Giro brought us out to the mountains in Pemberton, BC to show us their brand new helmet, the Switchblade. You could say the helmet has been 20-years in the making, with the original Switchblade making its debut in the 1990s. For this specific project Giro reimagined the concept and has been working on the current Switchblade for close to three years. So what makes this one different? Instead of designing an XC or trail helmet with an add-on chin bar, Giro set out to make a downhill helmet, with all the certifications, with a removable chin bar. This reverse way of thinking creates one of the best looking convertible helmets we've seen to date.

Check out the press release, full details, and our initial impressions, below:

Giro Sport Design Launches Switchblade MIPS: Built For The Down

MIPS-equipped, ASTM downhill-certified removable chin bar helmet creates new category of trail protection

Press Release: Today at Crankworx Whistler, Giro Sport Design officially released the long-anticipated Switchblade MIPS helmet. Equipped with the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), the 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 unrivaled comfort and versatility with the new Roc Loc Air DH adjustable fit system, hydrophilic X-Static anti- microbial padding, 20 vents with internal channeling, and two visors (one adjustable P.O.V. PlusTM and one with integrated camera mount). The full-cut, over-the-ears style gives this helmet an aggressive look even when the chin bar is removed. The Switchblade MIPS is available immediately worldwide in 3 sizes and 6 colorways at authorized Giro retailers for $250 / £TBD/ €299.

“In 1998, Giro created the first mainstream removable chin bar helmet, it was called Switchblade,” said Dain Zaffke, Giro Marketing Director. “In the years that followed, we’ve seen many options come and go, all based around the same premise of taking a cross country helmet and adding a chin bar. This new Switchblade MIPS bucks that trend completely. Instead of a adding a chin bar to an XC helmet, we’ve done the opposite: everything about this helmet is built for the descent. We’ve essentially created the ultimate full-face downhill helmet and then made the chin bar easily removable."

“From early on, we worked with top professional riders Richie Rude and Cody Kelley (Yeti / Fox Shox Factory Race Team) to get the details just right. But more than just racers on the Enduro World Series will embrace this helmet – its myriad features will appeal to aggressive trail riders, freeriders and even dirt jumpers who will be drawn to the full-cut style.”

Giro Switchblade Features

  • ASTM-1952 Downhill, EN-1078 Certified
  • Removable Chinbar
  • Wind Tunnel Cheek Pad Ventilation
  • 20 Vents with Internal Channeling
  • Roc Loc Air DH Fit System
  • MIPS Technology
  • Hydrophilic, X-Static Anti-Microbial Padding
  • POV Plus Visor
  • 975g (size medium)
  • MSRP: $250 (USD)

Initial Impressions

Fittingly, Giro took us out on one of the hottest days we've experienced in British Columbia to ride in the new helmet. The first thing we noticed, this isn't the same Switchblade we saw years and years ago. We never thought these words would come out of our mouth regarding a removable chin bar helmet, but the Switchblade looks pretty darn good. If you didn't know the chin bar was removable, it pretty much looks like a normal full face helmet.

With the chin bar off, the lid looks reminiscent of an old school open-face moto helmet. The Switchblade includes two visors, an adjustable one that is able to move up high enough to make room for a pair of goggles should you want to leave them on the helmet while you climb, and a fixed one that features a POV camera mount.

​The process of taking off and putting on the chinbar is pretty easy, too. After a few attempts at attaching the chin bar it became pretty natural and fast. Removal is even simpler - just depress the buttons on each side of the helmet, rotate the chin bar up and pull.

On The Trail

With a pretty grueling and hot climb to the top during our first test ride, we felt that the Switchblade ran a bit hot, even without the chin bar. Once speeds picked up beyond a crawl, we did feel the air making its way through the helmet, which helped, but this helmet is a little warmer than a standard 3/4 trail lid. That's to be expected given the additional coverage.

We were very impressed with the hydrophilic, X-Static liner. The liner's sweat retention was excellent, and not once during our ride did we notice any drips from our brow. The chin bar is easily stash-able in a hydration pack while climbing. At one point we also tried Giro's recommendation of simply putting the chin bar halfway in the back of our riding shorts, and sure enough, the bar stayed in place and didn't get in the way while seated.

Once we got to the top, we pulled the chin bar out, threw it on without removing our helmet, adjusted our goggles and dropped in. At first the Roc Loc Fit System dial located on the back of the helmet was keeping us from being able to keep our head completely back in the steep sections. Thankfully this dial is height adjustable and was in the lowest position. Raising it to the highest position allowed for full range of motion, but it still feels "off" having that trail helmet style dial on the back of your head on a DH lid.

Initial fit aside, once we got everything where we wanted it the helmet was comfortable in both DH and trail modes. Airflow while descending with the chin bar on is on par with a typical well-vented full face. The chin bar is spaced far enough from your face that breathing isn't restricted and you're not sucking down hot old breath the entire run.

So, who do we think this helmet is for? Well obviously the enduro crowd will appreciate this lid. Pop the chin bar off for the liaison stages and throw it back on for the timed sections. The weekend warrior who has to earn their descents will also enjoy the features offered on the new Switchblade, including the added protection once they make it to the top. Park rats might also enjoy the Switchblade while they shred the bike park all day then finish the ride off at at their local jumps. Overall we were impressed by the new lid from Giro. They managed to pull off a good looking helmet that's suitable for a wide variety of riding. From dirt jumping to DH, with trail in between, the Switchblade is worth taking a look at if you're looking for a one helmet to do it all.

The new Giro Switchblade MIPS will be available this month. Visit www.giro.com for more details.

Photos by Robin O'Neill

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