Replacing a classic is never easy, but when the classic in question is the venerable Giro Xen helmet, a helmet that paved a new way direction for helmet design, it’s even harder.
But the Xen has been knocking on the door of retirement for a couple of years and so Giro has issued a replacement, the Xar. Pulling it out of the box the Xar doesn’t immediately look all that different, instead appearing as the result of the Xen and cheaper Hex being merged into one. The angular style of the Hex replaces the soft smooth curves of the Xen. It looks good.
So the Xen has been knocked from its perch at the top and replaced with the Xar. Fortunately the Xar is a step forward with everything we’ve come to expect from Giro plus several new things on show. There’s a three-piece in-mould polycarbonate constructed shell lined with EPS foam, and there’s the same low coverage at the back of the head.
Roll Cage reinforcement increases the helmets structural integrity in the event of a spill. Cooling comes via 17 wind tunnel designed vents with the internal channelling of air being improved compared to the Xen, and the adjustable visor is better optimised to flow air into the vents. It’s a considerably cooler helmet than the Xen, but still warmer than something like Giro’s Athlon XC lid.
Meanwhile, inside mopping up sweat are X-Static anti-microbial pads, which can be removed and machine washed to prevent any pong from building up.
The biggest change on the new helmet is the all-new retention system. Giro has continued to refine and hone its retention system, and the Xar is the first helmet to get the new Roc Loc 5. It’s been in development for two years and uses a slim rotary dial which makes adjustment dead easy. It’s now a task which can be carried out easily while riding with just one hand.
There’s also vertical adjustment, with three settings available, to get the perfect fit. All in Roc Loc 5 is a big improvement on the existing design, being much nicer to use with a finer range of adjustment. Previous Roc Loc’s were a two-handed operation, not something that was easy, or at all possible, on the trail.
Giro also claim Roc Loc 5 is an impressive 40% lighter too, a fact which makes the Xar a smidgen lighter than the Xen overall.
Price is £114.99.
There’s not much to fault with Giro’s new Xar, an impressive replacement for an all-ready sorted helmet. Roc Loc 5 is a big step forward, and the styling and colours and high comfort take the edge of the price tag.