Evolution Of The Bike Helmet: Giro 1985 – 2013

Since its founding in 1985, Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Giro has been an innovator in the world of bike helmets. This timeline reveals an evolutionary track from the company’s original Prolight (circa 1985) to the Air Attack helmet, an aero design launched to consumers this year.

Maybe you wore one of these hard hats riding at some point over the last 25+ years. Take a ride down memory lane, and see how Giro has evolved its designs to meet demands of racers, mountain bikers, commuters, and bikers of all types. —Stephen Regenold

1985: As the first Giro helmet, the Prolight offered a lighter, cooler, and more comfortable helmet experience for bike racers of the day but still met all relevant safety standards

1986: The Aerohead was Giro’s first “aero” helmet. It was adopted by top racers of the day for triathlon and road time trial events

1989: The original Air Attack is one of two Giro helmets in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Said Giro: “It was a revolutionary combination of engineering and design that really put the wind to work for riders.” Channeled interior ventilation, a sleek external shell, and an aerodynamic form all came together in the design

1990: The Switchblade helmet came to being with the advent of full-suspension mountain bikes and the increasingly gnarly terrain bikers were riding. It gave full-face coverage with the ventilation needed to ride up the trail as well as down. Chin bar and visor removable depending on the terrain of the day

1999: Debuted at the Tour de France, the Pneumo “challenged the very definition of helmets,” a Giro representative noted. This is because it was almost more vent than helmet, an aggressively ventilated lid that breathed as well as it protected on the road

2002: With a rounder shape and deeper coverage at the rear of the head, the Xen redefined mountain bike helmet styling. It was made to meet the demands of longer-travel bikes and more technical trail riding. It also featured channeled interior ventilation, a longer moto-inspired visor, more extensive internal padding, and a full-wrap outer shell for durability

2009: At an insanely light 6.8 ounces, the Prolight debuted in the Tour de France. Its 25 vents and airways were touted as a “labyrinth of optimized internal channels.” This model won a GearJunkie “Top 10 Gear of the Year” award in 2010

2013: The Air Attack debuted at the Tour de France on pro riders and shipped to consumers this spring (2013). The helmet offers a new aerodynamic shape for road racers and comes in two models, one with a “shield” visor (see below) to block wind and make a biker ever speedier on the road or Velodrome track

2013: Tiny magnets attach the namesake “shield” visor to the Giro Air Attack Shield. Wind protection and better visibility come with the clear or tinted lens shields, which are removable or stow-able upside down (bottom image) when optics are not needed during or after a ride

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.