You cannot put a price on safety, especially when it comes to protecting the ole brain box. But when you start considering the hundreds of dollars difference between two products meeting the same standard of safety, you know something else is going on there and, unless you’re financially independent or pro, you’ll have to draw a line somewhere.
When your budget’s on the line it’s like they say: light, durable, inexpensive — pick two (and be happy). And when it comes to helmets, add on breathable, stylish, and trick, and $400 later, voila, you can get all six! As for us simple folk, we’ll decide on a few of the most important factors, live without the rest, and afford to keep the roof over our heads. The latter scenario is what you’ll find in this review of the Lazer Phoenix full face helmet–not mind-bending in any particular feature, but provides piece of mind in the way it works on the trail while allowing you to keep those stacks fat.
The Phoenix is CPSC certified and meets ASTM-F1952 specifications required for downhill mountain biking. A fiberglass composite embodies the expanded polystyrene (EPS) padding followed by a plush and easily-removable liner. Within the EPS body, Lazer employs its Rigidity Brace System (RBS), comparable to a race car’s roll cage. In the event of a crash, the RBS holds cracked pieces together, offering some form of protection. To be clear, this brace system does not guarantee the helmet’s effectiveness after a crash, and every helmet that has taken a hit and has visible dents and/or cracks should be replaced.
I tested a large, sized for 58-60cm heads and, for reference, my bean measures exactly 59.5cm. The Phoenix fits equally as well as my personal full face, the Giro Cipher, which I decided on solely based on optimal fit when comparing seven different helmets at my disposal.
The strap on the Phoenix is one of the slickest I’ve seen. Pulling away the cheek pads reveals the bolted insertion point followed by a plush pad spanning the length of the nylon webbing. The strap threads through a burly double D-ring and snaps back on itself, keeping things nice and tidy. Release of the strap is made easy with a small pull-tab sewn on one of the rings.
Provided the Phoenix fits like a full face should, Lazer’s Multiple Thickness Padding will not disappoint your dome. I did find the inner liner to be a bit spongy as opposed to higher-end helmets that use moisture wicking materials. Lazer advertises six vents which, although on the low side, surprisingly manages to keep the high temperatures at bay. I would imagine the lean overall weight also has something to do with the helmet’s ability to manage heat. For reference, the Phoenix’s 980 grams (size medium) is one of the lightest full facers certified for downhill. The chin guard may come in a bit close for some folks, but the mouthpiece has ample ventilation to alleviate that small swarming swirl of carbon dioxide.
The visor is adjustable and replaceable using three alloy (thank you Lazer) bolts. Both the inner liner and cheek pads are secured by a set of plastic snaps, making routine care and maintenance a breeze. Rubber gaskets seal the jaw line and field-of-view opening, which I found helpful when setting the helmet down on rough surfaces and keeping goggle placement in check.
Through Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), Lazer offers a one-year warranty for the Phoenix on manufacturer defects and a crash replacement policy that offers a reduced price on a new helmet. As far as I know, there are no aftermarket visors available, but QBP can probably get you a replacement screw, if needed.
The Lazer Phoenix ventilates better than the numbers suggest and is as comfortable as helmets that cost twice as much. The Phoenix offers excellent peripheral vision, works very well with goggles, includes some metal bits where it counts, and with a burly double-D ring strap system, you’ll never fumble with fixating, even with gloves.
While there are plenty of full facers out there with exhaustive features like POV camera mounts, earbud pockets, aftermarket visors, and transforming characteristics, what many cannot offer is a price that won’t exhaust your funds. If you need the knickknacks, it’s probably best to look elsewhere, but if you can live with a comfortable, lightweight, low-profile, stylish helmet that is just as certified as any higher-end offering, the Lazer Phoenix is unlikely to disappoint.
Sizing and Colors
The Phoenix is available in XS (52-54cm), S (54-56cm), M (56-58cm), and L (58-50cm, tested), and comes in four other, slightly-more-subdued colors, maintaining the same motocross steez–red, green, blue, or black.
Thanks to Lazer for providing the Phoenix for review.