Warmth / Venting
Warmth and venting are the primary areas where the Watts differs from the original Baker. The Baker is hot, which is nice when the weather is seemingly trying to suck every bit of heat from your body, but not so great when the weather is warm or you’re being super active.
As I mentioned earlier, in contrast to the non-vented Baker, the Watts has a total of 10 vents. There are 6 at the top of the helmet, and 4 at the rear. These vents are positioned to allow heat loss through radiation (i.e. not by air flowing through them), and it does vent very well.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of small adjustable vents at the front of the helmet, however, to help force cooler air into the helmet when it’s really sweltering. As it is, the brow/forehead is definitely the hottest area of the Watts.
Speaking of adjustability, the only area of concern I had with the Watts is that the vents are not adjustable; they are always wide open. Obviously this is great when you’re looking to dump heat, but when you’re not, you’re basically out of luck. For most riding conditions, the current configuration is perfect, but when it is super cold (less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit), I could notice the loss of heat through the top of my head.
You can rotate the upper Sink-Fit pad to partially cover the upper vents, but it does require removing the knit liner to do so, and it can easily change the fit of the helmet on the back of the head, so this method isn’t exactly ideal.
One suitable remedy to make the Watts a little warmer is to wear a thin helmet liner, which traps a little extra heat. Another option is to swap the Bern knit liner, which is insulated only around the brim and over the ears and has mesh upper, for a warmer thin beanie.
For summer use, I would expect the Watts to be a little toasty during the heat of the summer, especially while engaged in strenuous activities. I do, however, believe this helmet would be perfect for riding on cold days (or nights) when my normal, super light, bike helmet would be a little chilly. Even in this application though, I could foresee a great benefit of having adjustable vents at the front of the Watts.
I have only used the Oakley Airbrake with the Carbon Watts, but I have used the Smith Phenom, Oakley A-Frame, SCOTT Fix and SCOTT Motive with the identical Baker. All of them have fit very well, with a slight exception to the Smith Phenom. That particular goggle pushed the sides of the mini-visor up and tilted the helmet back slightly. In general, any goggle with much curve to the upper frame will fit perfectly. If the goggle is wide and a little flat, you might run in to fit issues.
The goggle lock at the rear of the helmet works perfectly, and is incredibly simple. It can also be used in either an upper or lower position, depending on the feel and look you are aiming for (shown in lower position, at right). The lock can also be removed altogether if you choose to run your goggles under the helmet.
Like other EPS foam helmets on the market, the Watts EPS is designed to take one big blow, then it will need to be replaced. Also like most companies, Bern has a crash replacement program and will replace your damaged lid for a minimal cost. No big surprises here.
My biggest durability concern with this particular helmet has to do with the Carbon shell. While it is very strong, it does actually mark/scratch quite easily. It’s not a deal breaker, as overall function is not in jeopardy, and it is only aesthetics after all. But considering this helmet costs a pretty penny, I think it would be nice if it didn’t look beat up so quickly.
As far as the rest of the helmet, including liners, pads, straps, snaps, and goggle lock, I haven’t noticed any red flags up to this point. Everything looks the same as it did the day the helmet arrived.
The Bern Carbon Watts is more expensive than a lot of other helmets, but is a great option if you lug your helmet up the mountain as well as down; don’t like the feeling of having a heavy lid on your head; or simply want something other than the standard issue.
I’ve found the helmet quite comfortable (even with the slightly snug fit), and the 10 vents make the helmet very versatile, not only during the winter riding resort or ski touring, but also for three- to four-season use.