Tested: Cratoni Rocket
By Vernon Felton
German helmet manfucaturer, Cratoni, returns to the American market in 2014 with a full range of helmets, including the Rocket. This is Cratoni's most cross-country-oriented lid and, as such, features extensive venting (23 of them, to be exact) for maximum cooling. The helmet also sports a full CoolMax liner, which should help lift sweat away from your noggin during hard efforts.
The Rocket is interesting, from an aesthetic point of view. The back end is swoopy and kind of screams "road" whereas the front of the helmet is fairly wide and brawny. It's actually a bit of an amalgamation of road and cross-country mountain bike styling. Perhaps that's not surprising when you consider that Cratoni sells a road version (the Bullet) that only differs from the Rocket in that it lacks the Rocket's visor and rubberized exterior.
The Rocket sports all the features you'd expect in a high-end helmet: detachable visor, dial-adjust fitting system, well-designed comfort padding and a bag to transport the helmet in, if you're one of those types who wants to keep their lid looking minty fresh.
As for function, the adjustment dial works perfectly, allowing for minute, one-handed adjustments. They nailed that. No one ever waxes poetic about chin straps and, really, they either hold the helmet on or they don't. That said, some helmets have crappy strap-adjusting buckles that make gross adjustments a pain. The Rocket features very simple and effective adjusters. Again, it’s not the sexiest thing to talk about, but it matters.
The visor attachment certainly works, but isn't going to wow you with its high-tech approach—it's basically a peg on the visor that snaps into a hole in the EPS liner. It's not as robust an attachment design as what you'll find on comparably priced POC, Bell and Giro helmets. It does, however, work. Thankfully, Cratoni lined the receiving hole with a hard plastic, which should enable it to hold up to multiple removals without widening (which would create a sloppy and less-secure union between the visor and helmet shell).
Helmet fit is an entirely personal subject. Humans sport a surprisingly wide range of head shapes and helmet manufacturers are faced with the dilemma of picking one shape that will somehow satisfy everyone. The Cratoni shape didn't mesh with my own head terribly well, but I was able to snug things up with a few twists of the dial. For me, the Cratoni will never rival, say, the Bell Sweep or Specialized S3 when it comes to comfort, but that has more to do with the shape of my own melon than anything Cratoni has done. In short, if the Rocket sounds appealing to you (and it is a solid piece of kit), you should try one on at your local bike shop yourself.
Finally, weight. There are reports of this helmet weighing a mere 210 grams. That figure might hold true for the euro version, but America's harder-hitting CPSC safety standards require more foam and that adds weight to the mix. The Rocket sold here in America weighs in at 270 grams (for a Medium/Large), which is still very competitive for high-end lids.
If the Rocket’s sticker price reeks of Ferraris and caviar to you, Cratoni also offers helmets that cost half as much and still pack a lot of features. Check out their site HERE.