BIKERUMOR REVIEW: Giro’s Prolight helmet made its re-introduction at last year’s Tour de France on a few select sponsored teams, and it became generally available this spring.Â I’ve had a chance to check one out for the last two months, and I can sum it up by saying “You’re gonna want one of these.”
The qualifier to that remark is “if you’re a roadie or XC mountain biker.”
When it was first announced, the claimed weight was 175g.Â I’m assuming the CPSC had some things to say about that, because the new claimed weight for a Medium is 195g…which is still insanely light.Â My test model weighed slightly less than that, too.
In a nutshell, the Prolight uses more vents (25) than Giro’s top-of-the-line Ionos (21), and it costs $30 less ($200 vs. $230). Though they’re smaller holes, they use similar internal channeling to keep your head cool, and it does a great job of it.Â Part of the gram shaving comes from their all-new RocLoc SL retention system, non-adjustable straps and a minimal chin clip.
Check out all the details and full review after the break…
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Your purchase includes the helmet, in your choice of Black, White, Blue/Black or Red/Black, and extra pads, a sticker to write your name and vitals on and presumably adhere it to the inside of the helmet, and instructions/legalese.Â The helmet also has several tags attached to it explaining the features, which we’ll get to here:
First up, the all important weight.Â Claimed weight, as you can see here, is 195g.
Actual weight on the Park Scale: 193g.
The side straps aren’t adjustable where they meet like most helmets.Â The fabric used is very lightweight.
The padding inside is pretty thin and sparsely placed.Â They contain X-Static threads, which use 99.9% pure silver to prevent bacteria from growing and funkifying your helmet.Â It also (claims to) help regulate temperature and eliminate odor and static.
The clip bucket and strap retention system are adjustable, and they’re quite minimal.Â The sliding retention bit on the end of the strap is pure brilliance…it replaces the “rubber band” that other helmets use to keep the straps from flapping around.Â Because there’s only one strap sliding through the buckle, too, it’s far easier to adjust.
Additional adjustability comes from the front of the RocLoc SL plastic webbing.Â Hidden under the side padding are three snap holes.Â Simply pop the plastic webbing out and put it where you want it.Â My noggin measures about 58cm to 58.5cm, so I placed it on the rear-most hole.
Borrowing a photo from Giro’s website, this perfect studio side shot shows just how thin the webbing is.
Another trick for feathering the weight is using In-Mold technology, which essentially fuses the outer hard candy shell to the impact-absorbing EPS liner.Â Because they’re fused into a symbiotic “exoskeleton”, they reinforce one another to create a stronger overall package.Â 1 + 1 > 2.
On the back, the stretchy sweatband-like material creates the “self adjusting” retention system.Â It’s placed on the fabric straps such that it pulls in just under that bump at the back of your skull, which keeps the lid in place and prevents it from rocking forward and back…which provides the perfect segue into:
FIT AND PERFORMANCE:
The RocLoc SL system is by far the most comfortable retention system I’ve used.Â The first time you put the helmet on, it feels a little snug, but once accustomed to the feel, it’s amazing.Â There’s no helmet movement, no fore-aft rocking and no bulky plastic buckles or dials.
I’d like to think my head is average in shape and size, and the side straps meet perfectly under my ears.Â As with any lightweight helmet, there’s more of a gap between the top of the ear and the start of the helmet…and rear coverage doesn’t do much for the lower section of the skull…which is why I put the caveat in this review’s intro:Â If you’re into all-mountain, freeride or are accident prone when you hit the dirt, you probably want a helmet with more coverage.
I rode the Burnsville Metric Century Ride in April with a Walz Cap underneath, and it accommodated the cap perfectly.Â Once the sun came out and started baking everything, I pulled the cap off and my head stayed plenty cool.
Today, I started a ride just as the rain started (and stayed with us for the first hour), and ended with sunshine.Â The padding didn’t retain any moisture, dried exceptionally quickly and those salt stains washed right out of the straps.Â In fact, even the straps dried extremely quickly.
On any ride, a lightweight helmet is great.Â On longer rides, it can really help reduce neck strain…especially for “journalists” like me that sit in front of a computer, often craning forward to examine bike photos…but anyone that spends any appreciable amount of time at a desk will especially appreciate the reduced weight.
The other benefit is the emotional whalloping you’ll give your friends, my conversations typically went like this:
TYLER: Check this out (I hand them the Prolight).
THEM: (accepting helmet, floating it up and down in their hand) “Holy $&%#” or “Oh my God.” or “You suck.”
After that, they’ll be disappointed with their crappy helmets and you’ll have a mental edge.
One last thing worth mentioning is that the helmet stays in place with a light/camera mounted to it.Â Because the stretchy RocLoc SL strap on the back actively pulls the helmet into place (without, I should add, creating any pressure points), it helps keep everything in place when putting heavy objects on the top.Â On one night mountain bike ride with a Light & Motion Seca strapped to it, the Prolight didn’t flop forward or move around like some other helmets do.Â I said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d be very surprised if other helmet manufacturers don’t mimic this retention system…it’s fabulous.
Short of intentionally crashing in it or conducting my own smash tests, I’ll assume that because it passes the required tests, it’s protecting my dome as well as any other lightweight lid.Â Therefore, there’s absolutely nothing bad to say about the Giro Prolight.Â It’s crazy light, to the point where it really feels like you’re wearing nothing at all, super comfortable with no pressure points or tightness, the straps and pads wick dry in an instant and the buckle/strap retention on the chin is the best I’ve ever used.Â Unless you need extra coverage for doing dangerous things among rocks and trees, make this your next helmet.Â A full, enthusiastic Five Thumbs Up!