“I haven’t tested the impact protection (for obvious reasons!) but would never under invest in protecting my noggin. The Merit offers a ton of protection to a very high standard.”
Put simply: lids protect your noggin. But it’s not just protection we want from a helmet, it’s also comfort, airflow, lightweight, style, a fair price... and the list goes on. Thankfully nowadays, the cycle industry does a pretty good job at delivering on most of the above, and Giro is at that forefront of innovative design and sturdy protection. Their top-tier Manifest helmet, which dropped a few years back, uses Spherical Technology powered by MIPS. It’s also heavily ventilated, supremely comfortable but a little pricey. Learnings taken from this top-tier helmet design have been put to use in the new Merit – but for a fraction of the cost.
The Merit box arrived, and with it came a cover letter from the brand manager. I opened the letter and the first thing that caught my attention was: ‘enjoy this new helmet and the ride snacks – and sorry we couldn’t host you at our HQ in Santa Cruz for a media junket’. My immediate thoughts were: ‘nice lid – bloody pandemic’!
The Merit is light and littered with vents. Let’s go over the Spherical Technology: the two halves of the helmet rotate independently, which create the slip plane that is said to reduce trauma to your brain in rotational impacts. The Spherical Technology also uses what Giro call ‘progressive layering technology’. This basically means the two halves of the helmet use different density foam layers. One layer works best with high-speed crashes and the other works best at low-speed crashes. That’s clever aye?! It also means that the layers work together for a safer helmet, for all impacts at any speed.
Just after I received the helmet, I headed to Nelson. The trails there provided the perfect testing ground for the Merit. Firstly, the comfort is great. After multiple long days wearing the lid, it never annoyed me – this has continued with the rides I’ve done back home. The fit employs a RocLoc Trail Air cradle which is height adjustable, with a sliding central ladder rather than press studs, which makes the tuning pitch a lot easier. Not to mention, the security and comfort are excellent. The design uses a thin Ionic+ padding which grips around your head.
The coverage and depth of the Merit run close to the Manifest, dropping slightly down at the temples, with the occipital lobes at the rear giving the lid a down-country/trail/enduro feel and style.
The ventilation delivers too, and it does a good job at cooling. Ok, so perhaps it’s not been used in the hottest of weather, but it wasn’t cold by a long shot. There is ample ventilation – fifteen vents, in fact. These are backed up with internal channeling to suck air over your noggin and out of the exhaust ports at the rear. The air flow does a fine job on long climbs and swift descents. The Merit kept my noggin cool and stopped the sweat from dripping down my face and fogging up my sunnies. This is thanks to small brow vents in both inner and outer shells. And if you want to stow your sunglasses, the arms will slide securely into the vents. For goggle users, there’s a rubber goggle strap retainer strip on the back of the Merit, too.
I haven’t tested the impact protection (for obvious reasons!) but would never under invest in protecting my noggin. The Merit offers a ton of protection to a very high standard. And, whilst I didn’t visit Santa Cruz on this occasion, I have visited Giro’s HQ and can tell you these helmets are put through the toughest tests with their crash test protocols. Giro have been at the forefront of MTB tech for the last thirty years and the Merit continues in that vein.
REVIEW: LIAM FRIARY