There are more mountain bike helmets on the market these days than women in Charlie Sheen’s house. It’s a daunting experience to shop in a store–and even worse online–with a seemingly endless selection of colors, shapes, and features. It’s worse than shopping for my manpurse in Manhattan!
Remember when a helmet was a helmet and you went to Wal-Mart and it was the blue one or the plaid one? It’s a little John Mellencamp, but today, you better have the right helmet for the job lest ye be judged of incorrect ilk. You got your slick and smooth park lid, your glittery featherweight XC helmet with 73 1/4 vents, your commuter helmet with incorporated blinky lights and political stickers, your cyclocross helmet with removable beer coozy and a place to store your hepatitis C meds, your Strava-synced roadie helmet to match your Livestrong bracelet, and your full faced stormtrooper helmet to wear with your Justin Beiber tee and faded Wranglers… or whatever you kids listen to these days. Whew, that’s a lot! Then along came the Enduro “movement.” Well, Domo Arigato Mr. Enduro… you gotta come along and ruin everything, don’t you? Now every Tom, Dick, and Giro is vying for the coveted Holy Grail of Enduro mountain bike helmets to compliment your shiny new Bronson. In fact, 16% of the 11,588,500 words of final Obamacare regulations just list helmet manufacturers doctors can recommend. True story.
The good thing about enduro-oriented helmets: they combined a lot of technology from different riding styles into one versatile lid.
Enter the iXS Trail RS. Though this company has been around about ten years as a leading manufacturer of motorcycle clothing and accessories, it is relatively new to the world of mountain biking in the US. So who cares if yet another company enters the market and tries to edge out stalwart bastions of biking like Fox and Bell? Well, if you’re a capitalist like me and like quality stuff for cheap, then you should care too, my friend.
Consider this: more helmet manufacturers leads to more innovation and cheaper products through increased competition. I don’t know if you’ve checked the prices of mountain bike helmets lately, but some of them are pushing upwards of $270 for XC offerings and $500 for full faced jobbers. That may hurt your wallet more than your head if you destroy one. Fortunately, at $119 bones, the iXS is a relative steal. More importantly, iXS motorcycle tech beautifully translates over to the mountain biking applications and is a breath of fresh air.
The Deets (from iXS):
- Full in-mold coverage for optimized absorption and weight
- Aeration system with 22 large vents and internal air channels
- Adjustable bolt system MX style visor
- Flexibility and full visual field
- Crash release visor
- Dual-Compound dial adjuster
- Ergo-Fit Ultra, fully flexible and adjustable retention system
- Dual-Compound head ring for highest comfort and optimized fit
- Dual in-mold, lower 360 degree in-mold shell to prevent from damage
- Y-Clip adjustable strap system
- Ratchet safety closure
- Black, Green, White, Grey, and Blue (tested)
- S/M 54-58cm (tested) and M/L 58-62cm
- EN1078 & CPCS certified
- Claimed weight: 320g
Tech jargon can be confusing, but what stands out about this helmet is the large vents, large front inner padding, adjustable and comfortable fit, and break-away visor. All helmets are basically certified when sold in the US markeplace, but full in-mold construction makes the helmet strong, light, and compact–which is important because larger helmets may strain your weenie neck.
I found all of the padding to be really comfortable, especially the front, which is soft and absorbs a lot of sweat and keeps it out of my eyes. The fit is snug: my 57cm head circumference felt a little tight in the S/M model, especially around the temples, but I got used to this and hope that the snugness equates to better fit on impact. Fortunately, the padding is removable if you so chose, but I didn’t, because I was used to it by the time I finished gearing up. The bright green padding also compliments all of the helmet colors as well, not unlike those fly neon lights under low-riders. Word.
The visibility is excellent and accommodated my sunglasses easily without pressing into my temples (which inserted further down than where the padding was pushing in). If you are bred to wear flannel and run goggles for Enduro events then, you may find that they slip off the back of the helmet due to the silky rounded plastic back and lack of helmet retention. That being said, the occipital (back of skull) protection it provides is excellent, providing great coverage if you fall and strike the back of your head during an enduro throw-down or awkward XC pile-up.
The rubbery single control knob made adjustments a snap and rounded out the overall impression that this helmet is dialed in well. The inner retention system is strong, light, and felt like it connected my head closely to the helmet shell. I am not a fan of helmets that move around on the chassis atop your head, so this is a nice feature.
As I have mentioned before, I have a round head and am not a helmet guy, and was worried about trying this helmet when I read reviews on “other” sites suggesting this helmet should only be worn by those graced with an oval shaped egg. Not true. Though the pressure from the pads may have influenced some of those reviews, as I mentioned it is easy to get used to, and at worst, removable or modifiable.
The other thing I liked about this helmet was the small Y retention clip which was sleek, and the feeling of the padding around the adjustable chin strap. This padding serves double duty to hold the excess chin strap in place, but it also provided comfort around the chin strap not found on many mountain bike helmets. Great idea, iXS!
Unfortunately, there is no single helmet that caters to every riding style. But, after wearing the Trail RS on a variety of park, XC, and Enduro-style trails, I feel that iXS made a strong offering towards a single quiver helmet for all but the rowdiest DH ribbons where full-faced lids are mandatory. If you are in the market for an affordable, strong, light, stylish mountain bike helmet, I recommend trying the Trail RS.
Thanks to iXS for sending the helmet over for review!!