LAZER COYOTE KINETICORE HELMET REVIEW
Words & Photos by Dario DiGiulio
A helmet might not be the most exciting new purchase to make, but considering just how fast modern bikes allow us to go, it’s probably one of the smartest things you can buy for your ride. The past few years have seen a flurry of development when it comes to new safety technology, and it now seems like every brand has their own take on the best tech for you and your dome. Lazer has been honing their helmet designs over the past few generations, resulting in the new and improved Coyote KinetiCore lid, which promises protection and function at a reasonable price. With so many solid options popping up these days, how does the Coyote differentiate itself from the pack?
The Coyote is Lazer’s mid-tier mountain bike helmet, hitting an appropriately mid-tier price of $109.99. There are a lot of options in this range, but Lazer has packed an impressive amount of tech into this nicely designed, 340-gram lid (size medium).
Central to Lazer’s approach is their proprietary KinetiCore technology, which is a direct-impact and rotational protection system that utilizes the foam construction of the helmet itself. Essentially, they’ve carved away much of the foam in the interior shell, leaving a bunch of small foam protrusions that support the adjustment system and your head. In the event of an impact, these foam pieces can shear, hopefully saving your precious little brain. If you’re interested in learning more about the KinetiCore system, Lazer has developed a nice infographic site that paints a clear picture of just how the technology works.
Other touchpoints on the helmet are nice and refined, with ease of adjustment and durability in mind. The adjustable cradle uses a simple ratcheting dial, and can shift up or down while on your head which makes it much easier to hone in on the correct fit. The chin strap uses a magnetic buckle, which is one of those things that seems like an unnecessary detail until you use it – I only want to use helmets that have this feature now. Lazer also makes a clever little LED light that mounts directly to the rear of the helmet, providing a bit of extra safety should you be riding home after enjoying the sunset.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, the Coyote’s safety features have been proven out by the rigorous and standardized Virginia Tech helmet rating system. This helmet received the highest rank of 5 stars, which means it’s amongst the safest helmets you can buy based on the testing criteria.
You tend to get a pretty good sense of how a helmet fits right off the bat, with some foam shells working better for certain head shapes and sizes. For me, the Coyote fit like a glove, with my fairly neutral-oval head shape sitting comfortably in the lid. The adjustments are quick and easy to make, thanks to the fact that you don’t have to take it off to change anything. I can get the Coyote to fit tightly on my head, without any uncomfortable pressure points or slop. Like any helmet, it’s worth trying one on in person if you can but given the range of adjustment, I do think this option will fit a variety of different people quite well.
Heading out for my first ride in the Coyote, I was immediately impressed by how well the helmet vents air around your head, even while moving slowly. Some shells are stuffy unless you’re really flying, but the Lazer never felt hot, despite some warm days and heavy efforts. I think a large part of this is due to the KinetiCore construction, which uses much less foam than most other helmet designs out there. The voids in the crumple zones simply allow more air to pass around your head, making for a lighter and better venting helmet. It doesn’t hurt that there are also 21 vents placed around the shell, but I think the inside is what really counts on this design.
I’ve recently been using a lot of helmets with spherical technology, where a floating liner rotates within an outer shell, and have come to really like the protection those designs can provide. So far, I haven’t had the pleasure of crashing in the Lazer Coyote (hoping that remains the case for a while), so I don’t have any firsthand experience on how it handles impacts. That said, the little foam fingers that provide the shearing crumple zones do seem to work well, as I’ve accidentally cracked off one or two while man handling the helmet when it’s not on my head. While a bit frustrating, this strikes me as proof of concept, with the 5-star rating from Virginia Tech there to bolster my faith.
The KinetiCore’s crumple zone technology has a hidden benefit that didn’t occur to me at first, and that’s its ability to let you know when replacement is necessary. Unlike so many other helmets, where it can be hard to diagnose their damage after a crash, the foam molding of the Coyote will visibly show damage if you have a crash that’s significant enough to shear the protective layer.
All told, I’ve been so impressed by the Coyote, I have a hard time seeing why one would double down and spend a hundred dollars more on the high-end Jackal model in Lazer’s lineup. There are a few touchpoint differences worth noting, but from a safety perspective they’re quite similar. The main differences are in the exterior shell, with a more complicated construction, camera/light mount options, and a rubber gripper for goggle straps, should you need it. The ratchet dial is also a bit more adjustable, though I never found the one on the Coyote lacking. I’d say that both of these Lazer helmets are great options, but the Coyote will probably hit more people’s price point if those finer details don’t matter too much to you.
One last thing to point out is just how nice the visor on the Coyote is. It seems like a silly detail, but so many helmets now are coming with visors that either aren’t adjustable or are just so small that they simply exist for the aesthetic. The visor on the Lazer has an easy 3-position adjustment, and is big enough to actually block the sun when you’re getting out in low-angle light. As an added bonus, it looks pretty good while doing its job.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Friends of mine looking for new helmets often ask me where to go to get the best bang for their buck, and I finally have a pretty decisive answer. The Lazer Coyote strikes a solid price point, while still offering excellent safety features and finishing details. I’ve worn mine on every ride since I’ve gotten it, and while the liner has gotten a bit nasty with all that use, my feelings about the helmet haven’t strayed from totally positive since day one.