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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
Photo: Giro
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Price:  $270 List | $269.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Confident and aggressive performance in both settings, extra coverage in half shell mode
Cons:  Not suited for long climbs in half shell mode, chin bar removal and attachment system is finicky
Manufacturer:   Giro
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 30, 2018
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Protection - 20% 7
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Ventilation - 15% 8
  • Visor - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Giro Switchblade MIPS is a serious ATSM DH-certified helmet with a removable chin-bar. This 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 high-cheek zone. When charging downhill with the chin-bar removed, the extra coverage over the ears and the high-cheek zone is reassuring and confidence-inspiring. This is our favorite option for aggressive riding.

The Switchblade MIPS remains unchanged for 2020. Some new color options have been added.

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Giro Switchblade MIPS
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Price $269.95 at Backcountry
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$249.00 at Backcountry
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$109.99 at Backcountry
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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, lightweightExtremely light, versatile, comfortableProtective, 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 expensiveNot the most protective, mud can clog up the chin bar bar attachment systemAverage 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 protectionAn extremely light and well-ventilated convertible full-face helmet suited for aggressive trail and enduro ridingA 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 Bell Super Air R MIPS Troy Lee Designs D3... 7Protection M1
Comfort (25%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
Protection (20%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
9.0
9.0
10.0
6.0
8.0
Ventilation (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Visor (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Giro Switchblade MIPS Smith Mainline MIPS Bell Super Air R MIPS Troy Lee Designs D3... 7Protection M1
Weight (size medium) 34.6 oz 27.0 oz 14.9 oz - half shell 23.8 oz - full face 41.0 oz 33.4 oz
Number of Vents 20 21 18 helmet, 8 chin vents, 4 brow ports 13 17
Shell Material Polycarbonate Aerocore Polycarbonate Fiberglass Polycarbonate
Sizes 3 3 3 3 7
CPSC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CE EN1077 No No No No Yes
CE EN1078 Yes No Yes Yes Yes
ASTM F1952 Yes Yes No Yes Yes
ASTM F2032-06 No No No No Yes
ASTM F2040 No No No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Switchblade in its natural habitat.
The Switchblade in its natural habitat.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


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

Testers found this helmet 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. The retention system on the back of the head sits at a nice point on the back of the head on the occipital 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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 moves slightly and reduces rotational forces that reach the brain. This technology has become more and more prevalent in recent years.

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.

Careful removing and reattaching the chin, don't force it.
Careful removing and reattaching the chin, don't force it.
Photo: 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-grams.

The Switchblade is the heavier of the three convertible helmets we tested. That said, it is one of the lightest full face helmets in the test.

Ventilation


The Switchblade offers impressive ventilation in both settings.

In the half-shell mode, the ventilation is mediocre. Obviously, you can breathe far better than you would with any of the non-convertible helmets. The way the shell extends over the ears and high-cheek zone limits airflow. This issue simply comes with the territory of the extra coverage. When motoring down the trail, the airflow is impressive. Plenty of air gets through when you are carrying a head of steam. Still, the Super DH is a far better choice when if you care about airflow in the trail 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.

The Switchblade offers excellent coverage on the back of the head.
The Switchblade offers excellent coverage on the back of the head.
Photo: 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.

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.
Photo: 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.

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.
Photo: 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.

The Switchblade is best saved for days with minimal climbing.
The Switchblade is best saved for days with minimal climbing.
Photo: 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.

This helmet works quite well with goggles. Full enduro.
This helmet works quite well with goggles. Full enduro.
Photo: 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