Giro's Vanquish MIPS is a well-designed aero road helmet with a great fit system, and it comes with innovative new technology designed to reduce drag.
- Pros: Great fit system and eye shield
- Cons: Price
Let's start with the aerodynamics. Rather than a development of the brand's existing Air Attack, Giro says that the Vanquish MIPS is an entirely new design resulting from extensive computational fluid dynamics analysis – naturally enough.
One of the key aerodynamic features of this helmet is what Giro calls TransformAir: an aerodynamic 'cliff' on the shell. Rather than being a smooth, continuous shape from front to rear, about halfway back (just behind the logos) the shell steps down a few millimetres from one level to another. The idea is that this makes the air act as if the Vanquish MIPS was a full teardrop-style time trial helmet, but in a profile that's much more versatile.
As is usually the case with aero helmets, there are relatively few vents – four up front leading via deep internal channels to four more towards the rear and a couple of large exhaust ports right at the back. At certain angles you can see right through the helmet, the idea being that air flows in, over the top of your head, and out.
The Vanquish MIPS comes with a magnetic eye shield called Vivid that, as well as protecting your eyes, is designed to reduce drag further. More on that in a mo.
Giro claims that the Vanquish MIPS with the eye shield fitted has lower drag than the Air Attack with an eye shield fitted – the equivalent of 1.76 watts at 25mph, or the equivalent of 7 seconds over a 40km (25 mile) time trial at 400 watts. Without the eye shield fitted it is said to be 5 seconds quicker than the Air Attack with an eye shield fitted.
Giro also claims that the Vanquish without the eye shield fitted is 9 seconds faster than the Met Manta helmet, 10 seconds faster than Bontrager's Ballista and 18 seconds quicker than Giro's own Synthe MIPS.
You would get lower drag by switching to the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS, according to Giro, but that's a time trial helmet with an extended tail.
Enough of the figures! We can't confirm or deny the claims, we're just reporting them.
I got on really well with the Vivid eye shield. It offers good eye coverage and excellent vision. I can imagine some people struggling with the sci-fi looks but you can't really argue with the function. I've been using the Vanquish for several weeks and the shield has always stayed firmly in place. It just isn't going to budge accidentally. Plus, being slightly removed from your face, it doesn't get sweaty as easily as a pair of glasses.
When you do want to remove the eye shield, you just grab it – one handed is fine – flip it over and stick it to the outside of the helmet. The magnets pull it into the right place. I'm not going to say it would be impossible to mess up this process, but it would be pretty difficult. Again, once in place, the eye shield isn't going anywhere.
If the eye shield is a bit full-on for a Sunday group ride you can, of course, use the Vanquish MIPS with regular glasses. The vents are specifically designed to double up as eyewear ports and I've found them to work well with a couple of different pairs of Oakleys, for example.
One thing that surprised me is Giro's claim that you get better cooling efficiency with the eye shield attached than without it. I must say that, to me, things felt a little warmer on the climbs with it in place. Either way, the Vanquish MIPS still feels cool by aero road helmet standards. One of the rides I've done wearing it was well over four hours, including a climb of well over an hour, in temperatures up to 28°C and I didn't feel that my head was getting too hot.
Giro claims a weight of 305g for the Vanquish MIPS (without an eye shield). Well, ours, in a size medium, came in at 367g. For comparison, the Bontrager Ballista aero helmet that I reviewed a couple of years ago was 266g (very lightweight for an aero helmet). The eye shield adds 50g.
In use, the Vanquish MIPS does feel a little heavier on your head than something like Giro's Synthe – probably because it is – but not to the point that you give it a whole lot of thought. I've not found it uncomfortably heavy.
The MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) design comprises a skeleton internal cradle that sits next to your head, connected to the rest of the helmet via little yellow tabs that allow quite a bit of independent movement. MIPS is a slip plane system for absorbing certain rotational forces in the event of a crash. Head over to the MIPS website to see if you're convinced of the benefits.
The MIPS design used here is specific to the helmet and is integrated with Giro's Roc Loc Air fit system. It surrounds your head entirely, you get the choice of three different height settings at the back and it's adjusted via a clicky dial. It's comfortable and tuneable.
All in all, this is a really high-quality aero road helmet. It didn't make my head too hot, it's not ridiculously heavy, and the eye shield system is excellent. Add in a very good fit system and, if Giro's figures are to be believed, impressive aerodynamics and you have a top design for those with their sights locked on speed.
High-quality aero road helmet with a top fit system and an excellent eye shield
road.cc test report
Make and model: Giro Vanquish
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's an aero road helmet designed to help you ride quicker than with a standard road helmet. It can, of course, also be used for time trials and triathlon.
Giro says this:
"The Vanquish MIPS is the pinnacle of high-performance road cycling helmets, featuring the innovative TransformAir design that actively streamlines airflow to reduce drag. Inside the Vanquish is an EPS liner with progressive layering, and our renowned RocLoc Air system seamlessly integrated with MIPS Technology to enhance comfort and cooling power while providing an additional measure of protection. So whether you're hammering off the front, smashing an Ironman course, or laying down maximum wattage in the dash to the finish line, the Vanquish shapes the wind to work for you."
Features: TransformAir Technology, EPS liner with Progressive layering, Integrated MIPS technology, Magnetic Vivid shield by Zeiss, Stealth shield dock, Eyeglass grippers, Antimicrobial padding, Featherweight webbing
Construction: In-Mould Construction with Progressive Layering, Four-piece polycarbonate interlocking Hardbody shell
Fit System: Roc Loc Air MIPS
Ventilation: Wind Tunnel ventilation"
The Vanquish MIPS comes in its own storage/carrying pod.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Giro says this about the TransformAir technology: "An aerodynamic "cliff" tricks the air by reducing drag and providing the aerodynamic efficiency of a full teardrop helmet, in a profile that is more comfortable and versatile in a variety of head angles."
The build-quality is very high
Aero road helmets don't tend to be cheap, unfortunately. Bear in mind, though, that you get an eye shield as part of the package. You could think of that as effectively removing the cost of a pair of cycling glasses.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. You rarely give it a second thought in use, and that's definitely a good thing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The eye shield works really well and I really like Giro's Roc Loc Air fit system.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A lot of people are going to struggle with the £200+ price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
In terms of function, the Vanquish MIPS is a definite 9. I'd like to give it a 9 overall but feel that the price (albeit including an eye shield) pulls the overall score down to 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.