The Project 23 Carbon sits at the very top of 7iDP’s collection, a collection that not only includes helmets but also pretty much other protective mountain bike wear you can think of. The helmet was built to be reasonably light, but places ventilation highest in its priorities. The design ethos seems to be about making something safe enough, whatever that weight is, and then making it as vented and comfortable as possible.
I recently wrote an article
about how I mistrust some enduro full-face helmets. In that, I argue that there are some far better executions than others, but I want my helmet to focus on protection primarily, with ventilation a distant second and that I would rather have something a bit heavier than something that feels light but unsubstantial.
7iDP Project 23 Carbon Details
• XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL sizes
• SERT smart foam protection system
• 3-position visor
• Fidlock buckle
• Quick-release liner
• Weight: 922g claimed, 1010g actual (L)
• Meets CE, CPSC, AS, ASTM F1952-15 standards
• $359.99 USD
I would say the Project 23 Carbon manages to balance these priorities well. There is no flexing chin bar or gawky looks. It’s a full-face helmet for riding mountain bikes that you just so happened to have pedaled to the top, not a helmet that is so concerned with being great for pedaling that it forgets to offer the protection that would have you reaching for a full-face in the first place.
7iDP says that this helmet was developed over a two-year period and was heavily influenced by EWS racers explaining how they wanted the compromise of weight and ventilation to lie. The result is a hardshell helmet that places an emphasis on airflow.Details
This carbon version of the helmet is the range-topper. There is also the $250 fiberglass option, as well as the ABS model, which retails for $160. To the untrained eye, these helmets almost identical, and that’s because they’re a similar mold but with different outer materials. The fiberglass option also makes use of SERT, the smart foam system 7iDP use in their helmets to reduce rotational forces being put through the rider in the event of a crash.
SERT (Seven Energy Reduction Technology) is able to react to any force being put through the helmet. The pads are in contact rider's head, and should a crash occur it will crush, twist, shear, rotate, and deform as needed to hopefully pass as little load as it can onto the rider. It’s important to reduce the amount of energy that reaches the brain during an impact and 7iDP claims that “SERT does this by absorbing greater levels of energy than an EPS liner alone and can reduce the energy transfer to the brain by up to 20%.”
The foam covers large areas of the interior of the helmet and is soft and supple to the touch, which should also help reduce forces. 7iDP claims that with its waffle shape it will reduce the load passed on and it almost acts as a shock absorber in the case of an impact.
The helmet itself also claims to be the most ventilated full-face hardshell on the market. In fact, there 23 vents on the helmet, hence the name. There is an important distinction to be made here - there are hardshell and then there are those flexing-jaw micro-shell models. The Project 23 is the former. Yes, you might have seen full-face helmets with more vents, but what 7iDP claim is that you'll struggle to find a better vented full-face helmet that offers as much protection.
It also features a Fidlock buckle, an AGION anti-microbial liner, and Through Flow Goggle ventilation, which hopes to help prevent goggles fogging up.
Our test helmet weighed around 90g more than claimed. This doesn’t concern me, as I said the weight of a helmet, within reason, doesn’t factor for me, but if it does for you then it’s worth noting.Fit & Comfort
The fit of the helmet is as you would hope. It’s secure and holds you securely without being so tight that it restricts your jaw. There are different sizes of liner for some of the size ranges. For instance, this large helmet could also be run with a medium liner to size it down. I have a 58cm diameter head and it fits well with the standard size large liner.
There were some foibles with the fit, though. Most notably the pressure point at the front of the helmet against my forehead. It was hard to say whether it was the SERT insert or the seam of the liner. Either way, it was noticeable. The helmet didn’t feel quite long enough to me when I first put it on. However, after a few minutes, the pressure would dissipate and it became very comfortable - thankfully without leaving a massive red mark on my forehead.
One more gripe that doesn't have anything to do with the helmet's fit or performance would be the label at the back of the helmet. It's needlessly large.On Trail Performance
The helmet, on a winter's day of single-figure degrees Celcius, has been great to pedal in. That said, I would be interested to try this helmet on a sweltering summer day and see how noticeable the airflow is. On cold days here it does gulp cold air in at an impressive rate. Funnily enough, it almost feels like too much sometimes, as I roll down the road freezing cold and soaked to the bone on my way home.
One thing I do like about the SERT system, without going into the specifics of the safety, is the fact that it’s quiet. I’ve had plenty of MIPS helmets that creak and groan, and this is made all the more annoying when the helmet covers your ears, trapping the noise in.
The visor is there to break away in the instance of a crash. However, although it never worked loose it did threaten to if I put my goggles back to front, and had the strap running over the visor and above my eyeliner on long climbs. It would only take a moment to reset it with a gentle tap but it was something I looked out for. I like this style of breakaway visors, which are not only potentially safer by reducing the leverage on a rider's head, but also less likely to break themselves. The three positions were easy to move between, too.
I really enjoyed riding in this helmet and, to me, it’s exactly what an enduro full-face should be. I think of it a lot like knee pads - enduro trails can be pretty rowdy, sometimes even more so than downhill. It’s still lighter than a dedicated downhill helmet - something like the Fox Rampage Pro has an actual weight of 1285g for a size large - but it also seems to make good on the idea of a robust helmet that is going to offer you a really good level of protection, that just so happens to be very ventilated.
A good blend of weight and protection+
Comfortable after initial pressure point+
Exactly what an enduro full face helmet should be
The visor didn't feel overly secure-
Pressure in front of the head when first putting the helmet on-
If low weight is your priority then there are lighter helmets