Before we get anywhere with the new helmet, the Met Manta MIPS, let’s watch a video.
Did you ever think you’d find yourself listening to John F Kennedy with an Italian accent, freestyling beat poetry over jazzy drum licks while a model on a Colnago is being chased around Lake Como in winter by an invisible foe?
There’s no ‘we choose to go to the Moon’. Instead: ‘the world of cycling encourages us to overcome the common sense of reality through dedication and pleasure’.
I don’t know what any of it means, but I like it.
So, with that wonderful piece of esoteric advertising done with, let’s look at the actual helmet. What is it, is it any good, and does it really, ahem, allow ‘design-driven innovators go beyond form and function, extending their potential by designing for meaning’? Image credit: Ulysse Daessle/Met Helmets
The Met Manta MIPS is an update to the Met Manta, the recognisable aerodynamic road helmet offering from the Italian company based deep in the Alps, made famous by Mark Cavendish when it debuted in 2015.
The Manta (as in the type of ray, not the thing that Buddhists recite) is a low profile, lightweight lid designed for road, triathlon and winter riding.
Extensive testing in the wind tunnel (Image credit: Ulysse Daessle/Met Helmets)
It is very aerodynamic. Met took the new Manta to the Newton lab’s wind tunnel outside Milan and found that it was three to four watts more aerodynamically efficient than the outgoing Manta and ‘average competitors’. Met don’t say who they were, but the sample reportedly included the best performing helmets from four major brands.
Met tested at three speeds (33, 55 and 80kph) and two angles (to replicate riding in the hoods and the drops). For a rider sitting on the front at 300 to 400 watts, that’s around a one per cent gain in efficiency; certainly nothing to be sniffed at considering this is in comparison with the previous Manta, already a very aerodynamically efficient helmet.Image credit: Ulysse Daessle/Met Helmets
In the real world, which tells you just as much as any lab tests, the helmet is used by the fast finishers on UAE-Team Emirates: Fernando Gaviria, Matteo Trentin and Alexander Kristoff. ‘Nuff said.
Anybody can design a purely aerodynamic helmet; the real trick with an aero road helmet is to make it sufficiently light and well-ventilated for a long day in the saddle.
Met manage this with their so-called NACA technology, essentially a vent on top of the helmet which funnels air through and out via an exhaust, helping to suck nice cool air in through the remaining vents and onto a wearer’s head.
In fact the overall design of the Manta is a bit of a reverse mullet: party up front, business out back. With sleek lines and minimal styling facing the oncoming wind, the back of the helmet is a busy collection of vents and apertures that all help channel the air as smoothly as possible. Image credit: Ulysse Daessle/Met Helmets
And, weighing in at just 230-270 grams (from size small through to large), the Manta is pretty light member of the aero helmet stable. It is a little heavier than the previous iteration but that is due to the addition of MIPS, the rotational damping safety system that reduces the force on the head during an angled impact.
MIPS is a welcome addition to a svelte, aerodynamic helmet, indicating that not all has been sacrificed in the name of watts. There is a dedicated sunglasses port for your sunnies to land, and a Fidlock magnetic buckle on the chinstrap (perhaps this is aimed primarily at triathletes, because I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a normal clip was insufficient). It’s ponytail compatible and has both vertical (up and down) and occipital (round the back of your head) adjustments. Lab testing (Image credit: Ulysse Daessle/Met Helmets)
The Met Manta MIPS is clearly much more than a concept piece.
It comes in six colours, from glossy red to matt black, all with reflective rear decals, and the sleek profile is clearly going to help the wearer avoid looking like Toad, the speedy bobblehead from the Mario Kart video game who has a mushroom on his noggin. This can often happen with aero lids.
Fit will always come down to personal preference, and styling is a subjective issue. We’ll probably never know if the designers at Met have been able to extend their potential by designing for meaning. However there can be no argument that with these welcome improvements and additions, the Manta MIPS represents a definite performance upgrade in terms of safety and speed to what was already a high-performing, high-end helmet.
Shop Met Manta RRP €250 / £220 / $300 / AU$400