Sharp eyed viewers of the 2009 Tour de France might have noticed a slightly different looking helmet on the heads of several Giro sponsored teams during the first mountain stage. Giro was using the world wide media platform of the Tour to unveil their lightest helmet – the Prolight.
The primary characteristic of the Prolight is the weight – it is noticeably lighter in your hand when comparing it between the Prolight and the Giro Ionos. The medium sized Prolight weighs in at 190 grams and I can only think of the Limar Ultralight which claims a 170 grams in a medium size that comes close to the Giro Prolight.
So what’s the secret to the reduction in weight between the two models? Alien technology? The main factor in this Jenny-Craig-like-weight-loss is the new fit system, Roc Loc SL. Unlike the yo-yo effects of the Craig diet, the Roc Loc SL is a sure thing. The retention straps are constructed from a light weight nylon-webbing material coupled with an elastic “GIRO” branded band that grabs the base of the skull. The only plastic in the retention system are the braces that originate from inside the helmet and act like a truss for the retention webbing.
The overall shape is still similar to the Ionos model and when placed side to side with its Prolight cousin – its plastic retention system removed – the actually helmet shell profile is the same. The angles of the outer shell of the Prolight are rounded off in comparison to the sharper, angular edges of the Ionos. The general placement of the vents is similar, however the Prolight boasts 25 smaller vents to the Ionos’ larger sized 21 vents.
Speaking of placement, the lobster-claw helmet clasp is not positioned under the chin but slightly to the left at about the jaw-line. It took a few times to remember where to disengage the clasp.
The sweat pads inside the helmet are made from Giro’s Xstatic, an anti-microbial padding that keeps the helmet fresh. When the stink goes get too much, the pads can be removed and washed.
Most important are the safety features of the helmet. Giro employs a proprietary in-mold construction process that fuses the helmet’s poly carbonate shell with its impact-absorbing EPS liner making the shell a structural part of the helmet and reinforcing the areas around vents and ribs. This creates an ‘exoskeleton’ which Giro claims allows the helmet to be lighter, more durable, and better ventilated.
Just like the Prolight instructions stated, the Roc Loc SL retention straps only needed a quick adjustment and they were set. The elastic band snugly and securely grabbed the back of my skull and there was no need for additional adjustments. Giro states that with 20 years of manufacturing helmets that its sizing fits ninety-eight percent of the population and I am definitely in the demographic. This retention system gives the helmet the comfortable feel of your favorite worn-in cap. And with its light weight, just as unnoticeable.
An excellent feature is complete lack of loose helmet straps that need to be constrained with some kind of band to prevent flapping in the wind. The Prolight’s straps lay perfectly flat against the head with no excessive material.
As mentioned, the Prolight has 25 ports strategically positioned for optimal ventilation. In comparison with the Ionos I couldn’t feel any perceivable cooling difference using the Prolight. In my own personal testing protocol, with the wind blowing across my bald spot, I felt equally cool between both Giro models, as well as other helmet brands.
The slightly off-center position of the helmet clasp is a smart design feature that begs the question, “Why didn’t they do this before?” The clasp no longer rubs the skin under my chin and I find chewing food is easier with the clasp off to the left. Sure it isn’t a deal breaker and I equate it to the comfort issues of tag-less tee shirts – it never bothered me until it was removed.
Light-weight, comfortable and good looking, the Giro Prolight helmet is a pro level helmet with all the bells and whistles. After several weeks of riding I can’t find anything of any value to nit-pick about. The only minor gripe was a cosmetic issue. I personally liked the rounded off angles of the Prolight while one riding buddy preferred the sharper edges of the Ionos.
RETAIL PRICE: $200
GIRO PROLIGHT HELMET ’10 – $ 160.00
Retail Price: 200.00
You Save: $40.00
From: Jenson USA