Limar Air Atlas Mark Cavendish review: the helmet he'll wear in his attempt to make Tour history

The Manx Missile is aiming at one more Tour de France stage to beat Eddy Merckx's record of 34 – and he'll be hoping this is the lid to help him cap off a record-breaking career

If you’ve found professional cycling all a bit predictable in the last few weeks, one of the most intriguing and longest-running contests is about to resume when the Tour de France starts in Florence on June 29.

If Tadej Pogačar continues to ride like he rode at the Giro d’Italia, it’s difficult to see anyone stopping him from doing the Giro-Tour double. On the other hand, whether Mark Cavendish will win his 35th Tour de France stage, beating Eddy Merckx’s record total, is one of the great unknowables. It’s a prospect cycling fans have relished for many years as the once-mercurial Manxman’s sprinting powers have inevitably dwindled with his age. He's now 39, yet, despite injuries, setbacks, team collapses and and even being left out of the squad, he has still edged tantalisingly closer to the magic 35 victories. In 1994 George Foreman became world heavyweight champion at the age of 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer, who was 19 years his junior. In 2024 can Mark Cavendish roll back the years, deliver his own legendary punch just one more time and cross the line as the greatest Tour stage winner of all time?

Limar Air Atlas Cavendish on a black pedestal

Italian brand Limar is Astana’s helmet sponsor and in March its CEO presented Cavendish with this special limited-edition ‘white gold’ version of the Air Atlas aero helmet he's been wearing this season. On the right side of the helmet is a little gold France, the iconic hexagon surrounding a number 34 representing of course his Tour stage wins total. On the left is a square with the UCI World Championship colours and a number 4 in the centre. Cavendish won the 2011 Worlds on the road in Copenhagen but he’s also a triple Madison world champion on the track, first winning in 2005 at age 19.

Limar Air Atlas Mark Cavendish UFO tail

At the rear, the Air Atlas has a removable tail called UFO – in this limited-edition version of the helmet the UFO is all gold and very bling.


Limar says this is the “fastest and most ventilated helmet” and that computer aerodynamic simulations, numerous tests in the wind tunnel and collaboration with the Astana team led it to the final result, which it describes as “amazing”. In its testing it claims the Air Atlas saves 1.4 watts at 50kph over the next fastest Limar aero helmet, the Air Speed. Cavendish in full flight is going considerably faster than 50kph and is therefore saving more watts. No data is supplied for tests with or without the UFO removable section, but it’s reasonable to assume that because it’s a fairing that extends the chord length of the helmet, it will be faster with the UFO.

Limar Air Atlas Mark Cavendish side slot vent

The UFO doesn’t have an effect on ventilation, since the Air Atlas’s cooling system works like that of most modern helmets: intakes in the front of the helmet let in air, which is forced through constricted channels over the top of the head where it speeds up due to the Venturi effect, exiting the rear of the helmet to rejoin the airflow over the top with minimal turbulence. For an aero helmet the Air Atlas is prodigiously vented, with seven slots at the front, four NACA central slot vents and six at the rear.

Limar Air Atlas Mark Cavendish inside

The Air Fit Evo closure has five height settings for the most comfortable position of the cradle on the rear of the head, a Fidlock magnetic buckle and adjustable ‘wings’ (the straps) over the ears.

The weight of the size large is 282g without the UFO tail and 315g with it – slightly over the claimed weight of 260g. I tested the non-MIPS version but the MIPS version has the same claimed weight. Give or take the extra grams, the weight minus the UFO is ballpark for a high-end aero helmet.


I found it very straightforward and very quick to get a comfortable fit with no uneven lengths of strap in front or behind the ears, strap splitters sitting symmetrically and flat against cheeks and chinstrap correct. In particular the adjustability of the straps around the ears is really excellent. The Air Atlas sits reasonably low on the head – always a relief to avoid the mushroom shape, and this is likely to make it more aerodynamic, too.

At the time of writing we haven’t yet had any swelteringly hot days in the UK, so I can't claim to have tested the Air Atlas’s venting to the limit. However, it feels as though there’s a lot of air entering at the front of the helmet and having been a longterm wearer of the Abus GameChanger since the first version I can say that the Limar is probably better vented than that. I’m also currently reviewing the latest Specialized Propero 4, which is aimed at both ventilation and aerodynamics, and would say the Air Atlas is easily on a par with that. I’d have no concerns about overheating in the Limar and can say with certainty that it won’t be necessary to swap in a more ventilated helmet for hot days.

Obviously I can’t comment on its aerodynamic performance and Limar’s own data only compares it to another Limar helmet, but it’s quiet and stable in the wind. I was also pleased to discover that the outer front vents work very efficiently as a sunglasses port. Glasses are firmly held without sliding forwards and it’s easy to stick the arms into the helmet without multiple stabbing attempts.


Personally I’d like to see the ‘34’ in the little silhouette of France upgraded to ‘35’ and will be watching closely and willing Cavendish to do it. In the meantime I’m sure the Air Atlas won’t be holding him back – it’s a pro-level helmet that’s comfortable, breathable, aerodynamic and stylish looking. It's not the lightest but there’s only a glug of water’s difference between it and some of the lighter aero lids on the market.

The price at £214 for the MIPS version and £185 for non-MIPS is reasonable too – the S-Works Evade 3, for example, is priced at £250, while the MET Trenta 3K, as worn by Pogačar, is £290. There are of course standard colour ways if you don't want to look like a Cavendish fanperson. As for me, I'll be proudly wearing it as I sprint for every road sign this summer.

For more details go to Limar’s website.

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