Giro has been keeping your noggin cool (as in ‘hot’, ‘bad’ or ‘The Fonz’) for quite a while now. Keeping up with the movement into lighter, longer travel bikes and the need for slightly beefier but still well-vented head protection, the XEN must be the helmet of the past five years. Well now Giro wants to make your head cooler still (as in actually cooler) with the more breathable XAR. This helmet is a bit more angular than the XEN and incorporates 17 wind tunnel tested vents. It has more breathable X-static padding and a simpler fitting system, the Roc Loc 5, which relies on opposable thumbs to turn a dial rather than the push and pull of the old system.
Now I don’t spend much time in a wind tunnel (unless you count Wellington) and consider a hot head as par for the course. While the XAR still doesn’t prevent a sweaty brow, it does allow noticeably more airflow, meaning there’s less chance of an overcooked head resulting in an overcooked corner.
The true test of a helmet should always be what happens in a crash. Apologies, but I wasn’t about to put my head on the line in pursuit of journalism. But it is important that your helmet fits as it should, and not as a bonnet on the back of your head. I found the Roc Loc 5, with easy height and wrap adjustment, was great at clinging to my skull and keeping my lid where it should be.
There are also some zany new colours and graphics to keep us kids feeling as hip as, well, our kids. So, if you’re a fan of the XEN, then step on up. The XAR is more of the same. Only better. MARK DANGERFIELD

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