If you are still uncertain about the right mountain bike helmet to get, this in-depth Giro Switchblade Review will certainly come in handy.
Mountain biking is one of the most popular extreme sporting activities across the globe. However, this sport, especially downhill mountain biking, significantly exposes one to the risk of getting injured. According to a recent research, nearly one in every seven cyclists who go mountain biking suffers from head trauma or brain injury. This is where a helmet comes in. It is pretty much clear how vital this safety gear is. In fact, another research has it that a helmet mitigates the risk of having a head injury by 88 percent and facial injury by 65 percent.
If you engage in mountain biking, you want a helmet that is comfortable, convenient, and of course, safe. We put together a comprehensive review of one of the top helmets designed for such a sport; the Giro Switchblade helmet. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Giro Switchblade Helmet Re-introduction
Giro Switchblade is a fully ASTM downhill certified helmet that is guaranteed to keep you safe while you make the most out of your mountain biking experience. But just what is the story behind its existence?
Giro was founded almost 30 years ago by Jim Gentes and has since been one of the leading manufacturers of quality, convenient, and safe helmets. After creating a series of helmet collections like ‘The Advantage’ and ‘Aerohead,’ Giro then produced the original Giro Switchblade helmet collection in 1998. The helmet was designed around a cross-country style, and it left a bit to be desired in terms of its looks, and most importantly, it’s safety, especially for those who sought downhill protection.
After nearly a decade, in August 2016, Giro shocked the mountain biking world by re-introducing a new and improved Giro switchblade helmet collection. This is a full-face convertible helmet that is ASTM downhill certified. Cyclists can now engage in downhill mountain biking with this helmet without the fear of sustaining severe injuries in the event of an accident.
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Giro Switchblade Review – Features
a) Roc Loc Air DH Fit System
The first feature that sets Giro full-face helmets from other helmets is the Roc Loc Air DH fit system. This feature plays two roles; it helps you achieve the perfect fit and enhances ventilation. Located at the base of the skull, the Roc Loc Air DH fit system allows you to tighten or loosen the helmet effortlessly, to get that ideal fit, and extra comfort while wearing the helmet. All you have to do is to dial clockwise to tighten and anticlockwise to loosen it. What’s more, it has a bumper around the dial to curb accidental mid-ride adjustments. According to some reviews, this system is excellent at providing stability when cycling over rocks and roots.
The Roc Loc Air DH fit system is crafted to suspend the helmet slightly above the skull. This allows maximum airflow to pass directly over your head, enhancing the performance of the ventilation holes and the internal channeling, therefore providing excellent ventilation.
Removable Chin Bar
We mentioned earlier that the Giro Switchblade helmet is a full-face convertible helmet, thanks to the removable chin bar. The chin bar is straightforward to remove and reinstall. All you have to do is push the button under the chin bar, rotate it up, and take it off. However, most Giroe switchblade reviews recommend that you should securely buckle up the chin straps before removing the chin bar so that the straps cannot interfere with the mechanism.
Worried that the helmet might not provide enough safety without the chin bar? This helmet has excellent head coverage, meaning that it covers the back of your head and the ears, even without the chin bar, so you don’t have to worry too much about your safety.
b) POV Plus Visor
The Giro Switchblade helmet also comes with an adjustable P.O.V plus visor that protects you from sun, dirt, and rain. What’s more, the visor turns upwards to allow you to wear your goggles comfortably. The helmet also comes with an extra visor. Although it is not flexible, the visor has a GoPro style camera mount that allows you to mount a camera and capture those adventurous moments.
c) Hydrophilic X-static microbial padding
Another feature that makes the Giro full-face helmets unique is the Hydrophilic X-static microbial padding. For starters, the filling can absorb water that is up to ten times its weight. This enables it to properly absorb sweat and prevent it from dripping into your eyes while you are riding. What’s more, once the padding absorbs sweat, it dries quickly to prevent the helmet from becoming soggy. The padding is also washable so you can wash whenever you want to.
The Hydrophilic X-static microbial padding has fiber that is made with layers of pure silver, which is permanently woven into the fabric. Silver is best known for its natural anti-microbial performance that helps reduce odor and regulate heat, making your helmet breathable, and comfortable.
d) MIPS technology
MIPS is an acronym for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. This is a system found in Giro full-face helmets and a few other helmet brands, to enhance the helmets’ safety levels. Scientific research has it that when a person falls at an angle, then a rotational force is created. Research has also discovered that our brains are susceptible to rotational forces. The MIPS technology helps reduce or redirects those forces from your brain in the event of an accident, reducing the risks of brain trauma.
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e) In-mold construction
The Giro Switchblade MIPS helmet is best known for its durability and high safety levels, thanks to the in-mold construction. This technique perfectly merges the robust polycarbonate outer helmet shell and the EPS foam lining. EPS is an acronym for Expanded-polystyrene that utterly absorbs the rotational forces that are created when your head and helmet takes an impact during an accident.
f) Ventilation holes with internal channeling and wind tunnel cheek pad ventilation
The manufacturers of Giro full-face helmets know too well that ventilation is essential when wearing a helmet. That is why they included 20 ventilation holes with perfect internal channeling, for maximum airflow. What’s more, when you remove the chin bar, the wind tunnel cheek pad ventilation adds more cooling power, especially when climbing.
The Giro Switchblade MIPS is a very comfortable helmet. For starters, it doesn’t squeeze your ears, and it doesn’t interfere with your hearing. The Hydrophilic X-static microbial padding also offers extra comfort by quickly absorbing sweat and drying up. The extra foam pads that come with the helmet are super comfy, and they do not make the helmet feel heavy.
The Roc Loc Air DH fit system is located at an excellent point at the back of your head, and regardless of how much you tighten it, it doesn’t have any pressure points. However, there are a few downsides when it comes to comfort. Giro full-face helmets’ chin strap buckles come with a D-string closure system. Although it is very effective, it isn’t easy to buckle up and unbuckle, unlike other closure systems in other helmets like the fidlock magnetic closure system.
Some cyclists have however complained that the helmet is not spacious enough, specifically at the head’s crown.
Adjustability is significant in helmets. The Roc Loc Air DH fit system of this helmet is very adjustable, allowing you to tighten or loosen the helmet easily for that perfect fit. The chin straps are pretty adjustable too. The POV plus visor is also flexible, allowing you to wear your goggles comfortably. However, the extra visor is not adjustable, which is understandable because of the GoPro style camera mount. The EPS foam lining also adjusts to the shape of your head, and the chin bar is adjustable, allowing you to remove and reinstall it easily.
The issue of whether or not the Giro Switchblade MIPS helmet is heavy is still a controversial one. While some people point out that it is the lightest full-face convertible helmet, others indicate that it is cumbersome.
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j) Style and Aerodynamics
The creators of Giro full-face helmets crafted these helmets with style and aerodynamics in mind. These helmets have a full-cut style that gives them that aggressive look. They have also been aerodynamically designed to help minimize the pressure that drags cyclists back, allowing the smooth flow of air over to the front.
The Giro Switchblade helmet creators have outdone themselves when it comes to ventilation. As we mentioned earlier, the helmet has 20 ventilation holes, and a wind t cheek pad ventilation, that provides excellent ventilation. What’s more, the EPS foam lining also has channels that enhance the airflow inside the helmet. The Roc Loc Air DH Fit System suspends the helmet, allowing maximum airflow.
The Giro Switchblade helmet is no doubt very durable. The outer helmet shell is made of sturdy polycarbonate material. The chin straps, chin bar, and visors are also long-lasting. The company advises users to avoid forcing the helmet into the mounting holes because it might have some faults.
n) Safety Tech
Giro company is very keen on safety, that is why they have made it their priority to produce helmets that provide excellent protection. Giro Switchable helmet is actually the only helmet that is CPCS, EN-1078, and ASTM-1952-DH certified with and without the chin bar, making it suitable for downhill mountain biking. The helmet also features both the MIPS technology and the EPS foam lining to redirect the rotational forces from your brain in an accident.
The Giro Switchblade helmet retails between $249 and $270 on Amazon. Although some reviews say that it’s pricey, the features make it worth every dollar.
What to like – Pros
- It is CPSC, EN-1078, and ASTM-1952-DH certified, making it suitable for downhill mountain biking.
- The helmet features the MIPS technology and EPS foam lining that help absorb the rotational forces directed to the brain during an accident.
- It has a Roc Loc Air DH Fit System that helps one achieve the perfect fit and extra comfort.
- It comes with an extra visor that has an action camera mount.
- It is durable, thanks to the sturdy polycarbonate material.
- It features a removable hydrophilic X-static microbial padding that completely absorbs sweat and drys up quickly for extra breathability and comfort.
- It has 20 ventilation holes and a wind tunnel cheek pad ventilation for proper ventilation.
- It has a one year warranty.
- It has limited breathability over the ears and high cheekbones.
- The D-string closure system on the chin strap buckles is challenging to operate, especially when wearing gloves.
- Some customers have pointed out that it is not an excellent choice for long climbs.
Verdict on Giro Switchblade Review
For over three decades, the Giro company has significantly contributed to the extreme sports world by creating helmets that are durable, convenient, and safe, and the Giro Switchblade helmet is no exception.
Being the only CPSC, EN-1078, and ASTM-1952-DH certified helmet with and without a chin bar, it should definitely be your go-to helmet, if you are looking for one that guarantees you safety during downhill mountain biking.