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2016 Giro Montaro

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Aug 18, 2015

Other than the successful introduction of the Xen over 10 years ago, which as far as I can remember was the first ‘full coverage’ half shell, Giro was overdue to bring a high-end AM helmet to market. The Feature has been a mainstay in the lineup and a good value at that ($75 US for the MIPS version), but was lacking a few things that round out the bullet points in a good ol’ premium extended coverage AM lid.

The Giro Montaro (Montara is the ladies’ version) is their latest release, and it while it won’t set your hair on fire with gizmos and doodads, I’m not sure I want a helmet to do that for me, anyway. Nope, hair on fire not good. Protection and comfort, those things are good. Let’s discuss.

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The Giro Montaro MIPS in Matte White/Lime

Construction is typical but not basic: we’re looking at an in-mold polycarbonate shell and an EPS liner…wake up Bueller; that basically means it’s well-made, strong, and pretty light. Coverage is good at the back, making it look decidedly ‘AM’ (F the E word) although at this point I have to ask why XC folks don’t consider this to be a preferred style of helmet. Ever see a clipped-in lycra-clad whippet with a post that reaches all the way to St. Peter go straight over the bars because they didn’t expect a root on their race course? Yeah. They need that back of head protection at least as much as we do, extra weight be damned. If it’s me and I have one helmet only for trail riding, I’m choosing this style of helmet. But ‘AM style’ it is.

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Sarah Leishman looking pretty matchy in a Matte Turquoise Montara. The ladies’ version differs from the men’s Montaro only in terms of colours. Photo courtesy of Giro.

Gone are the days of counting vents as a means of determining airflow – it’s gotten more high tech that that – but the Montaro has 16 of ’em (17 if you count the one in the visor that channels air straight down the middle). Giro’s Roc Loc Air Fit system is designed to position the helmet with a slight gap between it and your coif so that more air flows through. Your inner dog’s mouth hanging out the window should be happy. I say should because our ride was short, so pronouncing this helmet a good mouth-breather is too soon. I’m betting Giro got it right but let’s get some time in on it first.

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The Matte Titanium/Flame was my fave among the ‘lo-pro’ colour options. Photo: Dain Zaffke.

Can we talk about vents for a second, though? I use ’em to stick my glasses in, but it’s gotten harder. Helmet co’s need to work this out. Many helmets don’t work well for this at all, instead leaving you with glasses bent like a pretzel, upside down and protruding, or with earpieces jammed into your scalp. Adam Craig was on hand to demonstrate that he’d figured out that Smith Pivlocks fit well upside down, in the back vents, if you can maneuver the arms between the MIPS liner and the helmet. Not bad. YMMV with other shades. Maybe we’ll go over that in the full review.

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Adam Craig’s dome carries a Montaro, which carries some stealthily placed Pillocks. They were on there securely – you could ride any piece of trail with them placed like that and they’re not going anywhere. Photo: Dain Zaffke.

The vents in the back do have a rubber coating around them which helps grab your goggle strap, and also put a bit of friction into sunglass arms. It’s a nice touch. There are others, too, like the Visor (Giro calls it POV Plus) which swings up across four detents from low/ride mode to high/goggleBro mode.

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The black border shows off the rubber goggle strap grabbers.

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If you’re going for bright, Matte Blue/Lime is one option. Good view of the rear vents. Flow in is one thing, but that air has to go somewhere. Giro was careful to point out how much time they put into engineering their vent size and placement.

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POV Visor in ‘air brake’ mode aka ready for your goggles, bro. I’m not mocking – some rides call for a half shell and goggles, and having a place to perch them makes sense.

My favourite feature, however, is that the hydrophilic padding uses ShamWow material to absorb sweat, which Giro claims will mop up 10x more liquid than a ‘standard’ pad. This seems dreadfully obvious but not many helmet manufacturers make good use of fabric here. I’m a sweaty dude so on the top of a climb the ‘push the helmet into my forehead’ move yields a lot of sweat. Executed properly, your glasses stay dry. But when it happens on the way down and you hit a g-out, your glasses get soaked and your vision can suffer. Before now, there were only two helmets I’d recommend to sweaty people: the Urge All-M and Bell’s Super series (2, 2R, etc). The former has a good forehead pad, the latter channels sweat miraculously away from your forehead. The Giro Montaro looks to be another good option for the hair soakers out there.

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Looks like your standard sweat-soaker forehead pad, but it’s said to absorb 10x the moisture. Dain Zaffke did a little demo with red wine in the middle of the forest and it looks legit. By the way, red wine tastes better after a ride than you might have thought.

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ShamWow! on board.

Lastly, there is an integrated camera/light mount in the top vent, but we didn’t see it since the helmets we wore are pre-production. It will be included in the box, and it does have a safety break-away feature built in. More on that when we actually see it.

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There’s your camera/light mount. Companies are adopting GoPro’s 3-pronged standard which is going to make lighting setups that much easier. Giro naturally built in a break-away function so that your camera or light will come off in a crash and not get hung up and potentially exacerbate an injury.

Features and fit matter, but this is a helmet, so what about protection? Montaro and Montara are exclusively MIPS-equipped, so Giro’s commitment to that function is clear. MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) won’t help in every crash, but the evidence suggests it helps counter rotational forces caused by impacts at an angle. In other words it’s a tool for certain crashes. I asked Giro marketing director Dain Zaffke if there was any difference in the protection afforded by the Montaro vs. the Feature. He explained that it’s hard to answer since crashes are all so different, so it would be impossible to declare one helmet to be superior in a crash. If you answered it for one specific crash force/angle/scenario, you’d have to answer it for all of them. Suffice to say that they both have passed Giro’s standard battery of tests (they have dozens of them) which make sure to exceed the standards required by multiple certifications like CEN, CPSC and Snell.

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The inner dome shows MIPS on the inside of the Montaro’s chassis. Two years ago your MIPS options were limited. Now just about every manufacturer offers at least one or two models that are MIPS-equipped.

The 2016 Montaro/Montara MIPS will be available this Fall for a retail of $150 US. Details, colours, and more here.


We’ll have a review up in a few months once we’ve spent a bit of time with the Montaro.

 

Comments

adrian-robinson
0
Adrian Robinson  - Aug. 28, 2015, 6:51 p.m.

Does a MIPS liner make the helmet taller (increase the mushroom effect)? That's one thing the standard Feature had sorted…

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Aug. 19, 2015, 8:39 a.m.

"Can we talk about vents for a second, though? I use ‘em to stick my glasses in, but it’s gotten harder. Helmet co’s need to work this out."

This is one of the main reasons I like the Bell Super so much and why I stopped using my POC. I'm old school and haven't gotten into the goggles thing. Pretty much any spectacles will fit securely fit beneath the Super's articulating visor without impairing one's view. They are easy to remove and replace while riding too and do not look completely ridiculous either in said position. I'm hoping this will work with the Montaro as like you I am a "hair soaker". The Super gets very hot down here in the dirty south so the nifty ventilation and the Sham-Wow ability of Montaro (although I likely will refer to it as the "Montana" as a tip of my helmet to Mr Pacino's iconic character) has me interested.

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0
t.odd  - Aug. 19, 2015, 10:16 a.m.

I can still put my glasses on my POC, flip glasses upsidedown, slide into rear vents…holds them quite securely

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Aug. 19, 2015, 10:29 a.m.

You've not had them take flight from your POC if you opted not to put them back on during some nastiness? If not I may give this a shot since my POC is the rare yet oh so fetching purple one.

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t.odd  - Aug. 19, 2015, 10:34 a.m.

nope, even had them on the back for most of my ride last night since it was dark in the forest….I'd imagine it depends on the type of glasses and arm style, mine have some rubberized parts of the arm so they stay pretty put.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Aug. 19, 2015, 11:27 a.m.

Which glasses? We NEED a helmet/glasses matrix!

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t.odd  - Aug. 19, 2015, 11:34 a.m.

ha! smith pivot lock, also some old oakley jawbones, and some old bcbr edition ryders all work this way

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Aug. 19, 2015, 3 p.m.

The matrix is begun.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Aug. 19, 2015, 7:07 a.m.

Maybe the xc riders like road helmets because they ride in a more bent over position and helmets that go down too far inhibit that aero position. It is an issue with ski helmets. Race helmets are cut out at the back to let you tuck. The thing I dislike about many road helmets are the fins. If you are sliding on your head those Cadillac like fins can snag the ground. Should be round. Sweat management as opposed to more holes is key for me. I use sweat busters in my helmets. It's the only thing that keeps sweat out of my eyes and off the glasses. I'll be interested to see if this material really works.

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Captain-Snappy
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Merwinn  - Aug. 19, 2015, 8:59 a.m.

Fair enough, but how often does one slide around on their head during an XC ride? Not that often in my book.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Aug. 19, 2015, 9:51 a.m.

Well the MIPS thing is all about protecting the brain from rotational forces when the helmet sticks to the ground on impact. having protruding fins that wont snap off like a visor is just dumb. In my experience most of the helmets I have damaged in crashes have significant scuff marks from glancing blows. Some for sure were blunt hits like when my fork snapped off. My big crash at Mt Washington at a BC Cup XC race was at speed and I can still hear the sound of the helmet scuffing along. Most blows to a helmet are glancing sliding contacts which is what MIPS is designed for. I think it is actually quite rare for a crash not to involve a sliding component.

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phil
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phil  - Aug. 19, 2015, 12:41 a.m.

too bad that grey/orange color is not offered….

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Aug. 19, 2015, 12:59 a.m.

It's in there - Matte Titanium/Flame:

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drewm
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DrewM  - Aug. 18, 2015, 9:48 p.m.

Regarding the "AM" look vs. "AM" function, maybe your over-the-bars-XC-race- loser-stereotype is going for maximum - dare I say equivalent - protection at a minimum weight and maximum airflow?

Other than the possibility of a small pointy object penetrating through more obvious (and better functioning) venting what extra protection is this helmet really providing over a similarly high end XC lid?

Don't get me wrong. Helmets = Good. Whatever style/brand/colour/graphic of helmet you want to wear (same goes for socks) = Good.

But, can anyone show one example of how having your helmet drop down a bit lower in the back provides any extra real world protection? I've seen, what I would call, A Lot of smooshed helmets that were wrecked MtBing. Most were damaged on the front (front-top or front-sides), and a few on the top from headers. I've yet to see a helmet (or even a photo of a helmet) with damage on the back.

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mightyted  - Aug. 18, 2015, 10:35 p.m.

maybe that it covers the back of the head makes it less likely to separate from the noggin should a crash occur(ie better grip). That and that extra part of the head that an AM helm does cover is pretty critical should you land on something pointy.

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peterk
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peterk  - Aug. 19, 2015, 7:36 a.m.

I find that a few of the topline roadie style lids that I've tried from Giro, Specialized, etc. sit high on the top of my head like a yamaka and do not inspire confidence that they would stay in place when I crash. I feel like they're designed to minimally pass the test with more emphasis on weight and airflow. They could of course design the fit system so it grabs lower down on my head. My current helmet I use for xc racing and all of my riding is the Specialized vice, which I find has a great combination of coverage, fit, venting, weight, and price!

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Aug. 19, 2015, 12:48 p.m.

Uh. yarmulke. And I'm not even Jewish. But I agree with you.

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thatguy
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thatguy  - Aug. 24, 2015, 1:58 p.m.

Some good real world evidence that the safest helmet shape would be the one which wraps over the occipital lobe, past the cerebellum, and protects the brain stem would be great. However, I think that any helmet company who sells both XC and AM helmets would not do themselves any favours by pitching the actual scientific evidence behind one shape being safer than the next. I'd recommend that anyone who is concerned about the level of protection their XC/Road race helmet is giving them just have a look at the human brain and draw a line where they think the eps foam should end…then you will have your answer. If that doesn't convince you, have a look at football, and hockey helmets (often made by the same companies) shape their eps protection. No doubt, mountain bikers would not wear a hockey helmet…but as helmets evolve you can see that they are becoming very similar in shape for a very important reason.

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