Photos by Ryan Palmer
Giro's product launch for its new full-coverage helmet, the Montaro and the female-targeted Montara, took a turn away from typical as soon we rode upon rows of chairs set up in front of a table in the middle of the Cheakamus Lake Trails south of Whistler.
Then, things got really interesting when Giro's marketing director Dain Zaffke pulled out a stack of ShamWow towels and encouraged the media in attendance to dampen the towels and clean our faces.
But it all made sense soon enough.
During the trailside product presentation, Zaffke, with the help of Giro-sponsored rider Graham Agassiz, demonstrated how the Montaro incorporates the same material that makes the famous 'As Seen on TV' product sop up spilled wine. Giro modeled the helmet's brow pad after the part chamois/part towel/part sponge in order to maximize sweat management on long, hot rides. I rode a short, steep climb during the heat of the day on Thursday's quick test ride of the Montara, and the anti-microbial brow pad definitely did its job of keeping sweat out of my eyes. Longer efforts would better put the ShamWow-ness to task, but early results are promising.
The Montaro is also designed for maximum breathability with 16 vents and the incorporation of Giro's Roc Loc Air Fit system, technology first developed for Giro's Air Attack road helmet. Roc Loc suspends the helmet a few millimeters above the rider's head to create a constant stream of air flowing through the lid.
"It used to be that you counted vents and the bigger the number of vents, the more breathable the helmet," Zaffke said.
Other features include a visor lift that allows riders to easily rest goggles under the visor; rubber goggle-strap grippers on the backside of the helmet; a three-pronged GoPro-style camera or light breakaway mount that snaps into the top of the helmet and rotates 180 degrees; and the TriGlide buckle system designed to keep the straps flush against a rider's face.
The design is loosely based on the Xen, a trail riding helmet released in 2003 that was among the first to stray from the XC-race aesthetic, and which Giro took out of its line in 2011. The product development team spent three years designing and testing the Montaro. The unisex Montaro comes in eight colors, while the women's Montara comes in three options.
At a retail prices of $150, the Montaro fills a hole in the premium category and complements the Feature, a more basic trail helmet that retails for $75 without MIPS or $95 with. The Montaro is Giro's first helmet to come only with MIPS, the liner system is meant to reduce the rotational force transferred to the brain during an impact (Giro owns a stake in MIPS).
The full-coverage helmet market is getting more competitive each season, with worthy options from brands like Specialized, Troy Lee Designs, POC and Bontrager. The Montaro will surely offer consumers another strong choice when it hits retailers in October.