As bike racers, we obsess with the very latest tech in wheels, drivetrains, frames and tires. Yet the one item that can help us get faster, be more comfortable, and most importantly, save our life, often gets neglected until it’s so nasty it needs replacement, or until we take a tumble and wreck it.
While many have debated the benefits of tech trends like single chainrings, disc brakes and thru axles, helmets have benefited from a quiet revolution in technology. And they have emerged faster, lighter, more comfortable and if you are to believe all of the company literature out there, safer as well, all of which is awesome. We rounded up a selection of the latest lids in Issue 30, and in true Cyclocross Magazine fashion, looked to see which ones are are best suited for your mixed terrain racing and adventures.
In this first installment, we’re reviewing some of the top aero offerings. While the benefits of such helmets are greater at road racing speeds, there are still advantages to be had. Aside from being aero, some of these helmets can keep you warmer on a cool day and a measure drier on a rainy one. While aero helmets aren’t every riders’ cup of tea, they fit the bill for some. In the next installment we’ll show you some more traditional lids.
For now, let’s look at some wind-cheating head gear.
by the CXM Test Crew
Want one helmet for road and cyclocross racing, but don’t want to look like a you’re lining up for a time trial? Giro’s Synthe aims to please with a look that doesn’t differ much from a road helmet in styling. But the helmet also promises the wind-cheating benefits of aero helmets like the Specialized Evade and Giro’s own Air Attack. Giro claims free speed benefits due to the Synthe’s wind-cheating design, and yet the helmet doesn’t look or heat up like other aero helmets or shells.
Giro boasts impressive test data with the Synthe, showing that it’s cooler than its more-vented Aeon, and much cooler than the Air Attack, and faster than that model except in the heads down position. But we’re cyclocrossers and gravel riders, and it’s important to note that the speed gains and ventilation tests are typically at 25mph. That’s far beyond the average speed most of us see in real-world cyclocross racing.
Safety: Like most helmets featured here, Giro opts for in-mold construction. An EPS foam liner helps keep the helmet light and absorb impact, but aerodynamics and fit are what separate this helmet, not cutting-edge safety features.
Fit: The Roc Loc Air system, not aerodynamic design, is what you’ll first notice when you insert your melon into the Synthe. There’s very few points of contact with the outer EPS foam shell, making for a comfortable, well-ventilated ride, even though it doesn’t wow in number of vents at just 19.
Heads Up: The solid mesh panels that guard the side vents from wind are great at catching mud, and hard to clean. The Roc Loc Air system is a little fragile, so protect it well while packing and traveling should you want an intact helmet on race day.
Specs: Weight: 272g (L) // MSRP: $250 // Sizes: S/M/L/XL // Options: MIPS ($270)
More info: giro.com