More protection than a trail shell, but not a full-on as a full-face helmet, the Alpina Rootage EVO is a versatile halfway house of a helmet.
One of a handful of half-way house helmets on the market, this Alpina Rootage EVO blends the cheek, chin and teeth protection of a full face with the more minimal coverage of a half shell. Giro’s Tyrant and the Fox Dropframe are two similar products where, even though there’s no chin bar to protect your grill, extra side coverage still feels much more protective (and will be welcome if you’ve ever dragged your ears along the ground in a crash like some of us have).
In terms of hidden safety features, all Alpina helmets use what it calls Hi-EPS, which sees tiny microscopic air holes inside the polystyrene and strategic zones of EPP at the edges and in the neck area (this expanded polypropylene foam is the same stuff used in car bumpers to absorb impacts). There is no MIPS or extra rotational impact protection, but that’s not that surprising considering the £95 asking price for this fully wrapped lid.
Inside the Rootage, there’s very minimal padding, and the thin strips included are attached to the EPS by tiny little Velcro sticky pads that quickly lose their effectiveness. The inner pads don’t offer enough isolation from portions of the EPS, which leaves the crown of the head under pressure and creates hotspots. Not helping matters is Alpina’s limited sizing range. The front forehead padding piece isn’t attached to the padding over the scalp and can wriggle around on sweaty rides – it even occasionally revealed the scratchy Velcro sticker which is not nice against bare skin.
One positive aspect of the Rootage’s minimal padding, alongside the generous vents, is that cooling is excellent. Whereas the Giro Tyrant is best suited to winter temperatures, most riders will be happy enough with Alpina’s ventilation and airflow to ride in it all year. Plus, the Rootage is over 100g lighter over the Giro, which makes a difference. That said, it still doesn’t get close to Fox’s crazy lightweight Dropframe, which is under 400g.
Pulling aside the wings of the Rootage, it’s easy to get your head inside and there’s a nice, snug, secure fit that really wraps the head, boosted by an effective rear tensioning dial. Goggles play nicely with the front and it doesn’t get too stuffy around the ears. Test riders with a 58cm head did just about fit inside the smaller of two Alpina sizes with a bit of a squeeze, but ideally we’d like to see a middle sizing option here, as riders with smaller heads are definitely going to find this 52/57cm size too roomy. With this issue, and the skimpy pads, there are a few too many niggles to fully recommend the Rootage, even for under £100.
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