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by Justin Schroth

With new trail-oriented offerings in their product line, SixSixOne is looking to make a resurgence in an ever-growing segment of riders looking for gear that can maintain comfort for those long days in the saddle while providing adequate protection when pointed downhill. The Evo AM helmet is packed with the latest technology and features that rival some of the biggest names in the protection game. In addition, SixSixOne's new minimalist Recon Knee Pad offers a balance of light weight, breathability and protection for when you can’t seem to keep the rubber side down .

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Evo AM MIPS Helmet Features

  • Light-weight, well-ventilated through in-mold construction and 15 vents
  • Additional protection through extended rear shell coverage
  • Precise fit with three independent shell sizes
  • Plush interior liner made with anti-microbial fabric
  • Magnetic Fidlock closure system
  • Contego EPS protection
  • BOA Retention System
  • Sizing: XS/S 54cm-56cm, M/L 57cm-59cm, XL/XXL 60cm-62cm
  • Meets CE // CPSC standards for both the U.S. and Europe markets
  • MSRP: $200 USD

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Recon Knee Pad Features

  • Minimal, breathable chassis with XRD Technology in the knee area 
  • XRD is flexible until impact. Upon impact, it instantly forms a comfortable protective shell around your knee
  • Stretch mesh back with an elastic strap over the calf for security
  • PADLOCK connection system attaches to the Evo Short to keep the pads in place
  • Internal silicon printing on top and bottom elastic
  • Partial EN Certification of both EN14021 and EN 1421
  • MSRP: $60 USD

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Initial Impressions

The Evo AM helmet is chock-full of high-tech features to satisfy even the nerdiest of bike geeks. It's constructed with Contego EPS foam, which SixSixOne claims can reduce impact forces by 30%. There's also a MIPS liner, which reduces rotational forces on angular impacts. But technology comes at a price, as the MIPS version (MSRP $200) is $50 more than the non-MIPS model. With a dual-position visor and BOA retention system, riders can dial in comfort and fit. And with plenty of rear coverage and a goggle-friendly shape, the Evo AM looks to have all the makings of a solid all-mountain helmet. 

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When it comes to the Recon Knee Pad, these are some of the lightest knee pads on the market at 140g for the set. But as to be expected, these are not designed for a day of gravity racing, rather more for those looking to add a slight bit of protection without adding substantial bulk. The slip-on-style pads have no straps and rely on the silicone-lined cuffs and an elastic band below the calf to keep things in place. 

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The PADLOCK snap system allows riders to attach the pads to the 661 Evo Short for even more security. The Recon Knee Pads utilize XRD technology, a material that conforms to the shape of the body and remains flexible for unrestricted movement yet hardens on impact. A cutout behind the knee and mesh rear panels are designed to increase ventilation.

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On The Trail

The immediate reaction to slipping on the Evo AM helmet was all-around comfort. The BOA adjustment allows for a snug fit that ‘hugs’ your head evenly. This results in a super secure fit without having to crank down the dial to keep things secure. Combined with the soft, padded liner, the comfort level is one of the best we’ve experienced in a trail helmet. We fumbled with the Fidlock magnetic buckle at first, but after a few days of riding the muscle memory kicked in and we were able to latch and unlatch the helmet with two fingers, really enjoying this style of buckle. Now if only ALL of our helmets used this design.

The 15 vents provided more-than-ample airflow even on the muggiest of summer East Coast days, but the downside of the supple padding is that it soaks up and retains sweat more than we’d prefer. We were doused with a sweat stream down our forehead/glasses before we had a chance to stop and press out the sweat on a few occasions. If your heart desires the full enduro look, the rear of the Evo AM has a lip that helps keep your goggles in place. 

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The Recon pads do not use straps, instead utilizing a stretch material along with silicone-lined cuffs and a thick elastic band that sits right below the calf. The layout of the flexible XRD material allows the pads to conform to the shape of your knee. Dirt jumpers will enjoy the overall slim profile as these would still fit nicely underneath your favorite pair of slim-fit jeans. Long days in the saddle, off-the-bike hiking, and even a day of dual slalom racing resulted in a knee pad that held itself in place better than most pads we’ve used. We rarely found ourselves reaching down to re-adjust the pads, which is a welcome experience compared to countless pads we’ve worn which required re-adjustment once pedaling in the saddle.

Despite a lack of mesh or perforations on the front panels, the rear mesh material and cutout behind the knee aided in breathability and ventilation to help keep our legs from cooking like sausages on the grill. During a slide-out crash in a grassy turn the pads held up fine with no tears, rips, or loose stitching. But if you’re looking for something that can stand up to a bit more abuse, you’d be better off investigating SixSixOne's other offerings.

Sadly, during a hike-a-bike we caught the pedals on the back of our calf which ripped two holes in the thin mesh material. This is a tradeoff for having good ventilation. We also wished there was just a bit more coverage on the sides of the knee and above the kneecap, as these areas are prone to impact during a crash. 

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What's The Bottom Line?

What's the final verdict? Both products from SixSixOne are solid contenders. Trail riders should highly consider them when looking for a fresh helmet or set of lightweight knee protection. If you can swallow the price tag of the MIPS version, the Evo AM is one of the more comfortable trail helmets that we’ve ridden. And despite some slight concerns with the durability of the mesh material selection, we’ve not seen many knee pads that can provide a more hassle-free level of fit and comfort. 

Visit www.sixsixone.com for more info.


About The Tester

Justin Schroth - Age: 34 // Years Riding MTB: 22 // Height: 5'9" (1.75m) // Weight: 160lbs (72.6kg)

With over 15 years on mountain bikes, Justin has experienced first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast NORBA and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

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