Light, low-profile, and well-vented
Runs a bit large; not quite as comfortable as the Aether
For the last couple of seasons, I’ve sung the praises of Giro’s Aether helmet, largely due to its comfortable fit, awesome looks, and its MIPS Spherical system that helps disperse rotational forces in the event of a crash. Now Giro brings that same Spherical technology to a lower priced helmet option, the Helios. And while it costs less at $250, it actually has a few benefits over the Aether.
The Helios difference
MIPS Spherical system is so far exclusive to Giro helmets — though Bell Helmets used a similar system in the past. It’s a ball-and-socket design: The inner EPS shell (with progressive layering) rotates within the outer EPS shell, and in the event of a crash, the two shells absorb rotational forces rather than your head by slipping against each other.
That hasn’t changed at all with the Helios. It’s a direct transfer of technology from the Aether. But the Helios sets itself apart in a few ways. First, there are several smaller vents — 15 of them, to be exact — rather than fewer large vents on the Aether. This helps create plenty of ventilation without having to use the plastic braces used on the Aether to lend strength to the helmet in between the vents. Avoiding this reinforcement also helps cut manufacturing costs.
Second, the Helios is actually lighter than the Aether. My size large Aether weighs 334 grams, while my size large Helios weighs 296 grams. So if you’re a Giro devotee and want to save a few grams without sacrificing the added protection of the Spherical system, you’re in luck.
Of course, you do also sacrifice a little bit in the step down in price. The Aether features Giro’s best-in-class Roc Loc Air fit system, while the Helios uses Giro’s Roc Loc Air 5 fit system instead. It works just fine and snugs up nicely, though it doesn’t feel quite as comfortable and supportive as the Roc Loc Air.
The Helios runs a bit large. I generally wear a size Large helmet across the board, and I fit best in a size Large Helios as well, but I had to snug up the harness all the way to get it as tight as I liked. I tried sizing down to a Medium, but that was far too small for me.
That said, the Helios also has a more compact look and feel compared to the Aether, which bulges slightly outward on the sides and towers a bit higher above the Helios. If you like a low-profile climber’s helmet look, you’ll dig the Helios.
I didn’t pick the ideal day to test out the Helios’ ventilation capabilities. In fact, I would have preferred a helmet with far less ventilation on the winter-like October day we rode up Sunshine Canyon up to Gold Hill, Colorado. On subsequent rides, however, the Helios certainly felt well-ventilated, though I haven’t yet taken it on a long, grueling climb on a swelteringly hot day, so I’ll have to reserve judgement here a bit.
I immediately noticed a difference in shape and fit between the Helios and the Aether. I have to say the Aether is definitely the more comfortable helmet, which isn’t to say the Helios is uncomfortable. The Aether just feels more refined and high-zoot. The Helios feels more minimalist and simple.
As I mentioned, the fit system on the Helios works just fine, though again, it’s not as wispy and comfortable as the Roc Loc Air. It’s plenty adjustable, though, so I was able to find a comfortable position at the back of my head and snug it up enough to keep it firmly in place without any pinching.
The Helios seems like a well-built helmet that I imagine will serve me well on hot climbs here in Colorado. As winter sets in, I may not get to test that theory for a while, so for now, suffice it to say that the Helios is a comfortable lid with cool Spherical technology at a lower price than Giro’s top of the line Aether.