The original Giro Montaro MIPS helmet developed a following and established itself as one of Giro’s best selling trail helmets of all time. When I reviewed it earlier this year, I noted a handful of its excellent traits, but it wasn’t perfect. With the launch of the Giro Montaro MIPS II, nearly all the features that made the original great are retained. And the flaws? Well… some of those are retained too. While the Montaro MIPS II may be a sequel, the plot is very much the same, in good ways and bad.
Giro Montaro MIPS II Features:
- Polycarbonate shell construction for durability
- MIPS protection guards against rotational forces upon impact
- Internal ventilation channeling for increased airflow
- Roc Loc 5 Air fit system for dialing in on comfort
- Weight: 370 grams
- MSRP: $160
A Very Familiar Classic
Let’s start with the general layout here. Visually, the Montaro MIPS II is all but identical to the original Montaro. The hole pattern is the same. The visor design is the same. The strap placement is the same. Even the logo placement is the same. And the color ways are eerily similar too. Looking at the outside of the Montaro MIPS II, I couldn’t differentiate it from the original Montaro MIPS if it didn’t have “Montaro II” printed on the side in small font.
With identical hole patterns, the Montaro MIPS II inherits the less-than-outstanding air flow of its predecessor. Its breathability has been lovely for late-Fall and Winter riding during my testing cycle, but I know that I’ll be using my water bottle to cool off come Summer, just like I had to for the original Montaro. I would have loved to see more vents added or vent size increased.
The new Montaro also retains the top-mount feature from the original Montaro, which I’ve been using with a mounted flashlight for night riding. It’s been a great addition, and really opens up possible times to get out for a ride, especially up here in the dark and rainy PNW. Before I was able to use the top-mount though, I did have to compress foam which had expanded into the top-mount clip slots. Before doing that little modification, it was impossible to get the top-mount to seat. It’s the kind of thing that should be caught in quality control, and it’s a little disappointing to see in a helmet that puts you back 160 clams.
Inside the helmet, we see some similarities and some differences from the original Montaro. Pad placement remains the same, and the pads themselves are still the same Ionic+ antimicrobial pads used in the Montaro. The padding is still comfortable, absorbent, and non-smelly, even after long, high-output rides. No complaints there, from me or from my wife. The MIPS system remains in place too, and it’s just as confidence-inspiring as it was in the original. Not familiar with MIPS? In short, it’s a system designed to disburse rotational impact forces (great article on it here), and it’s a key safety feature for a helmet like this.
Where we hit differences is the adjustment system. Where the original Montaro used the Roc Loc Air 5 system with dial and ladder adjustments, the Montaro MIPS II uses the new Roc Loc Air 5 MIPS fit system (which also utilizes dial and ladder adjustments). What’s the difference? The new fit system is actually integrated into the MIPS liner, reducing the number of components and the amount of plastic inside the helmet. You might think this would translate to weight savings, but confoundingly, the Montaro MIPS II is 370 grams — identical to the original Montaro MIPS.
Fit was a frustration of mine with the original Montaro MIPS. While the dial adjustment worked well, the ladder adjustment for head height constantly slipped, moving the helmet down my forehead. Since the Montaro MIPS II uses the same adjustment methods, and they look almost identical, it would be reasonable to think that I might have the same trouble with the new helmet. Interestingly, I don’t. My helmet adjustment is rock solid, and has been treating me very well throughout testing — no slippage whatsoever.
Looking into why one helmet’s ladder adjustment slipped while the other didn’t, I found that my original Montaro had a small amount of excess foam preventing the ladder adjustment from fully seating. As a result, the adjustment was precarious and would slip (I’ve since updated that review with this finding). It’s another quality control miss, and I’m not confident that the Montaro MIPS II is immune, based on the design similarity and the issue I experienced with the top-mount.
- MIPS keeps me safe and confident
- Roc Loc 5 Air MIPS adjusts well and has fewer components
- Ionic+ Padding is comfortable, absorbent, and antimicrobial
- Love the adjustable visor
- Fits well with every pair of glasses I’ve thrown at it
- Still looks great
- Not ventilated enough for summer riding
- Better quality control needed for foam expansion blocking the light mount
The Bottom Line: Giro Montaro MIPS II
The Giro Montaro MIPS II is basically the same as the original Montaro MIPS. That comes with a lot of great things – comfort, looks, safety features, antimicrobial padding – and it comes with some downsides that didn’t make the cut of the redesign – not enough ventilation, no weight savings. The new fit system improves the helmet, but poor quality control with excess foam blocking critical parts remains a problem.
Buy Now: Available from Backcountry.com