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2013 Giro Feature Review

2013 Giro Feature Review at Dales Cycles

For over almost seven years, my trusty Giro Xen helmet has put up with everything I could throw at it, shrugging off anything from a low-hanging branch to misjudged doubles at Glentress. But lately the pads started falling apart, the shell was faded, and the helmet was fast approaching the magic seven year age limit that most industry testers mark as the safe lifespan for a modern cycle helmet.

So I was on the hunt for something new, and fancied a change from the Xen. But it had served me well, and I wanted to stick with Giro, so after a quick flick through the 2013 catalogue I quickly settled on their Feature model.

California based Giro create some of the lightest and most advanced helmets on the market, catering to the bicycle and ski/snowboard industry. The Feature helmet slots into Giro's 'Dirt' range and is sold as an all-mountain helmet for aggressive trail use. But I've found that it's just as suitable for inner-city commuting and all-day rides as it is for shorter single track blasts.

The Feature is aimed at riders who want more rear coverage than the average helmet offers, but want more vents and a more up-to-date look than is offered by a skate/BMX style lid. The Feature comes in a wide range of colours, and three sizes.

Priced at £59.99 for 2013, the Giro immediately looks like an expensive alternative to a skate-style helmet like 661's Dirt Lid. However, it is better vented, more adjustable and considerably more attractive. It's comparatively priced to rival's off-road offerings. It's also quite a bit cheaper than my old Xen was at the time.

At first glance, the Feature looks just like I've loosely described, a skate style helmet with a peak, but look closer and you'll see it takes more styling cues from the MTB trail centre and motocross track than it does from the skate park. The rear of the helmet extends a good inch or more further down the back of the skull than the average helmet, offering extra protection, and giving the helmet the appearance of sitting low on the head, rather than being perched atop it. The in-moulded design helps reduce its overall bulk, and the helmet looks slimmer than expected when worn. All these add to the style stakes, and leave the Feature looking thoroughly modern when worn.

2013 Giro Feature Review at Dales Cycles

Admittedly, the Feature weighs a little more than a similarly priced cross-country helmet, but offers the aforementioned added protection and style. The Feature also boasts Giro's In-Mold technology, which allows for better ventilation, fusing a polycarb shell with the inner foam liner. Besides letting the helmet sit low, this results in a lighter, cooler helmet than many traditional hard shell designs.

So having unboxed the helmet and giving it a look over, it was time for the maiden voyage. Having owned the Giro Xen for such a long time, I was a bit unsure whether the cheaper Feature would offer the same level of comfort. My head is about 56-57cm, and the medium size offered a snug and comfortable fit, feeling secure without placing pressure on any particular points. Giro's 'In-Form' fit system allows for one-handed adjustment, so fine tuning the fit on my first ride was no problem, even whilst in motion.

2013 Giro Feature Review at Dales Cycles

I headed out on the streets to see how the Feature would stack up on the move. It was a cold day, just a degree or two above zero, and the snow capped peaks of the local hills rose above me as I coasted down the cycle path. Since it was a wintery afternoon, 12 vents were more than enough. Unlike the Xen, I was able to comfortably manage without a skullcap even though the temperature was in single digits. Whether this will translate to a sweaty scalp when summer finally comes around, is something that will remain to be seen.

After an hour in the saddle, the helmet was still comfortable, hadn't moved, even after some rocky trails and a couple of misjudged bunny-hops over the largest local potholes. Most importantly, I had stopped noticing it was even up there, which is always the true test of a helmet. If you can forget you're wearing it, you know it's comfortable.

With all this in mind, I'd happily recommend the Giro Feature to most riders looking for a mid-priced mountain bike helmet. The extra material means it won't appeal to light-weight race fetishists, and 12 vents might not be enough for sweatier riders during summer months. But the Feature is especially suitable for more aggressive riders looking for extra protection and urban riders who make more measured progress over distance.

- Scott