The Giro Reverb

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If there was a truism about reviewing a Giro helmet it’s that readers expect you to review the latest, greatest of their road offerings. So maybe the thing to do is to start with the elephant that isn’t in this particular room—the Giro Air Attack. I’m not going there. At least, not this time. They’ve taken some knocks for that design, fast or not; it may be that after it’s on the market a bit longer we will become a bit more accustomed to its look.

I bring the Air Attack up for two reasons. One is to demonstrate that Giro is unafraid to push boundaries in design. The other is to point out how Giro isn’t afraid to reach back, either. The Air Attack was the name given to the helmet that Greg LeMond endorsed at the height of his career. And what is the Reverb but a riff on that old design. With its nine vents, solid sides and vaguely cereal-bowl shape it looks a bit like the first-born of the original Prolight and the Air Attack because, to be perfectly accurate, the original Air Attack had a bit more of a tail to it.

Even the name of this helmet, the Reverb, carries some underlying meaning; reverb is a bit like an echo. It’s a number of very short echoes, too short to give a separate repetition of the original sound. It’s reaching back, but not too far back.

So why review a helmet that looks like it’s old enough to vote? Well, it answers a question friends of mine keep asking. As more and more of us ride bikes with our kids and for errand-running, more and more of us are asking the question, “What helmet can I wear when on a beach cruisers/three speed/bakfiets without looking like I’m wearing jeans and an air filter?”

You get my drift.

Three years ago, there weren’t many options. You either wore your Ionos or whatever, or you wore something that looked like a skateboard helmet, but not that skateboard helmet. And frankly, the skateboard helmets and whatnot that were available looked like Moe’s haircut from the Three Stooges. By that I mean uglier than the sound made by kids in a garage with the sheet music to Stairway to Heaven.

I could go on about tech this and fit that, but I’m going to spare you. I like love this helmet for two reasons. First is the simple fact that it goes with jeans. My Aeon doesn’t do that. Hell, I don’t have a another helmet that is remotely compatible with cotton. Second is how I have an emotional connection with my own past thanks to this helmet. I wore the original Air Attack and recall to this day how I had a conversation with my parents about the wisdom of a someone in grad school spending $60 (my price with shop discount) on a helmet. My answer included the terms “bike race,” “descent,” “guaranteed 50 mph” and “feeding tube.”

They laid off.

I really liked that helmet. When I’m out riding with Mini-Shred, this thing gives me a chance to fly my freak flag without anyone knowing. To the rest of the world I look as normal as an adult can hope to look while wearing a bicycle helmet, which I respect is as easy as training a cat to vacuum. (We’ve tried.) But the thing is, because that helmet speaks to something of my past I cherish (did you dig the old-style logo?), I feel cool every time I put it on. Now here I have to admit that getting me to feel cool is a good deal harder than training a cat to vacuum. Or cook. Don’t ask.

The Reverb comes with an interesting extra; a small visor can be added in case you’re going to be riding around in the sun without the aid of sunglasses. It’s a nice touch, especially as it’s short and fabric-covered, which makes it look like the brim of a cycling cap.

While I did my best to gloss over any technical features of the Reverb, there really are a couple of features that makes it notably better than any skateboard helmet, not to mention its predecessor. It includes an occipital device that needs no adjustment; they call it Autolock, and the helmet is features in-mold construction which makes it both lighter and more durable than skateboard helmets. That’s not why I use it as my skateboard helmet, but I tell myself I’m smart for doing so.

The Reverb comes in a whopping 11 color combinations to give anyone a fair shot at looking cool. As most folks don’t suffer my particular setbacks in hipitude, your results are likely to be more successful.

The Reverb retails for a measly $60. Given the original Air Attack carried a suggested retail of $90, it’s nice to know that today you can get a safer helmet for 33 percent less. Despite all it’s retro appeal, that’s progress.

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9 comments

  1. Bikelink

    Sorry but about the current Air Attack: it’s faster, and people say it’s ugly and won’t wear it. I pre-ordered one and do all road/track racing in it. It vents very well…and is faster (you can’t feel 5 watts but when you’re winning or losing races by a wheel at 30-something mph that’s a good time to get slippery). I often (really) tell people when they ask about my AA that I’d duct tape a rubber chicken to my helmet if it was legal and made me faster in races. So I love it that people (who are in actual races….against me) won’t wear it because of the way it *looks*.

    Ironically, perhaps, it’s a great commuters helmet too since it (again) ventilates well AND protects your head more from the sun :-)

  2. hoshie99

    I really like that a few companies make quality items for reasonable prices.

    I found a Giro Monza online for $80 or $90 clams and it didn’t seem to be a step down from a higher end race helmet in the line. I liked it; it was light, well ventilated, and fit me well. And, when an enthusiastic pit bull puppy just had to come into the middle of the street a few weeks back and say hello, I was glad my noggin’ didn’t bear the blunt of the impact as I sailed over the bars and landed flat on my back.

    $60? A whole slew of styles with a simple design.

    Hop outta the SUV, and ride to school with the kids people!

  3. Gary

    The manufacturers have seemingly whiplashed the consumers in the last couple years. The apparent “evolution” from the Greg Lemond era to ultra vents/light weight suddenly gave way to the Air Attack being “right”. Likewise in aero helmets, the tails got longer and longer. Suddenly, enter the Kask Bambino and all the helmet companies have a stubby model that’s “better”.

    Fashion aside, those are very mixed signals. Hopefully in 2-3 years, the AA won’t be brushed aside as no longer valid.

  4. Souleur

    this is the ugliest thing I have seen since my jr high pics

    thanks, but no thanks, i’ll stick to my bell volt

    If they take all the bells away, I’ll just go without


    1. Author
      Padraig

      I think it’s important to note that what we cyclists find beautiful in a cycling helmet is a look we have come to appreciate over time. It’s an acquired taste. If you try looking at the Volt or the Giro Aeon, or a great many others, with the fresh eyes of a non-cyclist, these helmets will look pretty silly to you. For most of the world, what we think of as cool looking is tin-foil-hat silly. The beauty of the Reverb isn’t how it looks with Lycra, but how it looks with cotton. There are times when I really don’t want to look like I just walked out of Comic-Con.

  5. Ben

    I bought the Reverb in White/Orange. I was going to get a really cool looking Nutcase, but when I put it on my head, it felt like it weighed 50 lbs. I agree that I don’t need/want a road bike helmet on my head when I am cruising with the kids (setting a good example – I wouldn’t wear one traveling at those speeds on my own). But as I am used to the feel/fit of a road helmet, I like the Reverb. And I plan to dress it up a little with Twin Six and a local bike club stickers.

  6. Paul

    The Reverb is a great cheap aero helmet. Many of the BMX/Skate helmets are actually quite aero. The problem with the old aero helmets with longer tails is that they were tested on static models. Riders don’t hold their head in a static position. When a rider looks down, that long tail becomes a huge sail. Also, vents are bad for aero.
    And yes, they look dorky.
    The sleeper buy in this market is the Lazer Armor. Lazer admitted it has better aero numbers than their TT helmets.

  7. Ron

    Nice write-up! Yup, I too do both road race/training and cross racing/training and like the helmets I wear for that, but I also commute daily by bicycle. And I head out to the pub each week after futbol with pals. I’d like to have a helmet that goes well with apres-futbol clothes and heading-to-the-library clothes.

    I actually had one of these last summer, found it on the ground at the local uni after everyone had left for the summer. I thought it looked goofy when I stood in front of the mirror with it on. But, so do all helmets! A buddy borrowed it and it was stolen, along with his bike!

    I think I’m going to pick one up. Matte black or the Z edition? Tough choice!

    I also like the strapping system because I want to be able to toss the helmet in a pannier. Even my Garneau Quartz, which has a system that you can tuck inside the helmet, still makes me worried that I’m going to break or damaged it when I toss it in the bag. The Reverb has nothing really to break.

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