I got a helmet in the mail unsolicited. This was welcome, as I have not been happy with my current helmet and had been thinking about how I’m going to find a helmet that fits me (which is not a trivial task in the age of COVID).
This new helmet was a godsend – I didn’t know who else sent it – because of how perfectly this helmet fits my noggin and how rare that is for me to find. It’s the Giro Helios Spherical and what I have to write below will make Giro both happy, and... less happy.
This is a moderately high-end road helmet, selling for $250. I don’t care if a helmet costs $369 or $69. I am – truly – pickier about my socks than my helmets. But like you all, I have a big investment whenever a particular thing doesn’t work, whether saddles, shoes, helmets, and that’s the state I was in.
This is not a *triathlon* helmet. Racing 8 or 10 times a year is a big race year for me, but that includes gravel races and swim/runs. I’m wearing my aero helmet – what – 3 or 4 times a year? What about the other days, training and racing? This investment here, the “road” helmet, is by far my most important helmet investment (and by “road” I mean road, gravel, tri training, everything other than a triathlon race helmet).
Which – if I may complain for one short paragraph – is why triathlon is a much, much bigger category than cycling data-crunchers give us credit for. Point-of-sale software systems that have products categorized by sub-specialty don’t give our sport credit when we buy a road helmet, or a floor pump, butyl tube, cycling bib and jersey, and so on. Eighty percent (closer to 90 percent) of what we buy never gets listed in the triathlon category even though triathlon money bought it. [/whinge]
What makes a helmet work really well for gravel makes it work really well for triathlon, because I have the same helmet problem during both of these avocations: the helmet slides down over my forehead, obstructing my vision and I have to reach up and tilt it back. This happens typically on a descent, and when I go over bumps. When I’m in the aero position on a tri bike I have the same problem, because my head is less upright (I'm looking more toward the ground), and weight of the helmet, and the momentum of the helmet when I hit a bump, dislodges it and it rotates forward, obstructing my vision. This happens to me in helmet after helmet.
This makes the shape of the helmet, and the retention system, really important to me. I’m not pretending that my problem is yours; I’m just telling you what my problem is, and why the inside helmet shape, and the retention system, is more important to me than it might be to you.
This helmet just flat solves the problem for me, and I can’t say it’s a better helmet than others on the market; I can only say that it solves a problem I uniquely have. In fact, there’s something about this helmet I’ve never before noticed: When I take the helmet off, I need to loosen the retention knob a little in order to put it back on, because the helmet appears to secure to my head at the base of my skull. It just sucks right onto my head, but without undo pressure.
I’m sure Giro is very happy that its Helios Spherical is such an improvement over my prior helmet. What they may be less happy about is that my prior helmet, with which I was unsatisfied, is the Giro Vanquish. Here’s the odd thing: I can’t tell a whit of difference in the retention system in each helmet. In each case they appear to be the Roc Loc 5 Air.
Part of the reason the Helios Spherical stays on my head is the shape. Part, though, is the weight. Giro claims the Vanquish weighs 305g without the eye shield (which is how I wear mine), but I think that’s in a smaller size. Mine calcs out at 340g (in size L) and that takes its toll in longer gravel rides, where the bumps force the weight of that helmet down and my neck takes a beating holding that weight up. The Helios Spherical is a much lighter 309g, it stays put on my head, and the usual mild soreness in the back of my neck the day after a bumpy gravel ride is just not there with the Helios Spherical.
A couple of other notes about this helmet. It uses MIPS tech, which is "spherical technology" (which explains the name of the helmet): a bifurcation of the helmet into two parts that rely on a MIPS slip plane to rotate around each other during impact. This reduces rotational forces on your head, to which our brains are particularly susceptible, and is a significant safety upgrade. Secondly, I mentioned this is a moderately high-priced helmet. The Giro Aether is a $320 helmet (compared to $250 for this Helios Spherical), and has slightly more ventilation than the Helios Spherical. But the increased ventilation makes it a slightly worse helmet aerodynamically than the Helios Spherical.
Therefore, the value of the Vanquish – a road helmet that’s also aero – is to a degree maintained in the Helios Spherical, but this helmet I'm writing about today is a better ventilated helmet, and lighter, and – for me – a much, much better fitting helmet. Of course, your results may vary. The Giro Vanquish is a very popular helmet in the peloton. Just, I’m not a helmet snob. I just want the danged thing to perform its function.
Oh, and I subsequently found out this helmet was supposed to be sent to Greg Kopecky, who is our primary tech editor, but was addressed to me. He was scheduled to review it for Slowtwitch. Sorry, Greg. You get the next one. This Helios Spherical has reached its final destination.
Here is the helmet on Giro’s site, and as you’ll see it comes in a variety of colors. I notice that the Giro Aether comes in 13 colors. Geez. The Helios Spherical comes (so far) in 5 colors, which is 4 more than I need. (But I think I like the white one, and if you see Giro ads for this helmet on Slowtwitch or elsewhere, the white is what I see.)