Kask Protone (Paul Smith Blue Gradient edition)
Have you ever experienced the phenomenon where, having just picked up a new car from the dealer, you suddenly seem to notice everyone else on the road is driving the same car? Scientists call it the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or sometimes frequency illusion or recency illusion. Basically, because something is front of mind (your new car), you’re more attuned to focusing on it when you’re out and about.
Science lesson over, but I thought it was a relevant one given my experiences since treating myself to the new Kask Protone Paul Smith blue gradient edition cycling helmet. Suddenly, as if by magic, my social media feeds and my bike rides are filled with people wearing Protones!
Clearly, it’s a very popular helmet.
And, if my own experience, is anything to go by, with very good reason.
To be honest, I have more than enough cycling helmets already. I bought the Paul Smith edition purely because I love the new ‘blue gradient’ colourway and thought it would match more than a couple of sets of cycling kit in my wardrobe (the cycling-specific wardrobe, naturally!). I wasn’t a fan of the previous Paul Smith purple colourway, but this new one is really striking, in my opinion.
I wasn’t really buying it for its lightness. Although immediately upon unboxing it, I was struck at just how light it is (209g compared to 283g for a Giant Pursuit in the same size). You can’t quite employ the ‘you forget you’re wearing it’ cliché, but it’s close.
I also wasn’t buying it for its aerodynamic properties, although on closer inspection (and in real world experience), it’s clear this sits firmly at the ‘aero road’ end of the helmet spectrum. My own experience is that I managed to equal a PB on a local training route wearing the Protone (it definitely didn’t hurt the time, anyway!).
I have to say that I like the overall look of the helmet. It still looks fairly futuristic despite being first unveiled at the Tour de France way back in 2014 (and I guess it’s in the process of being superseded by the new Kask Utopia). I’m a fan of the rounded enclosed back and I find the vent design aesthetically pleasing. Very subject, of course, but it’s all ultimately about personal choice.
So far, for an English summer, I’ve found the ventilation to be more than adequate. It hasn’t stopped me sweating, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m overheating wearing it, either. The sweat absorption of the brow pad is pretty good, but I still get some sweat down the inside of my glasses when I’m working hard (have yet to find a helmet that prevents this, so am not marking the Protone down for that). And it’s very comfortable. The cradle works well, if a little fiddly.
In terms of the ‘mushroom head’ scale, I think the Protone works fairly well on my bonce. Not as sleek at the Bontrager Ballista, but definitely less bulbous than something like a Lazer Z1 or Giant Pursuit.
One thing I’m not a huge fan of is the leather(ette?) chin strap. It’s a ‘luxury’ I don’t need on an aero / racing helmet. From looking at photos of Team Sky, it seems that their Protones have normal webbing chin straps. I’d have preferred that. Not that the leather is uncomfortable, it just feels a bit ‘urban commuter’ rather than ‘peloton racer’ to me.
At £220 RRP (although I believe you can find good discounts online or visit the duty-free Paul Smith shops at Heathrow!) for the Paul Smith editions, this particular Kask Protone isn’t cheap. But overall, I have to say I’m very happy with it.
A distinctive and effective lightweight aero road helmet at a price.
Could be a good choice for triathletes, road racers or time trialists who only have the budget for a single helmet to suit both training and racing.