Giro Prolight is a Good Fit

Giro's Prolight Helmet in White/Silver with Filter Sunglasses

I'll admit I like the classic look of the cycling cap and have produced quite a few images for VeloDramatic wearing my favorites from Rapha and Outlier. In truth I never ride anywhere without a helmet (often over a cap). My brain may be the only thing that distinguishes me from the asphalt we ride upon, so I have a vested interest in keeping it protected.

Assuming you're not repurposing an old garden bucket, it's certain that your helmet meets one of the mandated safety standards (CPSC in the US), and most of you probably own one or two. Like everything else VeloDramatic my helmet collection is a little over the top. There are now five helmets hanging neatly in the garage: a Specialized S-Works; a Catlike Whisper and three helmets from Giro; the Atmos, the Ionos and new for 2010, the Prolight.

In profile the Prolight from behind showing the compressive band of the ROC-LOC SL system

Head on, the iconic, vented appearance of the Atmos and Ionos have always been easy to spot in the pro peloton and it hasn't hurt the fortunes of Giro that Mr. Armstrong has been wearing one, well... forever. I'm not sure if it's that gaunt pro visage or perhaps they all wear size small, but helmets generally look better on the pros. Hawkish, sharp and well proportioned. Mere mortals, like me, tend to have bigger skulls (I wear a Large) and some helmets make you look like you're wearing a Yakima SkyBox on your head. Finding a good fitting, good looking helmet isn't always easy.

Enter the Prolight. Giro claims to have gone back to the drawing board with this new model and it looks and feels the part. True to its name, its very light. My Large weighed in at 227g, compared to my Ionos at 361g and Atmos at 327g. It has a softer, less angular appearance. Like its predecessors (which are still actively produced and sold) the Prolight is manufactured with Giro's In-Mold technology, a process which bonds the outer polycarbonate shell to the inner EBS liner in one operation. More interesting is the new Roc-Loc SL self-adjusting harness. Instead of a ratchet mechanism to fine tune fit, the minimal SL system relies on a broad band of mildly compressive elastic at the back of your head to provide a stable fit. Giro uses a lighter webbing for chin straps, and provides an additional measure of adjustability with three snap-in connection points on the helmet body.

I'm really surprised how well this minimalist system works. I'm used to loosening my helmet, particularly when wearing it over a cap, then snugging it tight. There's no need for any of this with the Prolight. Grasp the rear band, slide it over the back of your head and snap the chin strap closed. The helmet stays put. The band is comfortable. Feels like a winner to me.

The vents on the Prolight look smaller than either the Atmos or Ionos, but there's no lack of airflow.

The Prolight is available in four colorways: Blue/Black; Red/Black; Black/Carbon and White/Silver. I love the subtle textural graphics of the latter and it's sure to be cooler on hot summer days. If you need a new helmet or just want to add to your own collection; maybe coordinate with that new white bar tape this Spring, you can't go wrong with this lid.

the Prolight may embrace a minimalist philosophy but underneath there's a lot of technology at work

Switching topics. I've recently added an Elinchrom Quadra lighting kit to the photo arsenal. It pains me to say I can't always shoot with available light, so the trick is getting proficient and creative with strobes. I spent last Saturday experimenting with the Quadras, shooting the Giro helmet and sunglasses against a variety of backgrounds using a Rotalux Softbox on one head and a Varistar umbrella on the other. You'll see some of this photography over the next couple of posts as I look at more products I like from Giro.

A neutral colorway for the Garmin 500

Finally, thanks to a couple of regulars for pointing out that Garmin plans on releasing a new Black/White/Silver version of the Garmin 500 in conjunction with the Tour of California. I don't think for a moment they were listening to me when I made the point that the standard blue trim on the 500 doesn't coordinate with many bikes. I'm looking forward to the new version, I think I'll Ebay the blue one that Garmin just replaced after my recent mounting problem. Thanks, Garmin on both counts.

27 Responses to Giro Prolight is a Good Fit

  1. BKC says:

    Thanks for the images ~ think you could post a couple of the interior? Keep up the great work!

  2. Nice looking lid! I’m in the market for a new one and may have to give this one a serious look (although I’m a pretty dyed-in-the-wool Rudy Project user!).

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could shoot everything with nothing more than available light? If we could use lovely glass with huge apertures like f1 or even below? (okay, so with some of the new Canon glass, we can – for a price.)

    Unfortunately sometimes you just have to use a strobe kit (what we in the colonies call a flash kit). You could do far worse than Elinchrom. I’ve been using their gear for the better part of 22 years and it’s never let me down yet. Not once. You’ll love it.

    That Garmin 500 looks lovely. Think there may be another blue and white unit joining yours on ebay very shortly! Glad to hear that they sorted you out with a new unit.


    • Hi Kim,

      Glad you’ve had long experience with Elinchrom and rate them highly. So far so good with the Quadras. They’ll be my go to lights for studio-product work and location portraits. I’m probably going to add a dual-headed 580EX II softbox with a radio popper so I can use HSS for cycling action when the available light is awful. Shame there’s no way to get HSS with the Quadras, but that’s like asking for an F1 lens for Christmas.

      I’m hoping to see Canon release new glass this year.


  3. kurt says:

    I like the circuit boards you used as a backdrop for the Prolight. Did you pull those out of an old mainframe back in 1980? I wonder how many times Juli tried to toss them in the trash when you were not looking. Very cool repurpose of old technology.

    The Garmin color scheme is looking much better. Any explanation on the mounting issue from Garmin?

    I am having a hard time coughing up 500 for the Joule 2.0

    Please answer me this, Will the Garmin display on one screen, Power,MPH, HR, Cadence?


    • Kurt,

      Those boards, and a lot of recycled bay area technology came from a place called “Weird Stuff” in Sunnyvale, CA. Eventually all old technology goes there to die, and be reborn in crazy garage projects. I’ve got chunks of titanium, fire-proof cabinets and fasteners of every kind from them. Best reuse project. I built a large hardwood shop bench and used a 200lb machined aluminum plate from some Lockheed jig as the bench top. You could park a car on top of it and it wouldn’t budge.

      Garmin hasn’t offered an explanation for why the 500′s mount failed. They did replace it very quickly… we’ll see if this one has a problem in time. Yes, the Garmin can display all those values on one screen.

  4. The 580EX II is a nice flash gun (I’ve used the 580EX for a while to great effect) – I love the fact that the new version is ‘weather proof’ and the metal foot just looks so rugged… am thinking about upgrading but don’t know if I can justify – faster cycle time would be a boon… it’s still E-TTL II isn’t it?

    Agree – High Speed Sync is a wonderful thing. Yes, it’d be nice to have in a field stripped Elinchrom kit. But as you say, you can’t have it all! Should be able to get some pretty impressive results with a few 580EX IIs and some remote units. Rear curtain sync could also render some ‘artistic’ images if you’re into that sort of trickery!

    I’ve just put an order down for the new Hasselblad H4D with a 50 back. That puts me out of commission on all new purchase for a while! I just hope I still have some funds left for more new season Rapha!

  5. scott says:

    that helmet looks very similar to the old helios. the helios was lighter and lower profile than their top of the pneumo and atmos. maybe they realized the “value” of the helios and re-invented it as the more expensive prolight.

    long live the lazer genesis ATMA.

  6. Franco says:

    Velo: I too carry a big head – large versions of the Giro Pneumo and Atmos in my lid collection. I acknowledge that I’ll never have that pro look…but, I would like a better look in my big head/helmet combination.

    Do you think this Prolight has a better look on a big head?

    • Franco,

      I’ve got some comparison shots between the three models, but I’m not entirely happy with the perspective. I’ll take another crack tonight or tomorrow and get them up over the weekend.

    • Franco,

      Haven’t forgotten about those pictures, they’re coming but haven’t had a chance to reshoot the collection. This weekend promise ;-)

  7. Fabulous looking brackets! That diffuser looks simple and rugged too. But given that you’re looking to shoot High Speed Sync (and unless you’re going to use a HEAP of 580EX IIs) wouldn’t you loose a lot of light to spread etc. from that diffuser? After all, you’re already going to be down on flash output…

    Anyhoo, that’s getting WAY off topic for Velodramatic!

    Please let us know the outcome from your Specialised shoot.

    • Hadn’t planned to use the Kacey Dish diffuser but I’m prepared to lose a fair bit of flash power from the two 580s in HSS whatever the modifier. I’m hoping it will give me the option of some nice fill in dynamic situations but without any thought of overpowering the sun. Photo talk is officially relevant, so no worries about this stuff being off topic. Always interested in your thoughts.


  8. Chris says:

    FInally, some decent photos of this helmet. All the ones I’ve seen make it look rather flimsy and cheap, not what I think of when it comes to Giro. I have two helmets from them currently a Pneumo and a new Ionos. Seeing these pictures is making me consider getting this one as well.

  9. velomonkey says:

    Hey, know your bike history – Armstrong wore specialized helmets all during the Motorola years. Thankfully he came into the sport when the sub six came onto the scene as everything prior, including stiff from giro, looked like a Styrofoam cooler on ones head.

  10. Greg SF says:

    Great review of the Giro pro lite. Where did you find your Cat Like Helmet. Have you checked out the Lazer Genesis

    Darn! Garmin is coming out with a black one, I just bought the blue one and it does not look great with my black R3 SL, with red grip tape. But it is an awesome computer.

    Looking forward to great ride this week, perhaps Alpine Damn and back side of Mt. Tam.

    Are you riding?

    Greg SF

    • Missed this Greg, sorry.

      The Catlike Whisper was ordered from Prendas Ciclismo in the U.K. Good outfit. I like the looks of the Lazer but haven’t had a chance to check one out in person.

      Hope you had a good ride on the weekend. I didn’t get out, stuck doing VeloDramatic accounting and prep for taxes… and I’m NOT done yet, so next weekend is looking sketchy.


  11. Daniel says:

    Thank you for the review. Looking at photos of the Prolight it appears the helmet may be shallower compared to other Giro models, i.e. it covers less of one’s skull than an Atmos or a Ionos. Do you find that to be the case? That would be an easy way to save weight… :o)

  12. Lorenzo says:

    I have a big noggin’ … XL’s fit around just fine but i always feel like helmets stay “perched” on the top of my head leaving plenty of head real estate above my ears. Do you guys know of a helmet model that has a deeper shell than others?

    • Hi Lorenzo,

      Good question. I don’t know if there’s much difference in top line helmets as far as shell depth. I remember reading a helmet review piece that criticizes road helmets in general for not providing enough coverage lower on the sides and back of the head. I’ll post a couple more photos of the Prolight and Ionos for comparison. The Ionos is definitely taller, but the additional height is external.

  13. Lorenzo says:

    I guess my concern is more of an aesthetic one. Helmets really look like postage stamps perched on the top oh my head like a kippah. They are securely fastened and definitely snug so safety is not a concern … but i guess i just have a tall cranium. Even if the shell depth is external, that would be fine by me!

  14. Mark says:

    I’m shopping for a new lid today – to replace my cracked Spesh’ 2D. I’ve loved the weight, or rather lack of, of that helmet but fancied a new design. Looking at the Prolight in some shots it looks a bit ‘old skool’, probably because of the smaller vents. However, your pics make it look really good (especially in the Helmet Head post). Think it’s made my mind up for me – I’ll be off to Condor in London this afternoon to see if I can pick one up :) Thanks Michael, a couple of really useful posts.