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Friday, May 10, 2013

Giro Air Attack Shield Review

I was excited when I heard about the Giro Air Attack.  Not because it's more "aero" than a standard helmet, but because I could stop wearing those huge over-the-prescription Solar Shield sunglasses (left).

Since the first thing I did when I got the helmet was practice removing and mounting the lens, I'll start this review off with a little how-to.


HOW TO TAKE THE LENS OFF (WITHOUT SMUDGING THE LENS!)
In order to remove the lens without smudging, place a thumb on the nosepiece and hold the top edge with a finger, then push upwards (vertically) with the thumb to free the center magnet, then pull the lens to free the rest of the magnets.  Don't shift the lens down or else it will hit your cheek.
Push up with the thumb to release the lens.
HOW TO PUT THE LENS ON
This part can be sort of difficult at first, but if you use this method to get the lens on, it will be a piece of cake!  By using the three ventilation holes as a marker, center the holes right below the border of the helmet.  You really don't have to "look" for the magnets because once the ventilation holes are centered at the right position, the magnets should pop right in.
Align the ventilation slits in the center of the helmet
to snap the lens onto the mounting magnets
A FEW WORDS ABOUT STYLE
I don't know if people are just trying to be nice, but I have been getting a lot of positive comments about the helmet.  This was surprising to me, especially after reading all of the negative comments scattered around the web.

I tend to pick up on non-verbal cues better.  The best way I can describe people's reaction to this helmet is that they have a "neutral awe."  Sometimes the look lasts a few seconds and sometimes it lasts long enough to be awkward.  It's hard to tell whether this is a negative or positive thing, but as long as I don't get the "ugly" look (which was the case in my Solar Shields), then I'm happy!

VENTILATION: VISOR ON VS. VISOR OFF
Compared to my previous helmet which had 20 vents, my head felt surprisingly cooler in the Air Attack!  It didn't matter whether the visor was on or off.  By taking the visor off, the only perceptible difference I noticed was that more air would hit my face.

The Air Attack seems to keep my head cooler not through ventilation, but through greater UV protection.  In my previous helmet, the top of my head would always feel dry and hot to the touch after a ride.  My experience with the Air Attack has been the total opposite- wet and cool.  I'll be able to put the helmet to the ultimate test once it gets up to 100+ degrees.

The hottest ride I've done so far was an 81 degree group ride lasting one hour and 26 minutes- this included a 10+ mile breakaway.  Check out the ride below.  For the entire duration of the ride, I left the visor on and never felt like my head was getting too hot.  In fact, I only felt the need to drink a little less than 3/4 of my 25oz. insulated Camelbak water bottle!  I did have an extra advantage though.  I wore a Skin Cooler Helmet Beanie and a Leg Cooler from my sponsor, De Soto Sport.  The combination of the De Soto Helmet Beanie and the Air Attack is a system that keeps my head very, very cool.



COOL FEATURE DESIGNED BY ACCIDENT?
During the group ride above, I noticed something that would later prove to be extremely useful.  By changing the tilt of my head from slightly up to parallel to the ground, I could significantly reduce the air flow going into my eyes by "sealing" the ventilation holes at the top of the lens.  It didn't seem to affect the ventilation going into the top of my head, but it definitely created a dead space around my face.  This feature was especially helpful when a car passed ahead and kicked up sand.  All I needed to do was tilt my head down to protect my eyes from the sand.

IN THE RAIN... 
Today, I rode in the rain and actually enjoyed it!  I could see much better with the integrated lens than my sunglasses because I had a greater field of vision to work with.  Riding in the rain also gave me a new idea to make this helmet even better... Rain-X or Car Wax!

WEIGHT
While I haven't weighed this helmet on my kitchen scale yet, it's noticeably heavier than my previous helmet (Giro Indicator).  Although it's a little heavier than my previous helmet, it would be embarrassing to consider the weight as a disadvantage.  Just to put a number out there, the claimed weight of the two helmets are 290g (Air Attack Shield) vs 290g (Indicator w/ Visor).  Small actual difference.

COST
Before I purchased this helmet, it was hard for me to justify spending so much, but after adding up the cost of all the sunglasses I've lost, it didn't hurt as much on the wallet.  Since the lens is almost always connected, I HOPE I won't lose it!

IMPROVES BODY AWARENESS
While the aerodynamic savings are difficult to measure, the shield has improved my body awareness by muting the feeling of the wind smashing into my face, especially whenever my head is tilted closer to parallel.  There's something about feeling less wind on my head that makes it easier to focus on my efforts and form.  The helmet is especially useful in headwinds because I can't feel the resistance on my head as much as I used to.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
While I've only covered things that I've experienced so far, feel free to leave a comment below to ask additional questions about this helmet.  I'll expand this review as the comments come in.

Q&A *Updated 05.24.13*:
What would it take for the visor to get knocked off?  In situations where the visor gets hit directly, the visor stays on surprisingly well.  To test this, I let my girlfriend hit me in the face with pillows.  I know.. very scientific!  Despite hitting me very hard from the front, sides and below, the visor never felt like it wanted to detach from the helmet.  With that said, there was only one way I found that could cause the lens to detach.  By pushing one side of the lens away from my face, I was able to fling the lens off of the helmet.  The only way this could happen is if you wipe your face and accidentally catch the side of the lens with a thumb.  You could also accidentally drop the lens if you try to remove the lens by grabbing the lens from the side instead of from the center.

Does it chatter or flex at all in the wind?  It doesn't chatter or flex at all.

Temperature when standing still/ going slow (aka, climbing)?  At slow climbing speeds, my head still feels a lot cooler mainly because of the sun protection from having less vents.  Although in humid/ slow speeds, the helmet fails quite a bit.  It gets toasty and sweaty fast if you end up getting stuck trying to climb on a humid day.