Another new kid on the block

Ruroc Atlas 3.0

Words and pictures by Simon Bradley

Ruroc are a new name on the market, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking them seriously. They cut their teeth in the competitive and ruthlessly fickle world of skiing, becoming known as an innovative and high quality supplier. In fact they only branched into bike helmets because of pressure from their existing customer base along the lines of "I want to wear this helmet on my bike as well but it's illegal - could you make one that isn't, please?" After some pretty extensive and staggeringly fast R&D they've come out swinging, with their own manufacturing facility (rather than using generic, legacy factories), rigid quality control and an interesting approach to the market. Rather than having a bewildering array of helmets they have two - the Atlas 3.0 and the Beserker. The Beserker is what they call a "dual sport" design - it's not a full blown off-roader but has enough off-road features to make it appropriate on a GS or whatever. And there's this, their proper road helmet, the Atlas 3.0. There is an Atlas 2.0 - still supported for spares and so on but you'll not be able to buy one new - and presumably there was an Atlas 1.0 at one point as well. Ruroc also offer a wide range of accessories - thicker cheek pieces and liner, plugs for the vents if it gets too chilly (or noisy), tinted, clear, mirrored or iridium visors and a bluetooth module.

The Atlas 3.0, as I said earlier, has just the one model. It’s an angular, post-modern sort of thing and actually rather stylish. Ruroc offer a vast range of designs, mainly featuring variations on the theme of teeth, as well as this – a plain black. The beauty, of course, is that the plain design shows off the very nice carbon fibre weave. Because yes, the Atlas 3.0 is carbon fibre, and it shows in the weight. But let’s rewind a bit.

The Atlas 3.0 arrives in beautiful box, and includes a very good quality helmet bag, smoked and clear visors (with an extremely useful visor bag) and a pinlock insert. Lifting the helmet out, first impressions are very good indeed.  It’s light but solid feeling, the carbon weave is neat and uniform, and the lacquer has a beautiful deep gloss. The visor fittings are simple and neat, and the visor mechanism is positive.

Put the helmet on and revel in the new-lid smell. It’s a cosy fit but comfortable. The catch is very weird. It’s magnetic, and while it does rather smack of a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, it’s easy enough to use after the first head-scratching and it’s actually extremely effective. I don’t see any way that the helmet could come off unintentionally, which is definitely A Good Thing. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Atlas 3.0 does not have an ACU sticker as a result of the catch design. While for most people that won’t be a problem, if you’re a trackday fan then this will stop you being allowed on track, assuming the scrutineers notice. One other thing worth noting is that the emergency tags, which allow the cheek pieces to be pulled out and therefore make it easier for someone to remove in an, um, emergency are very clear and easy to recognise. Now having spoken with Ruroc and taken them to task about the catch, the logic is actually more apparent than i thought. The catch is actually a requested feature from their customer base. The Beserker has a conventional Double-D fastening... and it's not popular. The magnetic catch is easy to work with gloves on, it's intuitive after the first couple of goes and there is absolutely no way it will come open unless you mean it to. Whether it's something that will eventually be adopted by everyone is open to debate. But it's definitely an innovation rather than a gimmick.

Using the helmet really shows that it’s a modern design. The aperture is enormous and visibility through the very high quality pre-curved visor is excellent. The Atlas 3.0 is extremely quiet, and remains so even at significant speeds. It’s also very stable – there’s no buffeting that I noticed and my neck got a pretty easy time. Ventilation is good and there was no sign of the visor steaming up. Nor, happily, did I get any water running down the inside when it rained, as I’ve had with other helmets in the past.

Ruroc offer a modular Bluetooth unit which goes inside the back of the helmet. Like a car, the helmet is pre-wired for mic and speakers, which is great as it makes sure you don't end up running wires where they shouldn't go and compromising safety. The back of the helmet, at the base, has a magnetic cover. Remove it and two wires are exposed in a hole. Plug the wires into the bluetooth module (they can only go the right way) and slide it in. It clicks into place on the magnetic (of course) retainers. Then plug the mic and speaker into the socket hiding behind the right cheekpiece and attach them to the pre-placed velcro. Do the same with the speaker on the left. Charge it up with the supplied (and very standard) USB cable and you're ready to go. It pairs easily (at least with an iPhone) and sound quality is good enough, even through earplugs. I wouldn't recommend it for an important business meeting unless you're going very slowly though, as there's, um, quite a lot of background noise at anything over legal, non-filtering town speeds. Then again, personally I think one of the best things about being on the bike is that I'm unreachable, so for me that's A Good Thing. Being able to hear directions from Google Maps is a major plus, in spite of my reservations. And perhaps music on a long journey might be welcome as well - I'm unconvinced either way.

The Ruroc Atlas 3.0 has some really good design features, and overall it’s a great lid. There are some quirks, though – the magnetic catch as I mentioned before, the fact that the adjuster for the chinpiece vent is inside the chinpiece so quite tricky to use when you’re wearing the helmet, and the visor fittings, while easy to use and secure, do give me a little concern about their longevity. There's no doubt, though, that Ruroc have thought about this helmet carefully and the level of engagement from their design and management team, the genuine interest they take in feedback, makes me think that they're genuinely serious players in the arena.

But I tell you what. It’s a nicely made, well presented helmet. It’s light, quiet and has excellent visibility in all weathers. It’s stylish, it has lots of useful and sensible features and it’s just £450. While that’s not a budget helmet by any means, it’s also cheaper than most big-name carbon helmets and looks to me to be spectacularly good value. To date it's one of the best helmets I've used and I would actually consider spending my own money on one when I need to replace my current lid. I can't say much fairer than that...









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