In a sport where single-impact helmets can cost as much as a new wheelset, the Giro Chronicle provides a competitive option at a reasonable price. At less than half the price of many helmets in our test this well-constructed model provides solid protection and coverage to keep your head safe from impacts. Its deep fit and versatile shape are super comfortable for most head shapes, and the size range and adjustability mean that most riders will be able to find the perfect fit. While it doesn't pack as many features as some of the more expensive models we tested, the Chronicle executes all the basic necessities well with its MIPS impact liner, Roc Loc 5 harness, and adjustable visor with goggle storage. Anyone looking for competitive performance at wallet-friendly price would be well served by the Chronicle, our Best Buy Award winner.
Giro Chronicle MIPS Review
Cons: Lacks standout features, slightly heavy
Our Analysis and Test Results
Giro is one of the most recognizable helmet brands in the cycling industry. Since 1985 they have been one of the key companies pushing both mountain and road helmet technology forward. The Chronicle is a recent addition to their mountain bike helmet lineup, and it represents a great option for riders looking for quality protection on a budget. With a MIPS rotational impact liner, Giro's super-comfy Roc Loc 5 fit adjustment system, and a fully adjustable visor, the Chronicle has just about everything you'll need out on the trail.
Similar to most helmets that we tested, we find that the Chronicle MIPS offers solid protection. It has a relatively deep fit when compared to other helmets in the category, and the coverage is above average. The sides and back of the helmet extend low enough on the head to provide temporal and occipital lobe protection, and the wraparound Roc Loc fit system ensures that the helmet won't slip out of position on your head in the event of a large impact.
Beyond just coverage and fit, the Chronicle also comes standard with a MIPS rotational impact protection liner. This plastic liner sits between the helmet's EPS foam and the rider's head and allows the helmet to rotate slightly in an impact. The liner moves with little friction. If you rotate the EPS shell while wearing the helmet, you can feel the MIPS liner sliding on the interior of the helmet. We can't comment on how well this system works in a crash (because we try to avoid hitting the deck during testing), but being able to feel the system working as intended on your head certainly provides a little bit of confidence.
The Chronicle's overall construction also inspires confidence. True to form, Giro put together a quality finished product with no obvious weak points. The harness, MIPS liner, and straps are all firmly secured to the EPS foam. Unlike its more expensive counterpart, the Montaro, however, the Chronicle doesn't feature Giro's Roll Cage Reinforcement molded into the EPS foam. This is likely how Giro manages the Chronicle's low price point, but it also reduced our protection score for this model. We feel that the Chronicle offers better coverage and a deeper fit than the Montaro, but without this safety feature, we couldn't give it a higher score.
Our testers all agreed that the Chronicle sits alongside the most comfortable helmets we tested, and we rated it as such. Like its pricier sibling, the Montaro, the Chronicle features Giro's refined shape that fits a wide range of head shapes and sizes and comes in four sizes ranging from small to extra large. Everyone who tried on the Chronicle liked the fit immediately, and after months of testing in the field, we came to the consensus that it edges out Montaro in the comfort department.
The Chronicle's deep fit inspires confidence when donning your helmet pre-ride, but it also disappears on your head while out on the trail. In testing, we found that many modern MIPS-equipped helmets can feel a bit cramped with the extra thickness of the plastic shell inside the EPS, but it's clear to us that the Chronicle was designed with the MIPS system in mind. It sits low and secure on your head and doesn't leave you second-guessing whether it will stick in place if you get a little bit too rowdy on your next descent.
Along with the wide size range and well-thought-out fit, the Chronicle's Roc Loc 5 harness system provides loads of indexed adjustability to find the sweet spot for your head. It pulls tension around the entire circumference of the helmet, meaning you don't have to crank it down excessively to get a secure and safe-feeling fit. Additionally, the whole harness sits on a three-position adjuster that changes its height at the back of your head for even more adjustability. The interior padding is relatively minimal, but none of our testers felt the need for more cushion since the EPS doesn't tend to create pressure points with most head shapes.
While the Chronicle sets the bar for comfort, its ventilation performance is middling among helmets we tested. Its 14 vents are fairly small and don't allow the same level of airflow as the top performers in our test. That said, the helmet was quite a bit more breathable than we guessed it would be based on looks. At a glance, the Chronicle looks like it would be stifling on a hot day, but the EPS foam has molded channels running from front to back that promote airflow and do a solid job of ventilating. Throughout testing, we took this helmet out on a few rides topping 90 degrees and came through unscathed.
Despite not offering the best airflow in our test, the Chronicle didn't give us any issues with excessive sweat on hot days. The pads do a great job of absorbing most sweat before it has a chance to run down your forehead and onto your glasses or goggle lenses. Unlike some of Giro's more expensive offerings, the Chronicle isn't spec'd with hydrophilic, antimicrobial padding, but we thought it did a fine job all the same.
Sitting towards the lower end of the price spectrum, the Chronicle is a bit less feature-laden than Giro's typical offerings, but it has all the basics necessary for a quality helmet. Giro doesn't typically offer the same number of (occasionally gimmicky) features as some of their competitors, but those that they do include with their helmets are usually refined and highly-functional. The MIPS liner, Roc Loc 5 harness, and the internal vent channels that we've covered in previous sections make up the backbone of the Chronicle's feature offering and make it helmet a worthwhile value.
In addition to the basics, the Chronicle also features a long adjustable visor that does a great job of keeping brush and branches out of your face on more adventurous (overgrown) trails. The visor also tilts back just far enough to allow a rider to stow goggles on the front of their helmet during long transfers. Unlike the Montaro and the Manifest, the Chronicle doesn't have any rubber grippers to keep goggle straps in place, but grooves in the back of the helmet do a fine job of keeping everything settled while you're bouncing through the chunk.
The size Large Chronicle we tested tipped the scales at 410 grams or 14.5 ounces, putting it on the heavier end of the spectrum in our test. For the price, however, we were fairly pleased with the weight. It's roughly 100 grams lighter than the heaviest true half-shell we tested and 70 grams more than the lightest. Also, it comes in just ten grams heavier than its posh cousin the Montaro. With its quality coverage, thick EPS shell, and low price point, we don't think you could ask for much more from the Chronicle weight-wise.
True to Giro's reputation, the Chronicle is a buttoned-up and durably-constructed product. After months of testing, our test helmet looked as good as new with just a few scuffs and scrapes from overgrown branches on the aforementioned adventurous (overgrown) trails. The polycarbonate outer shell is fused to the EPS foam using Giro's In-Mold Construction technique, meaning that separation over time isn't a concern. The bottom edge of the helmet's EPS foam is exposed, which may present a durability concern if you're especially rough on your equipment, but we had no problems with it in our test.
While we don't have many concerns with this helmet's durability, it is our job to be hyper critical, and there's just one thing that we feel is worth mentioning. We worry that if riders adjust the height of the harness too often, the plastic locking mechanism that holds it in place might wear out. We don't see this being an issue for the vast majority of riders since this is typically a set-it-and-forget-it feature. Also, many modern helmets feature a similar adjustment, and we haven't had issues with any of them failing over time. As long as you can avoid an impact to your head, this helmet should last you a couple of seasons of solid riding.
We are very excited about the Chronicle's value. It is one of the most reasonably priced options that we reviewed, and we think it packs a great punch. Other options that we tested in a similar price range make fairly large sacrifices in weight, coverage, or durability, but the Chronicle impressively covers all of the basics. Riders who are willing to spend a little bit more will get more features and lighter weight from a helmet like the Specialized Ambush or POC Tectal Race, but we would recommend this helmet to anyone looking for a solid helmet at a reasonable price.
The Chronicle is a great helmet for riders who don't want to break the bank on their mountain bike gear. It performed alongside some of the best models in our test across many of our metrics. The sacrifices it makes in features and weight don't outweigh the benefits of its well-executed design, comfortable fit, and durable construction.
— Zach Wick
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