With over 25 years of expertise in protecting the heads of cyclists, MET knows a thing or two about designing and producing helmets in-house. Being based in the Lombardy region of Italy, just a stone's throw away from the Alps, it’s no surprise that MET’s range includes road, MTB, and gravity helmets, but it also offers lids for the urban cyclist as well as kids. MET’s MTB offerings have already impressed so let's see if the Estro can make it into our best gravel bike helmet guide.
Design and Specifications
For a helmet that sits in the middle of a range, the MET Estro really does pack in a lot of features, especially when you consider the price. A helmet is designed for one reason: to protect your head in a crash, so let’s talk about the safety features first.
The bulk of the helmet is constructed from EPS (the polystyrene-looking stuff that can be seen through the vent holes), which is designed to absorb the impact should you crash. Covering this is the shell which effectively protects the EPS layer but also gives the helmet its shape and an opportunity to add some color – in this case it’s frosty green which I think looks quite smart. MET has used a full coverage shell meaning that the EPS is totally covered including the backs, sides, and underneath the front of the helmet. (It’s not totally covered inside the vent holes but very few helmets offer this feature.) Not covering these areas is where some lower-range helmets save on cost, so it’s reassuring to see this on the Estro.
Another reassuring feature is the inclusion of a MIPS system. MIPS is a third-party product developed with the intention to reduce rotational motion to the brain in the event of a crash. Sounds a bit scary but it’s simply the yellow-colored membrane inside the helmet that allows the helmet to rotate slightly during an impact and dissipate momentum.
Another important design consideration of a helmet is the fit as no one wants to have to ride with an uncomfortable helmet, especially on gravel when you can be thrown around on rocky descents. Thankfully MET seems to have also got the fit spot on with the Estro. I spent a few minutes adjusting the position of the strap dividers so that they passed my ears comfortably, and a minute more adjusting the length of the chin strap so that it was snug – but not too tight – against my chin. While riding the helmet stayed comfortably in place and there was no need to readjust the strap dividers or chin strap buckles, even after being thrown around a bit on an exceptionally bumpy descent. My only issue so far would be the feel of the dial closure on the fit system. While it’s adequately up to the task of tightening the helmet around my head, I couldn’t help but notice the feel – or should I say lack of feel – when closing the dial. While this is a small gripe, it's worthwhile noting that when wearing winter gloves, the lack of a reassuring click makes it difficult to tell if you’re turning the dial at all.
As if this wasn’t already a lot of safety packed into one helmet, MET also offers a magnetic, USB rechargeable rear light to attach to the back of the helmet. Sold separately, the light has a battery life of almost six hours, an integrated light sensor, and as well as Steady, Pulse, Strobe, and Eco, there’s also an Automatic Night Safe mode, ideal for those sunset-chasing, post-work gravel rides. There is some small reflective detailing on the back of the helmet, but considering this is an advertised feature, it could have been more prominent.
For ventilation, the helmet features 26 vents and ‘Internal engineered air channeling’. I struggled to find the air channels but I can say that my head never overheated, even when wearing a cap and grinding up some steep climbs.
In terms of durability, the matt finish of the shell seems fairly abrasion resistant. At least the few brushes I’ve experienced with twigs and thorns haven’t left any noticeable marks and dirt seems to wipe off easily. The padding on the inside can be removed for hand washing and MET supplies a good range of replacement pads should yours become unbearably stinky. I can just about see the front of the helmet in my vision while riding but it is in no way obtrusive, and there are sunglasses ports to securely dock sunglasses when not in use. These ports held my Oakley Sutros well, but I can’t say I’d trust leaving them in there on anything but the smoothest of gravel roads.
While the MET Estro wouldn’t be the first choice if I was looking for a featherweight helmet, models with the extra protection and durability required for gravel riding are always going to carry a little extra weight. Given the fully enclosed EPS liner, dial-closure fit system, and MIPS protection, the Estro doesn’t feel overly heavy.
A solid choice for an all-round helmet for both gravel and road riding. MET has packed the Estro MIPS with as many features as possible at this price point, making it not only a safe and comfortable option, but also one that’s competitively priced when compared to similarly specced helmets from other manufacturers.
Tech specs: MET Estro MIPS helmet
- Price: $159.00 / £120.00
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Colors: Black Lime Yellow Metallic, Blue Pearl Black, Frosty Green, Gray Iridescent, Red Black Metallic, White Holographic, Black