100% are well-known for their uber-fly, quality sunglasses. But, they also offer a range of helmets, clothing, goggles, gloves and protection on the mountain biking side of the spectrum. This all spawns from the brand’s motocross roots. It makes sense that they’ve taken learnings from the mountain bike space and brought it over to gravel.
The Altis already exists as a mountain bike lid, but the gravel version is slightly different. Firstly, they’ve done away with the peak - good move! Secondly, they’ve shaved weight and improved air channeling through the front-facing vents. Actually, whilst we’re on it, there’s fourteen vents in total. To properly protect your noggin’, there’s Smartshock rotational impact protection system with 11 elastomers, the same adjustable ratcheting fitment system and the same Nexus push release snap-buckle. There’s the same coverage as their mountain bike version which, in my humble opinion, makes sense as gravel riding pushes into mountain biking quite often. Personally, I think the more the protection the better.
I’ve had the lid under review for just shy of a month now and have liked the fit and overall comfort. It does sit a little higher on my head, but I’ll discuss that more shortly. Its ‘zero fuss’ approach makes it shine, with a Nexus push release snap buckle that is dead easy to use as well as comfortable, and sits nicely against the chin thanks, in part, to the unique strap design. There’s also an adjustable ratchet system at the rear of the lid. I did find that the front of the helmet ran quite low down the forehead, which does take a little bit of getting used to - this is due to the added coverage of the lid.
On the ‘gravel’ road, the ventilation does a great job of keeping your head cool. The weather has been (slowly) getting better and on those warmer days it has performed well. It’s not a full aero lid, nor should it be. I think this category is more about comfort, coverage and, of course, style. But that’s subjective right?! Personally, I like the design aesthetic; I had the grey colour, which perfectly matched my bike. Over the past few years, riders have been wearing more relaxed clothes for riding on mixed terrain. So, having a helmet that’s not too overstated makes sense. 100% know a thing or two about sunglasses, so they’ve made a docking station at the rear of the helmet for you to park them when you don’t need ‘em - a neat feature that’s not totally unique but having them at the rear makes sense when you’re on tighter trails or a harsh gravel road. Perhaps, most importantly, there’s adequate protection there if you need it.
Back onto why it sits a little higher on the head – well, my head at least. I think this may be down to the Smartshock Rotational System, which is essentially an elastomer suspension system with eleven points of contact inside the helmet. Each elastomer works together to fully suspend the shell from the rider’s head, help absorb energy, and slow down forces from oblique angular impacts. 100% has also added extra pad thicknesses for the liner, and what’s even better is that they’re washable and anti-microbial.
Perhaps the low price for the high style is the standout. Along with that, you’ve got plenty of protection packed into this lid. Of course, the extra coverage is something to get used to, this is because we don’t see ‘road’ helmets with this amount of coverage. For me, the fit, comfort and added space for stowing your shades gets a high score from me. The subtle style pairs with anything, from a full Lycra kit to a flannel shirt and cut-off jean shorts.
Distributor: FE Sports
Reviewed: Liam Friary
Photography: Cameron Mackenzie