It was kind of a fluke, I mean we weren’t really asked to come formally, but a classically-Caleb chain of events fell into place that led to Spoke being invited to the launch of Giro’s new All Mountain/Trail/Enduro Helmet, the Montaro. The launch was a little different than most. It actually took place on a trail that was ridden in the recent Whistler round of the EWS. In fact if you’re looking for six degrees of separation, it turns out Spoke contributor Seb Kemp and his buddy Todd built the track!
The media rendezvoused at the trail exit and got set up on a bevy of brand new 2016 Kona Bikes, the media picked up their pre-assigned helmets and after a short intro from Giro Marketing Director Dain Zaffke we were out on the trail. Well out up the trail. We hadn’t been given a ton of info prior to the ride but first impressions of the helmet were very positive, fit was what I had come to expect from Giro’s top end helmets and the ventilation felt good on our steep but short hot climb.
After rolling down Highside trail we popped out on to a fire road where Giro had lugged in tables, chairs, fresh fruit, snacks and most importantly, beers. This is where we learnt about this feature-packed category-killing helmet. Dain acknowledged (kind of) that people have been wanting to see a true replacement for the now discontinued Xen helmet. That helmet was truly ahead of its time and it really set the bar for trail helmets. To think it was introduced in 2003 is just crazy.
The Xen’s follow-up, the Xar was an amazing helmet too, but it wasn’t the Xen, hardcore followers were forced to look elsewhere. Well, this helmet is what you have been waiting for, and Giro will totally hate me for saying this, but it is kind of the Xen Mark II.
So what is so special about it (cos’ Caleb that is the longest freaking intro ever). Okay so for starters it’s the first Giro MTB helmet to feature RocLoc Air, Giro’s latest iteration of their retention system, it allows far more airflow whilst keeping the same sweet easy to adjust dial as the RocLoc 5.
Utilising the facilities at Giro’s in-house testing facility, The Dome, Giro have used heat mapping to strategically place the vents to provide the most efficient and coolest venting in their all-mountain category.
It comes with MIPS, which should not need any explaining to you now, but what is interesting is there is no non-MIPS model. Giro are backing MIPS hard, and have made a commitment with the Montaro and are unwilling to sacrifice your safety for price.
You can go full-enduro in the Montaro, the visor moves up in nice obvious detents and you can easily fit a pair of goggles under the visor. In addition, and to aid with keeping your goggle straps in one place, the rear vents are all rubberised on the outer and keep your straps firmly in place.
And speaking of straps, the thin webbing found on the Feature and Feather is not found on the Montaro, instead they have moved to a more premium webbing and a new tri-glide buckle (the bit where the straps intersect) that keeps the webbing flat to your cheek and stops the straps from wanting to twist.
On the table covered in food and beer were a bunch of ShamWow towels. Why? Well Giro have incorporated the same Hydrophilic material into the pads utilised in the Montaro. As you may have just seen in that amazing ShamWow clip the material takes on 20 times its volume in liquid. That boils down to the new pads absorbing 10 times more sweat than a standard urethane pad (read a nice way of saying other people's liners). The pads are still covered in Giro’s anti-microbial X Static pads… So if like me you sweat like a... well if you sweat a lot then this bad boy is for you. The ride yesterday was in 30 degree heat and not once did the pad leak sweat into my eyes, but a few more bigger rides will definitely be needed to truly put it to the test.
After one ride I’m happy to say that this is my new favourite helmet, there should be a colourway in the mix that makes it yours.