Don’t worry, this isn’t yet another review of the Kask Protone. We all know it’s pretty darned good cycling helmet, worn to victory by the like of Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, to name a few.
A quick glance on Kask’s website suggests the helmet is currently available in no less than 20 (yes, 20!) colourways, and that doesn’t include the Paul Smith special editions, so make that 22 or more.
But, if for some reason, you just can’t find the colour you’re looking for, or perhaps your Protone is looking a little tired and scuffed, fear not.
I first became aware of Optiek Van Gorp in Belgium a few years ago, when I saw their Tom Boonen ‘snow camo’ Oakley Jawbreakers and decided I had to have a pair. Since then, they’ve expanded their range of custom sunglasses and, through their relationship with Oakley, started to do some custom designs on the AR helmets.
One such design caught my eye recently: a holographic base paint (not dissimilar to what you’ve seen on recent Peter Sagan Specialized bikes) with a hydro drip layer over the top. It looked stunning in the video (still photos just can’t do the paintjob justice) and I was smitten.
However, I have more than enough helmets, so rather than buying the custom Oakley AR05, I asked the guys if they would give my neglected lime green Kask Protone the same treatment. And they said yes!
I duly packaged up the Protone and shipped it over to Belgium. I bought it second-hand to match my Giant TCR SL but of all the helmets I own, it was the least worn and therefore the prime candidate for customization.
The guys at Optiek Van Gorp are (understandably) a little coy about the full process, but I do know that they must have found a way to lift off the branding stickers, then sanded back the shell to give a good surface for the new paint. Then they’ve managed to apply the new paint with no overspill onto the polystyrene and either after or before applying the hydro drip layer (I went for a digital camo design) they even reapplied the ‘Kask’ and ‘Protone’ logos. Proper job.
It looks amazing, as if it was fresh out of the factory. The full process took about two weeks and we had a few mails back and forth during that time to agree on things like which hydro dip design to use (tiger/zebra print was a front-runner for a little while!).
The Protone isn’t perhaps quite as good a helmet to custom paint as the Oakley AR05, simply because it’s not a fully aero lid, so it has more vents and less total surface area. You don’t get quite the same effect as you would on a Utopia, for example.
But…. In the right light, it’s still very special.
There’s no arguing that customizing an already very good helmet like a Protone is sheer extravagance. But, if you’re determined to stand out or have a design that you can almost guarantee to be unique in your part of the world, you might just be able to justify it to yourself!
A big thanks to the guys at Optiek Van Gorp for their incredibly professional work. I really can’t stress enough just how good a job they did.
If you see a bright shiny helmet on the roads of Wiltshire, it’s probably me….