Bern has revamped some of their bike protection offerings with the new series of light, angularly-shaped & well-vented helmets all based on their new common FL-1 platform. First announced in late 2015, we got a closer look and some more details back in December of three different & updated versions for both road & trail. Our test helmets – this white FL-1 Trail and a black FL-1 Pavé MIPS – cover the wide breadth of the new FL-1 range, which replaces the outgoing Morrisons. With the Trail model starting at just $70 and the Pavé ringing up at $120, both share the same styling, ventilation, and in-mold shell. Come past the break to see how these new lids ride…
The new Trail helmet is relatively lightweight (our medium test size weighed in at 271g) and offers plenty of ventilation with 18 vents in total. The chin strap is easily adjusted and features a traditional click buckle situated under the rider’s chin. The Y-strap buckles slide back and forth smoothly to fit around the rider’s ears, though our tester did experience them slipping down over time. The visor does not offer any adjustability but is a simple yet effective piece.
The low-priced Trail version (white above) of the FL-1 line drops the 360° Boa cable retention system found on the higher end models (black, above right), and instead uses Bern’s Crank Fit Velo system. The Crank Fit setup is a more conventional dial wheel pulling a pair of plastic straps that still gives 270° of adjustability; it was quick and offered a good deal of security, even without the chin strap fastened.
While Bern offers a few models of the FL-1 line with the internal MIPS basket liner (yellow, above right) the Trail skips that for cost savings at $70. (The $130 FL-1 XC model is the MIPS version of the Trail). Vertical adjustment of both the Crank Fit and Boa helmets works by snapping into the EPS insert with 4 different levels that should fit most people’s heads (visible, above left). While this is somewhat more cumbersome than a slidable basket, it’s not an adjustment that should need to be made often, and does stay put. Using a more basic retention and dropping MIPS, the Trail shaves 30 bucks off the cheapest version of the FL-1 last year, which is nice. Despite the relatively spare padding when compared to the higher end MIPS model, the Trail was comfortable to wear for long rides of 3-4 hours, and both helmets show little wear after several months of use.
Riding with the Trail offers plenty of ventilation and an unobstructed field of view. Our main criticism was that, while the shape of the helmet looked like it was going to offer a large amount of rear coverage, it sits rather high on the wearer’s head, so does not offer the best protection down to the base of the skull at the neck, or around the ears.
Bern got us a medium MIPS version as well to test and compare back-to-back, but the fit just wasn’t there for us. And our tester needed to size up to a large once MIPS was added in. To us it seems like both mediums use the identical EPS and in-mold shell, but then the MIPS liner sits inside taking up a bit of the available volume. That was enough that it didn’t fit our tester’s 57.5cm head, even though both are quoted for the same 55.5-59cm size range. We’ve heard secondhand from a couple of people who ride the same size in both variants, but our feeling is that riders interested in MIPS varieties will most likely need to size up, even though the Bern size chart indicates the same size range for both MIPS and regular models.
FL-1 Pavé with MIPS
Riding with a large version of the $120 MIPS-equipped Pavé similarly offers a wide field of view and is equally comfortable. The large MIPS helmet does offer slightly more side and rear protection than the medium regular lid, though neither comes as low in the back as one might expect when looking at it on the shelf. Like on the Trail, the Y-strap buckles of the Pavé tend to slide down over time, and will need to be slid back up every 3-4 rides. Maybe as the webbing gets worn more over time that will happen less and less. The Boa system does offer better fine adjustment of the head basket, and the higher end version’s pads are a bit softer. Ventilation is adequate in either, and the MIPS liner doesn’t seem to hamper airflow enough for us to notice (although the heat of summer hasn’t arrived yet.)
Overall, the FL-1 lineup promises solid ventilation, low weight, and sharp looks at a decent value. You can find all versions of the FL-1: Trail, XC and the Pavé – online now and at Bern dealers.