After the initial announcement of the 2011 Orbea helmets (sizing, colors, and MSRP, and other information in this post) we grabbed a few for some hands on and heads in testing. Evan and I wore the Odin, and Matt wore the Thor (pictured above).
After comparing notes, we weren’t surprised to have had very similar experiences. We all immediately noticed the dramatic styling (a mix between awe-inspiring and goofy-looking) but promptly forgot it once the helmets were properly installed. It didn’t take months of riding to appreciate the comfort of Orbea’s subtle enhancements, but it did give us time to try and find something we didn’t like about the helmets, which collectively, was nearly nothing.
Information on the little details, weights, photos, and our thoughts and feelings below…
DANIEL’S REVIEW OF THE ODIN
Unless you’re blind or shop with your eyes closed, the first thing you’ll notice about the Odin is the blunt front end and round body with sweeping, curving lines. I had to double check which end was the front and which was the rear. Ultimately the helmet looks too serious to assume any design queues are a mistake, so I moved past the first date and really started getting to know it.
Long story short, the fit is incredible. Compared to my current helmet (same ~$200 MSRP), the Odin provides an entirely different, and appreciated, level of comfort. It sits lower on my head, giving it a more secure, well-balanced feeling. Even when loaded down with a headlamp during the BURN 24 Hour mountain bike race, the Odin felt impressively stable. It didn’t bobble like many other helmets do.
In addition to the obvious external air flow designs; the Odin has a clever internal (inside the helmet, not inside the material) design as well. Your head does not sit flush with the inside of the helmet in parallel sections. Instead, there are extra tiers in the underside that rest above the forehead and allow air flowing into the helmet to flow around your head inside the helmet, and not just over only the exposed areas of your head. Notice how the blue pads in the center of the helmet do not connect. The areas around the blue pads allow excellent airflow around the head.
Two other impressive comfort features include the additional padding on the rear size adjusters, and the location of the chinstrap connections to the helmet. Unlike my private stock, the Odin’s chinstraps are not mounted directly to the bottom edge of the helmet. The front straps are connected higher inside the helmet, and the rear straps are connected on the top of the head, mounted to the plastic support of the size adjusters. This helps even out the weight of the helmet and adds greater stability.
On the left, the Thor (medium) weighed in at 306 grams. Centered is the Odin (large) at 368 grams. On the right is the Odin (small). The Odin is marketed as a lightweight helmet, but never as the lightest helmet. The deeper profile, extra material, and additional padding, such as the additional padding on the rear size adjustors, add a few extra grams compared to other helmets in its price range. The result, however, is an impressively balanced, well-constructed, very comfortable helmet. For comparison, I weighed a Specialized S-Works size large at 307 grams. The extra 61 grams of the Odin is not a sacrifice.
EVAN’S REVIEW OF THE ODIN
I was intrigued to try out the Orbea Odin never having much exposure to helmet brands beyond Specialized and Giro. Right out of the box, I was impressed with its design. The folks at Orbea have come up with some aggressive looking molds that scream, “I’m wicked fast!”
Once on my noggin’, I was pleased with the way the Odin felt. It is lightweight and has an even distribution of comfortable contact points. Tensioning came with ease as the helmet cinches up quickly with the notched band in the back. Once tightened, the Odin holds firm and has solid retention. It has a compact form and does not look or feel obtrusive on the head.
In motion, the well-vented Odin is surprisingly cool and quiet (does not disturb the air to the point of making any unusual noises). The air channels function very well and I remember being out on a particularly hot day on a road ride and being impressed by how little my head sweated.
I have spent probably 20-25 rides in the Orbea Odin at this point and have enjoyed each experience. It has served as a quality helmet that has good looks and functionality. I really do not have any complaints and would say it would be a highly competitive option against any of the other helmets in its range.
MATT’S REVIEW OF THE THOR (Matt is pictured at very top of review wearing the Orbea Thor in Sky Blue)
I have logged somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 rides in weather ranging from low 20 degree days to 80+ degree days and under the guise of night with the Orbea Thor entrusted to protect the wealth of knowledge my skull contains. So what do I think? How did it do?
It was not love at first sight. The Thor is not a bad looking helmet but it does look a little different. I was also somewhat disappointed when I pulled it out of the box and it had a 2 button tensioning system, something that I had just made a point to move away from with my last helmet purchase. All helmets look tall and goofy atop our heads, but the Thor seems to take the cake. I think I ducked the first time I walked out the door for a road ride with the Thor on. I think that situation would have been helped slightly by a darker color or black but the White/Sky Blue seemed to make me feel like an overly tall being with a cloud on my head. My personal preference is a helmet with sharper lines like the Odin but when it comes down to it what truly matters is: Did it keep me safe? Does it regulate temperature well?
So how did it do?
I was very pleased with how the Thor stacked up against my expectations and previous helmets. I got over the appearance (or my perception of its appearance) surprisingly quick once I got it on my head and started logging miles. The tensioning system that I had intentionally avoided in my most recent helmet purchase was very easy to use and did a very good job of providing even pressure and contact around my head. The pads were comfortable and the chinstrap even came with a cute and slightly functional pad. It absorbed sweat, kept the excess straps contained and was softer to the touch than any other helmet I’ve worn. Once I got my longer winter hair trimmed I was impressed with the airflow and temperature regulation the Thor provided. It is a little louder than my other current helmet but is only really an issue on the road and a small issue at that. The Thor did well with keeping my whole head cool. It seemed to allow air to flow in at the front of the helmet and pull air off of the back of the head with force to make a noticeable difference. As tall as the Thor looked it didn’t seem to be top heavy, even with a light mounted to the top. It stayed put and handled the extra weight without any change in comfort. And, finally, just to be thorough I wrecked quite hard – twice, at night – only so I would be able to give the most comprehensive review possible. This test was also passed by the Thor.
Final Thoughts: The Thor may not have been my first choice of helmets based on appearance alone, but overall I was very impressed with how it performed. This helmet may not be for everyone. But if you want a helmet that is easy to use, will keep you cool and stand out in the crowd…The Thor is worth a look the next time you go shopping for a new lid.