FLIMS, Switzerland (VN) — At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the new Giro Cinder helmet for Giro’s popular Synthe, but the Cinder is a different beast entirely. For starters, this MIPS-equipped lid comes in at a much lower price point — $150, compared to $270 for the MIPS-equipped Synthe — and there are a few subtle stylistic changes. The Cinder is a great choice for riders who love the Giro fit and aesthetics, but don’t mistake this helmet for a Synthe replacement, especially if you prefer lots of venting.
The Synthe MIPS is my go-to helmet, so I was excited to try out the Cinder and see how it compared. In terms of fit, the two feel very similar, likely due to the Roc Loc 5 retention system. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here: Giro’s retention system is the best on the market, and the Cinder reaffirms that notion. The Synthe, however, uses the Roc Loc Air system, which, unlike the Roc Loc 5, keeps the helmet slightly off your head for improved airflow. This turned out to be a bigger difference than I had anticipated.
It wasn’t until I started grinding up a sustained, 40-minute climb in the unusually grueling Swiss heat that I found a real issue with the Cinder: It doesn’t vent nearly as well as the Synthe does. To be fair, there wasn’t a breeze to be found, and I was battling midday sun. But even on the long descents that preceded that leg-busting climb, the lack of airflow through the helmet and over my head was noticeable. Smaller vents and the difference in Roc Loc systems seem to really set apart the top of the line Synthe from this more affordable Cinder. I can see the Cinder being an easy helmet to reach for on chilly mornings, but during the heat of summer, it might be best left on the shelf.
Aesthetically, the Cinder looks very cool. It’s got that same svelte style as the Synthe, but the rear of the helmet differs slightly, with swooping lines instead of the Synthe’s pinched look. The Cinder also has a slightly larger head form than the Synthe, so it will look a bit bigger on your head. I actually didn’t notice the bigger head shape until someone pointed it out, though.
Despite those concessions, the Cinder is a good helmet at a good price for a MIPS-equipped brain bucket. It looks nice and fits great, but riders who live in consistently hot climates might want to drop the extra cash for the more airy Synthe.