Review – Giant Horizon Helmet

When I see people biking without a helmet it makes me cringe.  Even when I see the casual and slow bicyclists.

Not that I don’t blame people for biking without a helmet.  They can be warm and some people think they feel awkward on their head, maybe some think they look funny, an improperly adjusted one can be uncomfortable, and they are just one more thing you have to buy and remember to use.

But wow – head injuries are not something you want to mess around with or take chances with having.  And there’s plenty of research that shows how helmet usage decreases head injuries and the severity of them.  Having a helmet, of course, doesn’t guarantee that you can’t get a head injury but it sure goes a long way and beats the alternative.  Cars whizzing by within inches of us at 60+ MPH with the prevalence of distracted and just plain resentful, angry drivers should be enough to convince anyone that they need some extra protection.  It’s very cheap insurance for going toward protecting one of the most important parts of your body.

Anyway, while I very much believe in having and wearing a helmet we haven’t spent that much super-expensive ones, preferring to go with the relatively inexpensive Schwinn models.  These models, in various tests (like this one) perform as well as more expensive models for helping to protect a person from the range of basic head injuries.

And despite what some know-it-all cyclists might tell you – the styrofoam in helmets does not break down and lasts for many decades.  So replacing them every few years is unneeded performance-wise, unless you plan on having it for a couple hundred years I suppose…

But as we probably all know they get grungy inside despite cleaning, get scratched and marred on the outside and inside and the outer plastic can get bumped and cracked (which can affect the protection you receive from the helmet in an accident as it helps to keep the styrofoam stay together).  And if there’s any problem with your helmet, any part wearing or detaching or not fitting like it should you really need to consider getting a new one.  Like I said – cheap insurance.

And that was the boat I was in; the Schwinn helmet I had used for many years (Schwinn Intercept) has a head band webbing that goes around the head that is not physically attached to the inside of the helmet except by velcro, it’s this particular helmet’s design which I have never liked.  But it worked fine for years until the adhesive on the velcro deteriorated (from sweat likely).  Replacing it worked for a while but after a short time the new velcro too detached, and even thoroughly scrubbing the plastic of the helmet where they are supposed to adhere didn’t seem to allow the replacement velcro to keep the webbing in place, even adding extra velcro did nothing and I started thinking about a new helmet as it was just not feeling right.  And I never liked the interior webbing design anyway.

helmet sideI got a great deal on a Giant Horizon Helmet (eBay link – just make sure you get a new one), black and white version.  This one retails on Giant’s site for about $43, though you can get it elsewhere cheaper.

In addition to the black/white model is the white/black (opposite scheme from the one shown in the photo), white/blue, black/red, and black/yellow.  There is also a women’s specific model called the LIV Passion and a youth model called the Shine and Incite.  About the same price for all of them.

Right away, even with a quick first visual once-over I could tell that this helmet  is of a higher quality than the Schwinn and cheaper Bell models.  From the design of the webbing/headband to the quality of the material and the fitting of the plastic shell it is obviously of a better manufacture than the cheaper helmets – not that there is anything wrong with them in general.

With the black/white colors on the helmet I got there is a nice contrast between the ribs and framing parts.  It makes for a cool design, though I’m not usually a big fan of the color white on things.

The adult Horizon has eighteen vents, and a removable visor.  Fairly standard for a lot of helmets.

Putting it on is the difference between night and day between it and my old helmet.  As I said – my old helmet had some velcro that wasn’t holding the framework in place so any new helmet certainly would be better than the old one.  But the Giant also felt like a better fit than my other backup helmet, and as far as I can remember different from any helmet I have owned.  Very comfortable, and after a number of  rides no chafing of any areas around or on the head, no pressure points or tightness.  I have to say I have somewhat limited experience with biking helmets but compared to the last two I have had it seems to me more comfortable on initial fit as well as during regular daily use than the cheaper brands.

Fitting it was easy via the little knob on the back, pretty standard.  There seems to be more ‘clicks’ for finer adjustment, letting you get it just right.

And on this helmet the adjustment knob is also a safety light.  It’s a great position, as the higher you can get a light the more visible you are going to be to drivers.  A simple push of the back of the twist knob turns it on, flashes it, or strobes it in a sequential four LED pattern.  You can see in the photo below that in daylight it isn’t that noticeable, but at night or during dusk, dawn, or while you are in a dark thunderstorm or in rainy hard-to-see conditions it is quite bright.

I trimmed the extra length of strap on mine (melting the ends with a lighter so it wouldn’t fray), and tucked the slight excess (don’t cut it too short if you will be wearing a bike cape, skull-cap, or insulated skull-cap under it at some point and need to adjust it larger, good to leave a little anyway) into the rubber ring so it didn’t flap.

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As I said above; the plastic shell over the styrofoam fits better and more snugly, and it seems to be nicely put together.  And even the velcro around the band seems to be installed better. Inside you will see lots of certifications and warnings (which you should see on any helmet you buy).

My Cycleaware Reflex helmet mirror fit on it just fine with a little adjustment to the positioning arm, though I may get the replacement kit for the replacement heavy-duty adhesive and to replace the mirror which is getting a little scratched.  Can’t say enough about having a mirror on the helmet, absolutely mandatory for me.

After many miles of riding the helmet seems to have conformed even more to my head like a second skin, no problems or issues with it.

Frankly, what else can I say about it?  It has the standard certifications, seems to be built well, fits nicely, and I really, really hope that I never have to see how well it REALLY does it’s job.

Good helmet it seems to me, I highly recommend it.  And if not this one – any helmet is better than none!


Marc M

I am a web developer and fitness geek, but I have a heck of a lot of differing interests.  Biking, the Internet, technology, movies, fitness, running and walking and hiking, science fiction, photography, graphics, WordPress, flying and aircrafts, pets and animals, history, and much more.  I like to stay very fit but I don’t mind sitting at my computer for work and play either.  I live in upstate New York (that’s far from New York City) in a rural area, yet close to a small city, with my beautiful awesome wife, a bunch of beloved cats and dogs and chickens in a very old multi-century house.

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