Everybody needs a helmet or three, right? So here’s a nice ‘un from Giro. Purportedly female specific, it’s available in small and medium – which are exactly the same sizes as the men’s equivalent Xar small and medium (51–55 and 55–59cm respectively). Giro makes no mention of the Xara being designed to suit a different head shape either – which is good, because as far as I know male and female head shapes are pretty much the same, although I’m no biologist so please don’t all write in at once to tell me I’m wrong – and there’s no dreaded ‘ponytail port’, either (having been the proud owner of a ponytail in the days before female-specific anything, I know damn well that most women are resourceful enough to be able to ride their bike in safety without one).
So it’s safe to say that the only thing which makes this a ‘female specific’ helmet, is the natty polka dot or stylised floral pattern which appears in various places on the lid depending on your choice of colourway (white/black, black/white, or titanium). It’s also worth noting that Giro makes a matching version of its excellent DND glove – although as the availability of matchy-matchy kit is just as much of a concern to men as it is to women, and because the nice polka dot gloves don’t come in man-size, we’ll leave that there… Sorry boys.
As far as function goes, it’s a helmet and it does exactly what a helmet should: it sits snugly on your head thanks to the fifth iteration of Giro’s Roc-Loc retention system, the 17 substantial vents do an excellent job of dragging air over your sweaty scalp, and the in-moulded shell has proved resilient enough to everyday dings and scuffs. I’ve yet to test it to the max by throwing myself wilfully to the floor at speed, but there’s enough coverage that I feel pretty confident it would do a good job of meeting that bit of its job description, too. Like many open face lids on the market at the moment it gives more than a nod to the popularity of trail helmets with increased coverage, especially at the rear and sides, while retaining the multitude of vents and minimal weight that make barely-there cross-country helmets comfortable to ride in.
Two quibbles, though: the straps have a tendency to slip through the buckle, to the point that I normally have to readjust them mid-ride if I’m out for more than a couple of hours. I’ve cut them down to length and am mildly fanatical about keeping the ends captured inside the little rubber loop, but to no avail: they still seem to creep free over time, leading to an ill-fitting lid. Something else which suffers from repeated wears is the antibacterial ‘X-Static’ treatment on the pads, which seems to run out of power when the pads get wet, despite rotating between this and another helmet when I’m riding on consecutive days to give things a chance to dry out (see? I told you everybody needs three helmets…). It’s mostly fine on dry rides as long as they’re not too sweaty, but prolonged exposure to rain leads to a creeping suspicion you’re being followed around by a wet dog – thankfully not to the extent that anyone else has noticed it but it’s still not very ladylike at all…
Overall: A perfectly ordinary, perfectly effective helmet for slightly smaller heads/lovers of polka dots and flowers, of either gender.
|Tested:||by Jenn for Three months.|