Words Lester Perry
Images Cameron Mackenzie
RRP $429 – Falconer 2Vi Mips Helmet | $229 – Memento Glasses
Distributor Wide Open

It’s crazy to think that until 1989, skateboarding was banned in Norway – deemed too dangerous by the government of the time.

As with anything a government bans, skateboarding wasn’t erased but driven underground, inspired by smuggled, contraband Transworld Skateboarding and Thrasher Magazines. Although the underground scene was growing, access to gear was limited. “Necessity is the mother of innovation” drove one of Sweet Protection’s founders, Ståle N. Møller, to begin producing skateboards from his parents’ garage. Eventually, the crew’s interests expanded from just skateboarding, as did the range of products Ståle and friends were making. By the mid-’90’s they’d immersed themselves in skating, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding. Clothing, backpacks and even snowboards were fashioned, all to feed the need for better equipment as they tackled the rivers and big mountains of the region.

By 1997, freestyle kayaking was all the rage, but the kayaks themselves fell short. While studying Industrial Design, Ståle put his newfound skills to work, making a Kevlar wonder kayak for friend and whitewater weapon, Erik Martinsen, something revolutionary at the time. The kayak endeavour was short-lived, but soon after, Ståle made Erik a carbon fibre helmet and thus the first steps towards Sweet Protection were taken.

In 2011, the first bike helmet from Sweet was put to market. This mountain bike helmet paved the way for things to come. Now, 23 years into the journey since Sweet Protection as we now know it was established, you’ll find their helmets used by some of the best in the business across snow, white water and cycling sports, including the Norwegian UNO X Pro Cycling team, Dutchman and 2022 Unbound 200 winner Ivar Slick (best name ever) as well as Colorado-based pro cyclist, 2023 Lifetime Grand Prix runner up, and dachshund enthusiast, Alexey Vermeulen.

One of the company’s founding pillars is to reduce environmental impact by using eco- friendly materials where possible, and by developing long-lasting quality products. Ethical trading and employment practices in their manufacturing facilities are also an important part of their operation, adhering to the UN´s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The International Labour Organisation guidelines.

This forward-thinking and innovative brand is now easily accessible in NZ, with the backing of a solid dealer network and the support of an established local wholesaler. Sweet Protection will no longer be just a feature of Instagram posts or race photos from off-shore.

We put some of the Sweet Protection range to the test on our recent Coromandel trip and were impressed by its comfort and performance.

It’s a comfortable contender if you’re shopping for a new lid, particularly if you want something from a brand with ecological and social ethics at its foundation.

Falconer 2Vi® Mips Helmet
M/L 56-59cm, 299g as weighed.

The Falconer Mips I tested has a classy satin white exterior shell with gloss black highlighted insets around the vents. With that colour palate, it should easily match whatever kit is pulled from the pile on my floor and remain relevant for seasons to come.

Large frontal air intakes and deep internal channelling lead to huge rear exhaust ports – plenty of airflow at even the slowest of speeds, 2Vi® is the culmination of all the technologies that are incorporated into the helmet: Mips Air, and a multi-density EPS foam structure with four levels of shell absorbing different impact velocities. Add to this the ‘variable elasticity’ outer shell for increased protection at both low and high-impact speeds and there’s quite a lot going on inside this helmet.

Mips Air incorporates Mips’ rotational impact tech into the helmet padding itself rather than relying on its original helmet lining shell of old, which added too much weight and disrupted airflow. The pads themselves feel light and soft on the skin, with no hard points or abrasive edges. With my lack of hair, if anything wasn’t up to scratch I’d know about it, particularly after long hours in the helmet.

Safety is at the forefront of any Sweet Protection design and this lid’s no different, meeting all the necessary standards and following the brand’s ethos of safety first. Thankfully, thus far, I haven’t needed to test their safety claims, but with a Virginia Tech 5-star safety rating I’m confident this is a helmet you can rely on to keep your melon safe.

There’s a 3-stage harness adjustment on the rear, allowing three points of height adjustment, and a dial for on-the-fly micro-adjustments.

The straps have a flat, Y-shaped adjuster on each side; it’s a little fiddly to adjust but once it’s set right and it’s comfortable there’s no need ever to touch it again, unless, randomly your head drastically changes shape over time. Should that happen, I’d imagine the fit of the helmet would be the least of your worries.

It’s awesome when a helmet company also makes eyewear – the results mean (generally) the two play nicely together, both worn on the face or while holstered on the helmet. It’s an uneasy feeling seeing your glasses edging their way off your helmet as you’re bombing descents, but thanks to rubber inserts in the Falconer, the glasses are kept secure in place when on the rough stuff.

It’s a subtle touch, but a nice nod to the brand’s quality that Sweet has included a soft bag to protect it during transport and a spare section of the front padding – usually the first one to show signs of wear in a helmet. This reflects their dedication to having their gear last a long time; a nice touch.

The Falconer helmet suits my swede perfectly. It’s one of the more comfortable helmets I’ve used recently, and aside from three stripes of sunburn on the top of my head after a full day in the saddle, around the northern Coromandel with no sunscreen (ok, my fault), and numerous other rides over the last month, I have no complaints.

It’s a comfortable contender if you’re shopping for a new lid, particularly if you want something from a brand with ecological and social ethics at its foundation.

The lens is large enough, and the frame svelte enough, to offer a clear view regardless of what position you’re riding on the bike.

Memento Glasses
The Memento glasses are a large full-framed pair of shades offering maximum visibility whilst on the bike. The lens is large enough, and the frame svelte enough, to offer a clear view regardless of what position you’re riding on the bike. The overall shape is not too dissimilar to other popular brands in the market, so you’re not going to look out of place on the local bunch ride.

The Mementos I tested are the Matte Crystal Amber frame option, a translucent orange colour that’s unique without being over the top. The arms have a section of rubber along the inside of the last two-thirds of their length offering some grip on the wearer’s head. Three different sized rubber noise bridges are supplied, allowing some customization to the fit, and even on the roughest of terrain, their tacky rubber helps the glasses remain in place while riding.

Over our Coromandel trip, I used two lenses: The standard Obsidian Black offered enough tint to be comfortable in the sunniest of conditions, but not so dark as to be a problem in areas where dense bush turned the dimmers down. Vision is crystal clear and on par with their high-end brethren. The tint was a nice natural shade, maintaining a neutral colour palette rather than over-enhancing colours or messing with contrast too much. There’s a touch of reflectivity to the lens, making your pain face that little bit harder to see. If stored in the supplied microfibre pouch or hard case, these should last for years.

In the late afternoons, I’d take the 30 seconds or so required to switch out and swap to a completely clear lens. I’m a huge fan of clear lenses; sure, they’re great on dull days, but there’s nothing worse than a bug or piece of grit in your eye as you come ploughing into a piece of gravel track going far too fast! Clear lenses help your vision remain uninterrupted regardless of the conditions, and I’m all about that.

Both lenses have a hydrophobic treatment, and it wasn’t until I was creeping up a particularly steep climb in the heat of the day that I even noticed it: the sweat from my brow cascaded down the inside of the glasses, as it tends to do on a hot day, and rolled right down the lens, dripping off the bottom. This may seem like a small thing, but it meant that after a few sweaty hours the vision was still acceptable. I’ve worn other glasses where sweat would stick to the lens, then attract dust, and it wouldn’t take long for it to be dirty enough to be unusable.

It’s worth me commenting on the translucent frames because there’s a noticeable amount of light being passed through the frames and, being orange coloured, at times it almost makes the frame glow around your window of view. Sometimes, I found this distracting. Provided I was taking notice of what was happening in front of me, it didn’t detract, but if I found my mind drifting from the task at hand, I’d notice the frame more. It’s not a biggie, but given the choice, I’d go for a darker coloured frame in future.

There are loads of choices when it comes to eyewear options for use on the bike. At a given price point, most brands are doing a decent, comparable job, and Sweet Protection’s Memento fits right in amongst other similar high-end options. If you’re looking for something a little different than the norm, maybe to pair up with a Sweet Protection helmet – or not – I’d recommend trying a pair of these on.