At A Glance
Now, if you're lucky enough to remember the first incarnation of the Giro Switchblade, then you'll know the idea behind this helmet is not a new one. The rise of enduro has forced riders to make decisions over whether to wear a full face helmet all day, or take two and swap between and carry the spare.Buy Helmets on
The new wave of lids aim to deal with the issue by using a detachable chin guard, and by no means is the Switchblade the first, with the Bell Super 2R being a common sight on the trails. What Giro have done in the Switchblade, however, is effectively create a full face downhill helmet with a removable chin, rather than a trail helmet to which you add a chin guard. This may sound like the same thing, but the results look very different.
To make sure we cover off all the standards, the Switchblade features Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) and is triple-certified to CPSC, EN-1078, and ASTM-1952 downhill safety standards. This means it's got it all covered and is a full certified downhill helmet.
Style wise, it's got that covered too, and comes in a full range of colours with matching goggles available if you want to go for the full Richie Rude look!
On The Trail
Getting comfy with the helmet was simple, and it shares a mix of features from a classic trail helmet and a downhill one. The retention at the rear is a dial which tightens round the back of the skull as you would find on an open face lid, while the chin strap is a tried and tested threaded buckle and popper as per most DH helmets.
The fit is excellent, and with ears covered, it gives a locked in and secure feel. The rear dial and cradle is Giro's Roc Loc Air DH and can also be moved up and down which is great to make sure it's secure, but also give a full range of movement in the neck.
My first tests involved trail riding in open face mode, and this elicited a pretty huge range of responses purely on the look alone; everyone wanted to try it, but not everyone was complimentary about the aesthetics. My face aside, the style is very divisive, and those with a soft spot for motorbike trials love it, while others, well, they were less complimentary. Personally, I really like the style, but I do feel like you have to ride hard to justify this lid, you can't just pop to the shops for some milk.
Riding with the Switchblade was great, and the only noticeable difference from my usual helmet were the ear covers, which do a great job of keeping them warm but also muffle a bit of sound. The long peak is great for a sun visor and is adjustable so goggles can be fitted underneath easily. A second visor is also included with a GoPro mount, which is a great addition to the whole package.
Carrying the chin section is easy as it is small and lightweight, partly because the ear guards remain on the main helmet. This means it fits neatly into a pack ready for dispatch at the top of the climb.
When it comes to downhill duty the addition of the chin guard is pretty straightforward but did require some practice in the mirror to get it right every time. Locate the slots and insert the metal arms then pull down, abracadabra, you have a full facer. To remove, two buttons on the lower portion of the chin release it upwards, and it can be removed. The process isn't super slick, but it feels mechanically secure and reassuring, which is good.
Once in full-face mode, it feels just like any other modern helmet designed for enduro, with a lightweight and highly breathable shape. The airflow is brilliant for sucking in air, and it never feels claustrophobic. The only reminder that this is different comes when you take it off and forget to undo the rear dial, so unlike a normal full-face helmet it won't just slide up and off your head.
Giro have produced a fantastic solution for the enduro racing set, but in doing so have opened up the options and styles available to any mountain biker. The chin-off look may not be to everyone's taste, but in full-face mode, it looks fantastic, especially with the matching goggles. This is one helmet to rule them all, whether you switch it up before every descent, or leave the chin guard for weekends on the downhill bike, this is a seriously stylish and versatile piece of kit. Why take two helmets to the trail, when you can have one?
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.