As a female rider and women’s mountain bike coach, I get a lot of questions about women’s-specific everything, particularly bikes. Truth be told, I don’t subscribe to the idea of women’s-specific bikes. I’ve ridden plenty of LIV bikes and I like them less than normal ones. Yes, it is nice that these bikes come in “girly” colors, have sparkle paint, and all-around feminine flair. However, if the size and geometry are correct and the bike fits your body, then you’re set. There’s nothing that has led me to believe I need women’s specific aluminum or carbon between my legs. That being said, I do love women’s specific gear. For instance, I have a women’s-specific saddle on my bike because I’d like for my sensitive bits to remain intact.
Luckily many brands have wised up to the fact that women are taking up the sport of mountain biking more than ever before. Apparel companies have even gone so far as to develop extensive product lines specifically catered to the female form. LIV is one of those brands. A sister company to Giant, LIV now has an extensive line of women’s apparel, accessories, shoes, and helmets. Truth be told their first few tries at apparel were awful, but they’ve come a long way. I can confidently say I like the fit of most of their clothing at this point. However, this is my first time testing a women’s-specific helmet. Introducing the LIV Path MIPS.
Construction and value
The LIV Path helmet is equipped with MIPS technology which is designed to reduce rotational impact in the event of a crash, which in turn is said to reduce the chances of certain types brain injuries like concussion. Most helmets that contain MIPS technology are pricey, typically starting around $100 and going up to $250+. The LIV Path retails for the low price of $55, which by all accounts is a screaming deal. In fact, this may be the most affordable MIPS helmet on the market.
I know many women willing to dole out cash for a nice bike who then try to be thrifty on shoes, apparel, and helmets. Saving $100 or more on the number one, most important accessory, is likely to result in many women purchasing this helmet. LIV is genius for creating MTB-specific gear and accessories that are affordable and can be purchased with a bike, in a one-stop-shop scenario.
Other features of the LIV Path helmet include TransTextura moisture-wicking, anti-odor inner padding; 17 vents; a cinch one-fit adjustment system; and a detachable visor.
The padding is pretty basic. The overall construction reminded me of an old Bell helmet I had as a kid in the early 90’s. The foam inner seems thicker than other modern helmets, leaving quite a bit exposed at the edges of the polymer covering. I don’t prefer this type of build or aesthetic because it reminds me of children’s helmets.
The Path surprisingly weighs just 338g (11.9oz), which is slightly lighter than other helmets I’ve tested recently. The sun visor is removable, and you might as well remove it immediately because it’s so shallow that it doesn’t block any sunlight.
The venting is sufficient on the Path helmet, containing 17 vents overall. If you have short hair like me, watch out for the shark fin of hair that’s liable to snake its way through the top holes, which is more amusing than anything. If you have longer hair, there is a ponytail-friendly space in the rear. I’ve heard from many women who own different types of MIPS helmets that the MIPS liner tends to tangle and pull out their hair. It does not appear this will be a problem with the LIV Path’s construction. However, I cannot say for certain since my hair is just about 2in long.
The straps on the LIV Path are made of nylon and are adjustable through the back of the head, using adjustable clasp buckles located under the ears and through the chin strap buckle. I spent a lot of time trying to adjust this helmet correctly with a shorter front strap and both straps taught so the helmet doesn’t slip backward off my forehead during an impact. Unfortunately, I found it virtually impossible to adjust the straps in the correct position, with both straps tight and the snap buckles below the ears laying flat against the cheeks. In fact, the buckles below the ears didn’t lay flush against my cheeks ever, which made it look like I was wearing large black earrings most of the time. This point alone made me averse to wearing this helmet on rides. It seems most of the money spent creating the Path went into MIPS technology rather than thoughtful construction.
Look, fit, and feel
The LIV Path comes in two sizes, S/M and M/L. I’m not a fan of double sizing helmets, however, the S/M does range in size from 49-57 cm, and it does cinch tight enough to fit my tiny head, so the range of sizing between the two will probably fit most heads. I was sent the Matte Fig color — a dark maroon — for the test. which coincidentally is my favorite color. The Path helmet also comes in Matte Grey and Matte Milky Way, which is a dark blue/purple with a topo-map-looking design across the back. Honestly, they nailed the color schemes on these. I love them.
I also like the way the helmet looks off the head. Once it’s placed on top of a head — and not just my head, anyone’s head — it doesn’t look right. The bulbous design, with visible foam and a short visor doesn’t hit the aesthetic mark for me.
Fit is subjective based on head size and shape and the Path helmet does fit my head. I just don’t enjoy the way it fits my head. Yes, it sits atop nicely, isn’t too round or too deep, and it cinches down to my small head circumference. However, it feels large, heavy, and awkward. None of my sunglasses fit well with it and I am not a fan of the strap material or system. As I mentioned earlier, I dislike the way the straps don’t adjust appropriately or sit flush against the cheeks. This is a big miss on LIV’s part.
MIPS technology is the top selling point for this helmet. The LIV Path MIPS helmet is great for thrifty shoppers who ride infrequently and need something with rotational impact technology to protect their head. At the low price of $55, it is certainly the most affordable MIPS helmet available. However, I don’t want to wear this helmet. It feels heavy, doesn’t hit the mark aesthetically, and the straps can’t be adjusted to fit and protect my head appropriately. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve had the opportunity to wear a wide variety of helmets, but as a consumer, I’d spend an extra $50 to get a helmet that makes me excited to wear it.
- Affordable MIPS technology
- Great color options
- Fits smaller heads
- Well ventilated
Pros and cons of the LIV Path MIPS mountain bike helmet.
- Straps do not adjust appropriately
- Buckles don’t sit flush on cheeks
- Visor doesn’t block sun
- Look and feel of a children’s helmet from the 90’s