We saw product shots of the new Xult full face helmet from iXS when they introduced it at the start of the summer. But now at Eurobike we had a chance to get one in our hands to check out its fit and promised cross-over nature. The idea behind it was to develop a full face that could be ridden up the hill for Enduros, then down the other side like a DH helmet. The looks are certainly there, especially with the colorful Cedric Gracia special edition, but do we think the lightness and ventilation are up to the task.
Hop past the break to see what stood out to us, plus a look at two revised knee protection options and their recycled plastic clothing…
Well at €350 we kinda had hoped that the Xult would be lighter than it’s claimed 1100g. Having more than a kilo strapped to your head pedaling both up and down will definitely wear on you all day. But it does seem that the helmet will really make up for it in the ventilation department. When I picked up the helmet, it really was an openness that jumped out. Inside the helmet gets pretty deep channels for air flow that also means less area directly in contact with the head, which should help. And the overall wicking inner padding has large mesh sections to let air and heat move away, too. The helmet has a cozy feel though, so it isn’t like you aren’t going to sweat in it, but it does seem like it will be manageable. All of those vents, especially in the front it seems, apparently did make to harder to keep the strength high, so without resorting to more exotic (read: full carbon) construction and with it an even higher price, the Xult looks to justify its cross-over tag.
IXS were also showing off a new €90 softshell set of pads, led by their Carve Evo knee protection. Dropping the hardshell makes them a bit lighter and a lot more breathable, but the bigger improvement is more flexibility that should make them more suitable to wear longer, like in Enduro events. They get a “smart” perforated Xmatter pad that has a high energy absorbing open cell foam with a slow rebound that maximizes protection while staying relatively thin. The Carve Evos also get a full mesh back, standard foam padding to the inside and outside of the knee, and two LoopLock velcro straps to help keep them in place. A trimmed down Trail version developed with input from Hans Rey called the Flow gets the same tech but is shorter, really just covering the knee cap for €60.
The €80 Dagger hardshell knee pads, which were first introduced a couple of years ago, get an updated design for more riding comfort. They keep the Squeezebox that links the rigid upper and lower guards while allowing freedom of movement pedaling, but they pare down the extension on the back of the leg above the knee, saving some weight as well as getting better freedom of movement.
Besides making protective gear IXS makes a lot of clothing as well, and prides itself on the fact that their jerseys and shorts are made with fabrics derived from recycled PET plastic bottles. So even those DH World Champion stripes of Gee Atherton started out as a water bottle. Their display showed the equivalent 1kg of source bottle, the 1kg of ground up PET flakes, and teh resulting 1kg of 4 finished jerseys. So that’s about 10 recycled bottles to 1 new long sleeve DH jersey. And iXS doesn’t just do adult kit, they have a full gravity range for the little groms too, even on this their top DH race €60 Pivot 6.1 jersey and €100 Vertic 6.2 pants.
It’s not just DH gear either, there is a Freeride clothing range for men, women, and kids based on 3/4 length sleeves. With Rachel Atherton working with iXS on development and as a brand ambassador, the women’s range is quite strong, plus there will be another set of rainbow stripes for 2016.
And then there is a Trail range that includes straight-cut, tech tee-style tops, and these more slim fit €60 1/2 zip trail jerseys with a single zipped rear pocket and baggy shorts for both men and women. IXS also does a good range of simple light DH, Freeride, and Trail gloves too. These BC-X3.1 backcountry gloves were a mainstay last year for the guys, but branch out to women and kids this year and get a whole new range of color options (11 in total!) The €30 are a simple mesh backed slip-on affair with a synthetic leather palm and reinforced finger tips.