Giro Synthe

Let me start with a caveat - I’m no expert.

I’ve owned several helmets from several brands and covering a wide range of price points. Currently I sport a Catlike Mixino and I often borrow Steph’s Kask Mojito. Now I’ve put a Giro Synthe into the mix. I’m a bigger guy and I get very warm when I ride, so I’m usually looking for three things: fit, ventilation and appearance. I don’t like looking like a mushroom head.

Speeding past by Stephanie Young, on Flickr

The Fit.
The Synthe (in size S for me) is snug. I tried on small and medium and found the medium still left a lot of “play” around the sides of my head, while the small was snug. Initially I was a little wary as I could feel two parts of the structure clearly pressing on my head. The good news is that after getting on the bike my head and posture move enough to eliminate that feeling and give the impression I’m barely wearing a helmet at all. The Giro mechanism for tightening the helmet is solid and it clamps down well without being uncomfortable. Only the Mixino has been close. During riding the helmet barely moves and is hardly noticeable at all.

Back view by Stephanie Young, on Flickr

Having owned a Bell Sweep, Giro Atmos and Catlike Mixino - as well as using a Kask Mojito - the ventilation on the Synthe is outstanding. I was genuinely surprised at how well air passed through the helmet and around my head. The Mixino possibly does a better job at lower speeds (20km or less) but around the 30km mark the Synthe and the Mixino are inseparable. During a lunch ride where I was pushing pretty hard I could feel my head warming up, however, I could also feel the Synthe funnelling air around my head to cool it down. There is a point though at which airflow can be disrupted. Looking down at a Garmin or doing a Chris Froome (staring at your stem) will put the flat blades of the helmet into the wind and limit the air. Looking at the road works best.
I can’t really comment about the aero efficiency of this lid. I’ve felt quick wearing it but that could be any number of things, from having fresh legs on a still day to the choice of wheels on my bike. It could be anything. I’d need to get out in an air attack and the Mixino in a more controlled environment to compare. Also, I’ve yet to go climbing in this helmet and I have no idea how I’ll go in the hot months with it. Time will tell.

Rear of the Synthe by -lukemarkof-

Let’s get the “premium” feel of Kask’s leather strap panelling out of the way. The Kask has it, pretty much no other helmets do. It’s a selling feature for them and I only ever notice it when I do the helmet up or take it off. I’m never riding along thinking about how great that little bit of leather is.
The Mojito can look a bit weird on my head, the Mixino works well for me but the POC Octal (regardless of size) looks awful on me. The Synthe, I think, looks pretty good. I’ve got one in white & silver to be versatile across my bikes and also to be a little bit more visible in failing/poor light. The design strikes a nice balance between old and new, looking both modern and sleek as well as harking back to the days of simpler helmet design.
The mushroom effect isn’t as pronounced as many helmets I’ve tried and the simplicity of the design means it should age well and be versatile. The glasses cages are great as well. They’re a bit loose for my Oakley Racing Jackets, however my POC Do-Blades are locked away firmly and don’t budge at all. This is a gripe I have with the Kask (not with the Mixino or Octal). When I’m wearing the Oakleys these are a little more comfortable, not quite resting on the rear retention mechanism of the helmet. The slightly longer arms of the Do-Blades do sit on the rear caging but do so firmly and without issue.

Front on by Stephanie Young, on Flickr

For me this is an expensive helmet ($400 in store at Saint Cloud). My Mixino wasn’t this expensive, nor was Steph’s POC Octal. Even an Air Attack is cheaper. The construction of the helmet feels good though, the design is simple and uncomplicated and there are supposed aerodynamic benefits from this helmet. It ventilated extremely well, comes in four colours (locally at least) and feels absolutely excellent to wear. By far the biggest surprise for me was how well it ventilated. It really does feel very good. I’ve done around 100km in the Synthe so far, including an hour on the track today, so I’ll post an update in another couple of hundred kilometres (or if I go climbing in it). I would rate this helmet a 9/10 for me and what I need it for (apart from keeping my brain inside). It ticks all the boxes I need, I would just say it is expensive.

Another week and another 300km in the Giro.
I said I’d update if I went climbing in the Synthe and so here I am.
Yesterday was a 117km round trip on a singlespeed with the Synthe that included climbing up Mt Dandenong and everyone’s favourite Strava Segment - the 1 in 20. Along the roads and bike paths the helmet performed exactly as I’m used to. It was comfortable, cooling and light. Didn’t even notice I had it on. Once on the climb, this didn’t change. I am utterly speachless at how well it ventilated. I wasn’t overheating like I can in the Mojito and I wasn’t aware of sweat running down my face like I was in the Giro Atmos or Bell Sweep. The only helmet that I think I’d rather just go climbing in is the Catlike Mixino. If all I was doing was hills, hills & hills, I think the Mixino would suit someone of my build and abilities better.
As an all round helmet though - the Synthe is pretty much unbeatable. Like I say, I was comfortable climbing in it, I wasn’t overheating in it at all, it was very comfortable on the descent and I couldn’t feel any resistance at 50kmph+ it just felt amazing. I highly rate this lid.

Good that it works well, but I can’t get past the fact that a helmet costs $400.

Yeah it’s a tough one.
I’m sure in 12 month’s they’ll have dropped in price.
Not to mention competition increasing from Kask (Protone) and others could drive the price point down.

Man, you have a lot of helmets!

Nice write up Luke

$400 is at the pointy end but sounds like its gonna get used, a lot.

Good lookin lid.

I’ve got two - the Giro Synthe and the Catlike Mixino. Steph has two - a POC Octal and the Kask Mojito.

‘People’ seem to happily spend all that and more on shoes for instance, both are subjective consumer choices. While cheaper options will “do the job”, paying a bit extra for something if you prefer and appreciate the style, features and comfort is again a subjective and personal choice. The same goes for bikes, cars, casual clothing, real estate and guitars, blah, blah, blah.

I agree entirely. I wasn’t criticising Luke’s choice.

That front wheel on the other hand…

You jelly. I get it.

Good review Luke!

How does it hold up with a cap underneath? (Which might negate the whole purpose of the helmet though)

I was in need of a new one now that I have un-retired from bikes - the only one I had was my old Bell Volt that had a bit of sentimental appeal but was getting past its use-by date. (My Catlike was pinched along with my bike before Christmas.)

Key wants for me, in order: a large size that fits my MASSIVE head but avoids mushroom head syndrome if possible; good ventilation; good solid adjustment mechanism because I tend to fiddle with it a lot; able to fit sunglasses securely when not wearing them; look good in white colourway; stylish hopefully cos much of the current helmet batch look a bit stupid??; able to fit a cap under; ‘aerodynamics’ lololol; nice and light I guess.

Large size fit issues: this instantly disqualfied the Kask Mojito for me, just too small even in a large. Synthe on the other hand went on without a hitch and had a good amount of adjustment available in the mechanism. Avoids mushroom syndrome also.
Ventilation: excellent as Luke has already said.
Adjustment mechanism: really high quality feel to this, solid click, one-knob adjustment. Top stuff.
Sunglasses issues: takes them really well - this was the one of the things that used to irritate me about the Catlike, just never quite felt spot-on.
Does it look good in white: yes it does, well white and silver and black at least.
Is it stylish: I don’t like heaps of small vents, Catlike (weirdly) excepted, so the broad black stripes disguising the vents is a good visual trick I think. Really don’t want anything too aero-looking so it fits the bill. All this stuff is subjective so YMMV of course.
Can it fit a cap: the one disappointment for me is that it can’t given my head size. I wonder if this is because it’s the MIPS version with the extra layer of material inside - in which case I’ll take the safety benefits as a good trade-off.
Aero: lol who cares.
Weight: is nice and light but we’re hardly talking Stackhats here so IDGAF really.

I have taken advantage of the trade-in scheme to get the MIPS model which cut the price by 25% - so that is over $100 off - and is running until the end of the month I believe.

Been riding Catlikes for a few years now and you’d think that with the billion air vents that there would have to be a combination that suits sunnies… I’ve still never been able to find one though

i’ve had moderate success with older M-Frames and Catlikes. but i’m outta the style loop, so my opinion is invalid.

That’s exactly what I thought!!

Interesting. My POC sunglasses, Oakley Jaw Bones and a couple of other pairs are no problem in my Catlike Mixino - and were no problem in the Synthe prior to its untimely demise. The Giant Rivet on the other hand…

Glad you’re liking the Synthe though. I miss mine.