On a summer social ride, by the river, an onlooker watching us roll by exclaimed, “Cool helmet!” It was 2009 and the lid adorning my head was the Catlike Whisper.
Up to this day Catlike continues to divide opinion. In 2009, going from a Giro helmet to a Catlike made all the difference. Not only did it fit comfortably, it was so well ventilated, that it was as if I wasn’t wearing a helmet at all. Plus, with all the protection benefits one would want. So cutting edge was the Whisper that people wanting to purchase it would stop me and ask where I got mine. My, how have times changed.
Nine lives no more
Friends from Spain tell me that Catlike is synonymous to cycling. It is the go-to helmet. Unfortunately, in July 2019, Catlike ceased production. According to CMD Sport, Catlike are restructuring and rethinking their future. More than a year on and there is still no sign of Catlike’s return.
Long Term Review
But we’re not here for a history lesson, we’re here to see if Catlike Cloud 352 helmet actually works.
At the time it was up against a very decent lid, the KASK Dieci. After five years of unflinching service, it was time to find a worthy replacement. This would be a hard task; the Dieci itself is very good helmet. KASK proceeded to replace the Dieci with the Protone, a helmet still favoured amongst pros and amateurs alike, but this is also reflected in the asking price for the Protone. And so the 352 at half the price starts to look like an attractive alternative.
How does it work?
There are several key differences to the 352 to the Dieci. Depending on your point of view, it may be the look, the aero benefits, or the fit. In my opinion, it is the replacebale top that helps this lid stand apart. Suitable for aero needs, or changing weather conditions, the 352 can either have just 3 front vents, or 352. And no, I didn’t count them.
Does it work?
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: if you’re going to buy a helmet, get one that you want to wear. A helmet that you like. That way, it won’t be swinging on your handlebars because you regret the colour, or worse still, the fit.
A straightforward ratchet system controlled by a dial at the back secures the fit. Additionally, the straps on either side of the lid are adjustable. This ensures that whatever your need, it’s not going to limit up and down adjustment.
Catlike make the 352 in a variety of clour ways. When Conor Dunne was Irish National Champion, Catlike made a spellbinding tricolor 352. The production model comes with a wave of reflective dots that adorn the side of the lid. What’s more, the back has 2 tasteful reflectors to ensure visibility for fellow road users. I like it a lot.
Like most quality helmets, the build is right up there. Sizing is spot on. My head measures 58cm and the 352 in a medium fits fine. I can even sneak cap under the lid when it gets really gnarly.
What could be improved?
As an aero helmet, I have no way of measuring its effectiveness. It would be good if Catlike could back up its claims, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. What I can say is that I often think it is aero, and because of that I can’t help but feel aero. Maybe it’s just me.
Changing the the swappable section isn’t possible on the fly. You’ve got to plan ahead. On very cold days I find the non-vented section is favourable. The 352 holes offer plenty of ventilation, but not as much as I felt with the KASK Dieci. I wouldn’t necessarily put this down to the size of vents, but more a matter of positioning. If you take a look at the pictures of the Dieci and 352 above, the latter lacks vents to the side of the helmet. This makes a big difference.
Finally, and it’s only a small gripe; there are plenty pads to help make the fit just right. What I would like to see is an extra pad for the forehead. Even with daily washing, the pad eventually needs replacing. I had to use a spare one from a previous helmet purchase to make further use of the 352. But it is worth it.
The low down
After 3 years of constant use: everything from the humble commute, club run, or some of the hottest days in living memory, the Catlike Cloud 352 continues to prove itself admirably. I’ve recently got my hands on a POC Ventral Air, which is great. But the Catlike has that certain something, that I keep reaching for. I just hope Catlike make a return to the market and continue to push the innovation envelope.
:: The review is independent and the club does not have any involvement with Catlike. We simply like their ideas. You can find a range of reviews here ::