MET have re-designed their Parachute helmet to better suit enduro racing, which might sound odd given that it appears to be yet another full face helmet, but there's more to it than that. A helmet placed properly on the head and with the buckle closed (sorry, no full face helmets tilted up) is mandatory for most European events, and remember that full faces lids are usually compulsory for the timed stages, which leaves you with two choices: a standard DH helmet for the entire race, or carrying a half shell lid for liaisons and a full face for the descents. If you decide to race in Italy, Southern France or Spain, you'll likely be facing rising temperatures during the day and may find yourself wishing for a regular helmet when climbing to the next stage, but taking both brings with it disadvantages: extra weight and added stress when you arrive with seconds to spare and need to switch lids. Plus, many riders don't fancy heading down the hill with another helmet on their back in case of a crash - picture landing on your back and how your spine could curve over the rigid, round lump that's strapped to your pack. MET's Parachute aims to find a middle ground, though, by offering close to half face helmet ventilation and comfort, but with full face protection and rule compliance.
The Parachute has some great propaganda supplied with it. The "Homothethic Embedded Skeleton" construction is said to spread the pressure that builds up at the point of impact and then dissipate the force across the whole shell. And the front part of the retention system uses a '02 Gel' instead instead of fabric, which is claimed to be "Hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial, made from thermo-stabilising polyurethane morpho-gel. Keeps the forehead cooler."
The Parachute is only available in medium and large sizes, which instantly puts a few customers out of the equation, but the sizing guide suggests these two options will cover any head size from 54 - 62cm. It's supplied with two sizes of cheek pads, and the retention system gives a wider range of fit than a standard full face helmet. There are three colours to choose from: matte black/red, orange/cyan or matte white/silver. So how much does all of the above add up to? At 700 grams for a medium size, the Parachute is the lightest certified full face on the market, and it retails for $299 USD. It also meets EN 1078, AS/NZ 2063, CPSC 1203 and ASTM F1952-2032 standards, so you should be covered anywhere you plan to race with it on. www.met-helmets.com
|The Parachute fits snug for its size, and the retention system keeps it secure at all times, which means that it certainly won't rock back and forth on you like a bobble head when things get rough. What it doesn't do, though, is offer the same kind of comfort as a well padded full face, with the shell feeling quite hard against your skull in spots. While a more traditional full face has an all-encompassing sort of connection to your head, the Parachute differs by using channels to move air through places that would otherwise be filled with foam and padding on a standard full face. And just how well vented is the Parachute? I was pleasantly surprised during the first ride when I was thinking to myself "my head's still pretty warm in this thing," until I took it off and there was barely a noticeable change in temperature. The Parachute may be the ideal enduro race helmet, meeting all the criteria for a long day in the saddle without the need to take two helmets or face having a head hotter than the centre of the earth. As well as fitting the bill for race day, it's comfy enough for any day when you want to keep your chin intact. That said, I'm not a fan of the very Euro-centric styling, and neither were my riding compatriots - my self-esteem took a beating after much ridicule - but it's well worth the heckling when the temps are high and you still want to feel protected. - Paul Aston|