When the helmet juggernaut Giro sends out a vague invitation with just a handful of bullet points such as, “Scottsdale at the end of June.” “Bring your bike,” and  “Your not going to want to miss this,”  we were conflicted. It sounded exactly like something we would want to miss, after all there is a reason why we’re located on overpriced Southern California real estate, climate control comes in the form of an ocean breeze, not A/C… 

Ryan Yee

However, curiosity once again got the better of us and we hopped a flight to Arizona. We were greeted by the Synthe, Giro’s newest addition to its extensive helmet line up. Typically, a new Giro helmet comes once every three or four years.  The helmet we were staring at was their 3rd addition in almost as many years. In the past, Giro has covered light and ventilated with the Aeon and Atmos and aerodynamic with the Air Attack, so why the need for another helmet so soon?

At first glance the Synthe was not what we expected to see in an aero helmet, but the claims being made included everything we wanted.  By the numbers we were looking at a helmet that was more efficient than any road helmet Giro has ever produced – 16% faster than the Aeon, 13% lighter than the Air Attack, 2% cooler than the already super ventilated Aeon, and styling that works for almost everyone.

Start with an adoption from other Giro helmets, the ROCKLOC AIR fit system, and you get excellent fit with one of the most established head forms in cycling combined with a claimed weight hovering between 230g-250g (depending on size)  and you’ve got a helmet that disappears after being strapped into place.

While fit and feel are fairly easy for us to evaluate by logging hours in the saddle with the new headwear other claims were less easy to objectively evaluate. Thankfully, the Faster wind tunnel is located in Scottsdale and provided us with more than enough supporting evidence to see the black and white data behind the Synthe.

During our afternoon at Faster we watched the wind tunnel in action measuring drag from an assortment of angles. This was followed up by an open Q&A forum with Rob Wessen, Giro’s Director of Engineering on topics ranging from aerodynamics, thermodynamics, rider head angle, position, and WAD (Wind Average Drag). Let’s just say that with the Synthe, Giro put in the time to develop something special.

One of our favorite Synthe features was the addition of Giro’s aero mesh, which aside from being aesthetically pleasing also has a number of practical applications.  Not only does it securely dock your eyewear when not in use, but the aero mesh is a major contributor to air flow.  With air entering the helmet through front vents, logic would tell you to simply build vents of equal size in the back and sides for the air to exit.  However, with all of their wind tunnel research Wessen has found that aerodynamics and thermodynamics aren’t quite that simple.  With large frontal vents working to bring ample air in, keeping your head cool, its the the aero mesh that actually controls the air re-direction on exit, ensuring a smooth flow around the “boundary layer” increasing aerodynamics.

On our short-term test one other feature we’d like to point out is that with the reduced overall volume and controlled airflow, Giro has been able to cut down on wind noise, effectively allowing a rider to hear their surroundings better, and therefore increase safety by potentially avoiding the exact kind of accidents helmets are designed for.

The Synthe is set to debut at the Tour next month, and will be available to everyone in late Fall with a retail of $250

Price: $250 Weight: 230-250grams More: giro.com

Check back soon for our long-term review.