Catlike Kompact’O Follow-Up Review


Not only have my cycling gloves failed, but my helmet has also failed, and in the same relatively short period of time.  My helmet’s retention system’s adjustment wheel will not adjust anything, the screws that hold it in place have rusted, and the helmet’s matte black finish has developed spider-weblike accretions that originally looked to me like some kind of fungus.  I tried to clean them off with water and a cloth, with not much success.  I resorted to scraping the stuff off, and that sort of worked.  But instead of a fungus, I now think, the result of the matte finish layer reacting to the extremes of heat, humidity, rain, and so forth to which I routinely subject it.  I think the finish layer is ‘drawing up’ and away from the helmet’s shell, and where it draws up or folds upward and away from the shell, it creases, and those creased ridges look white.  I bought the helmet back in late June, I think, so it seems a bit new for this kind of failure.  My initial review of the helmet can be found here.


Last week, I contacted Bike Tires Direct, the Portland, Oregon, based online retailer from which I bought the helmet, and they sent me a replacement that arrived by last Friday along with a prepaid mailer to send the defective helmet back to them.  I went by the UPS store yesterday to get that done, and cussword if it wasn’t a U.S. Postal Service mailer they sent me.  The helmet arrived UPS, thus my understandable confusion.  I’ll get that mailed back today.


I’m not totally sure how I feel about wearing an all-white or mostly all-white helmet, but it does increase visibility and my son thinks it’s cool-looking.  Fit’s about the same as the black helmet, but I think the shiny finish will be less likely to come to grief in the space of three months in normal riding conditions.  I could be wrong, though.  Winter’s coming.

Catlike Kompacto


For about the past three years, since I started wearing a bike helmet while riding, I’ve used an inexpensive Specialized bike helmet in muted spaceship-silver.  Recently, the adjustment-wheel slide mechanism at the back broke and the helmet quit tightening enough to fit snug.  I found a good deal on a Catlike Kompacto at BikeTiresDirect.  I was pretty happy at the prospect of getting something a little higher-end that looks a little less like a spaceship than the Specialized helmet.  Here’s a video I found describing the Kompacto: The helmet BTD shipped to me was different in at least one respect from the one shown in the video – it didn’t have the chin-strap pad.  The BikeTiresDirect illustrations, though, show the chin-strap without a pad.  One review of the Kompacto seen online (but I didn’t save the link – you’ll have to google it) complained the Kompacto looked like a mushroom on the reviewer’s head.  My guess is, though, that unless you make your living as a hat model, you’re going to look odd wearing any cycling helmet.



In the middle top-row photo, above, you can see that a packaged bottle of 5-Hour Energy Drink was included with the Kompacto, along with a glossy, full-color brochure making great claims for the product’s efficacy and inviting the user to complete a survey after having sampled the drink.  The stuff’s crap.  I experienced much greater than usual thirst and I felt hungrier while noticing no ‘performance’ gains during about a 30 mile moderately hilly ride averaging 14 – 15 mph on an antique steel roadbike.  I completed the survey and told them so.  I will stick with the Gatorade Prime Sports Fuel Drink I’ve been buying at a local scratch-and-dent grocery outlet sooo cheaply I dare not mention my price per unit.  The Gatorade product’s way more effective in terms of performance gains – I find myself pedaling without fatigue and faster a few miles into a ride than without it – something I did not experience with the 5-Hour Energy product.  I prefer the Gatorade Berry flavor, or the Orange.  The Fruit Punch flavor tastes like fruit-punch, and that is not great.

My greatest disappointment with the Kompacto is that it’s manufactured in China – Mainland, Communist China – doubtless by slave-labor.  Who knows why, but for some reason I thought a Spanish company would manufacture its products in, well, Spain.  Sadly, no.

Regarding fit, I measured my noggin in centimeters, and bought a Medium, whereas when I measured previously, bought a Large in the Specialized helmet.  With the Specialized helmet, I had to tighten the adjustment wheel all the way down to get a fit.  I stupidly tried that with the Kompacto and had a headache my first ride wearing it.  Duh, right?  I was able to achieve a good fit without cinching the helmet down all the way.  The plastic clamps below the ears on the chin-strap are easy to adjust, but come unclamped easily if my hand brushes against them while I put on the helmet.

The Kompacto’s fit is a little uncomfortable, even with the adjustments done correctly.  Worn with a cycling cap, however, the helmet is much more comfortable.  I’ve used it now for about 350 miles, maybe a little bit more, and have found it superior in terms of weight and wearability to the Specialized helmet it replaces.

Read the Follow-Up Review