Kask Utopia Y Review - Cool and fast but still comfortable
The Italian brand has updated its flagship aero road lid with its latest retention system, improved aesthetics and more padding to the front
The Kask Utopia is a helmet that gets plenty of TV coverage as it dons the heads of the Ineos Grenadiers when they are searching for every aero gain in WorldTour races. It debuted in the professional peloton on the heads of Team Sky in 2018 as an aero-focused option made for those flat days when riders want to slide as quickly as possible through the wind. However, aero road helmets have to do more than just reduce a rider’s drag. Despite borrowing the solid shapes from time trial helmets, they can’t sacrifice usability: they need to remain breathable and comfortable for the everyday user.
With the Utopia Y, Kask aims to strike that perfect balance between a helmet that gives an aerodynamic advantage but still can be worn in varying conditions. Compared to the previous iteration of the Utopia, the Utopia Y retains its signature aero shape and vents but Kask has updated the helmet to include its new retention system and added its Resistex Carbon padding to the front of the helmet which aims to provide an optimal fit. We put the new helmet to the test in hot and cold conditions, as well as on flat and hilly terrain, to see how it feels as a day-to-day lid. Is this helmet worth the significant investment or should it be left for the professionals?
For me, what sets the Kask Utopia Y apart from its competitors is the incredible comfort that the helmet offers. I wore a size medium – as I do when using the Kask Protone Icon – and I found the Octofit+ retention system easy to adjust to find my perfect fit. The dial is responsive to every small adjustment with minimal steps in between the clicks, allowing me to keep fiddling with it as much as I need to get things feeling good. The Utopia Y also sits apart from other helmets in that it has a wide range of vertical adjustment too, this means you can move it around to find the right spot without it being locked in place, I never had any issues with pressure points when wearing the Utopia Y. The range of movement that the Octofit+ system offers also means that it’s easy to use for riders who have long hair to slot through the back of the helmet; there’s no pulling or struggling to fit a ponytail through, the helmet can simply be loosened fully, then easily re-adjusted to fit correctly before the ride begins.
When it comes to the chin straps, there are two triangles on either side of the helmet, one which holds the buckle and the other an adjustable leather-look chin strap. This means that the triangles themselves aren’t adjustable over the ear, but the length of the chin strap can easily be modified to sit as tight or as loosely to the skin as desired. The faux-leather material on the strap feels firm and holds in place well, without moving around in the wind or picking up signs of wear easily. The strap and retention system used in the Utopia Y is the same as that used in the Kask Protone Icon, making it ideal for riders who have multiple Kask helmets and switch between them for different rides.
Inside the helmet, the new Utopia Y features Kask’s Resistex Carbon padding on the front of the shell – a breathable material that allows the dissipation of moisture to the outer shell. In the older version of the Utopia, Kask used a very minimal vertical orientation of padding instead, but the Utropia Y has more padding at the front. I found this added additional comfort against the forehead and avoided sweat dripping down into the eyes while completing hard efforts. The Resistex carbon material dries quickly and the padding arrangement means that air still flows nicely through the helmet, the Utopia Y is impressively cool and well-ventilated for an aero-focused helmet.
Outwardly, there are few changes in the Utopia Y compared to the previous iteration. When the last Utopia was released, Kask claimed that it saved six watts at 50kph compared to competitors and there has been no change to the shape in this version, so we can assume that these claims remain the same. It’s worth bearing in mind that most everyday cyclists won’t be travelling at 50kph for an extended period of time, however. Kask also says that the Utopia Y weighs in at 260 grams in a size medium which is the same as the claimed weight for the previous Utopia iteration. For an aero helmet, the Utopia Y feels as lightweight on my head as the Kask Protone Icon – an impressive achievement for a helmet that isn’t focused on being made for the climbs.
Unlike many helmet manufacturers today who use MIPS technology to address rotational impact and ensure helmets reach required safety standards, the Kask Utopia Y features the brand’s own WG11 protocol. Kask explains that "WG11 test is an internal protocol adopted by Kask to identify an objective method, based on scientific sources, for measuring the performance of its helmets against rotational impacts". Having never crashed in the Utopia Y during the time I have been testing it, it’s hard to verify if the brand’s claims are accurate when it comes to safety, but I think it is worth noting that the Utopia Y doesn’t feature a rotational impact slip-liner, while many other brands are including this in every new modern helmet release. As good as this helmet feels to ride, safety is its main purpose and with most other industry leaders banking on rotational impact protection it would give peace of mind for this to be included in the Kask too.
I have always personally steered away from using aero road helmets purely because I’m not looking for those performance gains most of the time like riders in the WorldTour are, and they can look a bit intense for a casual group ride. However, as aero road helmet designs go, the Utopia Y definitely sits at the more palatable end of the scale. It avoids that boat-like shape and remains compact while on the head – just like the brand’s Protone Icon lid does as well.
In the new Utopia Y, Kask has added reflective graphics on the outer of the helmet which aims to ensure visibility while riding out on the road. This is a nice touch, but the Kask logos on each side of the lid are a little bit larger than I would have liked for a more stylish and understated look. While our test helmet came in white shine, Kask has also added more colours to the Utopia Y range in this release, offering traditional white matt, white shine, black matt and black shine options through to the more striking Oxford blue, red and grey colourways.
Where the Utopia Y really comes into its own is in the helmet’s supreme levels of comfort. It feels as cool and as light on the head as some extremely well-ventilated non-aero helmets that I’ve tried in the past, and the Octofit+ retention system is the best out there for achieving the perfect fit, especially if you have long hair to deal with. At £245, this helmet isn’t cheap, but it is versatile enough to be used as an everyday helmet as well as one for racing or time trials when aero gains are imperative. However, I would prefer it if a MIPS-like rotational impact slip-liner was included in the helmet for added safety benefits.