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Safety Labs E-Bahn 2.0 'MIPS' Urban In Mold Helmet
 Black 314g Medium as Tested £64.99

The Safety Labs E-Bahn 2.0 “MIPS” Urban In Mold Helmet in Black is a bit of a mouthful but get beyond that and there’s a surprisingly capable helmet. One with scope beyond city limits. Sure, the aesthetic might not be to everyone’s tastes, and I wouldn’t be recommending it for racing, but I’ve been surprised by how airy and unobtrusive it’s felt at higher speeds and longer distances: on and, indeed, off road.

Pros: Good specification, subtle styling flatters street clothing better than some, good ventilation.

Cons: Shallower peak is both friend and foe, exposed EPS rim.

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Materials & Specification

Some of what I’d expect as bog standard but a fair few I wouldn’t. In terms of the bog standard, we’re talking in mould construction (where polycarbonate shell and EPS liner are fused together), 15 vents, shallow integrated peak. In common with other helmets at this price point, the polycarbonate doesn’t extend around the rim, potentially leaving it vulnerable to accidental knocks and dings. While we’re here, if matt black is too stealthy, grey, white and neon are the alternatives. 

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Compliant with CE1078, MIPS technology is less common. MIPS has been adopted by approximately 121 brands and stands for “Multi Impact Protection System”. Probably best thought of as a roll cage for the head, it’s a slip liner tethered to but independent of the helmet. Reckoned to provide 10-15mm rotational movement, this means less impact to the brain. 

Debate rages as to whether MIPS offers uniformly improved outcomes, given every crash is different and it’s no substitute for a precision fit. That said; everything being equal, it is reckoned that a MIPS helmet offers a 10% improvement in safety. Traditionally, MIPS meant a less airy helmet as the “slip liner” sandwiched between the EPS liner and pads blocked some of the vents.

This version is the MIPS EVOLVE, which supposedly addresses any minor shortcomings with fit and ventilation associated with the first generation.

On a related note, there’s a good argument against mounting Action Cameras on helmets, since these can also have injury implications in a crash. Talking of which, the shape will still entertain some high-power trail type lights, including the SIGMA BUSTER 2000 although less accommodating than those with more trail heritage, such as Lazer’s Chameleon .

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The Pro 360 dial at the rear translate as a thumbwheel for fine tuning fit and sems every bit as intuitive as everyone else’s. The chin strap features a refined and tactile pad and a quick release, magnetic ITW buckle.

Elsewhere, we’ve a removable, 9 mode rechargeable LED rear light. According to Safety Labs, it produces 20 lumens and reckoned sufficiently powerful for both night and daylight contexts. We’re told the 3.7v lithium-ion cell is good for 1000 charges and meets IPX5 for weather resistance.  It’s certainly sleek and a welcome addition, although very much a secondary light. Subtle, yet effective retroreflective detailing along the chin straps is another welcome touch.

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Colour and shade play their part when it comes to shape too. The softer, rounded shape is another welcome touch on a commuter orientated helmet since it blends nicely with street smarts and yet in my view still cuts it with more technical riding apparel - gravel and XC mtb in particular.  Despite feeling really solid - like you could be fired from a cannon - our medium tips the scales at a very respectable 314g. Some felt a bug net was a missed opportunity and though I see this argument, these can sometimes trap buzzy gate crashers too. Safety Labs felt it wasn’t adding anything to the design and compromised airflow, hence it doesn’t feature. 

Sizing/Adjustment 4/5

Despite my comments about MIPS and its potential influences over sizing and fit, I’m pleased to report our medium (54-57) was bang on for me. Enough adjustment to accommodate caps of all genres, from winter “Belgian” types to water repelling and breathable models, such as the Showers Pass Elite Cycling Cap  not to mention really thin, packable summer models such as this Buff Pack . As with most lids these days, ours was good to go in a minute and the big thumbwheel's a cinch to tweak on the fly and wearing middleweight full-finger gloves.  By contrast, I found releasing the quick release buckle a little counter intuitive to begin with, although this improved with use. 

Performance 3.75/5 

The Safety Labs E-Bahn 2.0 “MIPS” Urban In Mold Helmet is another well rounded model that performs in good proportion. Though less airy than some, the thirteen vents do a decent job of bringing cooling air through- this was particularly apparent at higher speeds. During the first few weeks, temperatures were in single figures, and I could really feel the wind racing through the Showers Pass Elite cap but think comfortable, not chill, even along 1 in 7 descents at 28-30mph. 

At this pace, there’s a little more wind noise but nothing intrusive to impair conversation , dull awareness of approaching traffic, or similar hazards. 

Though not quite as airy as the Lazer Chameleon when temperatures hit the low 20’s but I've still been able to cruise along at a steady 20-23mph without boiling my brains, although worth saying I’d switched to the thinner Buff Pack  at these temperatures. The vents are also a little smaller, so gives a little grace, should you get caught in an unexpectedly sharp shower. 

The shallow peak gives a better aesthetic with street clothing and good enough round town where it offers some protection from dust and strong sunlight. Again, it doesn’t obscure peripheral vision when checking left to right, or indeed over the shoulder. However, I’ve found a cap was the way forward on longer, open road rides and indeed, off road. 

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Talking of which, I’ve racked up a fair few miles through dirt roads and bridlepaths and for the most part, it’s competent here too but again, I’ve needed a cap beneath to offer the right level of protection from harsh sunlight and the inevitable clash with foliage. I prefer bikes to do the carrying but I’m also pleased to report there’s been no compatibility hassles with cycling specific rucksacks, including this Oxford Aqua Evo 12 Litre Backpack  and messenger bags, or indeed hydration packs.

On long, dark rides, I’ve added a retro reflective band for some more presence and though the 9-function rear light is no substitute for a decent bike mounted offering, the choice of sequencing and positioning mean it stands out. Anecdotally, approaching riders reckoned 60-80 metres on a clear night, a trucker asking directions reckoned they could spot it at 40 metres through town. Similarly, daylight prowess is best when its dull/overcast. Overall, it’s a worthwhile part of the package, and running from rechargeable lithium-ion cell, no issues with forgotten and leaking button batteries. 

Durability/Care 3.75/5

Ours has shrugged at the usual, everyday accidental carelessness. It’s taken direct hits from stones thrown up along unmade roads, stray branches with no evidence in the shell, or lining. In common with other matt finishes, six weeks and changeable weather earned it a quick helping of matt “polish” and given a heatwave struck, the pads were beginning to emit a low-level funk two hundred miles later. A quick blast of anti-bacterial spray cured that before it joined me for a sudsy shower a few rides later down the line.

Value 4/5

£64.99 for this level of specification is rather good going. Yes, there are some minor compromises as I mentioned in my opening paragraph but that’s the same for others at this end of the market. Probably its closest comparator in terms of spec and genre is the Lazer Chameleon MIPS, which is £10 dearer and has an edge if you were looking toward a gravel and trail lid, commuter second. However, its adjustment dial is a little trickier to adjust on the move, especially in full finger gloves. Bell Trace MIPS is another contender and with a slightly more trail flavour. It also meets both CE1078 and CPSC safety standards. £79.99 rrp (presently discounted to £74.99). 

Summary

The Safety Labs E-Bahn 2.0 “MIPS” Urban In Mold Helmet in Black has taken me pleasantly by surprise. It leans to commuting first but doesn’t feel built to a price and for the most part, the ventilation and other features mean it performs surprisingly well in wider riding contexts. 

Verdict: 4/5 Competent and competitively priced helmet with scope beyond commuting.

 

Michael Stenning

 

Bob Elliot Co Ltd - Suppliers of high quality bicycle supplies to registered traders (bob-elliot.co.uk)

PUBLISHED JULY 2023

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