Liv Cycling is quite possibly the most well known women’s specific cycling brand, producing everything from bikes to kit, and everything in between. Last year it launched two new affordable helmets — the roadie Relay MIPS and off-road oriented Path MIPS — and I’ve had the opportunity to spend the winter and early spring trying out the latter in various conditions.
When it comes to women’s specific cycling products, people tend to be divided, and especially when it comes to helmets, what it really comes down to is having a good fit that works for your individual head size and shape, and gendered products will not have that much of an impact here. Having said that, I have a notably peanut-sized noggin and so I like to try out women-specific helmets as they tend to size down better than unisex ones.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
If you're wondering why so many helmets feature 'MIPS' in their product names, it's a safety feature, usually reserved for pricer helmets, which helps protect your head from rotation forces in a crash. Check out our MIPS explainer for detailed info.
At under $55, the Liv Path MIPS helmet certainly boasts value for money, but how well does it actually perform against the best women’s mountain bike helmets? Is it an absolute bargain, or a cheap piece of plastic you’re likely to replace before not too long?
Keep reading to find out...
Design and aesthetics
Straight off the bat you can see the Liv Path MIPS helmet has a simple design, with a clean and compact shape with plenty of ventilation channels and a removable black visor. Coverage at the back is good, reaching down to the lower parts of the head, while the overall shape looks good and doesn’t produce a mushroom-esque profile on even my dinky head.
The lovely maroon-like ‘matte fig’ color looks classy and muted enough to not clash with other muted and natural colors. If this isn’t your style, there are plenty of colorways and patterns to choose from.
Across the whole dome you’ll find 17 ventilation channels, while the interior is lined with the plastic yellow MIPS protection system and black TransTextura padding. At the back is Liv’s (and Giant’s) proprietary Cinch One fit system, which consists of a thin and malleable plastic cradle that, when tightened, provides 360-degree cinching for a comfortable and balanced fitment. The adjustment system is said to be ponytail-friendly, however it doesn’t actually allow a lot of space to pass the hair through — there’s about 15mm clearance at best — so I was unable to make use of this and would be interested to know if any other users of this helmet have been able to.
At the back of the helmet there’s a black plastic panel that serves as a dock for Liv’s Alumbra tail light, which I didn’t have during the testing period so was also unable to try this feature out for myself.
Being a simple design, the Path MIPS is simple to wear and use, with one-handed cinching available on the go, and a strap system that’s easy to adjust to your needs. Having said that, after spending some time fiddling with the strap and adjusting the fit, I found that the strap dividers feel really chunky and plasticky against the side of my face, almost to the point where they were distracting.
Weighing 339g, it actually comes up relatively light, however it’s not a ‘fit and forget’ helmet, in fact it feels quite bulky. This is probably down to the fact that it comes in two sizes — S/M and L/XL — which, for small-headed folks like myself, often results in carrying more on the noggin than we bargained for.
It does, however, provide plenty of coverage, which is good. The lower part of the back of my head feels covered while the front sits a couple of fingers’ widths above the eyebrows. Having ridden in a variety of weather conditions, I found the 17 vents to successfully channel air flow through the helmet and keep me cool on hotter days, while getting caught in the rain left me with wet hair, which is to be expected if you don’t wear something underneath.
I found the visor didn’t always help block out the sun, and on some occasions I would have liked to rotate it upwards mid-ride but this unfortunately isn’t possible. You can remove it altogether, but this isn’t helpful when you’re in the middle of the woods and needing to adjust light levels on the fly.
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t able to make use of the rear light dock because I don’t own a Liv Alumbra tail light, but I did make use of the generous vents to strap on a helmet-mounted Cateye light instead. There’s enough space between the molded EPS foam and the plastic MIPS layer to thread the straps between so it doesn’t interfere with the MIPS protection.
If you’re relatively new to mountain biking or simply don’t want to spend a lot of money on the latest and greatest technology, but care about having half-decent protection on the trails, then the Liv Path MIPS is a great option. It doesn’t over-promise, it delivers MIPS rotational impact protection, plenty of air cooling and a mostly user-friendly experience. It won’t weigh you down, and it covers the key areas of the skull that need support when off-roading. All in all it’s a pretty good, versatile helmet, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
Tech Specs: Liv Path MIPS Helmet
- Price: $55 / £TBC
- Weight: 339g (S/M actual)
- Sizes: S/M, L/XL
- Available colors: 9