Reviewed: 2010 Giro Prolight Helmet

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For the past several years, I have been a loyal Specialized S-Works Helmet wearer. I am a big fan of the lightness combined with the open vent system that keeps my noggin from burning-up on hot days. Call me luke-warm when it comes to the Specialized 360 Strap System--I can never seem to get the chin strap exactly how I would like. So, after 4 loyal years, I decided I would take the new Giro Prolite Helmet for a spin.

Overview

The first Prolight made its debut back in 1985, some 25 years ago..back when hand-sewn lycra covers were the it thing. Thankfully Lycra paved the way for today's molded EVA foam-based helmets and open air venting system.
At first glance, the 2010 Prolight looks a great deal like the award winning Ionos made popular by Big Tex (I have heard that Alberto Contador wanted a helmet other than the Ionos, and that he helped initially test the Prolight product early last year). The main aesthetic difference is the Prolight's lower profile and slight modifications on the vent design. Thankfully, the real difference isn't in the aesthetics, it's what's under the hood.

What we liked:

Dubbed the "lightest helmet on earth", the new Prolight weighs in at an amazing 190g! That's nearly 40 grams less than our Specialized S-Works and a full 120g less than the popular Ionos mentioned earlier. So you may ask, how the heck did Giro reduce the weight so significantly from their previous flagship product (Ionos)? Quite simply, one thing: Elastic for plastic in the retention system. While the traditional RocLoc system found in the Ionos, and the similar 360 Strap system from Specialized do a nice job at keeping the helmet properly affixed to your noggin, they are plastic. And when counting grams, plastic is heavier than elastic.

To me, lightness is one of the factors to consider when shelling-out cash on a new helmet, but the one thing about the retention system that I love is the pure comfort. Think fitted ball cap versus the traditional plastic 9 hole system on your favorite baseball cap. It is light, snug and extremely easy to set-up. In fact, we opened the box, adjusted the chin strap, and the internal 3 hole fitting option (small, medium, and large options) to our liking, and hit the road. The entire set-up took less than a minute.

After a month of riding in all types of Spring and Summer weather, we are happy to say that the strap system is the truly the cat's meow. It is such a simple concept, we wonder why someone hasn't thought of it before?!

The snob in us:

When comparing the new Prolight to my current Specialized S-Works 4th Dimension Cooling System, I knew the Prolight's 25 air vents had to do something pretty radical to keep up. So how did the Prolight compare? After a solid month in 70 to 90 degree riding, I was generally disappointed. So much so, that I forgo the comfort in the Prolight retention system and strap-on an additional 40 grams of sweet, air-vent heaven with my Specialized S-Works helmet. It is really too bad, I do so love the concept of the elastic retention system.

Our recommendation:

If supreme lightness, ease of configuration and comfort trump your need for coolness and airflow, then the new Giro 2010 Prolight is nirvana for you. However, if you are an Ionos and S-Works wearer that is tempted to go lighter, stand down! The Prolight will disappoint right where it ultimately counts---keeping your noggin cool and hot summer days.

Where to buy:

Excel Sports (www.excelsports.com) for $199.95
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