IXS XULT DH HELMET REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston / Photos by Adam Lievesley
IXS has had an Xult helmet in their range for 6 years now with their original “Enduro Full-Face” offering that introduced a whole new category to the protection market. Since then, technologies and needs have developed and they have superseded it with their Trigger FF. This left a space in their product line for a flagship DH helmet, leading to the release of the Xult DH full face helmet that has a number of features that allowed IXS to knock off over 100g from the original Xult. How does this new helmet stack up in a competitive market of full-send helmets? The Eurowolf set about putting it to the test on some UK uplift days to find out.
The Xult DH has been created by IXS to offer both downhill racers and bike park shredders a full-face lid that is as protective as possible without ignoring the need for comfort in use. The shell is made from FRP (fiber-reinforced polymer) to reduce the overall bulk on top of the EPS liner, reducing the weight and size without skimping on protection. This has allowed them to shave the weight down to 997g for the ML size tested (actual). The effects of rotational impacts on the brain are reduced threefold, as the reduced weight and volume of the shell creates less forces to begin with, and Xmatter and Xrail technologies are present to absorb the forces that are produced and allow for a degree of multi-directional movement in a similar style to a MIPS liner. There’s an EPP jaw guard in place that is rated to the typical downhill standards whilst remaining lightweight and is claimed to be safe for multiple impacts. Interconnected Vortex ventilation channels promote airflow through the helmet to keep the head cool in use, and anti-fog ports are present on the brow to reduce the likelihood of goggle fogging. The Ventimesh moisture wicking padding is removable for washing and has an ergonomic design with different thicknesses offered to tailor the fit of the snap-in cheek pads. The visor is made from FRP and has a full range of adjustment as well as being flexible to reduce snagging in a crash. Rounding out the features are the “strap stop” silicon gripper pad on the rear of the helmet to help a goggle strap stick firmly in place, and a classic double-d closure to tighten it up. The IXS Xult DH is available in 3 shell sizes to suit 53-62cm heads, comes in 3 colors and retails for £305 /$319.99 /€329.99.
In typical downhill helmet fashion, pulling the Xult Dh over my ears for the first time proved to be a similar experience to how I imagine it felt being born, but once on the head it fits snug without any pressure points and that reassuring downhill helmet cushion. The ML size with a 57-59cn range does have a particularly small entry opening that won’t suit all head shapes, but once on the profile feels quite average and true-to-size. The shell is certainly of a lower profile than the direction many of the full-bore downhill lids are going, sharing a closer silhouette to a breathable full-face than a moto lid. Pairing this to the relatively light weight, you would be forgiven for assuming this is either less protective or without the sort of protective features such as MIPS that competitive downhill lids may offer. However, this is likely not the case, and simply a combination of IXS’s efforts to reduce overall shell size for weight and protective reasons, as well as their low-profile Xmatter/Xrail rotational and low-velocity impact protection systems. The double-d closure works like you’d expect, but I found the button for securing the loose bit of strap was tucked away a little too much under the chin bar, and required a bit of fiddling to get it popped in. Nothing major, but worth a mention. I’m a big fan of the looks of the Xult DH, with enough aggression to look fast without going too far.
At low trail speeds, the airflow isn’t great through the Xult DH, and there’s the usual hot head feeling from the cushy padding that gives extra notions of safety against the skull. Once you’re moving though, the venting system does a good job of exhausting hot air and keeping the head acceptably cool for a full-bore lid, and you can feel the brow venting working too to help clear goggles of the inevitable fog on a humid day. The venting on the chin guard does a reasonable job at reducing the “hot breath” sensation that plagues most downhill helmets, but not quite to the extent of an enduro full face like their Trigger FF. Unlike some helmets with rotational slip plane systems, the Xult DH was as solid as can be on my head, through rough terrain or head-bouncing hucks. The goggle strap holder isn’t something I’d ever considered necessary, but you can tell it’s doing something as soon as you try to slide the goggle strap down onto it, requiring a bit of a “lift” to get the strap to sit centrally. When it comes to racing, distractions like a shifting goggle could be the difference between a ranking spot, so things like this can be more valuable than they seem. The visor adjusts between positions, but I found the adjustment range to be a little off – you can’t tilt it particularly far down to block the sun if required but could easily be tilted up to a ridiculous level. My only explanation for this would be to store some goggles up there, but as a helmet intended for DH use mainly, I question the need for this. Nonetheless, it doesn’t do a great deal of harm to have the option. Through 10 big days riding ranging from sweltering heat through to cold and rainy, the padding has done a great job at fending off any buildup of smell or deterioration, and aside from a few scrapes and rubs to the paintwork, there’s little to say the Xult has been abused. There’s no ignoring that decidedly top-end price tag, but the performance is there to just about justify it.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The IXS Xult DH helmet is a competitive offering in the full-bore head protection field. A low profile and weight add to the protective features to produce a comfortable lid for charging hard in the gnarliest terrain.
Price: £305 /$319.99 /€329.99
Weight: 997g (ML, actual)