Road Gear

What’s that new Giro helmet in the Tour?

After outfitting sponsored teams with new time trial helmets last week, Giro used the first mountain stages of this year’s Tour to unveil a new road helmet as well. Unlike the TT helmet, which has yet to be named, priced, or slated for release to the public, the new Giro Prolight is already in the pipeline for retailers this coming spring. Giro Prolight – less is more

Giro Prolight: A Garmin rider with a Giro Prolight. The vents look smaller, but we can’t see the internal channels to conduct ai

Photo: Graham Watson

After outfitting sponsored teams with new time trial helmets last week, Giro used the first mountain stages of this year’s Tour to unveil a new road helmet as well. Unlike the TT helmet, which has yet to be named, priced, or slated for release to the public, the new Giro Prolight is already in the pipeline for retailers this coming spring.

Giro Prolight – less is more

With the Prolight, Giro smashes through the previous weight floor, dropping below 200 grams for the first time in a production helmet. In fact, the 175-gram (claimed) weight for the European version is reportedly the lightest helmet ever made.

Giro says that the helmet was two years in development, and rather than looking for ways to add features to existing helmets, they looked for ways to pare down. The goal was to retain key elements but simplify them into lighter structures.

Giro Prolight: Armstrong sports a Prolight in Livestrong colors. The Roc Loc SL strap can be seen at the back.

Giro Prolight: Armstrong sports a Prolight in Livestrong colors. The Roc Loc SL strap can be seen at the back.

Photo: Graham Watson

“This was a ground-up, no compromise project,” Giro VP of Research and Development Mike Lowe said. “Our primary objective was to build the lightest helmet in the world, but we also wanted to make sure it was very well ventilated and super comfortable.”

So how’d they do it?

For one, Giro rethought their trademark Roc Loc fit system. The new version, called Roc Loc SL, is self-adjusting, made from lightweight and supple webbing material. The rider can adjust it to fit in one step, and after that, it appears to essentially work like an elastic band around the occipital lobe (rather than the more rigid plastic of the original Roc Loc). For additional refinement to the fit, the Roc Loc SL can be secured to the helmet shell in three different positions fore or aft.

Giro Prolight: Luis-Leon Sanchez of Caisse d’Epargne wore a Prolight on his way to the winner’s step in Stage 8.

Photo: Graham Watson

Helmet straps on the Prolight were also subjected to the diet treatment. Giro sourced Italian-made webbing that is lighter weight but sacrifices no comfort.

Obviously the shell of a helmet is its foundation, and the new lid has 25 vents plus internal channels to help boost airflow. In photos, the Prolight vents appear smaller than those on the previous top-of-the-range Ionos. But the company says that the internal channels, plus large vents at the back of the helmet, draw air through it to maintain ventilation.

Other trademark Giro features like X-static pads, “In-Mold” construction, and “Superfit” sizing return from previous helmet generations.

Giro Prolight: Giro’s new helmet has been shaped and engineered to tip the scales at less than 200 grams.

Photo: Graham Watson

Who’s on it, and when can WE get one?

So far, Giro sponsored teams Astana, Garmin-Slipstream, Caisse d’Epargne, and Rabobank are riding the new helmet. According to Giro, Levi Leipheimer calls the Prolight “unreal,” and others liken the reduced weight to wearing nothing more than a baseball hat.

Giro says the Prolight will be on shelves this spring, in three sizes (small, medium, large) and four color combinations (white/silver, black/carbon, blue/black and red/black). Pricing has not been released. According to brand manager Kevin Franks, the US-available version (CPSC-certified) will be slightly heavier than the CE (European) version, at about 200 grams in size medium.

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