Monday, 25 September 2017

First Look | 2018 Norco Ithaqua 2S



In 2017, Canadian based Norco introduced the fatbike world to their carbon fatbike . . . the Ithaqua. There were three flavors available (6.1, 6.2 and 6.3) each one sporting the same carbon frame with differing components. The frame featured the same Power Chassis as Norco's cross country race bikes with the ability to run up to 5" fattie tires.

For 2018 Norco is back with four models of Ithaqua:

Ithaqua 2 - 1 x 11, SRAM Level brakes, Shimano shifting, TranzX dropper post, Mulfut 80 with Juggernaughts and carbon fork.


Source: Norco

Ithaqua 2S - Same components as Ithaqua 2, but with Manitou Mastadon 100 Pro front suspension.


Source: Norco

Ithaqua 1 - 1 x 12 Eagle, SRAM Level TL brakes, SRAM drivetrain, Crank Brothers dropper post, Mulfut 80 with Juggernaughts and carbon fork.


Source: Norco

Ithaqua SL - 1 x 11, SRAM Level Ultimate brakes, Shimano/RF drivetrain, RF Next SL seatpost, HED Big Deal carbon rims with Juggernaughts and a carbon fork.


Source: Norco

After hearing about the new Manitou Mastadon being mounted to the IthaquaFatbike Republic reached out to the folks at Norco and secured a Ithaqua 2S for some real world dirt and snow testing.

And here is a video walk around of this blue beast . . . 


For those not interested in the flavor of carbon, Norco also carries a fine selection of alloy fatties in the Sasquatch and Bigfoot lines.


Source: Norco

I'm looking forward to putting some serious dirt, rocks, snow and ice under the Ithaqua 2S.  It will be interesting to see how Gravity Tune, Power Chassis and other Norco tech meshes with the Mastadon and translates into real world riding.  

I'm also curious to see how this carbon fattie compares to the alloy fatties that I have ridden and currently ride.

Stay tuned and ride fat!




Sunday, 10 September 2017

Giro Montaro MIPS | A Sweet Trail Helmet


A recent crash and resulting trip to the hospital got me thinking about personal fatbike safety and I shared my thoughts in my blog post Fatbiking Safety | The Unexpected Crash.

The most important piece of safety equipment that you can wear while fatbiking is a helmet. You go into any LBS or search on-line and you will find a plethora of skid lids to protect your brain from unintentional impacts. Many helmets spout different types of technology, manufacturing techniques, and improved safety features. And prices can range from quite affordable to crazy expensive.

As a result of my experience I reached out to the good folks at Giro and they sent along a MIPS equipped Montaro for review here on Fatbike Republic.

Buying a Fatbike Helmet

When purchasing a helmet, the main goal is to protect your head and the gray matter inside. Impacts can be from branches infringing on the trail to full on OTB situations. In this respect, helmets are like an insurance policy where you hope you never have to collect.

Many LBS carry a good selection of low-mid priced helmets in a handful of popular colors that will protect your noggin. However, helmets generally get more expensive the nicer they look and the more features they tout. So the balancing of aesthetics, price and features can be an issue at times.

It's highly recommended that you actually try on a helmet before you buy it. This is to ensure sizing and comfort. It seems that each manufacturer has a slightly different sizing chart and method for the perfect placement of the foam padding. It is entirely possibly that a more expensive “flashier” helmet will not fit you as well and not feel as comfortable as a less expensive one. There is nothing more irritating than an uncomfortable helmet on a long ride.

As fatbikes are a four season deal, you should also remember the need for a little extra room for a hat or balaclava to stave off the winter cold.

And if you happen to be looking for more information on bike helmets check out www.helmets.org.

About the Montaro

This is what the folks at Giro have to say about the Montaro MIPS . . .

From long climbs to rowdy, technical descents, the Montaro™ MIPS helmet inspires your ride no matter where the trail takes you. Its compact shape offers deep, confident coverage, and the Roc Loc® Air fit system boosts ventilation while improving fit. In addition to this helmet’s already impressive cooling power, it’s outfitted with hydrophilic, anti-microbial pads that can absorb up to ten-times their weight in sweat. We designed the Montaro MIPS to have full goggle integration, with strap grippers on the back of the helmet, and a P.O.V. Plus™ visor that allows you to lift the visor and place your goggles on the front of the helmet. Yet another great feature is the full camera mount integration – a clever break-away interface for your favorite light or camera.

Features of the Montaro MIPS include:

  • MIPS equipped
  • P.O.V. Plus visor adjustment
  • Hydrophilic, anti-microbial padding
  • Full camera mount integration
  • Roc Loc® Air fit system
  • Roll-cage reinforcement
MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) - This helmet technology is designed to reduce rotational forces from certain types of helmet impacts. Learn more about MIPS in this video.

P.O.V. PLUS – Allows you raise the visor and place your goggles (if you wear goggles) on the front of the helmet.

HYDROPHILIC PADDING – This padding helps to manage your sweat while riding by absorbing up to 10 times its weight in water. In addition, the X-Static antimicrobial lining helps to reduce odor.

FULL CAMERA MOUNT INTEGRATION – A plastic helmet insert allows the mounting of “GoPro” style cameras without the need for aftermarket mounts.

ROC LOC AIR FIT SYSTEM – This patented technology actually keeps the helmet suspended slightly above your head and allows for increased airflow. The single knob adjuster allows you to custom fit the helmet in seconds with one hand.

ROLL CAGE REINFORCEMENT – A web, moulded inside the helmet’s EPS foam liner helps the helmet to hold together under impact, and provides an extra measure of strength and integrity.

Unboxing

The Montaro MIPS is a new helmet for 2017 from the folks over at Giro. Reviewing the list of features and MSRP ($150) I would consider it a mid-high range bike helmet.


It arrived in an industry standard two piece box with instruction booklet, action camera attachment and descriptive tags attached to the helmet.


Dropping the Montaro on the sales the size large weighs in at 378g.  This is pretty much in the same ballpark as the other low-mid range helmets in my inventory.  The advanced technology does not appear to add any additional weight.


The color I received is called Matte Titanium/Flame . . . there are actually seven colors to choose from.  The Montaro MIPS is also one sharp looking helmet with its proportionally sized visor, sharp color scheme and plenty of well placed vents . . . 16 to be exact.



Things start to get really interesting when you turn over the helmet and get a peek inside. The suspended "lattice" is the heart of the Roc Loc Air Fit System, which is complimented by strategically placed padding to ensure that your cranium is well protected.


So the moment of truth . . . how does it fit? I used the sizing chart and instructions on the Giro site to select the appropriate size. Dropping the Montaro MIPS on my head, adjusting the “lattice” with the rear button and tightening the chin strap . . . it fit like a glove. The helmet actually felt like it was floating above my head with zero points of contact. 


This was the MOST comfortable helmet that I have ever strapped to my head. Over the years I have tried on many different styles, brands and price points and there has always been something that did not feel right. Not so with the Montaro MIPS.

Before I hit the trail I installed the supplied action camera mount. This plastic insert, formed to fit in the upper rear vent, is designed to fit ‘GoPro” styled camera mounts. 


I did find that the insert was a little finicky when first installing as there was no mating plastic sleeve for the insert to slide into. The insert is held in place by the release catch that rests inside the helmet foam and grips the helmet shell. There were no issues with fitment after the initial install.

On The Trail

So how does the Montaro MIPS feel on the trail . . . one word . . . amazing! It does not matter if you are taking a quick spin down the trail or a full-day excursion, the Montaro MIPS was super comfortable. It felt like I was not even wearing a helmet.


The vents kept my head cool during short and long climbs and while doing extended gravel grinds. And the anti-microbial treatment did seem to work as I did not get any of that funky helmet smell after multiple sweaty uses.



The action camera insert did not move and it held the SJ6 Legend in place during all sorts of vigorous fatbiking activity.  And while not tested in winter mode, there is plenty of room to wear my favorite balaclava when it gets cold. 



Did I have the opportunity to actually test the Montaro MIPS in any crash situations? Thankfully no . . . crashing once is enough for me. But based on the extensive testing that Giro does on its helmets I trust that it will do its intended job when then time arrives.

Final Thoughts


Since receiving this helmet for review, the other helmets in my inventory have been collecting dust.  

The Roc Loc Air Fit System and padding placement make this one comfortable helmet.  I also find the integrated camera mount very convenient.  And the MIPS system is an extra level of protection that I hope I will never have to use.

Giro have certainly brought their A game when designing this helmet.  Be sure to check out the Montaro MIPS next time you are looking for a new bucket to wear on your fatbiking adventures.

Stay tuned as Fatbike Republic also takes a closer look at the convertible Giro Switchblade.

Get Fat !