Home
Verdict: 
Lightweight, comfortable and very well ventilated helmet designed for aerodynamic efficiency
Weight: 
223g
Contact: 

The Giro Synthe is a new aero road helmet that's lightweight, comfortable and very well ventilated.

This is Giro's top end helmet that debuted on the heads of riders from BMC, Katusha and IAM Cycling at the Tour de France earlier in the year. They call it the Synthe because they reckon it synthesises all the features you'd want in a high-performance road helmet: a low weight, plenty of ventilation, a good fit and aerodynamic efficiency.

The easiest of those to quantify is the weight, so let's deal with that first. Our medium sized test model hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 223g which, in a radical break from tradition, is actually lighter than the manufacturer's own figure of 234g.

Find the Giro Synthe online
Find a Giro dealer

That's impressively light, just 27g more than the non-aero Giro Aeon /content/review/114542-giro-aeon-helmet and considerably lighter than Giro's Air Attack aero lid. The last place you'd want to get involved in a grams arms race is in safety equipment, but the fact that the Synthe feels so light certainly adds to the comfort.

Speaking of comfort, the Synthe has plenty on offer. That's largely down to the use of Giro's Roc Loc Air fit system which is adjusted via a clicky wheel. The Roc Loc Air is a flexible plastic cradle that attaches to the helmet body at the back (where you can choose from three different height positions) and the temples, continuing right across your forehead and then backwards across the top of your head.

This has two key effects. First, by surrounding the head totally, the Roc Loc Air system means the helmet fits the vast majority of head shapes.

Second, it lifts the EPS (expanded polystyrene) body of the helmet off your head very slightly. This does away with the need for much padding – there's just one X-Static anti-microbial pad across the forehead – and allows air to flow easily through the helmet's internal channels.

In terms of ventilation, this is one of the best helmets I've ever used. Giro reckon that using a heat-sensing headform reveals the Synthe to be cooler than the existing Aeon and nearly as cool as a bare head. After using it extensively over many weeks since August, including a stint in the South of France, I can certainly believe that.

As I've mentioned, the Synthe is designed with aerodynamics in mind – like pretty much everything else in the road bike world at the moment – and it's aero considerations that have led to the distinctive 'aero mesh' perforated panels on the sides of the helmet.

Giro reckon that these reduce drag by covering the edges of the side vents. They also say that the holes in the panels alter the boundary layer of air in this area by slowing down the movement of air from the inside to the outside of the helmet, improving the aerodynamic efficiency.

"Using Wind Averaged Drag, a formula that takes into account 72 different yaw angles and calculates a single drag measurement for a standard head angle of 30 degrees and speed of 25mph, the Synthe is more aerodynamically efficient than any road helmet [we] tested, including the acclaimed Air Attack," say Giro.

We can't validate any aero claims so you can either take 'em or leave 'em. If true, we'd struggle to see why anyone would now buy the Air Attack.

Those large holes at the front of the aero mesh panels are for docking your eyewear. I tried a whole load of different models in there and they all fitted fine although some were more rattly than others. My Oakleys sat in there a treat – absolutely rock solid even when climbing out of the saddle.

Verdict

Lightweight, comfortable and very well ventilated helmet designed for aerodynamic efficiency

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Giro Synthe (available January)

Size tested: Blue

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?

Giro say:

"The Synthe is the pinnacle of road helmet design. It offers impressive cooling power, minimal weight, supreme fit and streamlined aerodynamic efficiency. It is a true synthesis of all features a modern rider wants in a high performance road racing helmet.

"The difference is clear in the wind tunnel '' our extensive testing reveals that the Synthe is nearly as efficient as the fastest time trial helmets. But the Synthe's greatest attributes are comfort and ventilation. At its heart you'll find our Roc Loc Air fit system. Micro adjustments allow you to custom tune tension and fore-aft tilt with one hand and a patented design suspends the helmet over the top of the skull, allowing airflow to pass freely over your head. Cooling power is further boosted by elaborate internal channeling and a series of massive vents; the Synthe sets a new bar for ventilation.

"You no longer need to choose between aerodynamics and cooling power '' with Synthe you get everything, all wrapped up in a compact and sleek silhouette."

So, Giro say that the Synthe is a top-level road helmet with added aerodynamic efficiency.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Giro list these attributes:

WEIGHT

234g (CE Medium)

FEATURES

Wind Tunnel-Aided Design for Aero Efficiency on the Road

Integrated Aero Mesh Panels

Eyewear Docking Ports

X-Static Padding

Featherweight Webbing with Slimline Buckle

CONSTRUCTION

In-Mold polycarbonate shell with EPS liner

FIT SYSTEM

Roc Loc Air

VENTILATION

19 vents, internal channeling

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

If you want value, don't go for a top end helmet. You can get a big chunk of the performance at a fraction of the price. But if you want the very best performance, the Synthe is right up there.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

I can't comment on the aerodynamics but this is a lightweight and airy helmet that's super-comfortable in use.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The cooling and the lightweight. It's a bit of a cliché but you hardly feel like you're wearing a helmet.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Most people will struggle with the £200 price tag.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? It's expensive but I'd consider it because it really is a bit special.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Price aside, the Synthe definitely warrants a 9. You could easily argue that the price should bring that down to an 8 but the modal category score we've given is 9 so we'll go with that on this occasion because it is an exceptional helmet.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

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.

33 comments

Avatar
HalfWheeler [673 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

200 notes? You're having a giraffe.

Avatar
Leviathan [3057 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
HalfWheeler wrote:

200 notes? You're having a giraffe.

It is in Sky colours after all.
Strange that a recent review on a bike pump was scathing at 2/10 mainly because of the price.

Avatar
DeanF316 [136 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Only £200 far too cheap to any good. I wouldn't turn up at my local sportive in anything under £300. It would be just so embarasing, people might think I'm one of those poor people that started cycling before Team Sky or year zero.

Avatar
dreamlx10 [308 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
HalfWheeler wrote:

200 notes? You're having a giraffe.

You beat me to it.

Avatar
jasecd [548 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

And me. A quick look online and you can find hundreds of top brand helmets for less than £75 - what does this do so well at three times this price and still gets 7/10 for value?

Avatar
Liaman [68 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I've seen it online for £160. It's still a bit of a kick in the nuts though, especially as the LG Course helmet is going for £96 at Evans.

Avatar
FatTed [22 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

How does it compare to the Specialized Prevail S-Works? ventilation and a cool head is what I'm after.

Avatar
EarsoftheWolf [75 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

For anyone who's interested in the design but doesn't feel like getting ripped off, you can pick up a Giro Foray for about £40. It's a very similar style and shape.

Avatar
The _Kaner [1181 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Or you could go and buy a Foray for 1/4 of the price....

Avatar
Must be Mad [647 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Its a nice looking helmet - I just hope the technology trickles down to a more reasonable price point soon.

Avatar
faqibg [16 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I actually own one of these as I tried this and the POC Octal. For the people that comment with high prices scoffs I guess the review did not outline the price of diminishing returns as much. From another user I can confirm it's super comfy and well venitalated and compared to the POC which costs about the same it doesn't make you look like a mushroom as much.

Avatar
Joeinpoole [464 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
EarsoftheWolf wrote:

For anyone who's interested in the design but doesn't feel like getting ripped off, you can pick up a Giro Foray for about £40. It's a very similar style and shape.

Even better and cheaper ... is not wearing one of those silly helmets at all ... just as they don't in DK and NL for example. Just ride your bike appropriately to the conditions and you should be absolutely fine.

If your employer doesn't provide you with a cycling helmet for free, then it probably means you are not a professional cyclist, and therefore don't need one.

Avatar
EarsoftheWolf [75 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Joeinpoole wrote:

Even better and cheaper ... is not wearing one of those silly helmets at all ... just as they don't in DK and NL for example. Just ride your bike appropriately to the conditions and you should be absolutely fine.

If your employer doesn't provide you with a cycling helmet for free, then it probably means you are not a professional cyclist, and therefore don't need one.

I didn't ask for your opinion as to whether a helmet should be worn or not, so just keep it to yourself next time. Let people make their own personal choice. Insisting that people don't need helmets at all is just as condescending and unhelpful as insisting they be made compulsory.

Avatar
ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Joeinpoole wrote:
EarsoftheWolf wrote:

For anyone who's interested in the design but doesn't feel like getting ripped off, you can pick up a Giro Foray for about £40. It's a very similar style and shape.

Even better and cheaper ... is not wearing one of those silly helmets at all ... just as they don't in DK and NL for example. Just ride your bike appropriately to the conditions and you should be absolutely fine.

If your employer doesn't provide you with a cycling helmet for free, then it probably means you are not a professional cyclist, and therefore don't need one.

It's a racing helmet, for racing cyclists. Racing where helmets are both compulsory (they are in DK and NL for racing too by the way) and necessary when you're jostling for position at 30mph+ or honking down a mountain at 50mph+.

You're in the wrong place pal, your daft rant is utterly irrelevant and nonsensical in this context.

Avatar
ls3bvet [12 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

This is a review about a helmet not about whether to wear one or not.

I chose this helmet because I like a well ventilated helmet and I needed to replace the one destroyed by a hit and run driver. So according to Earsofthewolf it was my fault and I should have been riding to the conditions etc. Those of us who end up hitting the road ( I was only going at 19 mph) and ending up in hospital with body damage but no head injury thank the day they bought a helmet.

So before telling us to ditch the helmet, try head butting the road from a standing position without one.

Avatar
felixcat [585 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

It is interesting that neither the review nor the manufacturer's sales spiel as quoted, mention how well the helmet protects against impacts. That is, how well it carries out what ought to be its primary function. Comfort, fit, aerodynamics, weight are all considered more important than efficacy as a helmet!
Its almost as if the mere wearing of any scrap of foam is sufficient to protect.
If I were to spend £200 on some expanded polystyrene I would want to know whether it is any good at protecting my brain.

Avatar
ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 4 years ago
1 like
felixcat wrote:

It is interesting that neither the review nor the manufacturer's sales spiel as quoted, mention how well the helmet protects against impacts. That is, how well it carries out what ought to be its primary function. Comfort, fit, aerodynamics, weight are all considered more important than efficacy as a helmet!
Its almost as if the mere wearing of any scrap of foam is sufficient to protect.
If I were to spend £200 on some expanded polystyrene I would want to know whether it is any good at protecting my brain.

Or as a racing cyclist in the market for a racing helmet which I HAVE to wear to compete, I'm more bothered about weight, comfort, ventilation and aerodynamics. It's going to protect my head as well as any other helmet in it's bracket, what else can it offer me?

FFS, it's not for riding to work in. It's the same story where high level RACING pedals are concerned. "They're only single sided, hard to clip into and the cleats wear too quickly and they're too expensive, I have to replace my cleats every week on my commute" you clip in at the start of the race and clip out at the end. They're not designed for walking around the park and putting your foot down 600 times on your 2 mile commute. Same with shoes (No good for walking in" deep section wheels "Bad in crosswinds" aggressive frames "uncomfortable" I've even seen people whine about skinsuits having no Jersey pockets.......

There is clearly some confusion on this site with many people believing every product is aimed at them directly. They're not. There are a huge range of requirements across a broad spectrum of rider types. Not just you.

Accept your style of riding is not the only one out there and get on with it.

Avatar
felixcat [585 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I am even more interested to learn that the sole purpose of a helmet is to conform with racing rules, not to actually preserve the brain cells.
I quite understand that ventilation etc. is important, but there is absolutely no indication in this review that a helmet is meant to protect the head.
I have been preached at by helmeteers on the vital importance of helmet wearing until my head aches. In a way I am pleased to find that the protection function of the foam is unimportant to many of those who wear one.
What my style of riding is is unknown to you and anyway irrelevant. I do not know why you felt the need to bring it up. I didn't.

Avatar
mrmo [2099 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
felixcat wrote:

It is interesting that neither the review nor the manufacturer's sales spiel as quoted, mention how well the helmet protects against impacts.

It will conform to the relevant standards, that the standards are crap, that the standards that were the norm when I started mountain biking in the early 90's have been superceeded by standards that are worse and offer LESS protection.

But as long as you have a helmet that's alright!!!!!

Avatar
Matt eaton [741 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Given that this helmet is designed as a high-performance product I'm surprised at the 7/10 score for value. Doubtless a lighter and cooler helmet does bring (very) marginal performance gains but how would it compare to buying a £50 helmet and putting the remaining £150 into a new set of tyres? Which option really provides the best bang-for-buck performance upgrade?

It looks like a great helmet for racing but I've got to disagree on the 'value for money' front.

Avatar
felixcat [585 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:

It will conform to the relevant standards, that the standards are crap, that the standards that were the norm when I started mountain biking in the early 90's have been superceeded by standards that are worse and offer LESS protection.

But as long as you have a helmet that's alright!!!!!

Indeed, and reviews like this and consumers who care only that the helmet is light, well ventilated and stylish, will ensure that helmets compete on these qualities.
Helmets in this sort of market are made down to the standard, especially when protection conflicts with more desired features.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2803 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
felixcat wrote:

I am even more interested to learn that the sole purpose of a helmet is to conform with racing rules, not to actually preserve the brain cells.

Who said that (aside from you) ? It wasn't from the comment from ajmarshall1 just before yours (he said something entirely different), nor from the others i've read, so just wondering where you got that..

Avatar
ls3bvet [12 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

All helmets sold in the EU have to meet or better the safety requirements. If you look in the picture this helmet does have the CE sticker so it has at least met the standard which Homo sapien skull does not and never will.

If Giro Bell and others were designing down to the least standard they could get away with their competetors would soon spread the word.

Avatar
Matt eaton [741 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
felixcat wrote:

Indeed, and reviews like this and consumers who care only that the helmet is light, well ventilated and stylish, will ensure that helmets compete on these qualities.
Helmets in this sort of market are made down to the standard, especially when protection conflicts with more desired features.

I share your feeling on this subject to some degree but this is a consequence of having an established standard. When motorcyclists or racing car drivers shop for helmets I believe that the same applies. As a direct comparision, if you were shopping for a motocross race helmet you would see the same criteria at play: comfort, weight, ventilation, goggle compatibility etc. and provided the defined standards for safety are met efficacy is unlikey to get a mention.

If there were no established safety standards and no minimum requirement to be met I'm sure that manufacturers would promote their products on the basis of safety. A good example would be motocross neck braces (I 'm not a secret MXer BTW) where no defined standard exists. Claims about efficacy are a key part of the sales pitch for these products.

Avatar
Chasseur Patate [151 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
felixcat wrote:

I am even more interested to learn that the sole purpose of a helmet is to conform with racing rules, not to actually preserve the brain cells.
I quite understand that ventilation etc. is important, but there is absolutely no indication in this review that a helmet is meant to protect the head.
I have been preached at by helmeteers on the vital importance of helmet wearing until my head aches. In a way I am pleased to find that the protection function of the foam is unimportant to many of those who wear one.
What my style of riding is is unknown to you and anyway irrelevant. I do not know why you felt the need to bring it up. I didn't.

Absolutely not what was said though was it? Try reading it again. The helmet meets the standard (to protect the head), so it's the extra benefits that set it apart.

Avatar
mrmo [2099 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
ls3bvet wrote:

All helmets sold in the EU have to meet or better the safety requirements. If you look in the picture this helmet does have the CE sticker so it has at least met the standard which Homo sapien skull does not and never will.

If Giro Bell and others were designing down to the least standard they could get away with their competetors would soon spread the word.

this is the point, when i started riding bikes Snell was the standard, but it is expensive and stricter than the current alternatives, because no one in authority demanded its use it has gradually been abandoned. I believe that Specialised are the only manufacturer still building to that standard.

I also believe and may be wrong on this, that the Australian standard is higher than the euro standard which is one of the reasons why helmets are not available and some are also modified.

Avatar
naambezet [9 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Joeinpoole wrote:
EarsoftheWolf wrote:

For anyone who's interested in the design but doesn't feel like getting ripped off, you can pick up a Giro Foray for about £40. It's a very similar style and shape.

Even better and cheaper ... is not wearing one of those silly helmets at all ... just as they don't in DK and NL for example. Just ride your bike appropriately to the conditions and you should be absolutely fine.

If your employer doesn't provide you with a cycling helmet for free, then it probably means you are not a professional cyclist, and therefore don't need one.

I live in the Netherlands and I wouldn't even consider going for a ride on my road bike without helmet. You're passing fellow cyclist with 10-30 km/h difference and they're mostly unaware of you

Avatar
ls3bvet [12 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

If you are worried about standards look at http://www.helmets.org/stdcomp.htm#ANVILS

I went through it and I am happy with the EU CE standard especially where it requires the helmet not to impair hearing, has rules on buckles, better impact protection (then snell or Au), better ageing testing, better weight requirement than snell but not Au and better ventilation requirements than snell.

I'm sure others will point out good points for snell and Au over the Eu but these are the ones I want. I would also like the Japanese requirement for penetration, sweat and hair oil.  21

Avatar
exilegareth [156 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Can I make a suggestion for helmet reviews? Can you tell us what sizes it comes in? I need a 64cm helmet and they're actually quite hard to finc, and shopping online is often a pain in the neck trying to find a helmet that's actually produced in my size.

Avatar
ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
exilegareth wrote:

Can I make a suggestion for helmet reviews? Can you tell us what sizes it comes in? I need a 64cm helmet and they're actually quite hard to finc, and shopping online is often a pain in the neck trying to find a helmet that's actually produced in my size.

"Size tested: Blue"

I have no idea what colour my size is either....

Pages