At A Glance
Enduro racing has been a catalyst for many mountain bike products over the past few years. Dropper posts, one-by drivetrains and 160mm travel bikes that can climb have all in some way been influenced by the enduro trend. When races became more full-on, riders started having to make choices about headgear, either down to personal choice, or enforced by rules. Full face helmets are obviously safer, but when long pedal transitions are required, a claustrophobic and overheating lid is not so enticing. This led to various options; the double helmet, the removable chin piece or the lightweight full facer.Buy DH Helmets on
The XULT from IXS aims to be the latter, that is as a cross over full face helmet. Reasonably lightweight and plenty of vents, it offers breathability and ventilation, combined with full protection meeting the European EN1078 and American ASTM DH as well as C.P.S.C standards.
Designed with the man, myth, and legend Cedric Gracia, the XULT features a Fibre Reinforced Polymer shell to keep weight low and the whole helmet volume down. X Matter inserts are positioned at major impact zones to provide extra protection and improve durability. The padding system features Coolmax material to keep things fresh and removable cheek pads mean the helmet is easily removed in an emergency. An adjustable visor and classic double-D ring closure finish off a rather bright and gregarious helmet, much like the man himself, Mr. CG.
On The Trail
The Xult instantly gives a feeling of breathing space, with none of the closed-in feel of some full face helmets. The space between your mouth and the chin piece is generous, and with fewer pads and more ventilation through the helmet it becomes obvious that sucking air will not be impeded. The chin guard does seem quite high, but this hasn't proved an issue and further allows air to circulate underneath. The fit is secure, and the double-D locking system works as well as it always has. Vision is excellent, with nothing impaired in the peripheral areas and goggle compatibility is also spot on.
The weight is 1100g, which although light, is not the lightest, with some carbon full on downhill helmets available at a lower weight. The main advantage of this lid is the venting which allows lung busting efforts without interference from oxygen demand. In order to really test this aspect of the helmet, I felt it necessary to take it out for XC and trail rides to see how it would fair. It's a comfortable and obviously effective (in terms of test standards) full facer, so the real test would be on more enduro territory, including climbs! Despite getting some odd looks from the 'normal' trail helmet wearers, I really enjoyed using the Xult whilst out riding. There is no doubt it is hotter than a half face lid, but I was able to climb, sprint and generally abuse my lungs without any real feel of restriction. This is what makes the Xult so exceptional and would allow it to be used all day for an enduro race without needing to be swapped. If climbs were huge, then eventually I found I wanted to take it off, especially when it was warm, but I never felt the burning desire to escape from the confines of the helmet. The styling is good and, as mentioned, pretty loud like Mr Gracia himself, yet that matches pretty well with the now commonplace 'enduro look'.
This is not a helmet which compromises, keeping up fully with safety standards whilst improving airflow dramatically. It's as a home on the downhill trails or bike park as it is at an enduro race event or even just out on the trails. It's not cheap (£250 in the UK), and there are lighter options available, but for cutting edge protection, brilliant venting and great styling, the Xult packs a serious punch.
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.