Robin Kyle, January 22, 2011
Five years ago, there were a number of superficial reasons to purchase the Giro Atmos. As the brand’s top offering, it represented the protection of choice for a number of Pro Tour teams. It was also favoured by a certain Lance Armstrong and, for a small premium, Giro replicated the one-off celebratory designs that he wore on the Champs Élysées. However, as the Texan’s lone star began to wane so did the Atmos and in 2007 it was superseded by the Ionos as Giro’s flagship model. Although this has been reflected by a marginal reduction in price, the helmet does not come cheap, retailing at £116.99 ( earlier versions may be obtained at a discount). The pressing question is this: in 2011, does the Atmos continue to represent a sensible investment?
Starting with the essentials, the helmet is both low profile and light, weighing in at 240 grammes. This is some 64g less than the Ionos. Cooling is provided by twenty-six vents and internal cross-rib channelling, all of which underwent significant testing in the wind-tunnel. In-mould Carbon Reinforcement inserts and an advanced internal Roll Cage both add extra reinforcement without compromising bulk. The 2011 model features Giro’s brand new Roc-Loc 5, a lighter version of its predecessor, which continues to allow for both vertical and horizontal adjustment.
So how does the Atmos fare in the real world? My own model replicates the paint-job that adorned Armstrong’s helmet on the final day of his seventh and final Tour victory. For this reason, I’m pretty attached to it and it speaks volume for the durability of Giro’s products that its still with me today. The helmet is neat and visually, it appears significantly smaller than the Ionos. Coupled with the brand’s variety of tasteful colour schemes, the Atmos scores highly in the style stakes. It scores highly on practicality too. The helmet is comfortable and one appreciates the minimalist weight on longer rides.
Perhaps the Atmos’ most impressive feature is its versatility. The Roc Loc system allows for easy adjustment, providing room for a skull-cap on colder rides. Equally, the impressive ventilation keeps the rider cool at the height of summer. The helmet’s low profile and CE EN178 safety certification ensure that it can be worn across a variety of disciplines; aero enough for triathlon, safe enough that I was confident wearing it when racing XC in 2007 and 2008. There are few downsides to the product but a couple are worth mentioning. Obviously, the helmet is expensive and additionally, the plastic of the Roc Loc system is a little bit prone to wear and tear. It was this latter problem that ended my first Atmos and, with the Roc-Loc 5 significantly lighter than before, this is an issue to be considered in the future.
In 2011 there are fewer superficial reasons to purchase the Atmos but there remain a significant number of practical ones. Whether you’re a committed XC racer, recreational roadie or a bit of both, if you can spare the money, the helmet is a comfortable, safe and stylish long-term investment. Indeed, a number of forums suggest that whether you choose Atmos/Ionos is simply a question of what best fits your head, as opposed to older sister being a significantly better product.
RRP £120 (reduced at Chain Reactions Cycles)
Available in Grey, White/Red, Blue/White