Review: 7iDP Project 23 Carbon Helmet

Feb 23, 2022 at 13:00
by Henry Quinney  

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
7idp.com

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.

I like the angular styling of the Project 23.

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 SERT system, which is normally mostly obscured from view behind the liner.

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.

The helmet, as the name suggests, has 23 vents.

The helmet's vents are designed with goggles in mind.
And after drawing fresh air in they have large ports to dump it out the back.


The lone pressure point of the helmet. It got better after a few minutes but it would be better if it didn't occur at all.


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.


The Fidlock system is simple, intuitive and secure - I really like it.


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.

The breakaway visor could be more secure and I would love to see it feature a more definitive "click".

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.




Pros

+ A good blend of weight and protection
+ Great ventilation
+ Comfortable after initial pressure point
+ Exactly what an enduro full face helmet should be
Cons

- 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




Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesAny time we talk about helmets weights or ventilation we will be talking about a compromise on all-out protection, if only in industry specific euphemisms. Personally, I have no interest in a full-face helmet where minimal weight is its main selling point. When I ride and I need a full-face I want to feel safe - and I think the Project 23 does a great job at offering that.

It’s well certified, very robust feeling and well ventilated while also being quite light. It feels like those were the order of 7iDP’s priorities and, in my mind, that’s exactly the way it should be.
Henry Quinney



95 Comments

  • 58 1
 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."
Hum... if the 90g make no difference why would you pay an extra $110 for this carbon version, whose claimed benefit is precisely being 90g lighter?
(I know the answer is "because it makes you feel like a pro" but I still had to ask).
  • 1 5
flag KK11 (Feb 25, 2022 at 12:58) (Below Threshold)
 …looks like a project
  • 11 1
 Any company that flagrantly deceives customers by publishing incorrect specifications about their products is a company I’ll never buy from. 90 grams is 10%. Please explain 7idp? How many of your other specifications are also BS?
  • 6 1
 @EarIysport: Maybe ask Henry were he got his scales.
  • 6 0
 Because the fiber glass version is also 10% heavier than specified?
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: I'm not sure about the benefits of carbon fiber for this application, it could be that they just claimed a false lower weight to justify it.
  • 1 0
 @EarIysport: hopefully not the test standards met...
  • 22 0
 Hi, I'd like to address the 90 grams issue, I've weighed 6 stock 21 helmets - in size large as tested, all weigh between 960 grams and 965 grams - 20 grams over the stated weight on our websites, I apologise for this and we will put right asap. As to why the test helmet was 90 grams more than quoted -we're not absolutely sure but it was a sample helmet (our 22 helmets only dock in the next ten days or so) and historically our sample helmets have typically weighed more than our production helmets. I'd also like to address the weight issue of hard shell v micro shell helmets and pose a question. Why do brands who make lightweight full face helmets still make hard shell helmets and why do their gravity riders choose to ride in their hard shell helmets if their light weight full face helmets are so amazing? Don't get me wrong light weight helmets have a place in the market but they are not designed or suited for serious gravity riding. Cheers Martin -7IDP.
  • 4 0
 @7protection: really cool of you to answer and even go out of your way to way a bunch to get a more accurate answer! It's definitely appreciated!
  • 1 0
 @DavidGuerra: at least for motorcycles carbon fibre shells are considered safer as the shell can absorb more energy in a crash and transfer across the entirety of the shell. I agree if their way off on weight that actually has a greater affect on safety at least in higher speed crashes as it hugely increase rotational forces
  • 1 0
 @briain: That doesn't sound effective to me. It's a good way to protect the foam shell, by distributing the force across a larger area, but it doesn't lessen the impact forces on the head. On the opposite, if the force is more localized and manages to dent the foam, that's more impact force being absorbed than if the foam remains unaffected. But sure, with an even stronger impact that might crack the shell carbon fiber will show its benefits. It's probably more advantageous for the potentially higher impact forces associated with motorcycle riding.
  • 1 0
 @DavidGuerra: that's why it spreads the force across the helmet because it's cracks and that absorbs energy. I do agree with you about what speeds these technologies become useful. I've always thought it's crazy that basically every mid to high end helmet in MTB has a version of MIPS but the tech is still quite rare in the Moto world
  • 43 0
 I feel like the whole "pressure point" thing has a lot more to do with the shape of your head than the helmet itself.
  • 18 0
 More of a fivehead than a forehead really
  • 1 1
 @Upduro: Once again, incredible quality from you
  • 7 0
 @lejake: consistency is key
  • 2 0
 @Upduro: points for dad joke
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Like motorcycle helmets, some just don't fit a particular shape of head.
  • 20 1
 Does anyone else always read the name as 7dIP rather than 7iDP or is it just me?
  • 18 1
 Until now I though it was 7diP
  • 2 1
 @TheBearDen: Same here
  • 9 0
 You must have 7 layer dip on the mind
  • 21 0
 Pick a helmet and be dip about it
  • 3 1
 Damn,how could I've been reading that wrong for years??
  • 9 0
 I've had one of these for over a year and have been very happy with it. I probably ride in a half shell too often, and this helmet has me in a full face far more these days. It feels really safe, it doesn't make my neck sore from all day adventures and it does indeed run really cool. Looks pretty rad and fits a variety of goggles. Maybe doesn't feel as heavily padded as some DH/moto helmets but doesn't feel like a plasticky, chin bar all in my face Enduro style helmets that are so common. Would highly recommend.
  • 4 0
 I have this helmet and love it, it's one of the comfiest helmets with no pressure points for me. The visor I too was skeptical as it did look kind of light and flimsy but in use it's been excellent, it has a 3 stage tilt that you can adjust by just pulling it forward or back with three distinct clicks, I use this feature a lot as some local trails I tilt it down when the sun is low. It's quick and easy. Summer riding it is warmer than some more enduro helmets maybe but I pop out the cheek pads if it's a long climb to allow even more air flow. I too prefer protection over light weight or a half face.
  • 5 0
 Any chance you too a picture looking directly forward that you could add? Great detail shots, but I'm curious to see the look head on. Cheers!
  • 11 0
 We are going to need a model with some blue steel
  • 1 0
 Also, I know it's a matte black helmet, which is hard to photograph. But photographing it seemingly at dusk against a dark background means I can't really tell what it looks like, how big the vents are etc etc.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for your interest in the P23 ...Here you go!
7idp.com/collections/helmets/products/project-23-carbon
  • 1 0
 @7protection: well done - no vents blocked by the goggle strap! Does the mouth piece come out? I know it's gross, but a big hole to spit through is useful
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex:Yep It can be removed if you prefer.. you just might swallow more South Downs' flies!
  • 5 0
 How does the TLD Stage compare in terms of safety to something like this?
  • 25 0
 @Abacall While we have not done a head to head lab comparison of this particular model-we have with numerous other competitors to our Stage (as well as D4, A3, and numerous other helmets....not a cheap exercise to buy a ton of helmets to smash in a lab lol) but our Stage meets and exceeds all of the same certifications listed above. Stage does have a patented EPP/EPS co-molded impact foam, something not found in any other bicycle helmet-this manages LOW speed impact energy and HIGH speed impact energy better than most impact materials we've tested to date. Also, for rotational impact protection, which is NOT certified or publically available, but has been proven to reduce rotational forces quite well. There is a german magazine that did rotational impact tests (similar to Virginia Tech) and Mips performed better than everything on the market, so something to be said to your question of 'safety'. Finally, the Stage comes in about 400 grams lighter, that is the weight of an entire half shell helmet, so something to think about as well-our goal with the stage was a FULL TIME FULL FACE, something you could wear on an all day enduro adventure, it was built around EWS racers climbing 10k and racing multiple technical stages. No one can tell you their helmet is 'safer' than another, because as we know there are so many factors, so many crash types, etc...but, hopefully we answered some questions-if not, drop me a DM. Props to 7IDP, a lot of great protection pieces in their range and exciting to see them get into helmets, it's a solid crew there. Cheers!
  • 8 0
 @troyleedesigns: Not so often do you see manufactures give props to their rivals. Right on.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: do you remember the name of that German magazine that does the rotational impact tests?
  • 1 0
 I think that the most overlooked thing is the durability. In practice no one will replace a pricey helmet after each crash. So I believe that stage can give you one-shot protection on par with other helmets. But what happens if it looks OK and is compromised structurally? Of course you have no guarantees for any other helmet, but somehow I believe that carbon fiber or fiberglass helmets will withstand more low energy impacts before their level of protection drops. I thought hard about buying Stage but I gave up because I know I simply cannot afford to replace it frequently enough.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: Thanks TLD-LOVE my Stage, and haven't worn anything else(usually remember my shoesSmile ) since I bought it a few years back. Cheers to 7iDP for more full face options for our different shaped full heads.
  • 1 0
 @troyleedesigns: Thanks for the reply! Great to know, always got along well with the fit of the TLD helmets, and now I'll add another.
  • 1 0
 What material are the rivets that attach de buckle straps to the helmet? I've had two Leatt helmets where the rivets corroded within a few months, and had to stop using them (one was replaced by warranty). I previously had a D3 that had titanium hardware and this was not an issue.
  • 2 0
 I have heard that some people have a lower pH sweat (so more acidic). I have no idea if this is actually true. But if it is a thing I wonder if that could be causing the corrosion. I have definitely come across people with 'rusty hands'. If they touched a freshly machined steel surface their fingerprints would turn rusty in a couple hours!
  • 3 0
 Human sweat is slightly acidic. Best bet is to rinse your helmet with fresh water and let it air dry. Without regular cleaning a metal surface will corrode. And the helmet will stink something awful.
  • 2 0
 @IMeasureStuff: true. I have destroyed multiple Garmin heart rate straps until they eventually told me that some peoples sweat is just incompatible with these products and told me to use a wrist optical HR monitor.
  • 3 0
 It would be interesting to see an independent safety test of some enduro full face helmets to see if heavier helmets are actually any safer.
  • 3 0
 I'd take this further and say it would be nice to see some peer reviewed studies on the impact of helmets in MTB injury patterns focusing not only on serious brain injury, but spine injury as well. There are studies that suggest the use of full face helmets decrease serious brain injury as well as cervical spine injuries in motorcycle accidents. It would be nice to know if this holds true for MTB as well.
  • 4 3
 Bought this helmet after I snapped my tld stage literally in two pieces. 7idp feel much more safe and more comfortable. Other plus is that it come with nice transport bag. And yes the label is big but you can simply slide the label between shell and the liner and the label stay there .
  • 3 0
 Glad you're happy with your new helmet - the helmet is extremely well vented as I'm sure you've discovered - this made fixing the label in the size required by CE regs flat onto the liner impossible - hence we could only stitch on one seam!
  • 1 0
 I don't understand why it would be bad for a helmet's chin bar to have some flex. Wouldn't flexing absorb some of the impact of a crash?
And on another note, if the point of all those vents I'd to keep a rider's head cool, wouldn’t it also make sense to have a light coloured helmet? Or is the "carbon look" more important?
  • 1 0
 Having read Henry’s recent opinion piece on the subject, MY opinion is he’s relying on intuition (“this helmet feels flimsy!”) much more than actual analysis (“this helmet will crumple and absorb the impact!”) in his helmet pieces. For example, he would rather ride a 3/4 that he perceives to be solid than a full face that he thinks might break. That seems crazy to me as I would a hundred times rather have a full face that breaks on impact than no full face at all. Even if my face takes a hit, the energy will be an order of magnitude lower.

Personally I think he has an obligation to look beyond his feelings when discussing a key piece of safety equipment, but to his credit it is always pretty clear that he’s relying on intuition on these topics.
  • 1 0
 I don't get it, the helmet not fitting properly should not be a con but I sometimes see this on helmet reviews. Pressure on the front means this isn't the helmet for the shape of your head. Maybe helmet reviews should be done by a reviewer that fits the helmet. IXS helmets don't work for me. I'm in-between sizes, small doesn't fit and medium is way too big. Doesn't mean the helmet was designed poorly.
  • 1 0
 I like the fact they offer a lower price fiberglass version of this. That would probably be a go-to for me as a park helmet. Unless one could catch this one on sale at some point...
  • 3 0
 Heavier helmet builds up the next muscles for those long park days.
  • 2 0
 Don't know if they have it in the US, but I just got the Carbon one from their website on "clearance" for £149 instead of £279.
  • 2 0
 We also have an ABS version at $160. It shares the same EPS but a different outer mould to the GF and Carbon versions.
  • 1 0
 @7protection: Right yea, appreciate the reply! I'd probably get one with SERT - a nice alternative to MIPS.
  • 3 0
 @bearded-ed: Cheers for this. Went on their webbie and bought one too. Arrived yesterday, really nice quality. No issues with pressure on the front of my head.
  • 1 0
 @picariello81: Excellent!! I too had no issues at all with fit whatsoever. That said, I am a size down from all of my previous helmets. L instead of XL.
  • 3 1
 I bought the fiberglass one but had to return it, since even the XS was too big for my 54cm, shaved hair head. Too bad, cause it looked like an ideal helmet ottherwise.
  • 2 1
 I normally run XL sizing in my other helmets (Fox + 661), but this one I ordered the L, it might even be a tad loose still! Thankfully I can get the medium liner.

Definitely seem like oversized lids.

Amazing helmet though, can't wait to do some proper riding in it.
  • 2 0
 We had issues with the visor adjustment clip breaking but their warranty was absolutely first class, so will continue to buy from them for that reason.
  • 5 3
 I just tape a hundred dollar bill inside my two hundred dollar helmet and call it a three hundred dollar helmet. Plus, at the end of the ride I can buy the beer.
  • 1 0
 yeah, seems like we need to have pieces on comparing 4 or 5 helmets at the high end (over$300) and 4 to 5 helmets at the middle (over$200) price points
  • 4 1
 Is it laterally stiff yet vertically compliant though?
  • 2 0
 Calling on Virginia Tech to create a protocol for full face helmets, including frontal/from below impacts on the chin bar.
  • 2 0
 Totally worth every penny. Couldn't believe how light and breathable this helmet was, and good sizing to fit sputnik heads.
  • 1 0
 For those interested, carbon fiber isn't lighter, it is stronger. It often needs less material, so happens to be lighter, but not always.
  • 2 0
 The best way of understanding the benefit of a carbon helmet is ( and I can understand why you may not rush out and do this) is to drop a carbon helmet on the ground and then drop a light weight micro shell full face on the ground - the carbon will absorb the impact energy and not bounce - the micro shell will not absorb as much energy and rebound off the floor.
  • 2 0
 3/4 helmets are still silly and suck.
This on the other hand is good.
  • 2 2
 Lost me at...
"a collection that not only includes helmets but also pretty much another other protective mountain bike wear you can think of."
  • 1 1
 How’s the air flow compared to a Bell Air with removable face mask?

Yes, I know it’s more durable, but I’m asking about air flow only.
  • 1 1
 Whats the point of a vent on the back to dump the air out if your goggle strap covers it?

More like SOME of the venting was designed with goggles in mind.
  • 2 0
 $359.99USD = $500 Canadian.

This is why I don’t have nice things.
  • 1 1
 Any chance you can add a link for one to buy? In North America? Nobody seems to have it in stock.
  • 1 0
 Have you tried their own website? That's where I got mine in the UK.
  • 3 0
 Our US and UK warehouse should have helmets in stock in the next 10 days. 7idp.com /7idp.co.uk and they be should be with dealers by mid March. HLC are our Canadian distributors.
  • 1 0
 @7protection: thank you!
  • 1 0
 How does it compare to the Leatt MTB 4.0 Gravity?? I love mine
  • 1 0
 I really like mine too, but the rivets that hold the buckle strap corroded. can you check your's?
  • 1 0
 @tineira: mine haven't corroded. Could be you live in a wetter climate than I do??
  • 1 0
 I need a carbon fiber helmet
  • 1 0
 How would this compare to a IXS Trigger weighing around 660g?
  • 3 0
 I have both. They are both comfy and breathe well. The Trigger feels lighter and I sweat less though. I wear the 7idp on days where I'm climbing up fire roads with the helmet attached to my pack. And the Trigger on regular trail rides.
  • 2 0
 @shakazulu12: I think you have perfectly understood the difference between hard shell and micro shell helmets! Both have a place in the market, hard shell for serious DH/enduro/gravity, micro shell for trail.
  • 1 0
 Nice shave on the beard
  • 5 7
 What a joke. Pay a premium price for CF, still weighs over a kilo.
  • 3 0
 Drop ur recommendations for lighter helmets
  • 1 0
 @getsendywithit: IXS Trigger MIPs, Fox Proframe
  • 1 0
 @getsendywithit: Leatt DBX 4.0
  • 2 4
 Heavy, wonky fit and crap visor. Got it.
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