come on, how can you write a review of this helmet and not mention the ridiculous position of the visor?
Have people really gotten used to the dumb look of visors placed on top of the helmet?

Niko
Niko
1 month ago
Reply to  WhateverBikes

My understanding is the high visor position is so you can keep your goggles on the helmet. Usually the visor is adjustable and can be lowered to a practical glare-reducing height if you’re not encumbered with goggles.

Chader
Chader
1 month ago
Reply to  Niko

Yup, this visor is adjustable and can have a very “normal” low position. It is visible on the Lazer site, specifically with the Matte Blue Green colorway in their official pictures.

So, it’s just that BR chose not to focus on the adjustment or show the visor in the more normal position that many like.