Review: Lazer Z1 & Lifebeam
Sometimes you wonder: couldn’t they have designed that a little better? One of those things is the chest-placed heart rate strap: it pushes on your ribs, doesn’t always stay where you want it to, and can break. Worse: you forget to put it on all together, requiring you to take off all those layers of clothing again, and starting over. Lazer now offers a solution: the easily installed Lifebeam-kit.
The Americans at Lifebeam have joined forces with the Belgians at Lazer, one of the major helmet manufacturers. Lifebeam, in conjunction with NASA and the US Air Force, developed a tiny heart rate sensor which can be easily integrated into existing products due to its minute size. The product developers at Lazer have taken the optic sensor and placed it on an altered helmet pad. To fasten it all, they made a special bracket which can be clicked onto the back of the helmet. Just like that, an alternative to the heart rate chest strap was born!
Fitting the heart rate sensor was a doddle. There’s a transparent clip which is pressed into the back of the helmet. The clip has several hooks to which the processor is attached.
The heart rate sensor is integrated into the gel pads. You just swap out the regular pads for the gel version, plug in the cable, and pair the sensor to your head unit. Lifebeam supports Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+, meaning it will work with both your phone and your ANT+ based head unit such as a Garmin or Polar.
While installing the sensor, I noticed the cable running from the sensor to the transmitter ran through the helmet without any cable guidance. While it may look a little fragile, the cable falls into the helmet nicely and remains unnoticed while wearing it.
I was very curious about the accuracy of the optical heart rate sensor by Lifebeam. My experiences with sports watches and activity trackers taught me they often handle high heart rates poorly, and can’t keep up with sudden fluctuations. After three weeks of testing, I’m happy to report there are zero issues with the accuracy of the Lifebeam: there were no differences between the Lifebeam and my Garmin heart rate strap, and quick changes were picked up just fine.
The Lifebeam kit was tested with the Lazer Z1, the top-end model by Lazer used by the riders of Lotto-Soudal. Not many helmets suit my somewhat oddly shaped head, and to be fair my previous experiences with Lazer were less than perfect. Often the helmet would press into my forehead uncomfortably. I was pleasantly surprised however to find myself being able to get the fit right in seconds after putting it on for the first time! Apart from being able to alter the tension with the top-mounted adjuster, you can also change the overall fit of the helmet. What a relief!
What makes the Lazer Z1 even better are the 31 ventilation slots! My head stayed noticeably cooler than with my Giro Atmos during a weekend in the Belgian Ardennes at unusually high summer temperatures. The excellent ventilation, low weight (229 grams for a size M), and supple straps all make the Lazer Z1 a very comfortable helmet. A perfect companion on long trips.
- ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 data transmission
- No annoying chest strap
- Gel pads are less effective at removing sweat than the original ones
- More expensive than a regular chest strap
- Device attached to the helmet
- Excellent ventilation
- Highly adjustable
- Can be expanded with useful accessories
Translated by: Bart van Es