What is it?
Equipped with the multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS), the Giro Switchblade MIPS is triple-certified to CPSC, EN-1078, and ASTM-1952 downhill safety standards – both with and without its chin bar, which is quickly and easily removable and replaceable without tools. Beyond increased protection and ease of use, the Switchblade MIPS delivers comfort and versatility with the new Roc Loc Air DH adjustable fit system, anti-microbial padding, 20 vents with internal channeling, and two visors (one adjustable P.O.V. Plus and one with integrated camera mount).
To pass all the rigorous downhill safety tests, Giro opted to create a full-cut, over-the-ears main shell with the chin bar mounting base integrated into the helmet’s base structure. This results in a half-lid style that has an aggressive old-school moto style. It results in better protection in half-lid mode but also hotter, more enclosed structure that will be polarizing factor for some riders. The Switchblade MIPS comes in three sizes and six colorways. Price is $250.
“In 1998, Giro created the first mainstream removable chinbar helmet, it was called Switchblade,” said Dain Zaffke, Giro marketing director. “This new Switchblade MIPS bucks the trend of adding a chin bar to an XC helmet by creating a legitimate downhill helmet and then making the chin bar easily removable.”
On the trail
We took the Switchblade for a ride in Pemberton, British Columbia, on a very warm day. The ride involved a long, steep climb and a very technical descent. The experience was dual-sided as we climbed in half-lid mode and descended in full-face mode.
In full-face mode the helmet was excellent. Weight is 975 grams and ventilation is excellent for a full-face helmet. Thus it was very easy to ride with than a normal full face helmet. Even as speeds got slower or when some pedaling was required, this helmet remained comfortable. Field of vision was very good with a large opening that did not interfere with peripheral vision.
The Roc Loc retention system is a nice touch. One can cinch down on the dial and cradle the head for a tighter fit. But it’s not completely necessary. You can leave it open as well to make putting on and removing the helmet easier. The Roc Loc dial was a little low for us so we adjusted it to the highest vertical position to move it out of the way of the back of the neck and also to raise the forward tilt of the helmet.
As a half-lid helmet, the helmet was comfortable as well, and the Roc Loc system played a bigger role in assuring a more snug fit. The helmet covers the ears and that is definitely a new feeling as it feels more restrictive than normal half-lid helmets. The default cheek pads were a bit too thick so we swapped it out with the thin ones included in the package. As far as heat and ventilation, this was warmer than a normal half-lid helmet. Where the chin bar normally attaches, there are good vents that channel air in to the helmet and it does a fairly good job ventilating. But one has to be climbing at a good clip for any meaningful airflow to be noticeable.