Giro Synthe MIPS Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, low profile, good ventilation
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Giro Synthe MIPS seems to be able to do it all. It has the right amount of padding in just the right places, is easily adjustable for an optimum fit, and balances a good amount of ventilation with a semi-aerodynamic profile; all rolled into a lightweight package. As with most newer top-end helmets, it has a built-in MIPS liner for additional crash safety, and also comes with Giro's awesome Roc Loc Air fit system to help dial in a cool and comfortable fit. All these premium features without any glaring weaknesses help the Synthe MIPS retain its spot on our Editors' Choice throne.
While helmet comfort is certainly dependent on individual user preferences, the Synthe MIPS has several important features that help make it comfortable for a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. All of our testers consistently rank it among the most comfortable helmets in our lineup.
The Synthe MIPS features Giro's Roc Loc Air fit system with a full circumference adjustable headband that is designed to cradle the head and keep a small gap between the head and the EPS foam liner material. This helps promote airflow inside the helmet and allows more flexibility for a customizable fit without bumping your head into the foam liner. This system creates a nice balanced fit around the head that helps eliminate any pressure points against the harder foam. The padding is minimal compared to some other models, but is positioned well and complements the other design features to make for a very comfortable fit.
The chinstrap system and adjustable Y-buckle are very well-designed and lay flat against the face, and the webbing material used for the straps is thin, supple, and very comfortable. Our testers love the small unobtrusive Y-buckle, which is barely noticeable while riding. Easily being able to dial in the correct tension helps keep the helmet properly positioned on your head for a consistently comfortable fit throughout your ride.
Adjustable Y-buckles allow the front and rear chinstraps to be evenly tensioned and makes positioning the Y-buckle below the ear easy. Our only complaint is the fixed anchor position of the rear straps. The male end of the chinstrap buckle is adjustable, allowing the chinstrap to be tightened or loosened, but if your head falls outside the design size spectrum, it is possible that the buckle will not be centered under your chin. This was only a problem for one of our testers who had a greater distance from the top of his head to his chin. For the vast majority of users who fall within the size range based on head circumference, chinstrap adjustability should not be an issue.
Our size Large Synthe MIPS tips the scales at 312 grams, while the size Medium weighs in at 268 grams, making it one of the lightest models in our lineup. Most top-tier helmets on the market these days are equipped with a MIPS liner, meaning the Synthe MIPS is not really penalized in the weight metric by including the additional 20-30 gram liner. There are still some non-MIPS helmets available on the market, but in our opinion, the minimal weight penalty is a reasonable tradeoff for the additional crash protection.
Road bike helmets that have a more aerodynamic shape are typically heavier than their more traditionally shaped counterparts. While the Synthe MIPS is not a true aero helmet, it does provide a nice balance of some aerodynamic properties with a lower weight than most aero helmets.
We certainly think that this is a great looking helmet. Its snug-fitting low profile design looks far less awkward than most full aero helmets, and for the rider who only wants to buy one helmet, it provides a classic style with a nice balance of aerodynamics and low weight. The Roc Loc Air Fit System used on the Synthe MIPS is the best internal fit system we've used, allowing for an optimum fit. The classic design and modern color schemes are very professional looking.
Added special features like rubberized sunglass holders in the front vents enhance the functionality of the helmet, making it stand out among its competitors. We wish that Giro had included an extra set of pads and a helmet bag like some of its competitors, but these are small complaints.
The Synthe MIPS is a reasonably well-ventilated helmet, but it falls just short of other models with larger or more numerous vents. At high speeds, it seems like this Editors' Choice Award winner can compete with any helmet when it comes to ventilation; the feeling of air flowing over the head is noticeable. The Roc Loc Air Fit system is designed to cradle the head and suspend the EPS foam slightly above the head, and this feature is noticeable and does enhance cooling. When the road tips upward and speeds slow down, the Synthe MIPS does feel a bit warmer than other more heavily-ventilated helmets.
While it's not shaped like other more fully aerodynamic helmets, it is designed with some aero properties, and no matter how well-designed they are, these aero benefits always seem to come at the cost of ventilation, which is most pronounced at lower speeds.
Overall, we feel that the ventilation is certainly adequate, and far better than the other dedicated aero helmets in our lineup, and on par with all but the most ventilated road bike helmets. The Synthe MIPS is a great all-around helmet, and we are willing to give up a marginal amount of cooling for an abundance of top of the line features, low profile, and semi-aerodynamic shape.
We did not experience any durability issues. The chinstrap buckle and headband tensioning dial worked flawlessly, and the X-static padding held up well and remained odor-free. The Synthe MIPS earns a respectable scoring in this metric but loses a few points because it has exposed EPS foam around the base of the brim that is prone to abrasion and dents during transport and storage. The highest-rated helmets in our lineup have polycarbonate shell material that fully extends around the brim of the helmet, increasing durability by limiting the amount of EPS foam that is exposed.
However, more polycarbonate shell material increases weight, so the helmets that score higher in the durability metric are generally lower scoring in our weight metric. Giro chose to limit the extent of polycarbonate shell coverage on the Synthe MIPS to keep the weight down, potentially reducing durability. We prefer a full-wrap shell, as it provides better protection from everyday bumps and dings, with a minimal weight increase.
The Synthe MIPS is on the higher end of our lineup's pricing spectrum, but in our opinion still represents a great value because of its multitude of high-end features. This model is also less expensive than many other competing products with similar design features. Its versatility also enhances its value. For most riders, it provides enough aerodynamic benefit to prevent the need for a second full aero helmet.
The Synthe MIPS is a quiver killer helmet. It provides good ventilation, top-tier comfort, and a semi-aerodynamic profile all packed into a lightweight package, making it the perfect helmet for both training and racing. From long days in the mountains to flat days with crosswinds, the Synthe MIPS has you covered. It receives competitive scores in every rating metric, and tops the chart in several important categories, making it a deserving winner once again of our Editors' Choice Award.
— Nick Bruckbauer