After an early look at the Giro Syntax MIPS helmet, today I’m going to go more in-depth and give my final thoughts on it. As mentioned before, this thing benefits from the MIPS safety technology becoming increasingly more refined in its implementation over the four years since the earliest MIPS helmets were released.
- Ventilation via 25 vents and internal channeling
- Roc Loc 5 Air MIPS retention mechanism
- In-mold construction
- Weight: 290 g for a size Medium (55-59 cm head circumference)
A notable complaint I had with the Lazer Blade MIPS helmet, one such early implementation of the technology, was its relatively poor ventilation. It didn’t suffer from lack of venting, but helmet makers at the time just didn’t figure out how to most efficiently integrate this new MIPS slip liner. In 2015, helmets were essentially just retrofitting MIPS into old designs. On the Blade MIPS, while the liner didn’t block any external vents per se, it had covered up the otherwise well-designed air channeling cut into the inside of its EPS foam, negating much of that benefit and leading to many a sweaty head.
Giro had committed to making all its helmets MIPS-equipped as of 2016. Consequently, it had to thoroughly rethink how its helmets were designed and made, so that MIPS has minimal penalties to comfort. On the Syntax, they did this by smartly making the Roc Loc 5 Air retention mechanism act as the MIPS slip liner as well. Compared to the slip liner on the Blade, the Syntax has far less material and surface area, and is therefore better designed for airflow. MIPS is integral to this helmet, not tacked on after the fact.
This pays off while riding. I barely felt any heat buildup or sweat saturation on the Syntax’s pads after an hour’s ride in the late afternoon. While 290 g doesn’t make for a featherweight helmet, what weight it has is well distributed. This lid didn’t feel burdensome or noticeable at all; I just carried on with the business of riding.
While we’re on the underside of the helmet, Giro exploits a trick many premium helmets have: the polycarbonate shell coats almost all of the bottom edge of the Syntax. Neat. Cheaper helmets leave this in bare EPS foam.
The Roc Loc 5 Air MIPS retention system uses a ratcheting dial to tighten or loosen the internal cradle of the helmet…which is par for the course these days. It can also be adjusted up or down in three positions. I find it works as you’d expect, and I like that it offers a touch more rear coverage than many helmets intended for road cycling use.
The rest of the Syntax is fairly inoffensive. It fits my head well. Mine was the “Asian fit” version; any differences that it has compared to the “normal” version, I can’t say for sure unless I do a like-for-like comparison and break out the tape measure. Strap adjustments are easy and straightforward, and their material is nice, although nothing to write home about. My sweaty fingers did slip on the buckle while trying to undo it, though.
One of the things I’m not too hot about is the relative lack of reflective trinkets on the Syntax. Apart from a couple loops on the occipital cradle of the Roc Loc 5 Air MIPS system, I haven’t spotted any. Whatever reflective is there is also partially obscured, which is a shame.
CONCLUSIONS AND VERDICT
Giro has done well here, injecting many cool features found in more expensive brain buckets for a fraction of what those cost. It’s hard not to recommend the Syntax given what you’re getting. Yet, as great as the Syntax is…the PhP6,200 retail price is still a bit hard to swallow.
Then again, the price range on many cycling helmets has also started rising to unheard-of levels overall, so there’s that price of progress, perhaps. If you look at the Syntax as a premium helmet that just happens to be an attainable option, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.