Review: 661 Evo AM MIPS Helmet

With exaggerated rear cover, big vents and at least one model in the line up with bright colours, the 661 Evo AM fits squarely in the modern trail/ all-mountain helmet category. The Evo AM is also bang up to date on the spec sheet with features like the 360 BOA closure system, MIPS, and a magnetic buckle.
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The 661 Evo AM is a chunky trail helmet. It features 15 vents, which managed to keep me sufficiently cool. The visor is impressively large but doesn’t obstruct your vision. Our test helmet weighed in at 387 grams, give or take a few grams to account for the dirt and sweat. Meaning that weight was never an issue out on the trails.

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As you can seen in the photos, I got my hands on the Le Mans colour scheme, which I think looks fantastic. A touch of peacocking but not too brash to cross the line of decency (if such a thing even exists in mountain biking). And yes, the racing colours giving this model its name helped me knock at least a few seconds off my Strava PBs. If your sense of style requires something not so loud, the Evo AM also comes in a sleek black design as well as black and yellow, and grey and white colourways.

Safety features

Being a trail-oriented helmet, the Evo AM features additional protective foam which is most notable on the extended rear cover. The foam used is Contego EPS material, which is claimed to absorb up to 30% more energy than regular EPS foam found in many other bike helmets.

661 Evo AM helmet 6.jpgThe MIPS sticker.

661 Evo AM helmet 10.jpgMIPS exposed with the padding removed.

661 Evo AM helmet 12.jpgElastic attachments that stretch on impact.

The Evo AM features the Multi-directional Impact Protection System or MIPS. MIPS is designed to absorb rotational forces that cause twisting of the brain. The inspiration for MIPS is the cerebrospinal fluid found in your skull. This fluid allows the brain a small amount of movement to absorb shock. MIPS seeks to do the same by allowing the helmet to move slightly around the head on impact. Check out the video below for a simple explanation:

Unfortunate for you, but great for me, I haven’t landed on my head for a quite a while. Meaning we’ll have to trust 661 on the safety merits of the Evo AM. For what it’s worth, I did get a good sense of safety when wearing this helmet.

Fit and comfort

For me, the fit of the Medium/ Large was spot on. The helmet felt right from the first time I placed it on my head.

The anti-microbial padding is a good quality and looks like it will last. It even extends to the adjustment mechanism. Each pad is firmly fixed by velcro to the MIPS system (I removed them to check), so they won’t be floating around in the helmet anytime soon.

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The 661 Evo AM features a 360 Boa fit system. As the name suggests, the 360 Boa adjusts the helmet liner around the circumference of the helmet, instead of only from the rear like many other helmets. The Boa system was very comfortable with no pressure points. It also allowed for decent adjustment and was a breeze to operate the dial with a single hand in full finger gloves.

661 Evo AM helmet 13.jpgThe adjustment dial on the 360 Boa fit system.

661 Evo AM helmet 11.jpgSome of the internal workings of the Boa system.

The chin straps appear to be the standard sort and simple enough to set up to my preference out of the box. The under chin clip system, however, is anything but ordinary. The Fidlock closure system uses magnets to pull the clip into place. All you have to do is get the two sides close enough and facing the right way, and the magnets do the rest. Unclipping is done by forcing the pieces apart, simple and easy. It might seem like a gimmick but once you get accustomed to the no effort clip system, anything else just seems like a bit of a hassle.

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The magnetic buckle allowed for one hand locking and release.

Availability and Pricing

The 661 Evo AM is available at the bike shops listed here or online from Dial’d Bikes. The 661 Evo AM is priced at R2,395 without MIPS and R3,095 when including MIPS. Top-end helmet prices are not for the weak of wallet, so the pricing of the Evo AM comes as little shock and is in-line with the asking prices similar trail helmets.

A good fit is essential for the proper functioning of a helmet. So if you can’t find one of these to try on at your local bike shop, Dial’d Bikes are offering free returns on the 661 Evo AM taking out some of the risk of ordering the incorrect size.

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The 661 Evo AM ticks all the boxes for a all-mountain/ trail helmet, added protection and aggressive looks. The comfort and ease of use makes the Evo AM a fit and forget product. It’s right up to date with all the bells and whistles, such as MIPS, 360 Boa and a magnetic buckle. All together, an excellent helmet that I’d happily recommend.


FlashJordan, Jun 10 2015 05:24

Can it be worn back-to-front as a TT helmet? ;)