With 50 years in the protection game, Italian brand Dainese knows a thing or two about rider safety. It hasn’t made a helmet for over 10 years, but just launched a new Linea helmet range, which includes the incredibly lightweight Dainese Linea 01 MIPS and this half-shell Dainese Linea 03 MIPS+ sister model designed for trail and enduro riding.
The 03 helmet comes in three sizes across a range of color options, all shipping with three included pad thicknesses so that you can fine-tune the fit for your head size. Options with or without the MIPS rotating liner and Dainese’s digital rescue technologies are available, all with the same shell. This heavily vented outer shell has extended coverage at the rear behind the ears and a relatively deep dish inside, so it wraps the head and sits lower on the skull, rather perching on top. The 03 MIPS+ model reviewed here has all technologies and features.
Design and aesthetics
Dainese owns major motorbike helmet brand AGV and has worked with its R&D department testing and prototyping the Linea range. All the helmets use an impact-absorbing EPS layer underneath the exterior shell like most lids, but mapped at different densities in different zones to optimize protection equally all around the head. Dainese explained that sharp edges and pointy profiles on the exterior of a helmet’s polycarbonate exterior can accelerate impact forces through to the skull , so the EPS lining is tuned to even out defences all around the skull without adding excess weight. The flexible (adjustable) visor can also bend easily to avoid accelerating forces or twisting loads in an impact.
Also inside the expanded polystyrene is a nylon exoskeleton that forms a hidden lattice that’s a further key to weight saving. This webbing adds extra penetration resistance using a design similar to Dainese’s body armor with specially shaped segments in an “auxetic” layout. Auxetirc structures that possess something called a “zero Poisson ratio” which basically means that when they’e stretched in one direction they expand (and therefore strengthen) in the perpendicular direction. In other words, if an impact squishes the material in an up and down direction, the material actually strengthens on the horizontal plane.
If you do crash hard and the extra protection doesn’t help enough, there’s also technology from snow sports embedded inside to help rescue services potentially find you and also access personal data like blood group or next of kin information.
Some of the more standard features include multiple vents to aid air flow and cooling, a rear retention dial with a three-height head band and a padded chinstrap using Fidlock’s quick magnetic clasp system. There’s also the latest (slimmer) version on the MIPS rotational impact liner that forms an extra slippy layer between skull and shell to better absorb a glancing blow.
Helmet fit is obviously a personal thing, but my experience from testing them for years is that a helmet that’s comfy for me is often also good for colleagues and friends. With a 58cm head, I nearly always use a Medium helmet and this Linea 03 in size M/L fitted well, but felt a tad uneven inside against the shape of my skull, resulting in a couple of hotspots – especially at the back just above the retention wheel.
The slight pressure was most noticeable when looking far forward down the trail with neck craned. I experimented with positioning the rear retention dial higher and lower via the three different fixing points, but couldn’t totally eliminate the problem. Weirdly, the new full face Linea 01 model in the same size was extremely comfortable at all times during testing.
The Linea 03 half-shell dumps heat well and is great at feeding air over the top of the skull and the zone above ears, but it doesn’t feed as much cooling air onto the brow while moving as with some lids that have bigger dedicated ports in the middle of the forehead. Because of this, I found it less cool and airy than some rivals I use regularly and occasionally the forehead sweat pads got overloaded when I was working hard.
Another unusual issue here was the opposite of a common problem – loose and flappy chinstraps. Instead, Dainese’s fastener wasn’t long enough, which meant the Fidlock clasp sat too close to my jawline. As a result, the helmet pulled a touch as my head shook around over rough ground and possibly contributed to it not sitting properly and causing the hot spots I experienced. My guess is this was likely an issue with a pre-production sample as the Linea 03 helmet I also tested had a plenty long enough strap.
A final observation is that the deeply dished-out shape means the helmet sits so low on the forehead it presses down on the frame of some goggles (Dainese ones included), pushing them too firmly into the bridge of the nose. This might be an issue if you prefer googles over glasses with a half-shell lid.
The Dainese Linea 03 MIPS+ is well styled, offers good levels of protection and the shape is decent, plus it’s reasonable on both cool and comfort scales. I had issues with the level of comfort offered though and there are much better alternatives around (such as the Giro Merit). Given the Linea 03's £180 price-tag, you'd expect it to be performing exceptionally well in every department and unfortunately it doesn't quite do that.
Tech Specs: Dainese Linea 03 MIPS+ helmet
- Price: $199.95 (US) / £156.95 (UK) / €167.98 (EU)
- Style: Half-shell with reinforced EPS liner and MIPS evolve
- Weight: 340g
- Sizes: XS-S, M-L, L-XL
- Webpage: www.dainese.com
- Rivals: Smith Forefront 2, Troy Lee A3, Giro Merit
- Available: Now