Sir Paul Smith’s twin passions are well known: fashion and cycling. Unite the two, and the results are worth considering.
His take on Kask’s Protone helmet, the Italian manufacturer’s new flagship, worn since last year's Tour de France by Team Sky, is striking, to say the least.
The design centres on a gradient print: one in which the direction or intensity of the colour changes. Sir Paul believed the ‘travel’ of the gradient echoed the shape of the helmet.
The gradient was printed onto a silver base to provide the shell with an iridescent quality, and also used on the padding, to echo the linings of Paul Smith suits.
Readers are likely to be more familiar with the Protone in the black and blue livery of Team Sky. Kask began work on the helmet in 2013 with the self-imposed deadline of the 2014 Tour. Most of the team had opted to wear the Mojito, at 220g a lighter alternative to the then range-topping Vertigo (at 215g, the Protone is lighter still).
Another addition to the range - the Infinity, with its aerodynamically efficient closed vents - provided Kask with a further spur to introduce a design that would provide Chris Froome et al with something approaching the best of all worlds. Note that the 'crown' of the Protone is covered, and much of the sides. The vents are larger, if fewer in number, than earlier models.
While the materials used are inline with industry practice - a polycarbonate shell, CoolMax padding, chosen for its absorbency - Kask claim greater innovation in the studies of aero and thermodynamics: apt for a helmet intended to slice through the air and cool the rider.
The Protone is one of three helmets placed at Sky’s disposal by Kask - the aforementioned Infinity and the Bambino, worn by Vasil Kiryienka on his recent ride to the world time trial championship - being the others.
None, however, has quite the visual appeal of Sir Paul’s interpretation. Cycling’s most fashion conscious rider no longer rides in a team supplied by Kask, but it’s likely another knight of the realm would approve.
High quality bikes deserve high quality cover