IPMBA Product Review

iXS Trail RS Scores a Hat-Trick

by Mitch Trujillo, PCI #244T/EMSCI #248T, Boulder (CO) Police Department

I was seeking a helmet that provided “fit, form, and function”.  After several brand trials, I could only get two out of the three.  Some models had style and were functional, but lacked fit.  Others had a good fit, but lacked sufficient venting (function).

My quest led me to that pioneer of extreme mountain biking and past IPMBA conference-presenter, Hans Rey.  Hans has been wearing an iXS brand helmet for some time, and steered me toward his contact at iXS Switzerland, who in turn put me in contact with the US counterpart.  I had never heard of iXS, but I was intrigued enough to arrange a field test of the new Trail RS model. 

This article will attempt to answer the burning question:  “is the helmet worth its $120 price tag?”  The Trail RS was subjected to rigorous field testing – including exposure to extensive patrol rides, training, heat, cold, and rain – oh, and a few minor dings.

Fit

Sizing:  The Trail RS comes in two sizes – SM (small-medium, 54-58cm) and ML (medium-large, 58-62cm), determined by measuring the head’s crown circumference, mid-forehead.  I opted for the SM, which I found true to size.  The Trail RS settled on my average-shaped head with no discomfort, though I’d recommend going to the larger size if you ever plan on wearing a doo-rag or skull cap.  There’s no rear port for a pony-tail, but there’s room to route one below the adjustment dial.

Adjustments:  To produce a snug fit, the helmet utilizes a “Head Ring” and a simple dial to adjust for vertical and horizontal fit.  The ring allows three vertical positions to get proper tilt mid-forehead.  The dial was easy to turn with a gloved hand while riding.  The pair of “Y-Clip” buckles secured the helmet straps just below the ears (with no creeping).  The straps enter ports along the lower rim of the helmet, allowing enough of a gap for slipping in glasses.

Form

Styling:  iXS is a sportswear and protective gear company that can trace its origins back to a bicycle shop in 1906.  In the 1980’s, the iXS company became focused on motorcycles, and motorcycle clothing.  iXS Sports Division began to produce bike wear in 2001, and helmets shortly thereafter.  The style is influenced by their history and current MTB helmet trends. 

Appearance:  The Trail RS exudes motocross influence with the MX style visor.  Its namesake, pro MTB rider Richie Schley, helped to design the RS for the majority of disciplines of mountain biking.  The profile is rounded, with no points to snag if you crash.  The helmet sits lower in the back, providing extended coverage to the back of the head. 

The shell is a “Dual In-Mold”, a fancy term meaning that there is additional shell wrap material around the EPS-injected foam liner at the lower edge of the lid.  This produces a professional finish and protects against inevitable dings.  The Trail RS is offered in patrol-friendly matte colors - black, blue, green, grey, and white.  There seems to be enough room on the sides for small police, fire, EMS, security, or IPMBA decals.

Function

Inside:  The “Ventmesh Nylon” padding was effective in absorbing sweat, due in part to the 22 large, angled vents that channeled great air flow.  Those in hot environments will appreciate this!  Conversely, a liner may be needed in colder temps.  There is no bug net attached to the padding in the front, which should be included, given the price and size of the vents (a minor quibble, although I’m sure I could even fasten a net myself).

Upside:  Up top, the RS is camera- or light-mount compatible.  There are ports positioned perfectly facing top-forward that allow mounting straps.

The visor is flexible, adjustable and break-free.  It is less pronounced then some competitors, perhaps more so than others.  I found it effective in deflecting glare, snags from low branches, windblown debris, and rain.  I found no interference from a prone shooting position.  There are no sharp edges to it.

Below deck:  The chin strap cover was soft and lightly padded but barely large enough to cover the buckle which I had to position directly below my chin (I suggested enlarging the cover slightly to iXS; they were open to the criticism but it remains to be seen if they do it.).  This, along with the absence of a bug net, was one of the only small nits to pick with the Trail RS. 

Technical:  The RS is labeled 330g, and listed in the literature at +/- 310g.  On my scale, the size SM was actually 317g, which is very reasonable, and lighter than much of its competition.

The Trail RS is CPSC-certified, and conforms to Europe’s CE EN1078.  The helmet is recyclable, and like many helmets, made in China.

Final Billing

My search for fit, form and function ended with the iXS Trail RS helmet.  The iXS Trail RS was so comfortable I literally would forget I was wearing it.  I received many compliments on its styling and professional good-looks.  I had quite a few knocks and dings during the test, yet the helmet deflected these and remains unharmed.  So, is the iXS Trail RS worth paying $120?  My answer is, “YES, perhaps at the drop of a hat.”

I would recommend checking out the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website (http://www.helmets.org) when doing your homework on helmets.  iXS is not yet on the Product Purchase Program.  Visit http://www.ixs.com/sports or contact the US office, The Gravity Cartel, at victor@thegravitycartel.com or 360-952-2363 for more information.

Hope this is helpful.  Ride safe.  Stay thirsty, my friends!

Trail RS Helmet Specs

  • Full in-mould coverage for optimized absorption and weight
  • Aeration system with 22 large vents and internal air channels
  • Adjustable bolt system MX style visor, optimized
  • Flexibility and full visual field
  • Crash release visor
  • Dual-Compound dial adjuster
  • Ergo-Fit Ultra, fully flexible and adjustable retention system
  • Dual-Compound head ring for highest comfort and optimized fit
  • Dual-In-mould, lower 360-degree in-mould shell to prevent from damage
  • Y-Clip adjustable strap system
  • Ratchet safety closure
  • SM (54-58cm), ML (58-62cm)
  • EN1078 & CPSC certified
  • Weight:  +/- 320g

source: www.ixs.com/sports

Mitch is a law enforcement professional in Boulder, CO; an IPMBA Instructor Trainer; former Education Director & Board Member; and IMBA National Mountain Bike Patroller.  He is also the director of MTB Responder, LLC.  

(c) 2014 IPMBA.  This review appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of IPMBA News.

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