The Domestique Critique: Giro Amare II Helmet

Giro_H_Amare-II_BlackGalaxy_34It happens. Myself, the pavement and my helmet all meet at the same time with brute force and unfortunate circumstance. Enter Giro Amare II. I needed a new helmet and was intrigued to try something from the new Giro Chrono line at my LBS.

I was initially attracted to the helmet because it matches the rad new lace-up Empire W ACC shoes for women that Giro recently released. Look for my review of those shoes here. The Amare II comes in 5 color combinations and I chose Black Galaxy. It was the closest to solid black I could get and it closely matches the holographic colors of the shoe. giro_h_amare-ii_blackgalaxy_back

The Amare II is a mid-range helmet at $140 USD. With $270 the highest range of Giro helmets and $40 the lowest, you expect to be getting more style but less technology with this helmet. But I was very surprised to see several lower-priced models offering Giro’s brand new MIPS technology for a difference of $30 or more. Online you can see that Giro offers almost a replica helmet style for $30 less in the Sonnet, but with MIPS, so you may be better off getting that.

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The Amare II is well-ventilated. You can’t really feel the difference between 23 vents and 27 vents and I’m not riding in a wind tunnel. I am, however, riding in sun and cool breezes and this makes for a great summer helmet. But I will note that some may not like the high number of large vents because it actually exposes more head and hair to the sun. I doubt I was taking full aero advantage of the ventilation and instead ended up just baking in the sun with a slight scalp burn. If you didn’t wear a cap before, you may want to try one now.

DSC00794As for the fit of the Amare II, the helmet’s headform is a bit more round than ovoid so the main points of contact on your head are really the front and the back upon tightening. This became one of the big drawbacks of this helmet in my view. Once I tightened the helmet, I felt intense pressure at the forehead yet didn’t feel that it was secure all around my head. This pressure became a piercing pain over the course of my rides and I frequently wanted to stop and remove the helmet to relieve the pressure and give my poor head a break. For this reason I was always aware of the feel the helmet on my head, which is the exact opposite of an ideal helmet.

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The tighter I tried to make the helmet, the more the pressure on my forehead increased, yet I could slip it off with a hard shake of my head, even when tightening the system to its max. I tried on several sizes of the helmet and chose the one that matched the measurements of my skull so I doubt I have too big or too small of a size for me. It felt like the sides of the internal reinforcement skeleton did not even tighten around my head. I feel more safe and secure in the Lazer or Mavic helmet skeletons. I wore a cap for the remainder of my miles with the helmet and felt that worked better, both to relieve the forehead pressure and to secure the helmet on my head.

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The other big drawback was the stiff tightening system. To lighten the helmet weight, Giro developed their patented Roc Loc5 system at the base of the helmet. I found the turn knob to be stiff and small, even for my smaller hands. I couldn’t do it with gloves at all. The design of the system also caused my cycling cap to bunch up. It does accommodate any kind of ponytail, though.

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OVERALL

The Giro Amare II helmet has a great look for a mid-range price. But the tightening system is stiff and the pain and pressure the shape caused my head is frustrating for the money I paid. A cap makes its flaws less noticeable but overall I would not recommend this helmet.

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