Since its introduction several years ago, Giro’s Hex helmet has become extremely popular in these parts for its moderate coverage, trail-oriented looks, and reasonable $90 price tag. For 2011, Giro updated the helmet with the company’s new wheel-based Roc Loc 5 retention system. With a helmet-sized hole in my closet and an inexplicable attraction to all things bright and blue, I made a point to seek out my first Giro since the company discontinued the venerable E2.
Offering a more rounded profile and more rear coverage than most road-oriented helmets, the Hex is squarely targeted at trail riders. Though it lacks some of the internal channeling and protective base shell seen in higher-end helmets, Giro have one-upped many of those by offering the Hex in three sizes. This, and the oval shape for which the brand is known means that the Hex fits my medium-sized nut better than anything I’ve tried in a long time. With the shop floor fit test passed, hit more to see how the Hex fares on the trail…
Anchored somewhere near where the front straps attach to the helmet, Giro’s Roc Loc 5 drops down below the helmet to a small (dime-sized but fairly thick) wheel at the back. This wheel adjusts the system’s circumference, measured in easily discernible clicks. Two un-padded but comfortably shaped and well ventilated triangles (“Pods”) cradle the base of the skull, their height (and as a result the helmet’s attitude) adjustable between three positions. A color-matched visor snaps into place using Giro’s two-position POV anchors.
With the helmet’s straps properly adjusted and the RocLoc dial snugged down, the Hex does little to make itself known on the trail. The bright blue visor hovers at the top margin of my vision, keeping the desert sun off of my face. Even with a light mounted on the helmet, the Giro is extremely stable without pinching- even when worn over a skull cap. As has long been the case, long-armed sunglasses can interfere with the retention system, pushing them off the rider’s nose- try one on with your own glasses before buying.
As spring turned to summer, I worried that the mid-range helmet’s lack of internal channeling would make for an uncomfortably hot noggin. Though I haven’t felt the breezes that some racier lids seem to create, the Hex’s vents are effectively oriented and appropriately sized for mountain biking’s upright riding position and relatively low speeds. If I were to put a number to it, I would say that the Hex is about as comfortable at 80 degrees as more expensive options are at 85. For most rides, the increased temperature has been an acceptable tradeoff for the coverage offered.
While other reviewers have complained that the small RocLoc 5 dial can be hard to adjust, I’ve never had any problems- even in mid-weight winter gloves. So far, my only complaint is that the retention system’s height adjustment is too easily adjusted, always reverting to its highest position between rides. It doesn’t move while riding, though, and is easy enough to tug down or push up on the fly.
Really, the Hex offers everything that a trail rider needs, for a very reasonable price. As with all riding gear, fit is key- I’m sure that my enthusiasm would be more muted if the bright blue Giro wasn’t such a good match for my melon. For riders with more modesty or an aversion to buying helmets in pink boxes, the Hex is available for 2011 in five other colors.