Electra Ace Urban Cycling Helmet – Review
By Sam Walsh
Nice, sharp-styled urban / commuter cycle helmet with ample head coverage and protection…
Out on test, the exact model: Electra Ace Urban Cycle Helmet, size Large (59-61cm), retail price around £59.99 and available from Electra retailers…
I’ve been meaning to try out a few possible commuter routes to my new workplace in the centre of Leeds. With that in mind, I was keen to give the Electra Ace a good first outing along the Leeds-Liverpool canal which runs close to my house, through Leeds city centre, and right by my office in Kirkstall. The ride turned into a bit more than a typical commute, but the 3hr+ out and back route to the Five Rise Locks in Bingley offered plenty of opportunity to give the ‘Ace’ a good test!
Taking it out of the box, the Ace model is typical of many modern ‘Urban’ or ‘Commuter’ style cycle helmets – with it’s mostly solid single piece shell, very round shape, and extended coverage around the front, sides and rear.
The shape and aesthetic is similar to that of traditional skate park helmets too, but it’s simple and elegant. This particular model is matt black, but with a couple of nice finishing touches in the form of a slightly glossier black ‘racing stripe’ down the middle, and an ‘ace of spades’ icon on the back.
The helmet also comes with a clip-on peak, which you can attach to the underside of the front. It adds a bit more style to the helmet, and a slight ‘sun visor’ facility too, but might not be to everyone’s taste. I didn’t actually fit the peak to the helmet for my test ride (I didn’t spot it buried in the box until afterwards!), but its there as a free accessory should you want to make use of it!
I think the understated plain black colour scheme works well for a commuter bike, especially since you might well be matching it with your work outfit or some more casual clothes – so a simple black lid will go with anything.
The adjustable dial located at the back of the head, which tightens the head restraint straps, has a simple styled “E” printed onto it, which is an elegant piece of branding. But other than that, there’s not a lot to write about on the aesthetics of the Ace. It is very much a tidy, if conservative looking design, and the whole package is finished to a high standard and would look smart with any kit.
The only thing possibly missing in terms of aesthetics is maybe the use of a bit of colour to help make you more visible on a commute. But as discussed previously – bright and fluorescent colouring might not be to everyone’s taste, and the majority of commuters and casual cyclists just want to get from one place to another without looking like a fashion disaster.
I’m happy to report that the Ace was a good fit straight out of the box. The inside of the helmet has plenty of well cushioned (and good quality-looking) padding, and the straps too appear to be of great quality and were soft around the neck and chin. I only needed to do a small amount of strap adjustment and loosen the restraint dial at the back, to quickly find my settings and feel that the helmet was ‘sat’ well on top of my head.
By nature of its quite large and round design, the Ace sits quite deep on your head, but that’s no bad thing when looking for a good helmet to ride in traffic. I certainly felt confident that my head was well protected on all sides by the Ace.
At the other end of the spectrum, and for comparison, a lot of the road race style cycle helmets I’ve used previously tend to not offer as much side or rear protection (often in favour of minimising weight and size, and increasing air circulation). I did wonder if my head might get a bit sweaty in the Ace while riding for a few hours, especially since it only has a few vent holes at the top (comparatively less than a typical road race helmet, say). However I didn’t notice or suffer any overheating issues, and actually the Ace did a good job insulating my head since the test ride was conducted on a cold December morning at around 0-2 degrees Celsius.
“Easy to fasten”
One particularly interesting and unique feature of the Electra Ace is its magnetic locking clip on the chinstrap. Electra call this their “Fidlock” buckle, and its different from the typical plastic push together buckles which you get on other helmets and luggage straps. The Fidlock buckle makes use of a magnetic clip and the big benefit of it is that you can operate it with just one hand. It took me maybe 10-20 seconds to figure it out the first time, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite easy to fasten and unfasten the strap with one hand. Quite useful and a nice design feature!
Throughout the ride the Ace was very comfortable and stayed firmly in place once I had it set up. The one issue I did encounter, though, was with the ‘boa’ style circular dial at the back which tightens the plastic ‘cage’ type restraint inside the helmet.
These same circular dials are commonplace on a lot of helmets these days and they’re very easy to adjust while on the move. However the dial on the Ace helmet is quite large and sits proud (sticks out quite a bit), and is also quite sensitive to being knocked. What this meant was that when riding hunched over and with any significant amount of kit on (e.g. a cycling jacket) – I found that if I looked up and turned my head to either side, the dial sometimes caught on the clothing across my shoulders and would loosen.
This was a bit of a pain – essentially if I was riding hunched over and with any arch in my neck, every now and then when I turned my head the dial would snag and loosen, and then I’d have to tighten it up again. Thankfully tightening it back up again was a quick one-handed job, which you can do easily while still on the move, but a bit of a design flaw nonetheless.
As a racing cyclist I do tend to ride in a more aggressive position, which puts me hunched over and makes me prone to this particular design snag. I imagine for many people though, and particularly those who ride in a more upright position – they may never even come across the issue.
Overall, a smart helmet with good coverage, ideal for commuting or casual cycling, but maybe not suited for those who ride an aggressive / race position on their bike.
Solid ‘urban / commuter’ style helmet with ample head coverage and unique magnetic strap lock.
HIGHS: Good fit. Very comprehensive wrap-around coverage of head. Unique magnetic locking clip on the chinstraps which requires just one hand to operate.
LOWS: Some issues with the rear strap restraint dial snagging on clothing and coming loose at times.
BUY IF: You want a clean looking, sharp styled cycle helmet for casual urban riding or commuting, which offers a bit more coverage and protection than a traditional road racer’s helmet.
The Electra ‘Ace’ Urban Cycling Helmet is £59.99 – to find your nearest retailer visit: locator.electrabike.com