Within a few hundred meters the sound of cars on the 261 has died away. I just left this road that runs from Stockholm past the royal domain Drottningholm only to bend south, so that the through traffic will mainly ignore the island of Lovön. I won’t be doing that though. The route that I have found will take me around the island. The trail that I will be following runs over rocks and endless tree roots, through light gray-green birch forests, dark stretches of pine and sections of oak and birch that grow densely over the trail.
The terrain is technical, challenging, unknown to me and with the twilight that will start in one hour I have to ride with alert and focussed. In addition to the stony and irregular underground, the trees grow close to the path. All the more reason to wear the Gringo de la Pampa MTB helmet, in the most “hard core” version. Namely with face mask / chin guard and goggles.It will turn out to be an amazing ride.
It is not the first time that I am wearing the helmet; I have been using it for two months now, from XC routes in the Netherlands, warm rides in the Belgian Arcdennes, via steep climbs and descents in Chamonix at 35 degrees, to here in Sweden. The day before yesterday a rainy ride in Kullaberg and now just outside Stockholm. Where nature is so close and powerful that you imagine yourself in the middle of nowhere, just 20 minutes outside of Stockholm’s suburbs.
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A modular helmet
The most striking thing about this helmet is the fact that it is a kind of hybrid or modular one. You can use it both as a regular “open face” trail helmet, and as a full face mask helmet for sketchier and more technical conditions.
The chin guard is very easy to attach and detach. You do have to put some force to attach the chin gaurd to the helmet. This is done in two steps, where in the first step you place two hinge buttons in the corresponding slots and have to press firmly until you hear a dull click. Then the hinge point is fixed and you click the chin guard fast in the helmet with two spring hooks.
I do wonder how well the hinge system will respond over time to the friction of clicking in and out of the chin gaurd. If it does wear the link could become less tight. But only time will tell. For now the chin gaurd feels really well connected to the helmet.
If you do ride with a small backpack, you keep in mind that the loose chin guard will probably not fit in it. It is quite a large item. So it is a good idea to decide in advance, depending on your ride, whether you want to wear the chin guard.
Due to its versatility, the helmet itself is already a sustainable option. Simply because you don’t need to buy two helmets. In addition, sustainability, according to their own words, is in the DNA of Urge Bike Products. Urge is a French brand that focuses entirely on making Bike helmets. The “Gringo” in the name of the helmet has nothing to do with the somewhat deprecating term which white foreigners where/are called from Mexico to the deep south pampa’s of Argentina. It is pronounced as “Green-go” and hocus pocus presto, a nod to Urge’s Eco principles. 80% of the material in their helmets is made from recycled material. In a number of models they even use flax/linen fibers (Linum usitatissimum) instead of glass or carbon fibers. I always enjoy when companies try to find smarter and greener materials to make better and more sustainable choices. It is worth reading href=”https://www.urgebike.com/index.php?fc=module&module=ph_simpleblog&sb_category=our-values&rewrite=environmentally-friendly&controller=single&id_lang=9″>about this on the Urge site. te lezen.
The material of which the helmet is made feels very strong high quality. It is made “in mold” whereby the EPS (expanded polystyrene) is fused directly to the hard shell under pressure, with heat and steam. The helmet is made of EPS, a single impact material that absorbs the energy of a crash (so that the full force doesn’t reach your head) by deforming and remaining deformed.
That means that you do have to replace the helmet after a major crash because with that deformation of the EPS, it cannot properly absorb impact a second time. Not a very sustainable unfortunately. The option of using EPP (more expensive) as a multi impact option is more expensive, but also more sustainable.
Urge has a crash replacement program where you can get a 50% discount on a comparable replacement helmet with a broken helmet up to 5 years old.
I have not fallen very hard with the helmet, but i did take three tumbles one of which with a hard impact where I think I did hit the ground with the helmet, but not very hard. So I can’t determining from personal experience how good it is in a crash, but it has all the standard European, American and Australian/New Zeeland, safety certificates. The face mask feels strong, with flex and not completely rigid, and I have the feeling that it can handle most impacts. The padding on the cheeks and cheekbones give the helmet a firm fit on your face. That feels good and protective.
Wearing comfort and ventilation
The helmet is comfortable to wear. It has an adjustable ring system so that you can properly fit the helmet to your head size. That is an essential point to any helmet. It needs to fit snug (not to tight) and remain in place under any circumstance. You can remove the padding on the inside and wash it if you want. There is no MIPS system in this helmet. Urge does have other helmets in the line-up with this system. The helmet is very well ventilated, from face mask, through the visor to the helmet, the air flows well through large vents. Even at really hot temperatures you don’t sweat excessively. When using goggles (from POC) in combination with the helmet I had more problems with that.
The chin guard never hinders your breathing, and the open mouthpiece even allows you to easily drink from a water bottle. If you prefer a closed mouth area, then the Gringo de La Sierra is the option. Basically the same helmet, but with grid for the mouth.
The helmet visor has the characteristic Urge hole in it. I have searched hard (also online) but it seems to have no other function than to be noticed. It didn’t bother me, the sun does not peek through it or something like that. However I do think that it contribute to the flex in the visor. Unlike visors on almost all other MTB helmets, the visor on this helmet is very flexible. The idea behind that is, that if you fall, the visor won’t catch on anything which might cause your head to be pulled or snapped back in a direction you are not falling. Bending in stead of breaking so to speak.
I already noticed it on my ride in Kullaberg, over steep descents on a rainy day where rocks where wet and slippery: the chin guard really gives an extra feeling of safety. An additional advantage of this set-up is that on wilder trails, which aren’t kept too well, branches and leaves can encroach upon the trail. Even more so on wet and rainy days, and as I charge through them at speed, I am happy my face is also well protected. With the chin guardand goggles I can handle just about everything that the nature of Lovön puts in my path. I feel relaxed, free, ride free, and when the evening finally sets in and I leave the trail to ride back to Stockholm, I stop for a moment to take of my goggles, detach the face mask and store both in my (spacious) backpack.
The Urge Gringo de la Pampa is a very versatile, sustainably produced, comfortable helmet that can be used in almost any MTB condition. The full facemask option gives extra protection and a sense of safety that can give you that little bit more relaxation on the trail to really ride the mountain freely.
The purchase price of € 149 for this two-in-one helmet is very reasonable. The helmet is available in 3 color combinations. The golden black one is the most bad-ass look in my opinion!