NOW, what do we have here? It’s the XFLOW mtb helmet, that’s what!
When it comes to purchasing MTB protection, the helmet has to be one of the most scrutinised of all items and it should be. Helmets protect the most precious part of our body…our brain. Without which, we couldn’t do anything at all, let alone ride a bike.
So, when it comes to helmets we need to be choosy, for good reasons. But let’s face it, there are so many to choose from and with advancements over the years in materials and impact absorption, prices are skyrocketing.
NOW or Nonstop On Wheels, are a relatively new brand out of the US, established in January 2014 and have been creating helmets for the road riding and urban scenes. But now, they’ve jumped straight into the world of off road mountain biking with the launch of their XFLOW helmet.
The XFLOW is a fully focused MTB helmet. It’s an open face design that offers many features we see in other popular brands. The XFLOW has a bold and angular design that grabs your attention. I think maybe the Lamborghini Huracán may have played a part with the inspiration of this helmet.
In terms of weight, it comes in at just a smidge over 300grams, compared to a Troy Lee A1 at 380grams (XS/S). So it’s on par in the weight department. We opted for the super-bright ‘Orange Matt’, but it comes in 5 other colours if orange isn’t your thing.
I have to admit, if I was to be picky, which I am, certain areas of the XFLOW felt a little rough in terms of finish and choice of components. The visor only has two side screws, so no centre support, it was also very small and not great against sun shade. The screws needed a flat head to tighten/loosen, so you can’t adjust with your fingers and some of the finish seemed a little rough where the liner meets the microshell, for example.
The XFLOW shares a lot of features we see in a lot of other helmets on the market. NOW have targeted the Enduro market with the XFLOW, giving it an edgy look, a ton of air vents and the wrap around section that protects the sides and lower part of the head, which we see in almost all open face designs these days.
The main construction of the XFLOW is a “Microshell” outer with a spiderweb airflow channel system that uses 26 vents plus multiple air channels inside the helmet to keep the air flowing. The XFLOW comes with a detachable visor and adjustable to two pre-set positions, a single handed quick-dial retention system and an anti-bacterial pads.
As you’ll see from the list below, the XFLOW doesn’t have an Australian standard, but it has been passed in both the US and Europe. I have been told by a representative of NOW, that they are currently applying for the Australian standard, so we should be expecting these to hit our shelves in the very near future.
- In-Mold High Performance EPS Liner & Microshell.
- 26 air vents.
- Detachable visor with two adjustable angles.
- Effective Stabilised Aerodynamic System Design.
- Designed and engineered to be super light weight.
- Spider Web Airflow Channel System.
- Easy Quick Dial Fitting System.
- Anti-Bacterial Cooling & Washable Liner Padding.
- Spare pads.
- Certifications: US CPSC and CE-EN 1078
- Sizing: S/M – L/XL
Fit and Comfort
Now unfortunately, this is where I have to mark the XFLOW down. The helmet sits a little too high and wide for my liking. There was a fair bit of space on the sides and rear of the helmet, so much so, I could push my fingers up between the inner and my skull, easily. It was about a centimetre either side.
The plastic straps that pull together when you adjust the dial on the rear of the helmet were thinner than my TLD A1, and this could be felt when it was tightened up. When comparing both, the TLD A1 just felt a lot more secure, due to the thicker straps.
Placing the XFLOW on my head, then swapping it back to my TLD A1, over and over again, only highlighted how different the internal shape was. I feel that NOW need to look at bringing the sides and rear of the helmet down a little for more protection, and also providing a narrower shape, one that cups the head, rather than sits on top.
Out On The Trails
Ok, so this is where the XFLOW comes into its own. It has 26 airvents all up and you can feel every one of them as you start to gather speed. The air vents also had an impact at a slower pace when climbing or just standing around chit chatting in the baking sun. I never felt that I needed to remove the helmet to cool down.
Although the fit wasn’t perfect for me, during the day the XFLOW was stable and I didn’t experience any slippage or wobble, even on the rough stuff. The rear adjuster dial was easy to adjust single handedly on the fly, even with gloves.
The internal padding is minimal but to be fair, the forehead section is better than my Troy Lee A1 with a thicker foam piece. However, I would like to see some additional padding added to either side of the retention system at the rear of the helmet, there was none here at all. Although it doesn’t touch the head when riding, it most certainly would on impact. There’s no MIPS (or similar) options right now for the XFLOW but let’s see what they do in the future.
Price/Where to Buy
Right now you can find out how to order Internationally from the NOW website but fingers crossed it won’t be too long before they hit our shores.
Price: $128.00 USD with free shipping.
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The XFLOW helmet is uber-lightweight, has fantastic airflow, looks impressive and shares many features with other much higher priced helmets on the market. For the first time in a new market, NOW have created a solid product. I’d like to see how they further develop their MTB helmets in regards to fine tuning the finish, the fit and adding impact absorption innovations like MIPS, in the future.
If this is NOW’s first foray into the world of MTB helmets, then we shall be keeping a very close eye on them. It’s a promising start.