Giro Montaro MIPS Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, MIPS, clean look, adjustable visor
Cons: Long visor, less coverage than some, less ventilation than some, small fit adjustment dial
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Giro has been a major player in the cycling helmet industry for a long time, and they are easily one of the most popular brands on the market. The Montaro has been in their helmet lineup for a few years now and sits at the top of their range of half-shell mountain bike lids. We found it to offer adequate protection with quality construction, decent coverage, and a MIPS rotational impact protection system.
Testers found it to be quite comfortable, with a crowd-pleasing and highly adjustable fit, minimal well placed padding and better ventilation than expected. The Montaro is clearly a quality helmet that we think will please a huge range of riders, it just can't quite match the coverage, ventilation, or light weight of its highest-rated competitors.
We feel the Giro Montaro MIPS offers a good degree of head protection that is comparable to many of the other helmets in this review. For starters, it has decent coverage, about average when compared to the competition. It doesn't have the deepest fit, but it covers a reasonable amount of the temporal and occipital lobes.
It also comes equipped with a MIPS liner to reduces the forces of rotational impacts. The MIPS liner seems to slide around with very little friction within the helmet. The Roc Loc Air fit adjustment system wraps around the entire head and is attached to the MIPS liner, which allows the helmet to float around the liner and your head. The helmet appears to be well made, with an in-mold construction that features Giro's Roll Cage Reinforcement, which is a lightweight web molded into the EPS foam to add a little extra strength.
While the Montaro is highly regarded for its protection, it doesn't provide the same level of coverage as the "full cut" Giro Tyrant or Fox Dropframe. We also found that the Montaro's less-expensive sibling, the Chronicle provides a bit more coverage at a lower price, though it doesn't include the same molded roll cage technology. The Montaro scored equally in this metric to other helmets with similar levels of head coverage and protective features like the Smith Session, Oakley DRT5, and Bell 4Forty MIPS.
Testers found the Montaro to be a relatively comfortable helmet. Again, it scored well in this metric but was bested by several other competitors. Its comfort starts with its fit, and Giro seems to know how to shape a helmet after all these years. It's offered in four sizes, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, to fit a huge range of head sizes. Assuming you get the correct size, the width and length seem pretty average and should please a huge range of head shapes.
Inside the shell is minimal but well-placed padding from temple to temple across the brown. There is also a little at the top back of the head. The padding is made with X-Static anti-microbial and is hydrophilic. Giro claims they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in sweat. One tester noted that he was surprised how little sweat dripped down his face on a hot ride when he was sweating profusely.
The Montaro features Giro's Roc Loc 5 Air fit adjustment system. This system involves a small dial at the back of the head that pulls tension evenly from both sides to secure a cradle around the base of the occipital lobe and snug the helmet up around the head. This retention system is attached to the MIPS liner and pulls tension evenly around the whole head, similar to the 360-degree system on the Oakley DRT5.
At the back of the head, the fit system is attached to a small ladder so you can adjust the entire thing up or down into one of three positions to optimize the fit. The straps on the Montaro are relatively basic, but they do the job and do so comfortably. The chin strap is a standard plastic buckle that has a couple of inches of adjustment and a rubber band to hold the excess webbing in place. The strap splitter by the ears is a basic non-locking V-shape, but it holds the webbing securely and nice and flat, so they don't conflict with your ears.
Ventilation on the Montaro was better than expected considering the number and size of the vents on this helmet. Our initial impression based on visual inspection was that this helmet wouldn't vent well at all. It wasn't the best we tested, but it certainly exceeded our expectations. It has 16 total vents, which are relatively small compared to our highest rated models for ventilation. Beneath these vents, however, are air channels that run front to back and do a good job of circulating air and keeping the head cool.
We were surprised to find that it felt as well ventilated as the Bell 4Forty MIPS which has larger vents. That said, it still didn't hold a candle to our most well-ventilated models like the 100% Altec or Specialized Ambush, out most airy models. We were also more impressed by the ventilation on the Troy Lee A2 MIPS and the Smith Session.
Several of the Montaro's features have already been mentioned in our protection and comfort sections above. These include the MIPS liner, adjustable straps, anti-microbial and hydrophilic padding, and the Roc Loc 5 Air fit system. The Montaro also has features intended to make the helmet compatible with goggles which include an adjustable visor and goggle strap grippers integrated into the design of the helmet.
The visor on the Montaro is quite long. We'd argue that it's the longest visor in the test. One tester even complained about it being in his field of vision. It's also highly adjustable, and it flips up high enough to allow for goggles to be rested on the helmet when not in use. The visor stops in three positions, all the way down, all the way up, and right in the middle. On the back of the helmet, three of the vent holes have been cleverly ringed in a grippy rubber to help hold your goggle strap in place.
The features of the Montaro all seem to work well and help to improve the protection, comfort, and goggle compatibility of the helmet. Some of our other competitors have gone above and beyond this seemingly standard list of features and outscore the Montaro in this metric as a result. An example of this would be the Specialized Ambush with ANGi that has a similar list of features, plus an innovative incident detection system that can notify your emergency contacts in the event of a crash.
At 400 grams, or 14.11 ounces, in the size Large we tested, the Montaro isn't likely to win any awards for being lightweight anytime soon. While it may not be feather light, it isn't exactly heavy either, and it weighs within 30 grams of six of its competitors. Of course, there are much lighter helmets out there, like the Specialized Ambush at 350 grams, or the POC Tectal Race SPIN at 365 grams, but unless you're paying attention, you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference. There are a couple of much heavier helmets in this review also, like the Oakley DRT5 that weighs 76 grams more, or the 6D ATB 1T Evo that is 115 grams heavier than the Montaro.
Like all of the helmets in this review, the Montaro has an in-mold construction that has an EPS foam liner molded into a polycarbonate outer shell. The quality of craftsmanship seems good, and there are no gaps between the foam and shell. The shell wraps around the lower edge of the helmet, and the only EPS foam visible from the outside is on the inside of the vent holes where it isn't susceptible to damage. The straps and adjustable features like the fit system and the visor have functioned and continue to function well. Assuming you never crash and hit your head, the Montaro seems like it'll last for several seasons.
The Montaro is one of the more moderately priced models in this review. We feel that it is a relatively good value considering the crowd-pleasing fit, comfort, and style that it offers. It may not be an award winner, but we still hold this helmet in high regard and believe that it's worth the asking price. If you seek the best value in our test, check out our Best Buy Award winner, the Bell 4Forty MIPS, which has similar performance scores to the Montaro and retails for less.
The Montaro MIPS is a quality and moderately priced half shell mountain bike helmet. It's comfortable, protective, relatively well ventilated, and compatible with goggles. It has good coverage, though a little less than our highest rated models for protection, a MIPS liner, and quality adjustments. It's offered in four sizes and seven colors, so you can be sure to get the fit you need and the color you want. This is a solid option for the rider who may not want the deepest fit or most head coverage that is suitable for all types of riding from XC to light-duty enduro.
Other Versions and Accessories
Giro makes the Montaro MIPS in 4 sizes, Small, Medium, Large (tested) and Extra Large. It is also offered in seven different color options to suit a broad range of tastes or to match your riding kit. In addition to the Montaro, Giro also makes the Montara which is virtually identical but offered in three more feminine color options.
— Jeremy Benson