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Giro Switchblade MIPS Review

A burly convertible helmet that works well for shuttle and park laps, but is not a great choice for long climbs
giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review
Credit: Giro
Price:  $280 List
Manufacturer:   Giro
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 30, 2018
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Protection - 20% 7.0
  • Weight - 20% 7.0
  • Ventilation - 15% 8.0
  • Visor - 10% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Giro Switchblade MIPS is a serious ATSM DH-certified helmet with a removable chin-bar. This convertible helmet is an excellent choice for the rider who doesn't plan on wearing this lid for a substantial amount of pedaling due to limited breathability over the ears and the high-cheek zone. When charging downhill with the chin-bar removed, the full-cut design with extra coverage over the ears and the high-cheek zone is reassuring and confidence-inspiring. We feel this is a good convertible option for aggressive riding.
REASONS TO BUY
Confident and aggressive performance in both settings
Extra coverage in half shell mode
REASONS TO AVOID
Not suited for long climbs in half shell mode
Chin bar removal and attachment system is finicky
The Switchblade MIPS remains unchanged for 2023, although it is offered in 3 different color options than the one we tested.

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giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Confident and aggressive performance in both settings, extra coverage in half shell modeBreathable, more robust than other enduro-focused options, lightweightComfortable, breathable, secure fit, substantial protection for enduro-style lidProtective, reasonably priced, comfortableImpressive price tag, comfortable, available in seven sizes
Cons Not suited for long climbs in half shell mode, chin bar removal and attachment system is finickyNot suited for frequent bike park duties, a little expensiveSlightly heavier than other enduro lids, not the best option for the bike parkAverage ventilation, heavier weight, no rotational impact protection systemWarm, poor ventilation, fit is a little loose
Bottom Line A burly convertible helmet that works well for shuttle and park laps, but is not a great choice for long climbsA dialed enduro-oriented helmet that delivers excellent breathability and solid protectionA killer enduro race helmet that blends a substantial and protective feel with excellent airflow and comfortA full-face helmet that boasts a strong value and high levels of protectionA respectable full-face helmet at a stunning price tag
Rating Categories Giro Switchblade MIPS Smith Mainline MIPS Fox Racing Proframe RS Troy Lee Designs D3... 7Protection M1
Comfort (25%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Protection (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
Ventilation (15%)
8.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
5.0
Visor (10%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Giro Switchblade MIPS Smith Mainline MIPS Fox Racing Proframe RS Troy Lee Designs D3... 7Protection M1
Weight (grams, size medium) 980 grams 765 grams 836 grams 1219 grams 947 grams
Weight (ounces, size medium) 34.6 oz 27.0 oz 29.5 oz 43.0 oz 33.4 oz
Number of Vents 20 21 22 20 17
Shell Material Polycarbonate Aerocore Polycarbonate Fiberglass Polycarbonate
Rotational Impact Protection System MIPS MIPS MIPS Integra None None
Sizes S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL Youth M, Youth L, S, S, M, L, XL
CPSC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CE EN1077 No No No Yes No
CE EN1078 Yes No Yes Yes No
ASTM F1952 (DH) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ASTM F2032 No No Yes Yes No
ASTM F2040 No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - the switchblade in its natural habitat.
The Switchblade in its natural habitat.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


The Switchblade is a reasonably comfortable helmet in both full face and trail mode.

Testers found it to offer a great feel over the ears. While some DH helmets tend to squeeze your ears, the Switchblade is spacious. Hearing remains impressive, and it doesn't sound muffled. Giro's Roc Loc retention system on the back of the head sits at a nice point on the occipital lobe and feels secure.

No matter how hard you crank the retention dial, there are no pressure points. Our only complaint is that the fit on the very top of the head is a little funky. We wouldn't call it uncomfortable or painful, but it would have been nice to have a slightly wider space at the crown of the head.

The chin bar sits tight against your chin.
The chin bar sits tight against your chin.
The visor is definitely goofy looking in trail mode. That said...
The visor is definitely goofy looking in trail mode. That said, looks aren't everything.

Protection


The Switchblade is outfitted with the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) system. The MIPS is a layer of material underneath the pads but on top of the foam of the helmet. In the event of an angled impact, this layer is intended to move slightly to reduce rotational forces that reach the brain. This technology has become more and more prevalent in recent years.

The full-cut design includes extra protection over the ears when used without the chin bar attached, and it has significantly more head coverage than most other convertible models on the market. The addition of cheek pads and a sturdy D-ring chin strap help to provide a very stable and secure fit that adds a confidence-inspiring sense of protection. The Switchblade is ATSM DH 1952, CPSC, and EN1708 certified. This DH certification applies for when the helmet is in full-face or half-shell modes.

giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - careful removing and reattaching the chin, don't force it.
Careful removing and reattaching the chin, don't force it.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Weight


Our medium Switchblade MIPS hit the scales at 34.6-ounces with the chin bar attached. With the chin bar removed, the helmet weighs 24.2-ounces. Due to its full-cut design with extended ear coverage, it doesn't drop as much weight in half-shell mode as other convertible models.

The Switchblade is the heaviest of the convertible helmets we tested, but given its substantial feel and DH certification, it isn't terribly heavy. That said, there are now much lighter models on the market if you're concerned with weight or plan on doing significant amounts of pedaling.

Ventilation


The Switchblade offers reasonably good ventilation in both settings.

In the half-shell mode, the ventilation isn't top-notch, but it is respectable. Obviously, you can breathe far better than you would with most of the non-convertible helmets. The way the shell extends over the ears and high-cheek zone limits airflow to that part of the head. This issue simply comes with the territory of the extra coverage. When motoring down the trail, the airflow over the top of the head is pretty good. Plenty of air gets through when you are carrying a head of steam. Still, convertible helmets that don't cover the ears in trail mode are a far better choice when if you care about airflow in half-shell mode.

In the full-face setting, the ventilation is impressive. The lack of fabric inside of the helmet near the ears definitely helps keep your head cool.

giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - the switchblade offers excellent coverage on the back of the head.
The Switchblade offers excellent coverage on the back of the head.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Visor


Two bolts secure the visor. One bolt near each temple. The visor is pretty sturdy when you attempt to rock it side to side with your hands. Adjustments to the position are made by hand without loosening up any bolts. Simply pull the visor up and down into one of the three positions. There are three indexed stop points to choose from.

The visor works well in full-face mode and serves its purpose. In the half-helmet mode, the size of the visor can be problematic. If the visor is in the lowest position, your visibility is seriously limited on mild terrain. On steeper trails, this issue is far less problematic as your looking further down the hill. In the middle visor position, the issue is less noticeable, and in the high visor position, it is nonexistent. That said, the helmet looks a little goofy with the visor pointed into the sky.

A second visor is included in the box. The additional one comes with a camera mount.

giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - to release the chin bar simply press the tabs and the bar pivots off...
To release the chin bar simply press the tabs and the bar pivots off of the helmet.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Durability


Throughout our test period, we did see anything that would concern us about the durability of this helmet. Removing and installing the chin bar takes a little getting used to. We recommend being very careful not to force the mechanism when reattaching the chin bar. We could foresee some problems developing by improper install/removal.

giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - the d-clip system is reliable and secure. that said, it can be...
The D-clip system is reliable and secure. That said, it can be awkward with gloves on.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Closure System


The Switchblade MIPS uses a classic D-ring system. This tried and true method feels secure, although it can be a little difficult with gloves on. When you are ripping park laps, it can be a little clunky clipping and unclipping this before and after every run. That said, you never doubt the security of the closure. It feels like there is essentially no risk of the helmet is going to come off in the event of a big crash.

giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - the switchblade is best saved for days with minimal climbing.
The Switchblade is best saved for days with minimal climbing.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Value


The Switchblade MIPS is a solid value. This helmet offers MIPS technology, and the convertible function does its job very well. If you are looking for a one-helmet solution, we recommend checking out the Bell Super DH which is a much better trail helmet that breathes very well.

giro switchblade mips downhill helmet review - this helmet works quite well with goggles. full enduro.
This helmet works quite well with goggles. Full enduro.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


The Switchblade MIPS is a convertible mountain bike helmet that gets the job done. This helmet is best used as a second helmet alongside your regular trail helmet. With the shell of the helmet covering your ears in trail mode, this isn't a great choice for long climbs or trail rides. Instead, the Switchblade is a suitable choice for shuttle laps where you still need to pedal a good bit. The extra coverage around the ears is reassuring if you decide to descend in half-helmet mode.

Pat Donahue
 
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