MET launched their latest range of road helmets at last year’s Tour de France with the Manta and Rivale. The launch couldn’t have been more successful, with British rider Steve Cummings winning Stage 14 in Mende with specially painted helmets celebrating Mandela Day – a truly special day for his African-based MTN-Qhubeka squad.
That day, Cummings was wearing the Rivale however, we have the more aero, closed version, the Manta to test. Our PR Manager, Chris Snook, gives his verdict…
Quite simply, that it looks great. It has a unique shape which to me is important, but it’s not quite as marmite as helmets from brands such as POC or Catlike. Nor does it look like a mushroom – I’m looking at you, Air Attack. I’m especially a fan of the gloss on matt graphic layup of the black helmet I have here. For those who prefer a bit more colour, there is an alternative black helmet with fluo yellow graphic and blue EPS foam inner, or white with blue. On my first ride out with the helmet I was stopped by a fellow cyclist complimenting me on it. A complete first for me! Well done MET.
This helmet is light. MET claim the size Medium (I was testing the Large) to weigh 200g. Surprisingly light for a ‘closed’ helmet, but even more surprising is that it’s 30g lighter than it’s ‘open’ sister helmet, the Rivale – go figure!
Initial impressions aside, how does this helmet perform?
This helmet is very easy to fit – adjusting the straps to sit below my ears and to fit snugly under my chin took less than a minute. Dialling in the fit with the cage was also straightforward – adjusting the micro dial to get a good, secure fit. The spacing between clicks means you don’t have to compromise between slightly too tight, or a tad too loose. The helmet also features a four stage height adjustment. This wasn’t clear when first fitting the helmet and you have to be brave in giving the lower part of the cage a good pull. Adjusting the height of the cage can make a real difference in comfort, so give it a try. I stuck with the default ‘lower’ setting.
For an aero helmet, ventilation is impressive. While the Manta is by no means an airy helmet, the forward facing vents and internal channelling do a great job ensuring air flows efficiently through the helmet. I’ve worn open helmets in the past which haven’t provided as good an internal flow and similarly, I have used aero helmets that have seem to trap air inside the helmet creating a strange ‘lift’ at speed. The MET Manta impressed. The more open, Rivale however, may be worth considering should you be planning to ride in the heat or at lower speeds where air flow passing through the helmet may be restricted.
Does the helmet feel fast?
It might sounds like a strange question, but surely you must be able to tell the difference between an aero and a non-aero lid. I’d love to be able to say yes, you can. However, no, you can’t. I have found that some aero helmets in the past are quieter to ride in giving the sense that they are efficiently cutting through the air. The Manta however, was pretty ordinary in this regard (although we have had some particularly windy conditions during my testing). What I personally find however, is that wearing an aero helmet does give a perceived advantage mentally. When I’m racing and attacking with my head down, I feel comfortable knowing that my helmet is helping me…albeit a mere 10 watts at 50kph in the case of the Manta. Sometimes that mental advantage is far more significant than any weight saving or aero gain.
If I was to fault the Manta for one thing, it would be a lack of eyewear docking options – the lack of vents means the only place to store you glasses is on the back of your head – only really a problem in the rain, when climbing or choosing between the coffee cake or caramel slice in the coffee shop… still, it’s a consideration for some.
However, I have fallen for this helmet. Not only would I recommend one to a friend, but I’d buy one myself. I’ve been rather spoilt over the years with various different helmets, but the MET Manta has become my go-to choice.