Our newest contributor to the site is Sierra van der Meer. Sierra lives and rides up in the Yukon, so we thought she’d be a perfect candidate to test out the Ruroc Helmet System for us. You can enjoy more of Sierra’s words and pictures at http://northsixty.com/
Imagine driving to work on a dark winter morning. Coffee cup in hand, you’re listening to the radio as you creep along in traffic when suddenly Darth Vader blows past, riding at light speed on her Fatback bicycle.
My first thought when testing out the RuRoC RG-1 helmet is – “Luke, I am your father.” The comparisons are unavoidable.
Granted, most snow bikers aren’t looking for a helmet that’s good for Comic-Con. The true test is how the RuRoC fares when you put intergalactic warfare aside and just concentrate on riding.
The RuRoC is an integrated helmet system that includes a hard outer shell, goggles and a chin mask. It was designed in the Canadian Rockies for snowboarding and skiing – and they didn’t have the bunny hill in mind.
The helmet comes in classic matte colors, subtle and free from large decals or obnoxious coloring. If you like it loud, consider it to be a blank canvas, ready to be personalized with stickers and reflective tape you want to add.
The first thing you need to know about this helmet is that it’s small: In most helmets I wear a small size but the medium/large RuRoC fit me snugly. For this particular helmet, fit is extremely important. Even if the outer shell fits, there is no guarantee the goggles or chin mask will line up properly. For me, the goggles sat halfway down my nose, which left my chin in the wrong spot. Every time I opened my mouth to do my best Sith Lord imitation, I’d hit it on the plastic chin mask.
The other thing to know about the RuRoC is that it’s hot! For those of us in Northern Canada this isn’t such a bad thing. The helmet was more than sufficient in -15C (5 F) weather and did great in an impromptu blustery blizzard. I’m sure it could handle far colder temperatures but happily I didn’t get a chance to test that out. The goggles are great in the cold weather, but the chin mask doesn’t do much to help keep you warm. It’s effective as a wind block, but an insulating scarf or facemask is far better than the plastic mask when the temperatures drop.
My favorite part of the RuRoC was the goggles. I’ve tried wearing goggles on a few bike rides but have always given up early because of fog. Despite my husband’s adamant belief that no goggle can remain unfogged, I had no issues at all. The opportunity to race down singletrack without having to blink away tears and snowflakes was super fun. Even though they didn’t fit perfectly, the benefits of the goggles far outweighed the slight annoyance.
The RuRoC was clearly designed as a more full-face alternative to a regular snowboarding helmet. As such, I felt it was my obligation as a product tester to have at least one catastrophic riding failure followed by dramatic wipe-out.
On a small jump, I planted my front tire deep into powder snow, resulting in a slow motion endo face first into the snow. Not only did the mask and goggles save me from a nasty face wash, the helmet successfully protected the back of my head from a cart wheeling bike.
Unfortunately, slamming my face into the snow was the only time that the chin mask portion was beneficial. I didn’t like having the chin mask attached while pedaling. Even when not trying to imitate Darth Vader, the chin mask had every breath sounding like a surround sound version of Star Wars. I found it distracting and almost disheartening to have my breathing efforts amplified. However, the chin mask is easy to take on and off and although it annoyed me in most situations, I’d happily snap it in if I was planning to try out some jumps or drops.
At the end of the day, while the RuRoC will be more helmet than most snow bikers need, I can’t dismiss its potential. Four years ago, when I got my first fat bike, riding on wide snowmobile trails was the norm. Since then, I’ve migrated to more singletrack and the braver amongst us are riding stunts and big jumps.
If more gravity fed or free ride snow biking becomes popular, the RuRoC could just be the perfect helmet. The force is strong with this one.