Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Giro Atmos--The Iron Maiden of Bicycle Helmets
Prior to purchasing the Atmos, I had a Giro Pneumo, which I was quite happy with. After I crushed the Pneumo in an accident, I thought that I would upgrade to what was then the top to the line Giro helmet, the Atmos.
I bought the helmet along with a flurry of other items when a medium sized insurance settlement arrived. I may not have given the helmet the consideration that such a personal purchase deserves since I was on a buying binge.
First off, the helmet wasn’t cheap, $175 MSRP and after 2006 they stopped shipping them with the protective pod. At the time I justified the lavish price with my false belief that a more expensive helmet would be a more comfortable helmet.
Upon first riding in it, I was disconcerted that I was unable to get the helmet to sit symmetrically on my head. I adjusted the straps and resat the helmet on my head, but after every hard effort it sat noticeably askew. No matter what I did, I looked like a Fred. I started wearing a cycling cap under the helmet to slow the helmet’s descent into its rakish position; it didn’t work.
The helmet also seemed to slide back on my head, so I ended up looking like one of those idiots who wear a helmet like a trucker’s cap. I started thinking about my next crash and the likelihood that the helmet would be in the proper position to protect my forehead in the case of a front impact. I tightened the front straps uncomfortably tight to get the helmet to stay put, no dice, just a increasingly uncomfortable choking sensation as the helmet slide back, further tightening its grip on my throat.
I found myself constantly checking my helmet when on long rides, reseating and readjusting it multiple times on a three hour ride. Even worse, I was regularly “forgetting” my helmet when going for a ride.
Winter become spring and I started racing wearing the Atmos. I also shaved my head. I noticed that the helmet was digging into my forehead. It literally has a sharp spot at the center of the forehead, where it rubs my skin raw. Adding insult to injury, the sharp spot is at the center of the helmet, but the helmet sits crooked, so the raw bruise is off center on my forehead.
I can’t help but wonder if the geniuses at Giro engineering put the sharp spot in the center of the forehead in a failed attempt to get the helmet to stay where it belongs.
I realize that you may be thinking that I have sized the helmet incorrectly, not true. Firstly, the medium Pneumo fit perfectly and both helmets have the same sizing recommendations. Second, I tried the size up and the size down, the medium fit best. Third, there are a number of riders who I know that have had some or all of the experiences that I have with this helmet (feel free to concur in the comments section).
This last season, I thought that I had lost this helmet in a locker room at Battenkill-Roubaix. I was never so excited to lose an expensive piece of gear. I immediately purchased a Bell Sweep-R which I am more than happy with (manufactured by the same parent company as Giro). Unfortunately the Atmos turned up in someone’s trunk.
I currently use the Atmos as my commuter helmet, leaving it unlocked in high traffic/crime areas, hoping that someone will steal it. It has been over six months…apparently the thieves of Cambridge/Boston know better than to bother with this uncomfortable helmet.
Short story: I will never risk purchasing another Giro helmet since this helmet seemed fine in the shop and then turned out to be so horrible. One of my friends, Spaits, accurately dubbed the Atmos the Iron Maiden of bicycle helmets. If you see my bike locked up somewhere and you are so inclined, feel free to steal it.