Review: Giro’s almost perfect Hex trail helmet

Photo: Martin Bissig / BMC

I really, really want to love Giro’s Hex helmet.

An attractively-styled trail helmet, the Hex features moderate coverage, effective ventilation, three distinct sizes, and a very reasonable $90 price tag. And the fit. The Hex fits my head like few other helmets on the market. But going through FOUR Roc Loc 5 retention systems in eighteen months? That’s unacceptable.

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.

The first time that the housing containing the Roc Loc 5 mechanism failed, I chalked it up to handling. Even though the helmet showed no other signs of abuse, the gray plastic housing split in several places, scattering little pieces around the back seat of the car. I contacted Giro, who sent out a replacement helmet, and resolved to be more careful when handling and storing the helmet.

The second failure came quickly after that, and just as inexplicably. Could my generic sunscreen I regularly slather on my near-bald head be eating the plastic? Sunscreen photos were sent at the Giro engineer’s request and another helmet was sent. The third prompted a call to Giro’s warranty line, who suggested that I was somehow abusing the helmet before sending out a new retention system (presumably from a more recent batch), “just this once.”

A few months went by before the fourth failed. Having lost faith in the Hex, it’s probably time to retire it for good.

Which is a shame. I still love everything else about this helmet. The coverage is good and airflow more than adequate for rides well into the 80s. The straps can even be removed and washed without too much effort. The visor is easily adjusted between two positions and will pop cleanly off in a crash. The fact that Giro have prioritized fit by investing in three separate molds means that most riders have a sporting chance at a great fit. And the price is right. Though it’s not in the company’s 2013 line, I can only hope that a Roc Loc 6 is in the works for ’14.  This helmet deserves better.

marc

giro.com

Comments

Jason - 11/01/12 - 9:24am

I have a 4 month old Giro Zar that has had two Roc Loc 5 failures. The helmet fits great and is very light but the Roc Loc 5 system is not robust enough for a mountain bike helmet. Would love to see a redesign.

Steve M - 11/01/12 - 10:48am

I have similar problems with a Giro Athlon (sp) The tiny plastic pieces that anchor the Roc-Lok are just too small for any kind of real world use.

MorganJ - 11/01/12 - 11:08am

Bummer, I was looking at couple of the Giro helmets with roc loc 5 for my next purchase. I think I’ll pass on them and try out a new (to me) brand and see if I get lucky.

GB - 11/01/12 - 11:29am

I have had tons of problems with the Roc Loc system. I understand a light retention system on super light road helmets, but a more sturdy system on mid level road helmets and on MTB helmets is a must Giro!

klapsys - 11/01/12 - 12:01pm

Can’t agree more. I’ve had 3 Giro helmets over the years, each with it’s own iteration of the Roc Loc. All 3 helmets were great – fit my noggin’ well, but the Roc Loc was always the first thing to break. Like Steve M mentioned, the anchors for Roc Loc are especially weak. Twice Giro replaced the Roc Loc, but by the third hemet, well – I came to the conclusion that Roc Loc is just that – garbage.

Samuel J. Greear - 11/01/12 - 4:18pm

Giro’s are the only helmets that properly fit my head, I am regularly fixing up the roc loc bits with super glue and bits of reinforcing plastic.

Pete - 11/01/12 - 4:20pm

Yep, my rocloc failed early too at the patheticly small junction/pivot on the pods. Very frustrating considering;
1) the rest of the build is brilliant. Very comfortable, great skull coverage, great air flow, robust etc.
2) Giro doesn’t even sell/provide the rocloc as an after sales spare. When it easily could
3) most annoyingly that Giro is far from a “start up” company. So why the lazy attitude with this last bit of detail on an otherwise excellent product, that’s also very popular. The customer base is there, make them happy = win win I would’ve thought.

For my particular fail I did manage a decent ‘Hack’ of carefully drilling out the pivot without severing the retention strap, then weaving a tiny zip-tie creating a far superior pivot. I can only assume this is a “designed obsolescence” point on Giro’s behalf, which is pretty cynical considering helmets will eventually be replaced after a couple decent crashes. Well Giro you’ve lost this otherwise happy/loyal customer over a pathetically small detail & I’ll be warning everyone I come in contact with to steer clear of any helmets with rocloc.

Next helmet’s going to be the Fox Flux or Stryker… Awesome reviews everywhere for those puppies.

Slow Joe Crow - 11/01/12 - 4:31pm

That is disappointing, I have an old style Giro Hex with simpler Roc-Loc that I love, but it’s due for replacement. I was planning to just buy another Giro Hex because mine has been a great all around helmet, but this is forcing me to look for an alternative.

Olafur J - 11/01/12 - 5:30pm

Damnit, I ordered one just tonight…should I cancel? I was getting a Giro since I already have a Giro Section for commuting and it fits my head perfectly. I have read at least two or three reviews but nobody mentioned this :/

silverlining - 11/01/12 - 6:05pm

Uvex.

Will never go back to Giro/Bell. Wife and I have a shelf wih six Giro helmets collecting dust after trying Uvex helmets last year. The fit, comfort and durability has been nothing short of amazing for us.

Pete - 11/01/12 - 6:25pm

Olafur J, cancel if you can & try the Fox Flux or Stryker (similar shape). also the 661 Recon is a similar wrap-round-back style as well. But I found the Hex fitted my head better than the 661. Failing that, I’ve had no problem with my Hex since my “hack”(see above).. and I love it to 99%… it’s that last 1% that’s so annoying.

Alex - 11/01/12 - 6:49pm

I have an Aeon as well, and the Roc Loc also broke just bouncing around my gear bag. Fail for Giro on this one. Rest of the helmet, like most Giro stuff, is pretty darn good.

Looked at the Hex for trail use, but Roc Loc kept me away.

Ryan - 11/01/12 - 7:44pm

I recently purchased a Lazer Genesis (road model) and the retention system is incredible. had old giros without the roc loc 5 system, which were cool. NEVER BUYING ANYTHING OTHER THAN A LAZER. they’re expensive, but just go try one on. the dial on the top of the helmet allows the retention system to actually grab your head. not just press your forehead into the front of the helmet. total game changer.

kurti_sc - 11/02/12 - 11:02am

just looking at the pics, it seems very likely to be related to the assembly process. It looks like an ultrasonic plastic weld, and it looks like a pretty poor one at that. Hello Giro, what are your engineers doing about this?

David - 11/02/12 - 11:24am

Second on the Lazer Oasiz.

Gillis - 11/02/12 - 2:53pm

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’ve had this helmet for about 6 months with no problems – roc loc or otherwise. It’s been a great helmet thus far.

Sandbagger - 11/02/12 - 9:34pm

Had the same problems..jumped to specialized..much happier now.

MaLóL - 11/02/12 - 10:06pm

I never had issues with my giro atmos or the old giro e2. also giro offers a crash replacement program; 20€ for a new helmet… catlike retention system breaks much faster.

but if u all had these issues, i guess it’s time to look for the next best brand of helmets… pity, as giro design is the coolest looking.

G.. - 11/03/12 - 4:19pm

“and a very reasonable $90 price tag” Everything has a price it seems and by all accounts, in this case it comes at the cost of longevity/build quality.

POC wearer myself. Expensive? Sorta. Flawless? Definitely. But then again, what price is your head worth?

ben - 11/21/12 - 5:47pm

Three XAR roclocs broke in one year…PIVOT POINT IS HORRIBLE!

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