Giro has been a significant contributor to the development of mountain biking, especially the freeride concept. It was one of the brands to invest early in the movement and the visions of riders and filmmakers of the early Kranked video series that brought freeride to the masses in 1998. Since then, Giro has produced some of the most innovative and market-leading helmets catering for the trail and gravity market since not to mention shoes, jackets and apparel.
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Based in California, Giro was founded by Jim Gentes in 1985. Starting out making aero helmets which quickly gained traction and success in the triathlon and road market. It was the 90s and early 2000s that saw Giro make huge leaps, with the development of the Roc Loc retention system followed by helmets such as the Switchblade and Xen which have essentially carved the blueprint for many of the helmets that are available today.
Since then Giro has continued to produce a wide range of mountain bike helmets from budget trail lids to top of the range helmets that continue to innovate in safety and comfort with a focus on its partnership with MIPS. Keep reading for Bike Perfect's look at Giro's trail, enduro and downhill offerings.
Giro Trail Helmets
Giro’s Manifest is a super-smart, super-comfortable, cool-riding trail lid that’s loaded with a whole menu of small but worthwhile details. It also delivers what’s claimed to be next-level brain protection while still keeping weight reasonable and ventilation excellent.
The Manifest brings the Giro Aether's road helmet ball and socket MIPS design and translates it to a helmet ready to hit your favourite trail. The advantage of using an inner and outer shell that sandwich a slip plan to provide rotational protection is improved ventilation over the standard MIPS inner liner.
Fit is crucial with a helmet and the new Trail Air cradle takes an already very inclusive fit and together with fatter pads than we’ve become used to on MIPS helmets makes it feel fantastic. It’s super-secure even with the straps undone and while the buckle is bulky it’s ‘self-seeking’ closure mechanism is awesome. The bolted visor moves through a really wide range of angles but stays secure on rough descents and the little rubber goggle strap and glasses arms grabbers work brilliantly to secure your optics.
The Artex caters for those that are looking for road bike helmet levels of ventilation for long-distance rides but want mountain-inspired features such as additional coverage and a peak.
The do-it-all nature of the Artex helmet will cover your trail, road and gravel bike riding needs. Deeper coverage offers more protection than you would get on a road helmet while the removable peak allows you to cater to the style of riding. The 25 vents across the helmet use inner channelling to help keep your head cool when grinding out the miles.
The Radix is a well-considered helmet designed to satisfy the needs of most trail bike riders. Giro's wind tunnel ventilation system keeps heads cool on endless climbs. and the MIPS cradle and EPS shell offer protection on the way back down. Giro has integrated the MIPS liner does what it needs to do but is built around the venting and Roc Loc retention system.
Fit and comfort have always been a standout Giro advantage worth paying for and that continues to be true with the Radix. The ultra-stable pressure point free security of the Roc Loc 5.5 system combined with seemingly universal shaping certainly made it an instant fit and forget hit with all our northern UK test team.
Not long ago MIPS rotational safety was a system that was reserved exclusively for the top of the range helmets. However, over the last few years brands such as Giro have continued to trickle the technology down into lower price ranges. The Giro Fixture, one of Giro's cheapest mountain bike helmets, has now been updated to include MIPS.
The Fixture includes other features that are found on Giro's higher-end helmets as well. In-moulding construction protects its EPS liner and the MIPS system is integrated so as to help with avoiding obstruction of airflow. Head retention uses a Roc Loc but it's the universal fit Roc Loc Sports version. While it's always sage advise for any helmet purchase, make sure you try before you buy if you have a head that's anything beyond average.
Giro Enduro Helmets
With so much going on you could almost forgive the Tyrant's slightly awkward fit as is the case with many deep-dish helmets. Apart from the extended shell twanging off your ears on the way in though the fit is fantastic straight away. The big padded cradle holds it super secure with even light tension so the chin strap is almost a formality. Every tester who tried it said the same too, which is super rare given the variety of head shapes we have on the team. There’s no obvious extra wobble, creak or rattle from the twin shell design either. There’s enough space between the over-ear sections and your actual lugs to cut down wind noise enough for a calming ‘zen’ effect but shouted warnings or sharings of stoke from other riders still come through loud and clear.
What really surprised us is how effective the cooling is from just a few vents. The temple vents in particular pipe air straight onto your skull and then it sheets over your entire head rather than getting trapped or just pulled through specific vents. It’s certainly not the best venting helmet we’ve used in the extra protection category (Lazer’s convertible Revolution still takes that breezy crown by a long way but it’s cool enough to stay on your head for the climb back up or when you’re charging along singletrack in your lightest shirt and shorts.
The Giro Montaro MIPS, and women's Montara MIPS, has been around for a while and is a top-performing enduro helmet that comes in at a reasonable price point.
The EPS construction has Giro's roll cage reinforcement to help hold the helmet together on impact and has very comprehensive in-moulding to protect the edges of the EPS from damage. Internal channelling makes the most of the 16 vents on offer and there are antimicrobial brow pads that help wick away moisture without getting smelly.
The POV Plus visor gives three levels of adjustment and a high position for storing goggles when climbing. When in use, strap grippers at the rear of the helmet make sure everything stays in place when tackling technical descents. There is also a breakaway accessory mount that attaches to the top and uses a standard GoPro mount to attach action camera's or lights to the helmet.
For many riders, the Giro Chronicle will be an obvious choice as their next helmet. Sharing many of the features from its more premium Montero sibling but for considerably less spend.
The Chronicle features deep head coverage as well as MIPS for increased protection and benefits from Giro's comfortable fit. The 14 vents channel air across the head and expel built-up heat out the back. It also gets the same POV Plus visor as the Chronicle for better goggle storage and three adjustable positions.
The Switchblade isn't a new concept, Giro originally came up with it in 1998, however, with many years of progression the newest Switchblade offers more protection than ever. Whether you're looking to attack the gnarliest of enduro bike trails or fancy some part-time downhill or bike park loops, the Giro Switchblade is the one helmet to rule them all. With its easily removable chin guard allowing one helmet to double as an open face trail helmet and a downhill certified full face.
Beyond the removable chin guard, the Switchblade features 20 vents over the helmet and in the chin guard as well as antimicrobial, X-Static hydrophilic pads to help with cooling. D-ring closure and Roc Loc Air DH will keep the helmet locked in place. Giro includes a spare visor with a POV camera mount for those that like to record their rides.
Downhill and freeride riding have significantly higher demands for helmets when compared to trail and even enduro-specific helmets. The extreme nature of the terrain and velocity of impacts mean that helmets need to be a lot tougher.
Giro has used a fibreglass shell that covers the EPS liner and custom injected gasket trim. Vinyl nitrile is used to line the chin bar which Giro claims to improves performance when inflicted with repeated impacts. Giro includes a number of neat details including removable chin pads so the helmet can be taken off easier in an emergency, integrated POV camera mount and audio speaker compatibility.