The Alpina Rootage Evo helmet offers good protection and shrugs off small knocks with aplomb. It is fairly heavy though and you will need to adjust the fit to keep it in place. While it's not as accomplished when it comes to aesthetics or overall safety as some of its rivals in the best mountain bike helmet space, it's an affordable option many will find attractive.
- When should you replace your bicycle helmet?
- The best mountain bike helmets you can buy for under £100
The best mountain bike handlebar grips you can buy - tried and tested
Alpina Rootage Evo - Technical details
The Rootage Evo certainly looks and feels like it's made from premium materials. It has an outer shell that’s designed to resist scratches and colour fade under UV light. So assuming you don’t destroy it, things should continue looking sharp for many years.
>Buy the Alpina Rootage Evo from Tredz for £95
Lookswise, the Rootage Evo is more on the enduro/bike park end of the style spectrum, with its full ear coverings and cafe-awning-scale visor. The visor isn’t designed to be removable but does feature breakaway tabs in the event of a serious impact. The amount of force needed to actually break away is considerable - you can lever the front of the visor off with a bit of finger welly, but in an impact, it’s going to require the two inserts on each side to shear off. If you catch that visor on a low branch, it will likely pitch you off the bike before breaking free.
The design on the back of the helmet is shaped to accommodate a neck brace if you want or need to ride with one. I can’t see anyone heading out to get serious air or speed not choosing an actual full-face helmet, so maybe the Rootage Evo’s more for people needing to ride with a brace because of injury or condition and not planning to risk anything in the event of a crash.
There are three layers of construction to the Rootage Evo, the main component being the expanded polystyrene that’s been the mainstay material of bike helmets since forever. That’s wrapped in the ‘ceramic shell’ - a polycarbonate outer bonded to the EPS material in construction. Finally around the inside edges is a layer to protect the edges of the EPS material. Unfortunately, there is no Mips rotational impact protection system which has become an expectation at this price.
Alpina Rootage Evo - Performance
The Evo stays put thanks to the adjustable dial forehead band, which has three height positions at the rear to get the fit just right under the base of the skull. The band across the forehead and around the temples is pretty thin though, so when you crank it down sufficiently for rough stuff it’s certainly noticeable. Getting it tight enough not to move when headed downhill on rowdy trails is a bit too tight to be comfy when pedalling along or back up, so you’ll be loosening and tightening it each run is my guess, but he dial is chunky enough to do this easily with gloves on.
The internal padding is held in place with the usual velcro dots, but the forehead sweatband is threaded onto the cinch strap so it can’t be removed to be washed - something of an oversight by Alpina, but the construction of the helmet appears good enough to handle being popped under a hot tap now and then for a soak and squeeze of the padding. The ear pads can be removed, but the fasteners don’t appear to be up for repeated removal and reinsertion, so again best washed in situ.
The chinstrap is fixed on the left with a press button lock and an adjustable strap on the right with a generous chin pad held in place. There are seven indents on the male side of the fastener, meaning you can get a tighter or slacker fit with ease depending on whether you’re wearing a head covering or an under-helmet hood. The buckle is easy to wrangle with gloves on.
At over half a kilo, I noticed the Rootage Evo slips forwards a bit, even more so with a helmet light or camera fitted. There’s no mount for either, but fitting an Exposure helmet mount on the side for a Joystick light was simple enough.
The Rootage Evo comes in two sizes 52-57cm and 57-61cm. I tested the larger size, weighing in at 510g - not the worst for this level of protection but still pretty hefty, and you notice it after a long run pointed downhill.
Alpina Rootage Evo - Verdict
The Rootage Evo is a whopping £85 cheaper than its closest competitor based on design and features, the £180 Fox Dropframe Pro it’s a bit lighter, too. As pointed out in the Dropframe review, you can get Mips by opting for the similar but heavier £150 Giro Tyrant.
The Tyrant doesn’t have anywhere near the number of air vents of the Rootage Evo though - so it’s likely more a pump track lid. The Rootage Evo’s holes gulp in the air at speed, enough that the cooling can be felt. There’s nothing in the form of internal channelling though, which is a pity. The padding is serviceable enough, particularly around the jaw, where the ear sections flex out a bit to aid donning and removing. Even with fairly chunky glasses on there was no discomfort over several hours. Importantly, this is the cheapest dropped ear helmet on the market which is admirable in itself but notably, it gets no rotational impact reduction system.
Overall I like the Rootage Evo. It feels comfortable for multiple hours of riding, and once you get the fit right it pretty much stays put - although on seriously rough trails you may need to reposition it a few times. The looks are good, and after a few months of kicking about in the garage, cars/vans, gear bags, and on the trail it still looks like new. I wish the visor was more easily removed, and the padding seems to be a bit of an afterthought. The absence of Mips might be a deal-breaker for you too, depending on how much you buy into the science/marketing (or lack thereof). But for the price, it’s a decent option for more side-on protection.