Uvex Supersonic RS Review

by Brian Mullin on March 7, 2010

The uvex (pronounced ew-vex) Supersonic rs helmet has been my loyal companion for quite a while now, and I have found it to be lightweight, comfortable, easily adjustable and having excellent ventilation. The German made helmet has a plethora of features, that add not only to its safety, but to the comfort and usability of the wearer.

Features
The Supersonic RS has a lot of nice features, mostly in regard to the fitting and adjustability system. It uses their proprietary IAS ring (Internal Adaptive System), which is a rear mounted dial driven adjustable retention system. The system allows easy circumferential adjustments, and can accommodate a wide range of head sizes, and headgear thicknesses used for inclement weather conditions. Simply twirl the dial, and the system tightens or loosens around the head.

The chin strap, named the Monomatic, is a button and ratchet closure system, which allows easy micro adjustments, and includes a nice wraparound pad for comfort.

There are 23 vents for cooling (yea, I counted them), with the big ones at the front featuring mesh panels to stop bugs from getting sucked into the inner helmet cavity. The straps come through the shell and are secured by toggles on the outside. A neat feature is the ability to swap the toggles for special ones that let you mount uvex LED’s to the helmet – rear-facing red centrally at the back and 2 forward-facing white ones on either side at the front.

The helmet is constructed with the industry standard in-mould microshell, which has a thick inner foam and a thin outer plastic protective shell. The foam is made with the shock-absorbing polystyrene (expandable polystyrene foam or EPS) material. The outer shell is split into two large pieces, and is made from the Makrolon polycarbonate material, which is the same impact-resistant material that Uvex’s eyewear lenses are made from. The shell has been extremely rugged, and has shown no signs of wear nor abuse, which is a testament to the tough Makrolon material.

Polystyrene 101
Polystyrene (Poly(1-phenylethane-1,2-diyl)), abbreviated as PS (recycling symbol “6”), is a polymer made from the aromatic monomer styrene (vinyl benzene ), a liquid hydrocarbon that is commercially manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry. Polystyrene and its origin can be traced back to 1839 when Eduard Simon, an apothecary (pharmacist), distilled an oily substance from a Turkish sweetgum tree, which he named styrol. About one hundred years passed, and various scientists conducted numerous experiments, before German chemist Hermann Staudinger discovered that heating styrol starts a reaction and produces macromolecules, this substance is now known as polystyrene. BASF began commercial manufacture of polystyrene in 1931, when they were part of the monstrous German conglomerate I.G Farben (BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, Afga, etc.). Post World War II the I.G Farben conglomerate was divided back up into the individual companies, and in 1952 BASF invented expandable polystyrene (EPS), which they called Styropor. An interesting adjunct is that Bayer invented Makrolon (used as the outer shell of the helmet) around the same time period.

Helmet Safety
The safety standards for helmets include a retention system, and an impact test, the latter is done using a hard headform dropped vertically onto a flat and shaped anvil at specific speeds. The US standard is to keep the g forces registered inside the headform below 300 g.

The major components of a helmet, are the outer shell, the foam liner, the retention system and the padding. The hard shell helps spread the impact over a larger surface (specifically to the liner), accentuates sliding and prevents object penetration. The EPS foam helps prevent or reduce brain injury by managing the energy of an impact through its own compression or destruction, and it does that by converting a small part of the crash energy to heat. Its main duty is to slow the stopping process so that the head slows down during its inertial of the impact (deceleration).

The problem is that our heads are soft and malleable, and the brain itself moves around inside a gelatinous ooze (cerebrospinal fluid), so the testing with a hard headform may not be very appropriate for the human skull? One of the major things a helmet cannot prevent is the occurrence of coup-contrecoup (brain rebound) injuries, which can cause concussions, contusions, DIA’s (diffuse axonal injury) and even epidural hematoma.

I am a strong proponent of wearing a helmet, and it has saved my life and alleviated severe injuries in a couple of nasty bike and kayak incidents. I think more research into new technologies needs to be examined to further along the current helmet model.

Impressions

The first thing you notice when using the helmet is how easy it is to adjust it. A simple twirl of the IAS wheel and you can tighten or loosen the helmet around your head. It was quite easy to adjust the helmet’s tightness, even when wearing thick winter gloves. I found it very beneficial to change the fit on the fly to suit the riding conditions, from mellower to more technical. I regularly ride with a helmet video camera, and when going through rougher terrain it’s nice to be able to crank the helmet tightly for good stabilization and isolation. The padding was adequate, and I especially liked the thick pads at the apex of the helmet. I did find that the padding at the very back by the IAS section was a bit small and thin (the Velcro tab poked me in the neck), so I replaced it with some extra padding from an old helmet to alleviate the issue. I wish helmet manufacturers (not just uvex) would pad their entire wraparound carrier systems, especially where they drop down towards the neck. After a long day of riding it always seems that your neck gets slightly chafed by any of the systems?

I thoroughly enjoyed the Monomatic ratchet and button chin strap system. It was incredibly easy to make small micro adjustments into how hard the helmet is pulled down onto your head. The usual process of moving the straps through the quick release buckle for adjustments is only needed once, and from then on any adjustments that are required (different headgear, hair style, riding conditions) is maintained by the Monomatic system. The 1/2 inch of adjustment of the system was more than adequate for any situation that I encountered. It has a nice wraparound pad that covers the entire ratchet section, so I never had a pinched neck from using the system.

The 23 ventilation holes worked just fine (heck it still got hot, but what helmet doesn’t), and they provided plenty of cooling effect for my noggin. The front bug net worked quite well, and it kept a couple of pesky insects from getting sucked into the helmet and bothering me.

Between the excellent adjustment system, decent padding, lightweight and good ventilation, I found the helmet to be a very comfortable helmet, and it was fine for any of the multiple hour rides that I regularly participate in.

Bottomline
The uvex Supersonic RS is an excellent, well made and feature filled helmet. The German made helmet has plenty of safety and comfort features, from the usable and functional IAS and Monomatic closure systems, to the ability to attach mini LED’s if desired. I found the helmet comfortable for long rides, and thoroughly enjoyed the easily adjustability for fit, which could even be done on the fly. The Makrolon shell has been amazing durable, showing now signs of wear and tear. The only small issue I had was the rear padding was inadequate.

Strengths
-Monomatic ratchet/button chin strap
-IAS adjusting ring
-Makrolon shell

Weaknesses
-Rear padding needs to be thicker and larger

MSRP $120

Specs:
Made in Germany
Safety standards: European – EN 1078 / TUV GS, US – CPSC
Colors: pearl/red/silver, silver fade, titan fade, silver/black/pearl, pearl/light blue/silver, blue/silver/pearl
2 Sizes: Small/Medium (285g, fits 52-58cm) and Large (300g, fits 58-63cm)

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