The other weekend I went to a local sports shop and asked a nice merchant who daily commutes to work on bike even during winter about their helmets for winter sports. The guy had a Marker helmet and was satisfied with it. He offered me a ¼ price discount and convinced me to buy a Marker Consort 2.0 helmet for 105 CAD, to replace my usual bike helmet during winters.
While I'm happy I satisfied my curiosity and must say the helmet has interesting features, I returned it after trying it for a few days. The dealer highlighted these advantages:
- Quick clipping/unclipping thanks to magnets, with no risk of skin squeezing
- Better protection
- Visibility - attachment for goggles
The main disadvantage I saw was the lack of built-in position lights, particularly useful during winter, and the incompatibility with Mountain Equipment Coop's Turtle LED lights (which I already owned).
Unfortunately, after buying, I confirmed there is really no way to install Turtle lights on the Consort. Moreover, at least in my use case, which is often using my bike to reach a station where a bus brings me to the office, there are quite a few more small issues:
- While carrying the helmet in the bus, it is heavier and bigger. It is also a lot warmer, so it's not necessarily comfortable to keep it on your head in the bus.
- At destination, the risk of having the helmet stolen increases. It's more costly to replace, and it's more attractive for thieves.
Finally, the cyclist who sold me the helmet said the only disadvantage he saw was reduced hearing. While I can confirm that the helmet obviously makes it harder to hear traffic when ear isolation is maximal than in the summer, I did not use it enough to compare to the effect of the other headwear one would use with a regular helmet.
Additionally, even if I don't need to wear a tuque while I use the helmet, I still need to carry one for cases when I go out on foot at destination. And the attachment for goggles is imperfect; there is one attachment at the rear. That ensures the goggles stay attached to the helmet, but is insufficient to ensure the goggles stay on the helmet. While there are small dents intended to help hold the goggles, if you're used to putting your helmet upside down, the goggles won't stay on for long, unless - perhaps - you have compatible expensive Marker goggles. So unless you put them back often, the goggles will flap.
Another claimed advantage which is not that useful is the cold protection, which only helps with the top and back of the head, while the coldest part is the front.
As for advantage #1, clipping and unclipping were still not instant for me. I suppose you get quicker after a while, but clipping would still be complicated by a moving band for chin comfort which can easily get between the 2 parts.
This leaves better protection as the most interesting advantage. When I returned the helmet, my logic was that if a regular bike helmet is safe enough during summer, it should be good enough for winter too. After more thought though, this logic is significantly wrong because:
- The tuque or other headwear change the helmet's position, so sides are less protected. Unfortunately, I did not see any evidence supporting that (although I did not research).
- The risk of falling during winter is way higher.
Overall, Marker's Consort 2.0 is not a bad winter sport helmet. I wasn't convinced enough to use it instead of a regular helmet in my use case (which does not include any activity other than cycling), but it will surely be worth its price for others. If it had integrated lights, I would buy it.