The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Giro Synthe MIPS Review

A premium road cycling helmet with a semi aerodynamic profile, with good ventilation and a drag reducing design.
Giro Synthe Mips
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $270 List | $188.96 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, versatile, aerodynamic, ventilation
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   Giro
By Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 17, 2017
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 18
  • Comfort - 20% 10
  • Adjustability - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Style - 15% 9
  • Ventilation - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 7

The Skinny

This is a premium road biking helmet with a semi-aero design. Class-leading comfort and adjustability make it a standout in a sea of high-end products. Solid overall scores in every rating metric add up and leave the Synthe firmly at the top. It is the winner of our Editors' Choice Award and our favorite all-around helmet for training and racing use.

New Colors Since Our Testing
The Synthe MIPS received some new since our testing in early 2017. Giro confirmed that no other changes were made to this helmet as of fall 2018.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Synthe falls into the semi aero category that aims to extract a few free watts by cheating the wind, while still maintaining a high level of ventilation. It performs as promised, with more than adequate ventilation, and it feels and looks fast. It impressed us with class-leading comfort and great adjustability. In addition to being a great helmet for road racing and training, we love it for cyclocross. A MIPS liner and the awesome Roc Loc Air fit system put this award winner in a league of its own.

Performance Comparison


The Giro Synthe MIPS is a great road helmet and is also our number one pick for cyclocross.
The Giro Synthe MIPS is a great road helmet and is also our number one pick for cyclocross.

Comfort


The Giro Synthe MIPS has minimal padding  but is one of the most comfortable helmets we tested.
The Giro Synthe MIPS has minimal padding, but is one of the most comfortable helmets we tested.
The Giro Synthe is hands down the most comfortable helmet we have ever tested. It is the only helmet in the Giro lineup that uses the Roc Loc Air fit system. The EPS foam of most helmets sits directly on the head. It is designed to suspend the foam structure of the helmet slightly above the head to provide a more comfortable fit and to increase cooling. This award winner is also the only helmet we tested that has a circumferential tensioning system that wraps completely around the head.

Other helmets such as the Bell Gage have a tensioning system that is fixed at the temple, so when the helmet is tightened it pushes the forehead into the front of the helmet. The Synthe design provides even pressure around the head and eliminates pressure points. Padding is minimal compared to helmets like the Specialized Airnet, but the positioning of the padding is excellent. We feel that the padding, while sparse, is more than adequate, and does not deter from the comfort of the helmet.


Giro Synthe MIPS has small  easily adjustable Y-buckles that are comfortable and unobtrusive.
Giro Synthe MIPS has small, easily adjustable Y-buckles that are comfortable and unobtrusive.
The straps and associated 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. We love the small unobtrusive Y-buckle, which is barely noticeable while riding. Helmets such as the Giro Savant have a larger Y-buckle that is generally less comfortable and more difficult to adjust.

Adjustability


The Synthe offers a high level of adjustability. The internal harness can be adjusted to fit a variety of head shapes and circumferences, ranging from 55-59cm. Due to the fact that the internal harness is not anchored to the EPS structure of the helmet near the temples like every other helmet in our test, it is more adept at accommodating a wide variety of head shapes. Turning a small dial at the rear of the helmet makes circumferential adjustments. The dial is smaller than what is found on the Bell Gage, but is still relatively easy to manipulate with gloves on. The Synthe also has 2cm of fore and aft adjustment to allow for proper positioning of the helmet.


Adjustable Y-buckles allow the front and rear straps 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. Helmets such as the Bell Gage and the Bontrager Ballista have non-fixed rear straps, which allow webbing to be fed through the system to allow for centering adjustment of the chin strap buckle. 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 not 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 in the medium size range based on head circumference, chinstrap adjustability should not be an issue.

The circumferential adjustment dial on the Giro Synthe MIPS is small  but still easy to manipulate with gloves on.
The circumferential adjustment dial on the Giro Synthe MIPS is small, but still easy to manipulate with gloves on.

Weight


Our size medium Synthe tips the scales at 268g, making it heavier than the featherweight Giro Aeon that only weighs 225g, but it is the second lightest MIPS equipped helmet we tested. MIPS adds 20-30g to the weight of a helmet. If low weight is more important to you than the potential safety enhancement of MIPS, the Synthe is available in a non-MIPS version with a manufacturer-claimed weight of 250g. The semi-aero profile of the Synthe makes it a bit heavier than ultra lightweight helmets such as the Giro Aeon.


Giro is banking on consumers being willing to sacrifice a small amount of weight for aerodynamic benefit. Is it worth it? We say yes. We can not measure the reduced drag, but Giro claims that the Synthe actually performs better in the wind tunnel than the Giro Air Attack, their full aero helmet. Even if the aerodynamic gains are very minimal, they will likely outweigh the increased weight for the vast majority of riders.

Fall wine country testing with the Giro Synthe MIPS.
Fall wine country testing with the Giro Synthe MIPS.

Style


It certainly is a great looking helmet. It looks far less dorky than most full aero helmets, and for the rider who only wants to buy one helmet, it is far more functional than an aero helmet. The Roc Loc Air Fit System used on the Synthe is the best internal fit system we have ever used.


Added features like the rubberized sunglass grippers in the vents enhance functionality, making a good helmet great. 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.

Front view of the Giro Synthe MIPS - notice that the straps lie flat against the face.
Front view of the Giro Synthe MIPS - notice that the straps lie flat against the face.

Ventilation


The shape of the Giro Synthe MIPS is designed to channel air out the back for optimum cooling with a minimal amount of vents.
The shape of the Giro Synthe MIPS is designed to channel air out the back for optimum cooling with a minimal amount of vents.
The Synthe is a well-ventilated helmet, but falls short of the Specialized Airnet MIPS and the Lazer Z-1. At high speeds, this Editors' Choice 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 suspend the EPS foam slightly above the head, and this feature is noticeable and does enhance cooling. When the road tips up and speeds slow down, the Synthe is a bit warmer than heavily-ventilated helmets like the Bell Gauge, or Lazer Z1. IThe Synthe is designed to be aerodynamic, and no matter how well-designed, 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 adequate, and far better than dedicated aero helmets such as the Bell Star Pro or the POC Octal Aero. The Synthe is a great all-around helmet, and we are willing to give up a marginal amount of cooling for the potential of saving a few watts of wind drag.

The semi aero profile of the Giro Synthe MIPS is designed to reduce wind drag while maintaining good ventilation.
The semi aero profile of the Giro Synthe MIPS is designed to reduce wind drag while maintaining good ventilation.

Durability


We did not experience any pronounced durability issues while testing the Synthe. The chinstrap buckle and tensioning dial worked flawlessly, and the X-static padding held up well and remained odor free. The Synthe earns a 7/10, scoring lower than the Smith Overtake, which scored a perfect 10. Exposed EPS foam around the base of this contender is prone to abrasion and dents during transport and storage. The highest-rated helmets in our test have polycarbonate shell material that extends around the base 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 category are generally lower scoring in our weight category. Giro chose to limit the extent of polycarbonate shell coverage, reducing durability, in order to keep the weight of the Synthe down. We prefer a full-wrap shell, as it provides better protection from everyday bumps and dings.

The Giro Synthe MIPS is equipped with a MIPS liner and the awesome Roc Loc Air Adjustment System.  Our only complaint is the exposed EPS foam around the base.
The Giro Synthe MIPS is equipped with a MIPS liner and the awesome Roc Loc Air Adjustment System. Our only complaint is the exposed EPS foam around the base.

Best Applications


The Synthe is a great helmet for road training and racing. It is well-ventilated enough for the hottest days, but performs well in the wind, decreasing drag with its semi-aero profile. It is a great option for the rider who wants one helmet for all conditions. The Synthe is also a great helmet for cyclocross and XC mountain bike use.

The Giro Synthe MIPS is a great road cycling helmet  cool on the climbs and fast on the flats.
The Giro Synthe MIPS is a great road cycling helmet, cool on the climbs and fast on the flats.

Value


With an MSRP of $269, this award winner represents a great value, in our opinion. It is cheaper than many other high-end MIPS-equipped helmets such as the Lazer Z-1 or the Bell Gauge. Its value is enhanced by its versatility. For most riders, it offers enough aerodynamic benefit to prevent the need for a second full aero helmet.

Conclusion


The Synthe is a quiver killer helmet; good ventilation, comfort, and a semi-aerodynamic profile make it the perfect helmet for both training and racing. From long days in the mountains to flat days with crosswinds, the Synthe has you covered. It receives our highest accolades for comfort, and competitive scores in every other rating metric, making it the clear winner of our Editors' Choice Award.

The Giro Synthe MIPS looks fast  and knowing you are saving a few watts of wind drag is a good feeling.
The Giro Synthe MIPS looks fast, and knowing you are saving a few watts of wind drag is a good feeling.

Other Versions and Accessories


Giro Aeon in Fluorescent Orange White.
Giro Aeon
  • Lightest helmet in the Giro lineup
  • Heavily ventilated
  • Non-aerodynamic design
  • Cost: $200

Giro Air Attack Shield in Blue White.
Giro Air Attack Shield
  • Full aerodynamic helmet with integrated eye shield
  • Less ventilation than the Synthe
  • Cost: $240

Giro Savant
Giro Savant
  • Affordable entry level road helmet
  • Well ventilated


Curtis Smith