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New Gear: Uvex Helmets and Sunglasses

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Jun. 1, 2011
  • Updated Oct. 12, 2012 at 12:57 PM EDT

Lennard Zinn Tests Uvex

The name Uvex is an acronym for “UV Exclusion,” as the company’s first product was sunglasses, and the German firm’s roots run deep in protecting people.

Currently, two thirds of the Uvex’s business is devoted to workplace safety — specifically to eye protection. A third of the company is devoted to sports, making helmets, sunglasses and goggles for cycling, ski racing, car racing, and equestrian events. Located in Fürth, Germany, the company was founded in 1926 and is still family-owned — by the grandson of the founder.

“Uvex helmets are famous for perfect fit,” said Mario Kummer, head of Uvex’s cycling division and an Olympic gold medalist (1988 team time trial) and support rider on Telekom for Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis, at a product introduction in Sedona, Arizona. “They have been a bit heavier than some of our competitors due to our focus on safety.”

Because of the chinstrap latch, I find Uvex helmets to be the easiest helmet to adapt between hot and cold temperatures. Ventilation is good for hot days, and it’s a snap to adjust the strap length to fit a warm cap or a Buff underneath when temperatures drop. I took advantage of all of the Uvex Sport Boss’s fit features during the recent trip to Sedona.

The “FAS” chinstrap is easy to adjust because the “Monomatic comfort closure” latches at any of a number of clicks along a ladder to fit more or less under the helmet without having to fiddle around with the strap length; you just slide the buckle together to the point you want and it latches in that position. Release is with a big red button. A nice pad surrounds the strap under the chin and retains the excess length.

The IAS 3D+ adjustment system around the head has a simple dial in back to twist one way or the other to get the perfect fit around the head and to adjust to a cap or a Buff underneath it as the temperature drops. The IAS 3D+ plastic head-encircling ring also adjusts up and down relative to the helmet shell to seven different click positions.

“Since pads get wet, can be uncomfortable and they limit airflow,” says Kummer, “we made a fit system that doesn’t require changing pads.”

The adjustments are so simple and numerous, that having only two shell sizes (52-56, 55-60) seems plenty. I have a tall, long, and narrow head that often causes problems with helmet fit, but this helmet fits perfectly with or without a cap underneath. To fit a Uvex helmet, you simply pull the fit band down to its lowest position and release the knob in back fully. Then you put in on your head, tighten the knob partially, and push the band up to position the adjusting knob in back in the right position for the particular bike you are riding (you may prefer a different position for it in the more upright position on a mountain bike than in your road position, for instance). Then tighten the knob to comfort. Finally, slide the buckle together to the chinstrap length position you want, and you’re ready to ride with a fully-adjusted helmet in a matter of seconds.

The top of the line FP3 road/MTB helmet (small, removable visor) has a full rigid cage molded into the EPS foam like a roll cage in a race car; it provides broad force distribution. Due to the internal cage, the density of the foam could be decreased while still providing great safety, yielding a very good weight of 260 grams for the latest model, which will be out in June. The helmets are made in Germany along the Austrian border, “a nice 250km bike ride away,” according to Kummer.

Helmet for Cams

Uvex Ultrasonic Helmet

The new Ultrasonic MTB helmet replacing the Supersonic has an adaptor plate to secure the studs of a headlight or a Go-Pro video camera right into the top of the helmet without requiring a clamp piece from the inside of the helmet. It has a vibration damper in it for smoother video and a release feature to let go of the camera on hard impact to avoid damaging the camera or the helmet.

Indeed, Kummer ran right into a low tree branch with a Go-Pro camera mounted on his Ultrasonic helmet while we were riding together in Sedona. The camera was knocked off into the sand, sustaining no damage, and the retaining pins stayed with the adaptor plate on the camera that mates with the helmet’s internal adaptor; Kummer just snapped the camera right back onto the helmet and kept filming.

The shell and foam are “double inmolded,” meaning that the upper part of the shell and the lower part of the shell are both molded together with the foam, resulting in an integrated structure. Uvex helmets also feature a bug screen behind the front four vents.

Shades

The extensive Uvex sunglass line is now enhanced with a new “Variomatic” light-sensitive lens option. Where lenses that lightened or darkened in response to light levels traditionally responded to variations in incoming (invisible) UV light, the new Variomatic lens responds to visible light. It is not always true that on bright days, UV transmission is also high, or vice versa. And where older photochromic lenses tended to get dark at cold temperatures, the Variomatic one does not.

Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Lennard Zinn.

Technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (www.zinncycles.com), a former U.S. national team rider and author of numerous books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” – now available also on DVD, and “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” as well as “Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes” and “Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.”

Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.

Follow Lennard on Twitter.

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Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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