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by James Huang
March 19, 2016
Photography by James Huang
Bicycle helmets are curious little items. On the one hand, they’re little more than simple chunks of molded polystyrene foam riddled with holes and covered with a plastic shell — basically a candy-coated Styrofoam coffee cup that you can’t eat and doesn’t actually hold coffee. In light of that, it’s perhaps not exactly surprising to see considerable backlash against modern high-end models that command prices of $300 or more.
Long a powerhouse for complete bikes, Giant has recently been making a much bigger effort to achieve similar status in the component and accessories markets, including the hotly contested helmet category. Giant’s own claims for the redesigned Rev are comparatively modest, promising excellent ventilation, a comfortable and adjustable fit, and low weight — just what you’d expect from an all-around road model.
“As with bikes, our goal is to develop product featuring the latest technologies and designs that our consumers need while offering them a great value at the same time,” says Giant’s global gear category manager, Jeff Schneider.
To bolster those claims, the Rev is equipped with an internal reinforcement skeleton, 21 big vents with lots of internal channeling, thin ‘LiteForm’ webbing, antimicrobial padding, and Giant’s own Cinch Pro retention system with a dial-adjustable circumference and three discrete height settings.
Giant offers the Rev in six different colors and three standard sizes, all built around a headform that’s slightly more ovoid than average. Selected markets also get an additional three ‘Asian fit’ sizes built around a more rounded shape. Actual weight for medium US-spec CPSC-approved sample is 252g — about 30g heavier than a Giro Aeon or 20g heavier than a Specialized S-Works Prevail.
The profile of the Giant Rev is unabashedly traditional.
In fairness, building a helmet that’s light, well ventilated, and comfortable that still meets requisite safety standards isn’t exactly child’s play, particularly when you add in additional attributes like decent aesthetics and aerodynamic efficiency (not to mention development and tooling costs). Even so, Giant’s latest Rev shows that it is possible to offer high-end performance at a mid-range price, at least provided you’re not looking for an aero option as there are no watts to be saved here from its traditional shape.
Just as promised, the Rev is immediately comfortable with ample adjustment range and a comparatively generous array of padding to cushion the top of your head from any exposed foam. The knurled dial on the Cinch Pro retention system is easy to grab with one hand, too, even when wearing full-fingered gloves.
Perhaps most important for an all-around road helmet like the Rev, though, is that it does an excellent job of keeping your head cool. Sure, the “21 vents” figure on the spec sheet is what’s intended to initially impress onlookers but when it comes to airflow, it’s far more important where those vents are located and where the air can go.
The amount of open area in the shell is impressive to say the least.
Other helmet manufacturers have noted the importance of a large, centrally located forward vent and the Rev certainly delivers in that aspect with a port that’s nearly big enough to fit your hand through. Inside, the deep internal channeling gives incoming air plenty of space to circulate through and out the back, so much so that you can literally feel the wind in your hair at even modest speeds.
Ample perforations throughout the entire shell also leave plenty of open space for heat to escape when climbing but it’s here that the Rev also reveals its one ventilation-related weakness: limited airflow between the front of the helmet and your forehead. It’s not an issue in most situations but on long and slow pitches — particularly in warmer and/or more humid conditions — sweat tends to collect on the forward pads and then drip into your glasses once they’re saturated. Thankfully, the forward vents are at least shaped so that you can easily stow your eyewear away as needed.
Other complaints are more minor. As good as the Rev is, riders who know they’re rough on gear will probably want to pass. There’s no lower shell to protect the otherwise exposed foam on the bottom edge and it doesn’t take long for the helmet to look a little ratty even in everyday use. And while they’re adjustable, the traditional locking strap splitters don’t leave quite as room around your ears as fixed ones do.
Aside from that, Giant has done an excellent job here and the Rev ably maintains the company’s longstanding reputation of offering great performance for the money. The Rev may not be as flashy as some of the more expensive options out there and even by Giant’s own admission, there are no aero pretenses on tap here. But if your primary concerns in a road helmet are excellent ventilation, all-day comfort, and competitive weight at a reasonable price, there’s little to fault here.
For more information, visit Giant.
RRP: AU$150; US$150
The Giant Rev is modestly priced yet matches the ventilation performance of helmets costing much more.
The styling is rather traditional but looks good nonetheless.
Giant hasn’t designed the Rev with any aero pretenses so the tail features the usual array of ridges and sharp angles.
Many helmet manufacturers have identified a big, central vent as one of the keys to good airflow and the Giant Rev certainly has that requirement checked.
While the number of vents and their generous sizes are visually impressive, it’s the internal channeling that really does the lion’s share of the work in terms of moving air across the top of your head.
The antimicrobial padding is comfortable even on a shaved head.
The Cinch Pro retention system is easy to adjust with one hand.
The cradle can also be adjusted in three different heights.
As good as the Giant Rev is in most respects, the exposed lower edge is highly prone to dings and dents.
The LiteForm webbing is whisper-thin as is becoming increasingly common with higher-end helmets. The traditional cam-lock sliders are adjustable but new-school fixed splitters are actually more comfortable as they create more room around your ears.