Top-quality helmet with a high level of protection and a ton of trail-friendly features
Giro’s XEN was one of the most popular trail helmets ever. It married great looks with top performance in an affordable package. Sadly, it was discontinued a few years ago, and it’s taken Giro quite a while to launch a replacement, but the new XEN is finally here. Called the Montaro, it gets extended rear coverage and is crammed full of all the latest Giro technology.
First off, it’s fully in-moulded, so the micro-shell and EPS form a solid structure. It is also strengthened with Giro’s Roll Cage Reinforcement, a sort of nylon web that’s moulded into the polystyrene.
To add further protection the helmet features MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology. This is a thin liner that sits between your skull and the helmet and it’s designed to slide slightly during a crash, dissipating some of the energy of the impact.
Unlike most helmets with MIPS, Giro says the Montaro has been specifically designed around the liner, which means it shouldn’t impact on sizing or cause tightness.
Unfortunately, it does impact on sizing and I’ve been wearing a size large Montaro rather the medium I usually wear in Giro helmets. You’ll definitely need to try one on for size and not assume it’s going to fit like any previous Giro helmet you’ve worn.
Like most new enduro helmets, the Montaro gets a fully adjustable visor that allows you to park your goggles underneath when not in use, and built into the vents on the back of the helmet there are several rubber inserts to hold the strap in place.
Inside there is a lightweight Roc Loc Air retention system and several anti-microbial pads, which Giro says can absorb up to 10-times their weight in sweat. On my early test sample these pads started to peel apart, which Giro says has been corrected but it also happened on the production helmet.
If you ride hard, MIPS makes a lot of sense, but one of the things I noticed about the liner is that it moves quite a bit when you rock the helmet from side-to-side and gives the impression that it’s not that secure. MIPS says its liner system adds extra protection, and since it adds very little weight, I’d rather have it than not.
It also doesn’t impact on the helmet’s ventilation and, while the Montaro is not as cool as a proper XC race lid, it’s way better vented than the old XEN, and even modern counterparts such as the Troy Lee A1.
At £130 the Giro Montaro is not cheap, but it’s a top-quality helmet with a high level of protection and a ton of trail-friendly features — you just need to make sure you sort the sizing before handing over your cash.