The perfect helmet for little riders, the Lazer Gekko and Lil’ Gekko helmets offer excellent durability along with Lazer’s unique autofit system (helmet auto adjusts to fit each child’s head). It also boasts great ventilation and an easy to use side-buckling system. Check out our review below for all the details!
- Auto-fit adjustment system means a perfect fit, every time!
- Buckle positioned on the side – no pinching necks!
- High-quality and durable in-mold construction
- Great ventilation and sweat-wicking pads
- Inner cage can be adjusted up or down to accommodate shorter
- Optional MIPS technology
- Optional LED light on back of helmet
- Fit can be problematic for some kids. especially those with long hair
- Visor is not integrated
- MIPS anchors can snag long hair
Gekko and Lil’ Gekko Helmet Review: Results of our Testing
With a ton of kids bike helmets on the market, it’s hard to make a helmet that’s better or different than all the others. But the Lazer Lil’ Gekko and Gekko are splashing onto the scene with two features that make them truly unique.
If you don’t mind us spoiling the surprise, you can skip forward to the sections on Adjustment System and Buckle to check out Lazer’s innovative AutoFit system and side-placed buckle. These features are game-changing in the kid’s bike helmet world!
The Lazer Lil’ Gekko and Gekko are updated versions of the now discontinued Lazer P’Nut and Nut’z helmets. Like their predecessors, both helmets are also available with optional MIPS safety technology. In our testing, we did find that the MIPS and non-MIPS versions to have slight differences in fit, so be sure to check out our MIPS sections below to learn about the differences.
While not yet widely known in the U.S., Lazer is a well-respected and popular bike helmet brand in Europe, and is very highly regarded by us here at Two Wheeling Tots.
Coverage and Size
The Lazer Lil’ Gekko and Gekko are essentially different sizes of the same helmet. The Lil’ Gekko is the toddler version, made for little ones with head circumferences of 46 – 50 cm. The larger Gekko has a head circumference range of 50 – 56 cm.
There are shockingly few helmets made for toddlers with head sizes of 46 cm or below. If you want a high-quality helmet at that size, you’re looking at the Lazer Lil Gekko, Botranger Little Dipper, or the Giro Scamp (XS). While each of these helmets are a great fit for toddlers, the Lil Gekko has a few unique and innovative features that make it particularly awesome for the smallest noggins. (Keep reading below!)
The larger Gekko kid’s helmet is bigger than the Lil’ Gekko, but on the smaller size for youth-sized helmets. Youth helmets generally start at 50 cm or 52 cm as their minimum fit for head circumference. With a range of 50 – 56 cm, the Gekko falls into the smaller camp. Just another reminder to always measure your child’s head before you buy a helmet!
Both Gekko helmets offer plenty of side and rear coverage. As a comparison, take a look at the Lazer Lil’ Gekko compared to the popular Giro Scamp. The Lazer offers slightly more coverage in the front, but doesn’t come down quite as far on the sides and back.
The Lil’ Gekko and the Scamp are both CPSC 1+ certified, which means that they have more coverage than is required for larger kids’ helmets.
Helmet Coverage: Lazer Lil’ Geckko vs. Giro Scamp
One minor, but important, improvement the Lil’ Gekko and Gekko have over the P’Nut and Nut’z is that the back of the helmet is flatter. When a helmet has a flat back, it’s much better suited for use with a child bike seat or child bike trailer.
The flat back allows a child’s head to rest comfortably against the back of the seat. A helmet like the Joovy Noodle, which has a pointed back, can cause a child’s head to be awkwardly pushed forward against the back of the seat.
Lazer Lil’ Gekko Flat Back vs. Joovy Noodle Pointed Back
If you’ll be riding with your toddler or pre-schooler in a child bike seat or trailer, the Lil’ Gekko and Gekko are great options to consider. But if a trailer is going to be where you’ll primarily be using the helmet, you should also consider the Giro Scamp. While the Lil’ Gekko and Scamp both have flat backs, the Scamp is less bulky in the back.
Internal Cage & AutoFit System
The Gekko and Lil’ Gekko’s AutoFit system is its HUGE differentiating factor, and easily one of our favorite features of any helmet we’ve ever used. Most high-end helmets tighten from the back using a dial-adjust knob. But the Gekko and Lil’ Gekko raise the bar with an internal cage that automatically adjusts to the size of your child’s head!
Lazer AutoFit Tension Wire vs. Traditional Dial Adjust Knob
As a parent that has adjusted a lot of helmets in my day, I will say boldly that this can make your daily bike life significantly easier. While wearing a helmet is important, if the helmet isn’t properly and snuggly fitted to a child’s head, it can’t protect them in the event of a crash.
Sooo many kids forget to tighten their helmets before riding, even with an easy-to-use dial-adjust knob. And even if you’re the one putting on the helmets, squirming toddlers or whining kids can often prevent even the most experienced parents from adjusting their child’s helmet right.
The AutoFit system on the Lazer Gekko and Lil’ Gekko make getting a proper fit effortless. Every single time. Simply place the helmet on the child’s head, and the inner cage expands and is held snuggly in place by a tension wire in plastic housing. This tension wire allows the inner cage to automatically conform to a child’s head.
Will It Fit My Child’s Head?
While we raise a high five to Lazer for the AutoFit system, there is an important caveats to its usage. For certain kids, the Lil’ Gekko and Gekko are not ideal.
AutoFit System and Loose Hair
In our experience with both the older P’Nut/Nut’z and the newer Lil’ Gekko/Gekko, the AutoFit system is not a great combo with loose hair.
Whether your child has long flowing hair, or short loose baby curls, the AutoFit system tends to slide around on a head with loose hair. If the hair can be pulled tightly back into a low ponytail or into low braids, the system stays in place well. We have had no issues with the AutoFit system and traditional boy haircuts.
Vertical Adjust (non-MIPS helmet only)
For really shallows heads, the non-MIPS versions of the Gekko and Lil’Gekko helmets have an additional depth adjustment to adjust how low the helmet fits on a child’s forehead. A properly fitted helmet should rest at about 2 finger-widths above a child’s eyebrows. Kids with really shallow foreheads can have a problem with a helmet resting too close to their eyebrows, which can impede their field of view.
To help solve the issue, the internal cage of the non-MIPS helmets can be raised or lowered by adjusting the vertical height via a sliding adjustment. Simply pulling down on the internal cage next to the slider will easily adjust the fit.
The MIPS version of both helmets does not have this height adjustment but its set vertical height is equivalent to the lowest height setting on the non-MIPS version. Kids with short foreheads would benefit from buying the non-MIPS helmet as it would allow them to raise the helmet when it lands too close to the child’s eyebrows.
For those purchasing the non-MIPS version, be sure to adjust the height of the vertical adjust. Our helmet came with the vertical adjust set to its highest setting, forcing the helmet to sit too high on our testers’ heads.
After testing the helmets on various kids, we are pretty sure that the lowest setting would be best for the average child.
For any helmet, correctly adjusting the helmet’s side straps is one of the most confusing parts of getting a helmet to fit properly. Fortunately, it’s usually only the first time you make the adjustment that is difficult, with subsequent adjustments being pretty minor.
The side straps need to come to a V below a child’s ear, which helps keep the helmet centered on the child’s head. The slider which holds that V in place is not locking on the Gekko or Lil’ Gekko, like it is on other Lazer helmets. Despite this, they stay snuggly in place (much better than the sliders on most other helmets), requiring less frequent re-adjustments.
If the side straps on your Gekko or Lil’ Gekko are uneven, you’ll need to adjust their length so there’s a nice, even V below your child’s ear. You adjust the length by shortening one side to give more length to the other side.
While not intuitive, it can be adjusted for a perfect fit! The side strap webbing is looped through a fabric loop at the very back of the helmet. It’s a little awkward to access, but luckily you won’t need to access it often. You’ll need to feed the webbing through the back to even out the placement of the Vs on either side of the helmet.
The buckles on the Lazer Gekko and Lil’ Gekko are the second game changing feature of these helmets! So often it’s the little details that get overlooked, but they make all the difference in the usability of a helmet.
Have you ever pinched the neck skin of your child when buckling their helmet? ARGH!!!! It’s awful.
Years ago, many helmets began featuring magnetic “pinch-free” buckles that slide into place, rather than requiring you to snap two sides of a standard buckle together. These magnetic buckles are much easier to use, but can actually still pinch a child if you’re not careful.
Lazer’s solution to this problem is simple, but pretty genius. Instead of the buckle being placed directly under the chin and next to loose neck skin, it’s on the side of the face where you can see what you’re doing and where there’s no loose skin to pinch! The receiving end of the buckle is actually connected to the side strap slider underneath the ear.
While the buckle itself is standard and not magnetic, it’s still an innovative and effective “pinch-free” system.
The Gekko and Lil’s Gekko feature high quality, sealed pads. We especially love that the padding is just one single piece. Young kids tend to rip the padding out of helmets quite frequently, and we’ve lost plenty of helmet pads in our day. With the padding just one large piece, it’s much less likely to get lost if a child does manage to rip it out.
The material is not the same performance, sweat-wicking pads as found in Lazer’s J1 helmet, but does a good job nonetheless.
Construction, Vents, & Visor
The Gekko and Lil Gekko are lightweight, but not as lightweight as other helmets on the market. The Gekko weighs in at 310 g without MIPS and 340 g with MIPS. Giro’s similarly-sized Tremor with MIPS weighs in at 306 g.
The Lil’ Gekko weighs 300 g without MIPS and 330 g with MIPS. The popular Giro Scamp XS weighs only 232 g.
One of the primary reasons you pay more for a “nice” helmet is because they are made with in-mold construction. This means that the outer shell is fused with the inner foam core so the helmet is one solid piece.
In-mold helmets are more durable as the outer shell won’t warp, crack, or come loose over time. Hardshell helmets are popular because they are cheap, but the outer shell leaves much more of the foam exposed to potential damage. That outer shell can also come completely separated from the helmet over time.
The visor on the Gekko and Lil’ Gekko is removable, but very sturdy. Visors serve two main purposes. Keeping the sun out of kids’ eyes, for sure, but even more importantly, they protect a child’s face in the event of a face plant. (This happens a lot more frequently than you would imagine.)
This is one area where we prefer the older versions of these helmets. The Lazer P’Nut and Nut’z had built-in visors, which can’t flex or come off in a crash. Built-in visors (in our experience) are likely to provide better facial protection in the event of a crash because they don’t break off.
That said, many high-end toddler helmets have removable visors. If a built-in visor is important to you, check out the Giro Scamp (toddlers). Larger helmets for kids generally always have removable visors.
With 12 vents, the Lazer Gekko and Lil’ Gekko have a standard number of vents. (Giro Scamp has 11, Bell Sidetrack has 14, Giro Tremor has 18), but the vents are large and are plenty big to keep your kids’ head cool.
The center back vent can be outfitted with an LED light as an upgrade.
Optional MIPS Technology
Both the Gekko and Lil’ Gekko come in two different options – without MIPS or with MIPS. What in the worlds is MIPS? It stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and is considered to be an added level of protection in bike helmets.
MIPS consists of an inner plastic lining held in place by flexible yellow anchors. This layer rotates upon impact, which allows the helmet to provide better protection from the rotational forces affecting your brain when you fall at an angle.
For the Gekko and Lil’ Gekko helmets, the MIPS version is only an additional $10. Most helmets have a $20 increase in price for the MIPS version, so this is a great bang for your buck.
One thing to be aware of, however, is that exposed MIPS anchors snag on long hair. There are some helmets (for example, Giro Tremor which you can see below) that actually have the anchors covered to prevent hair from catching on the anchors. A a result, the MIPS versions of the Gekko helmets are less ideal for kids with long hair (even pulled back).
Additionally, the plastic MIPS layer can increase the sweat-factor. The plastic layer in the Lazer Gekko helmets has more plastic not covered by pads that some other MIPS helmets.
If you live in a hot climate but you prefer a helmet with MIPS, you may want to check out the Giro Tremor Youth helmet which has a MIPS layer with less plastic and more padding. This will help some in the hot summer sun. (We don’t know of a toddler helmet with MIPS that is designed like the Tremor.)
Plastic MIPS Layer on Lazer Gekko vs Giro Tremor
AutoFit System and MIPS
The MIPS layer, when paired with Lazer’s AutoFit system, makes the MIPS helmets fit slightly differently than their non-MIPS helmets. While the difference in fit was minor on the Gekko, it was significantly different on the Lil’ Gekko for some of our testers.
Due to the changes in the internal cage to allow for the MIPS and the AutoFit system to operate properly, the internal cage of the Lil’Gekko with MIPS is not adhered to the sides of the foam core like it is on the Lil’Gekko without MIPS.
As a result, due to the gaps between the inner cage and the foam core on the Lil’Gekko with MIPS, the internal cage is 1.5 cm narrower than the Lil’Gekko without MIPS. (This is not the case with the larger Gekko.)
As a result, after testing the helmets on several children, we found that the narrower Lil’ Gekko with MIPS fits and stays in place MUCH better on kids with narrower or more oval-shaped heads (front to back).
If your child has a round or wide head, you should probably opt for the Lil’ Gekko without MIPS.
The Lazer Gekko and Lil’ Gekko helmets take two major pain points of helmets and solve those problems! Their AutoFit system ensures a snug and proper fit with very little effort. And the side-placed buckles prevent you from pinching sensitive neck skin. We love these helmets for making wearing a helmet (safely!) so much easier!