Gear Guide: Alpine Racing Components: The little company that would
Growing up in the world of ski racing, I – like anyone else who has ever used a chin bar to protect his or her face while skiing slalom – know what a pain it can be to install one. The process usually starts by fumbling with your helmet clenched between your knees as you try to line up the screw holes in your chin bar with the mounting points in your helmet. After juggling with screws and a screwdriver for what seems like a very long time, you end up skipping that last screw because the fourth hole never really seems to line up correctly anyway. Or worse yet, you lost that fourth screw somewhere on the floor of a crowded lodge.
The ARC Slalom Chin Guard, which is an alternative face bar, would change all of that and rob us of our frustration with the fourth screw conundrum it would seem.
As I stepped into the garage turned production line for the Alpine Racing Components headquarters situated in the Mad River Valley of Vermont for a look at this new product, I was understandably a little skeptical. There seems to be little demand for an alternative chin bar in the racing world after all.
Nonetheless I picked up my ARC Slalom Chin Guard and gave it a try. Here is what I found.
While the functionality is the same as any other chin bar on the market (to protect a slalom skiers face), ARC has looked at some of the key flaws in every other product out there and has built upon them to make theirs unique and highly functional.
The most important feature that you’ll notice is the captured thumbscrews that are used to mount the bar to the helmet. The thumbscrews themselves protrude slightly from the bar so no screwdriver is necessary and they are also permanently embedded into the bar, which makes losing screws impossible.
Installing the ARC bar is an incredibly easy task, taking all of 60 seconds or less. With the thumbscrews, you merely line up the bottom screws first and twist with your thumb and index finger to tighten halfway and then fully once all four screws are threaded.
There are two chin bars that you can currently buy here at ARC that coincide with either a soft ear helmet (SHCG) or a GS helmet (HHCG). The ARC Slalom Chin Guard is designed to fit the four-screw type helmet models from the brands Uvex and POC, and will fit some Shred. With the ability to adjust the angle of the bar via a screw at either side of the device, you are guaranteed that the bar will be in the right place no matter what helmet model you rock.
While the bar is of a minimalist design, it is constructed of aircraft quality aluminum that makes it incredibly strong. Plastic and other metal chin bars are likely to bend or break over time, which can be dangerous and expensive as any athlete who has ever lost teeth or had to get stitches can testify.
After testing this product I can honestly say that while there might not be a high demand for an alternative chin bar, ARC has shown me why there should be. It may be a relatively new company to the world of alpine ski racing but to anyone who is looking for the safest product with the simplest design, look no further.