Calling the Catlike Vacuum Helmet the most conventional looking helmet in the 2012 Catlike line would be tantamount to arguing that Cippolini's pink skinsuit for the 2005 Giro was his most conservative wardrobe choice. Granted, it's not as immediately memorable as Catlike's top-shelf Whisper Plus (the equivalent to Cippo's zebra-striped skinsuit), but for many of us, that's probably a good thing. More important though, is that the Vacuum is an economical alternative to the Whisper Plus, while retaining the clean lines, complex technologies, and overall striking aesthetic choices that Catlike is best known for.
Like all Catlike helmets, the dramatic appearances aren't without rhyme or reason. Each design is intelligently engineered to enhance the helmet's ventilation efficacy while maintaining the strict safety standards established by CPSC. The Vacuum is constructed around Catlike's Air Tube System, which, similar to the structure of the Catlike Sakana (another radical Catlike design that is not currently available on U.S. shores), is a series of small tubes connecting the helmet's segmented 'fins' together. While elegant, the design also cleverly divides the helmet into impact-absorbing crumple zones that dissipate energy at the time of a crash — not unlike the skeleton of a compact car. These fins strengthen the core structure of the helmet, and allow Catlike's engineers to reduce weight in other areas, giving you a helmet that tips the scales under 300 grams in all three of the available sizes. The fin structure also opens up a wide range of possibilities for ventilation. The Vacuum has 19 generous vents, most of which run lengthwise around the helmet along the Air Tubes. Each forward-facing vent has a matching rear exhaust vent to keep a constant and efficient circulation of cool air over your head while you ride.
The Vacuum uses the same MPS (Multi Position System) retention system as the top-shelf Whisper Plus. The MPS is constructed around a rubberized plastic strap that attaches into, and pivots from, a socket in the shell of the helmet at the temple, which then follows the side of your head and curves around towards the back, where it floats freely from the nylon web straps. The rubberized strap is soft and pliable, so it never gets crimped or warped in your gear bag, and it always conforms to your head's natural shape. The MPS suspension has two lateral adjusters that have a push button release on a ratchet strap that connects across the back of the head to allow for circumferential adjustment. This allows the whole system to slide up and down on the rearward web straps. So up, down, and around, the Vacuum can comfortably accommodate a wide variety of head shapes.
Designed for both road and mountain use, the Catlike Vacuum Helmet includes a detachable visor. Plugs for the visor holes are also included, for when the visor is not in use. It is available in Small, Medium, and Large sizes. Choose between Black/Grey/White, Matte Black, Red/Grey/White, and White.
I ended up with this helmet after trying a couple of other helmets.
It is super comfortable! The ventilation is awesome; if I turn my head, I can literally feel the wind blowing my hair. I love the fact that no one I ride with wears anything close.
The one issue is that the straps, while comfortable, are a pain to get set and never lie flat.
All in all, I'll be wearing it as long as I can and would probably get another if I had to replace it.
Jesus Christ of Lazarus. Stay away. I was replacing an earlier generation Catlike Whisper Plus, thinking, 50% off? Sounds like an awesome deal! Well there's a reason it's 50% off and that's because this helmet blows. My other Catlike was the first helmet to actually fit my head correctly... Not Giro, not Lazer, Bell was decidedly mediocre at best. But the Whisper Plus was a Godsend in medium. Unfortunately, the Vacuum is not. The decal is whack and looks "angry" except it looks like the kind of crap Jackson Pollack produced when he was 6 and before he was Jackson Pollack. The visor is also whack. And it's noticeable that your helmet has a visor even when the visor is removed. Yeah, meta on meta on meta. But not in the "what the hell that's awesome" more like, "what the hell that's Toad's head on my head" because until this point I forgot to mention that unlike the sleek Whisper Plus, this one bows out on the sides of your head and everytime you get on your bike you feel like you're heading into Bowser's castle to steal Peach back. Mind you I do work in a City Hall that looks like it was built in the 1950s so there may a bit of a false positive through the form of personal bias. Anyways, this helmet sucks, the straps suck, it's stupid wide, and doesn't even fit the same as the Whisper Plus - the medium was mad snug. So stay smug and keep the real steez up, 1.