As enduro racing gains momentum in North America, a landslide of products catering to the “new” breed of renaissance rider has hit the market. Helmets are no exception, and just as the racing format’s proliferation has been a catalyst of the pursuit of the elusive combination of strength and lightweight when it comes to all-mountain bikes and components, expanding coverage and protection without sacrificing weight and breathability has become the mantra of enduro domes, expanding the selection of true mountain-bike helmets. Lucky then for the majority of riders, the format closely resembles what most mortals actually do on a mountain bike. So whether you’re looking to run goggles with your half-lid for the next stop of the World Series, or you’re just a weekend warrior looking for something better than a road helmet with a visor, here are eight enduro lids to keep you cool and covered.
Even though it is the heaviest in the group at 390 grams, the Bell Super comes packed with enough features and a dialed fit to make the weight an afterthought. It provides some of the deepest rear coverage available in a half lid, but despite covering so much cranial real estate, features enough vents—25, to be exact—to keep you cool. Somewhat unique to the Super are the four brow vents just under the visor, designed to pull air in and through the internal channeling built into the EPS. The visor also offers 30-degrees of adjustability, which is not only nice when it comes to keeping a clear field of view, but actually allows room for goggles to rest off your face and under the visor. This, along with the integrated goggle guides, make the Super the most goggle-friendly of the bunch—and also leaves no doubt as to its intended demographic. Another standout feature of the Super is the integrated—yet removable—GoPro mount. Bell‘s Speed Dial fit system does a fine job of keeping things secure and comfy.
Uvex XP CC
Although not the newest in the bunch, the made-in-Germany Uvex XP CC remains a solid performer in the all-mountain category. Formerly the XP 100, it gets a new name and colors for 2014. Despite full coverage and innovative who-woulda-thunk-it features like bug netting in the front vents and a Monomatic strap system allows you to micro-adjust strap tension on the fly, the XP CC is by far the lightest in the bunch at 260 grams. Thanks to something Uvex calls the IAS 3D+ system, one size fits all. While we were admittedly skeptical of a “one size fits all” claim on something as personal as a helmet, the fit system does its job well. Fore-aft length can be adjusted as can width, but the clincher here is the crown-height adjustment, which above all, seems to really allow you to find the just-right Goldilocks setting. Sixteen large vents help keep things cool and removable, washable, anti-microbial padding makes it easy to keep it clean.
The French wheelmaker launched a line of technical apparel earlier this year aimed at the enduro trend that happened to include a new helmet very well suited to the discipline. Enter, the Mavic Notch. One of the lighter options in the group at 320 grams, the Notch is a ground-up trail helmet offering more coverage than Mavic’s cross-country offerings along with a unique rugged style. Fit is dialed in courtesy of the Ergo Hold SL retention system, borrowed from the company’s road helmets to achieve maximum comfort and minimum weight. The anti-microbial liner fights funk and features a design that is continuos around the front brow with recessed channels for the straps for a seamless fit. A dozen forward-facing vents are coupled with large exhaust vents in the back for ventilation. The visor is fixed, which is fine as it doesn’t seem to obstruct field of vision, but riders looking for more room to run goggles may want to look elsewhere, although the visor is removable if doing so is more your style.
The Giro Feature has remained largely unchanged since its inception two years ago, but still finds a spot on this list for a reason—it is one of the lightest, offers some of the deepest coverage and is the most affordable. The In-Form fit system is among the more basic in the group, but does what’s mean to do and feels just fine. The Feature has 12 vents and internal channeling, but riders concerned with hot weather and longer rides may want to look at better ventilated options. But what the Feature lacks in ventilation, it makes with some of the most comprehensive coverage in the group and a round profile closer to a skate-style bucket than a spandex spear tip. The Feature also…um, features an adjustable visor. It all tips the scales at only 285 grams. Touché.
Even if you couldn’t see a single logo from afar, there’d be no mistaking an Urge helmet for anything else on the market—the Endur-O-Matic is no exception. The closest to being a full-on gravity lid sans chinbar in the group, the Endur-O-Matic offers the most coverage by far. There are only eight vents that give one the sudden “urge” to go bowling, but they are said to be positioned to create a Venturi Effect (air is accelerated as it moves through smaller spaces) along with the inner channels. The Gangsta Pad anti-sweat system mimics a bandana over your brow to keep the drips away, and along with the rear padding, does a fine job of wicking moisture for what looks to be such a sealed dome.
Troy Lee Designs A1
Well known for its full-face offerings, Troy Lee Designs made a splash earlier this year when it returned to the half-lid game with the wildly styled and wildly popular A1. While the custom moto-inspired graphics and anodized hardware certainly make an impression, function leads form—as evidenced by three years of development and several scrapped prototypes. The goggle-friendly visor has 50 millimeters of adjustability, and a one-piece liner is as plush as we’ve ever seen in a bicycle helmet. Although Troy Lee Designs says more colors will be released throughout the year—we already saw a matte version of the Black Cyclops color at Sea Otter—the existing designs seem to be a love it or leave it affair for most riders. Regardless of how you feel about the graphics, once on, all else is forgotten. The A1 just feels right. The deep-fitting shell seems to cradle your skull just right. The retention dial will probably work for most melons, but there are also three height positions resulting in 20 millimeters of crown-height customization. The A1 weighs in at 340 grams without the visor, which, while not wispy, is quickly forgotten on long rides due to both the fit and cooling of the intake and exhaust vents and internal channeling.
Fox Head Flux
One of the most popular helmets in the all-mountain/enduro category, the Fox Head Flux offers deep coverage with an aggressive look. It’s 352 grams is well ventilated thanks to 20 openings. In contrast to most “dial” fit retention systems, Fox Head‘s Detox fit system utilizes a ratcheting strap in the rear. Style and comfort lead the way as reasons this helmet continues to be a best seller.
The SixSixOne Recon is a great option for more comprehensive protection in a sleek, lightweight package ready for all-day romps. The Recon weighs in at a tidy 300 grams and features matte graphics that stand out without being obnoxiously loud—a feat more difficult than it sounds. The straps anchor at the edge of the helmet, so they don’t rub your face or tussle with the liner over which one gets to hug your head. Eighteen vents and internal channeling provide “active” ventilation. The Recon shares the Detox ratcheting fit system with the Flux.
by Don Stefanovich