Giro Air Attack – Final Thoughts

When we wrote our first article on the Giro Air Attack,  the concept of an aero road helmet was still pretty new. Fast forward one month later and all of a sudden there is quite a bit of competition in this space – most noticeably the new Specialized Evade. But the Air Attack was first, and as we discussed in our First Ride article, it could theoretically replace both helmets found in many a triathlete’s arsenal. While this was great in theory, would it really work? Would we be able to ride the Air Attack every day regardless of the conditions on the road?

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The Air Attack

First things first, we know you’re all thinking it—yes, the Air Attack looks like a BMX helmet. This is a classic case of “function over form.” The Air Attack is the result of the need for a helmet that’s as aero as possible across multiple conditions.

From the outset, the Air Attack has been a creature of compromise. Giro balanced the need for speed and comfort by creating a helmet that provided minimal drag losses (when compared to aero-specific helmets) while only suffering the same minimal cooling losses.

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The Air Attack suffers a 10% drag penalty versus Giro’s own aero specific Selector, while retaining 90% of the cooling power as compared to the road specific Aeon. Another way of looking at it is that the Air Attack has 11.2% less drag than the Aeon with 156% of the cooling power of the Selector.

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The Air Attack is available in two versions: the Air Attack and the Air Attack Shield, which includes a Carl Zeiss Vision optical shield. The Air Attack’s shield is especially unique because it’s attached via three powerful magnets that allow you to quickly and easily remove their shield, placing it in a “storage” position when you want to get the visor out of the way (this also makes getting the helmet on and off incredibly easy).

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While we only tested the Air Attack Shield, the majority of the review would pertain to the Air Attack as well since the only difference between the two is the visor.

Ventilation

The AeroGeeks are based in South Florida, so a helmet with compromised ventilation was going to be a serious problem for us—especially considering that our average temperatures in the past month have been well above 85. With that in mind, ventilation became one of the big questions we had on our plate for this review. Could we ride the Air Attack year round without keeling over from heat stroke? Thankfully, the answer was a resounding “yes.” In fact, while in motion, we noticed no difference between the Air Attack and the Bell Volt (the “control” helmet we used for comparison purposes).

Giro calls their system for securing the helmet to your head the Roc Loc system. And in the case of the Air Attack, they crafted a 3mm ventilation space to allow for air flow. The major benefit of this design is the constant cooling sensation of wind flowing through your hair.

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The ventilation worked well both with the visor and without it. We felt no appreciable difference in temperature when we wore the visor, which we did quite a bit. In fact, we found that when wearing the visor at speeds of 24-30mph, so much air flowed across our face that our eyes watered a bit. Again, that’s a small price to pay for superior ventilation in the heat.

The only issue we found was regarding extreme weather—specifically during the nasty rain storms we get down here. In driving rain water is able to find its way into the top of the visor through the vents, which can lead to water flowing down the visor and onto your face. While it was rideable, we found this unexpected shower extremely distracting. An easy solution for this is to place the visor in its “storage” position during a rain shower and throwing on a pair of sunglasses until the weather clears.

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The Magnets

The magnets were our other big worry following our first rides. Would they be able to hold the visor in place regardless of how we moved our head? What would happen if we went to scratch our nose and nudged the visor—would it pop off? We are happy to report that the magnets perform well. In all of our rides with the Air Attack we only knocked the visor off once, and that was only due to hitting the visor when we went in to scratch an upper eye brow. After that incident we quickly learned to just be mindful of the visor, which was simple enough

What we liked most about the magnets was that we could put the helmet on and, once it was seated correctly, remove the visor from its storage position to place it in front of our face. This is a huge advantage for T1 since you can quickly throw your helmet on your head without struggling with a visor. Then once you’re up to speed, you can simply reach up and pop it into position. No need to maneuver your head into the helmet or forcing yourself to have the visor in place prior to starting the ride. You could even throw some cold water on your face during the ride if you’d like—just move the visor into “storage” and you’re good to go!

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Final Thoughts

Is this the helmet we thought it would be? Absolutely! For those looking for a single, all-purpose helmet, we completely believe the Air Attack is the helmet for you. No, it’s not the most aero helmet out there. If you have the resources to have a dedicated helmet just for race day then the Air Attack may not be what you’re looking for. But if you are like us here at AG—looking for the best value for your dollar—then the Air Attack is absolutely worth considering.

23 responses to “Giro Air Attack – Final Thoughts

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    • One of the reasons we were so excited about the Air Attack was that the shield represented a replacement for sunglasses when in an aggressive position (no longer would you have to worry about the frames getting in your vision). We always saw it more as a sunglasses replacement than as purely another way of reducing overall drag. To that end we rode with the shield quite a bit. For the vast majority of circumstances the shield easily replaced a pair of sunglasses. The only situations where it might not is when you would be spending a vast amount of time staring directly into the sun, in that case a really good pair of mirrored lenses may do a better job.

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  4. I have the white one and i love it. I saw other models but with a different visor shade i.e. orange, blue, black. Any idea if you can buy a separate shield just so you can have variants? Also, any experience riding with this during winter? Any thoughts if any. Thanks

    • While we haven’t seen them for sale yet, Giro did say they would allow you to buy extra shield in multiple shades. We just double checked their site and do not see them for sale yet.

      Regarding the winter riding, unfortunately one of the disadvantages of being Florida based is we have no concept of winter. However if you have some thoughts we would love to hear them.

  5. The only way my visor fell off was the same way your test showed…I went to scratch my upper eye brow, just as a quick instinct not knowing it would knock off so easily. I ended up breaking it this way, just wish Giro had replacements you could purchase, or even a darker lens.

      • Yes, Call Giro customer service. They are top notch… They replaced my shield, no questions asked…Although they were back ordered for awhile.

    • Hi Eric – when it comes to aero helmets it is hard to say one is better since it is really subjective to the rider. Depending on your helmet size and how your back arches – the helmet that works best for us may not work best for you. That being the case though – we are working on multiple reviews including the Scott Split, Giro Selector and possibly a few others. This way readers can have a better idea of how each helmet works over the long haul.

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  8. I bought an Air Attack Shield last September and I really like it. I was thinking about buying the Rudy Project Wingspan but the one thing that change my mind was I have a tendency to ride for long periods of time with my head down (eye looking about 3 ft in front of the front wheel). With a regular Aero helmet, the tail would be way up in the air. I’m seeing more helmet version with shorter tails. Rudy Project Wing 57 looks to be an awesome helmet for having your head down (and you can get a shield for that model). The data in this article is excellent guys and I agree with you. If you are looking for one helmet, Air Attack might be the one you are looking for. It’s a gap filler type helmet and it’s the only one I use now.

  9. What does the time savings and power savings come to between the 3 helmets? Aeon,Attack,Selector

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  13. I bought the shield version winter ’14 primarily to avoid the annual cost of new prescription sunglasses. It works for that purpose!. The post is very accurate about ventilation. The only issue is a bit more hassle dealing with forehead sweat.

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