The last Dirty Mission wrap up was conspicuous for the absence of any ranting about the newest piece of ENDURO kit acquisition that was debuted in Finale. No, not a lazy editing oversight, but a nod to the fact that the piece of kit in question is intriguing enough that it warrants its whole own Rantview.

Yes, I’m going to commence oddly frothing about and critiquing the new Giro Switchblade helmet:

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Seen here absolutely not in its natural habitat

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet recently, you’ll appreciate that this thing is so hot right now it instantly leads to clammy genitalia and the generation of the distinct odour of radness. Just another helmet you may think? Not if you live in the warm bubble of MTB frothing, which if that’s the case, then there’s a very high chance this is the helmet you have been waiting for – Even if you didn’t know you were waiting for it.

Perplexed? Then let’s get deeper into that rabbit hole as I break it down over a Rantview so weirdly authentic, I had to split it into 4 parts.

Part 1 – The background and general Blah Blah

Ok, first I feel compelled to establish some credentials here, so that the rant-wanking to come has at least a semblance of legitimacy to it. Over the last 12-18 months I’ve had the honour of riding, racing, sweating, spitting, swearing and crashing in all of the following contemporary full face helmets, each with their own unique approach and design philosophy:

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TLD D3 vs. MET Parachute vs. Bell Super 2R vs. Giro Switchblade

Whilst this doesn’t make me an expert, at least its not my first rodeo. Speaking of being bucked off and into the ground, this is pretty much how I arrived at packing a Giro Switchblade into my carry on for Finale. Some may recall that at La Thuile I decided to end my weekend head first into the loam to ring my Bell (apologies for the obvious pun) and leave me questioning if it was still up to the task.

Chances are the Super 2R was still fine, but like a Magpie with a little bird stiffy, I used it as an excuse to swoop in on a new piece of kit. The second I got the “Its in stock consumer cunt” e-mail from Universal Cycles I pulled the trigger on the new Switchblade and luckily got it in my dirty mitts a week before Finale.

I’m not going to waste our collective time explaining how this helmet works, as:

  • A) If you’re a Roadie you’ve already vomited onto your designer desk and left or feel oddly compelled to stay because its a story about a shiny helmet
  • B) You’re an ENDUROphile and somewhat well versed on how detachable helmets work
  • C) You just want to know how the fucker works and what’s shit about it.

In case anyone needed a recap, here it is with the face guard off, which makes you look like a Trials moto rider unfortunately:

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Warning – May make you throw out the shakka involuntary

And in the same luxurious Italian Riviera location with the face guard on… Regrettably it covers up ones beard, which is definitely cuntish.

Finale 16

When you’re internet famous you can just grab it by the face guard

Of course, this leads to much weird hand wringing among on-line reviews and testers. Is it a Trail lid trying to be a DH helmet?! Or OMG, a DH helmet trying to be a trail lid?! Fucks sake cycling media, its a fully certified DH helmet, even with the face guard removed (fuck knows how it manages that), so lets not stress about what its trying to be and instead focus on its radness and quirks.

If you need more actual facts about it, then Giro can help you out there, I’m in a hurry to get on with my own narcissistic experiences and views, let’s not hold that train up.

So yes, all my below observations are from what I would call a pretty reasonable test of a helmet – An EWS round in hot conditions with over 3,600m of climbing in 2 days. Not to mention 3 days of build up and 2 rather big days of practice. There is no room at an EWS round for sub-optimal gear, so how would this new wonder helmet stack up? Let’s see wasssssup…

Part 2 – You’re SUCH a Bitch

So, now let’s get into it with the part of the post that people who like to rub themselves in gun oil while looking at pics of Ivanka Trump and reading mean tweets enjoy the most: The bitching. That’s right, it wasn’t all gelato and neck massages in Finale and as the week went on and we got to know each other better, a few quirks came out that I hadn’t expected. Roll tape…

Fuck your ears – When I first tried to put this thing on, Size Medium, I had to stop to wipe up my tears and check that Universal hadn’t fucked up the order. No, it wasn’t a small, its definitely a Medium… And I’m always a medium in Giro (except for the Synthe, what the fuck Giro?).

So word up, getting this thing on and off is a nightmare. Straight up, I fucking dread it. The upside is that I no longer need to hold on to the childhood dream I never had of being an All Black Forward, as the Switchblade gives my ears the reaming that’s on par with any International Test scrum. Once on its a different story (see part 3), but its a deep breath and a cough the moments before you have to sheath or unsheath yourself.

Entry and exit is tight as fuck and in the end I’ve gone with the ‘will this break it’ technique of stretching it as wide as possible before trying to get my head in… So to speak.

About that Go PRO mount – The Switchblade mount location is a great idea, and lets face it, its positioned in the best spot you can imagine, that’s right, no more Teletubby! Under the visor is not only the best POV, but also the safest. Allow me to elaborate with a smiling goon summary:

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Die you fucking Teletubby

And, unlike the hack DIY job on the Troy Lee, this is actually a legit set up. What I wasn’t expecting though is that there are two separate visors – One for normal riding and then one for when you want to rock the Go Pro and here’s the Dirty tip:

The Go PRO visor doesn’t FUCKING move

I know this as I tried to rotate it down to the point where I almost snapped it in half, yeah, that fucker is fixed in place and you don’t want to argue with it. This sort of makes sense, but the whole set-up has two issues:

  1. You have to carry around 2 visors if you want flexibility from practice to race – Talk about first world problems man. Insert Faux outrage HERE
  2. The placement of the Go PRO on the visor is just slightly in the eye line that little too much that it will annoy you. The simple answer here is to run the smaller Session camera, but I found with my Hero 3 or similar size it was fucking with me just that little too much. I certainly wouldn’t want to race with it.

So yes, a good design, but not quite as happy clappy as I initially expected it to be, so definitely bust out the smaller gPro if you have one.

Ah…. The colour palette – Eye of the beholder and all, but er, colours aren’t that great IMO… Hence the murdered out acquisition. I guess at a push the fluro yellow would get the nod, but that would require a full matching kit overhaul, time consuming. Two tone is always risky, unless you’re the Santa Cruz paint department #legends.

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No Dirty colour option? Poor form

The wetness – Ok, so this is a two part story. Its not often I complain about wetness, so its as uncomfortable for me as it was when my head was subjected to it. Yes, there’s no escaping this, but even with the face guard off this is a hot motherfucker.

Litmus test? The 2 x 2 hour climbs which greeted us in Finale at the start of each day a good experiment. Riding a 14.9kg ENDURO weapon up a road climb with those tires for 2 hours in mid-20 degs temperatures is an excellent test for any helmet. While the Giro holds the sweat in quite well, it does generate and collect a staggering amount of head liquid (seriously not an innuendo).

If you think you’re buying a well vented trail helmet, you’re not – You’re buying a VERY well ventilated DH helmet, dwell on that for a moment…

As for part two of the wetness issue? Much like a brand new relationship, once things got wet, they stayed that way for days. The pads are pretty think and in the end I lost count of how many days it took for the side ones in particular to dry out, so don’t expect this to be overnight. Good news is that they’re all fully removable for cleaning, something you’ll be doing a lot of if you live somewhere warm.

Final word before we get back into the group hug – Beware how tightly you adjust the Roc Loc system, aside from the fact that it will try and crush your head if you dial it up too much, I went into Stage 2 with it clearly too tight and when I took a big impact hit from a G-out, it popped the mechanism and loosened the helmet. Not in a disastrous manner, but it taught me that snug tightening was ample.

Part 3 – We always hurt the ones we love

So then, now that we’ve got all the primary school hair pulling out of the way, its time to confess that I fucking love this helmet. That would probably explain why I was so mean to it to start with… I shall now confuse everyone and declare loudly that if you race ENDURO and are in the market for a new lid for 2017 then this is as simple as fuck:

Buy this helmet

Let me try and use my words now to elaborate on why its taken a giant piss on all the other helmets in the Dirty arsenal and moved to the top of the pile. By far its the fully favoured helmet now.

First up, its about the fit. I have a Giro head, so when I finally do finish ripping off my ears getting into its goodness, I am rewarded with a helmet that essentially makes love to my cranium. Granted, hot & sweaty love, but its sensational once on.

Next up, it gives you a reassuring embrace much in the same manner as the Troy Lee D3, but without weighing you down. Unlike the Bell Super 2R (more on this in part 4), it doesn’t feel light and slightly plastic, this is how you want a helmet to feel. Hello goldilocks.

Following on that theme, the feeling of quality with the Switchblade is excellent. Everything about it screams that it has that awesome blend of technology, style and substance. It doesn’t fall apart like the MET Parachute and gives off the same vibe as the D3, but without that weight penalty. I also love the ability to flick the goggles up on the flying bridge, which I actually used in Stage 4 during the neutralised climb. It also comes in super handy in case you nonchalantly run into Nic Vouilloz and he asks for a pic…

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“Sure Nico, I was about to hit another lap, but can spare the time bro”

And as for pretty much the whole point of this helmet – You absolutely can’t ignore the ability to remove the face guard and quickly stash it as being a massive win. Many full faced ENDU-BRO’s looked on with that ‘cunt’ thought clearly shining in their eyes as they baked their melons in the Finale warmth and I smiled as fresh air massaged my beard.

The days of carrying two helmets around came under threat when the Bell Super 2R arrived on the scene, but for many it wasn’t rad enough. The Switchblade has come in as a second wave and snuffed out any final resistance. I suspect I didn’t see more in Finale due to availability and its release date.

Throw in some MIPS love as well and we’re starting to apply the icing to this ENDURO helmet cake. I’m not sure I want to hang out with non-MIPS helmets these days, so Giro have nailed it with the inclusion in the new Switchblade.

And finally, it just fucking looks cool… I’m slightly suss on the aesthetics without the face guard off, but when its on its a fucking rad helmet and I would say that it pushes the Bell’s face into the pillow in the looks department. Speaking of which, its time we move on to perhaps the most asked question when mentioning these two in the same breath.

Part 4 – The good old shoot out

Ok, so this a bonus section, as the most obvious question people will ask is of course “How does it fucken compared to the Bell Super 2R?” Let’s start out with some super shit and non-professional pics from an Ikea table to set the scene:

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Chin bars off tells the story here

As you can see, radically different approaches being taken here and I massively prefer the Giro. The fit of the Bell never really worked for me. Its a good helmet, no question, but most people will nod when I say you either have a Giro or Bell head. Given one owns the other, I’m not sure if this is by design, but I’ve also been a Giro groupie… And for me the Switchblade has it over the Super 2R in every department except two:

  1. Ventilation – Obviously the Bell lets in more air, due to its lower profile around your head
  2. Weight – The 2R is definitely lighter, I can’t be fucked weighing them, but you can google that shit on behalf of my lazy ass.

Ultimately you have to make the call on what works best out of the two for you. One is a certified DH helmet that provides you more ventilation for long climbs than a normal DH helmet. One is a trail helmet with a face guard that isn’t certified for full DH.

On the topic of the detachable action, which is probably the most relevant head to head and the Giro is by far the less faff of the two. Ram the metal tabs hard into the slots, click down and bang, you’re done. Except for when you don’t quite manage that and realise 90 seconds before the start of stage 2 that your face guard isn’t quite locked in = PANIC.

Of course, the real test will come in March 2017… I have (hopefully) two events in NZ on the radar where temperatures will be probably high, long days, no shuttling and in for a lot of the time on ‘low consequence’ terrain. Which helmet to reach for from the quiver? How do I draw the line on the horses for courses in this situation?

Will the new and shiny love affair outweigh practicality? Will I be able to resist the radness of the switchblade and put up with a drenched melon? I have 5 months to build up some first world anxiety of having too much choice.

In the mean time, if your 2017 has some ENDURO races scratched on its forward plan, then don’t get caught short and lock in a Switchblade now, allowing you to turn up to a forearm fight with the best knife.

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27 Responses

  1. Daddy Fras

    I was about to leave a really positive comment, but scrolling down to the comments section I got a face full of the ‘Wahoo Kickr ‘Review’ thumbnail.

    Reply
  2. Carlos Alves

    Tks for the review! Since the release of the switchblade that I’m very interested to try one.

    Reply
  3. Keith

    Hi, thanks for a great review. thinking of getting this but live out in south east Asia. Usually 30-33 degrees C and high humidity. Is it going to be hot? Thanks

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Hi Keith, chur, glad you liked the review! I live in Singapore so can absolutely confirm that its too hot to run the Switchblade here based on humidity. Perhaps if you were shuttling 100% of the time it may be ok, but any pedalling and it would be a struggle in the heat, even with the face guard off. I use a Giro Xar for riding in SEA, or the Bell Super 2R without the chin bar on.

      Reply
      • keith netcher

        Hi,

        Gutted I’ll not be able to use one but thanks! I’ll pick up a Bell Super 2r/3r.

        Keep up the great posts 🙂

  4. David

    Did you got to chance to try the Giro Disciple fullface helmet? If yes, how is Switchblade compared to Disciple in sizing, comfort, chinguide distance to chin?

    Thanks,
    David

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Hi David, no I didn’t get the chance to compare to be honest. I was focused on wanting to get the maximum flexibility, which in my experience the fixed full face helmets can’t give, so just went straight for the Switchblade.

      Reply
  5. Peter

    Hey DN,

    Love your blog – I’m an old cunt nearing 50, ride a 2013 26″ nomad in the Bay Area…I use an old 661 comp helmet (that cyan blue matches the nomad paint scheme – I told you I was a cunt)…couldn’t agree more about the Bell vs Giro comparison – the Bell just feels so plasticky and not ready for prime time/the inevitable face-first launch into the yonder…the switchblade will definitely be my next helmet…now I’m just deciding between the upgraded nomad, the 2nd gen hightower, or god forbid the yeti 5.5 or 6 (I’m puking in my mouth thinking that I’ll be part of that cunt tribe)….

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Good shit Pete, good to hear from a rad old cunt like yourself. Fuck that Yeti business bro, I understand that they’re not a bad alternative if Santa Cruz began making fat bikes, but there’s not need to go through the cunt looking glass just yet. The Hightower with a 160mm fork on it has almost identical geo to the Yeti 5.5, plus, whispers of a new linkage for the Hightower to boost rear travel to 145mm continue to gather pace from well informed mofos. I spoke to a lot of rad cunts who went from the Nomad to HT and they were all right: You won’t regret it.

      Reply
      • Peter

        Hah! Good shit…seeing Iago’s secret linkage the night before the world goes to hell was life-affirming…thinking I’ll save my pennies for a 2017 HT (redesigned or not – a fox 160 with an x in back will be all I ever need), and leave the 5.5 and The Wreckoning for other cunts…

      • Dirty Nomad

        YES Peter – That’s the way bro, a solid plan in a world where plans have gone to shit. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, its probably the only thing that won’t disappoint you between now and 2020.

  6. jim

    Hi mate
    Cunting good review just wondered if it’s not too personal a question how big your head is ( steady) .
    cheers
    Jim

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      YO Jim – Chur dude, glad you enjoyed… I regularly like to share my head size with anyone who will listen, so happy to unleash it. I’m 58.4cm, which sounds fucken massif, but actually puts me in the Med range in Giro. More importantly I have a ‘Giro shaped’ head, so the medium is perfect for me. I can’t say the same for Bell, which always feels a bit weird. The only Giro that doesn’t fit me properly is the Synth, the pooch got well fucked on that shape design. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • james oxborrow

        Brilliant mate thanks for replying with all that ,much appreciated keep up the good work !!!

  7. Brendan

    Sup bro
    Whattttt you live in Singapore? I just left SG last year and came to SoCal for my highschool and college. I lived in Bukit Timah so I ride BT almost everyday and gangsa from time to time. SG’s trail system is sooooo rad now and tbh I wants to go back cuz many things when I lived in SG I think it was the norm, but when I come to US I realized that many things are shit compared to SG. BTW I bought a nomad because I saw your review on it haha. But I got a medium and found out it to be too short for a 182cm object, and I sold it and got a Banshee Rune. Waiting for the next gen NOMAD now.

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Small world bro! Not sure I could sign up to the trail system being rad, with Woodcutters off limits and butterfly closed its about as XC Bandito as it can get and the mud is peaking out right now. You definitely need a large Nomad for sure man, the Nomad 4 out later this year but it will be quite a change, more of a park slayer than an Enduro weapon.

      Reply
      • Brendan

        It’s a reeeeeal small world haha. But the new gangsa is pretty neat the pump track is a great feature. For the trail system being rad, that I heard from my friend. They closed butterfly? That’s nuts. The trail system is not that rad then. For the nomad4 being more of a park slayer, I could see why you’ve got a hightower as the enduro weapon.(hint hint hint) Btw really struggling to choose which bike to be my enduro weapon. The hightower or the nomad4. Do you have any suggestion? Thannnnnks a lot.

  8. James Bowman

    I am in the market for a full-face after a tree hug at 20 mph 🙂
    Can you point me to the other reviews you have, I coudn’t find them from the search (maybe because I am impatient, lol). I am considering the MET Parachute, the Giro Switchblade, and the FOX ProFrame. I sweat, a lot. A LOT. So the airflow part needs to be on point. Of course, safety and protection are most important, but yeah. My wife bought the Switchblade, in Medium, which is supposed to fit me, but I had the same ear-ripping problem getting it on and off. I am at the top end of the medium size.

    Reply
    • James Bowman

      Dirty Nomad, would you say that the Parachute stays cooler than the Switchblade? Does removing the chin guard on the Switchblade make it more comparable to the temperature in the Parachute, or not so much? I’m assuming that the fact that it’s a full-face, will make it hotter than a regular trail lid, but guessing that is the trade-off for the added safety.

      Also, you mentioned something about the Parachute ‘falling apart.’ Can you elaborate?

      Reply
      • Dirty Nomad

        Hey bro, Yes, the Parachute definitely falls apart (internal padding comes unglued) and I know others that have had the same issue. I couldn’t recommend the Parachute over the Switchblade to be honest, The Switchblade definitely a much better helmet. The Bell Super is ok, but overall feels like less protection than the Giro. If ventilation is your priority, the Bell is the one to look at, if protection is your goal, then the switchblade for sure.

  9. James Bowman

    Ok, thanks man, I appreciate it. BTW, great article, you had us cracking up the whole time, but informative as well.

    Reply
  10. Hugo

    great review very very good.

    in your experience what size you recommend for a 57cm head?

    i have a bad experience with my bell super 2r because
    ordered the M 55/59 cm and the helmet fitted to big or strange don’t now i didn’t like the feeling

    any response wil be great because i don’t have opportunity to test the switchblade.

    tanks.

    Hugo santos

    Reply
  11. Hugo

    great review very very good.

    in your experience what size you recommend for a 56cm head?

    i have a bad experience with my bell super 2r because
    ordered the M 55/59 cm and the helmet fitted to big or strange don’t now i didn’t like the feeling

    any response wil be great because i don’t have opportunity to test the switchblade.

    tanks.

    Hugo santos

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Yo Hugo, sorry about the slow reply – I’m around 56cm and would recommend a medium, they have an excellent adjustment range and different pad options, plus the internal frame is very flexible, so you’d be a med for sure.

      Reply

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