Giro Cinder MIPS Review
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Giro Cinder MIP helmet’s features and discuss what I’ve learned about whom it might work best for.
About the Giro Cinder MIPS
The Giro Cinder MIPS helmet promises to offer avid road riders all the features they could want in a lightweight, stylish, performance-oriented, and affordable package.
Giro tells us that Cinder is inspired by the classic aesthetic and premium design of their Synthe helmet, and includes many of the same features, such as their Roc Loc 5 fit system, Air-FX padding, MIPS brain protection system to redirect impact energy, compact shape, Wind Tunnel ventilation and internal channeling, and availability in a number of color and graphics options.
But with a $150 MSRP, Cinder comes with a $75 less expensive price tag than the Synthe, which they advertise provides the “style and performance you demand, all at an incredible value.”
Here, we’ll combine my firsthand experience with details from the company to help you decide if the Cinder is the right bike helmet for you.
Taking a Closer Look at the Giro Cinder MIPS Helmet
Take a step-by-step look at the Cinder’s features.
At $150, the Cinder is Giro’s mid-range model. It comes with a one-year warranty and is available in seven color combinations: Highlight Yellow, Matte Black-Charcoal, Matte Grey Firechrome, Matte Midnight, Matte Olive-Citron, Matte Red, and Matte White-Silver. Replacement pad kits cost $14.99 if purchased directly from the company.
Sizing and head related head circumference is as follows:
- XS: 18.5–20 in (47–51 cm)
- S: 20–21.75 in (51–55 cm)
- M: 21.75–23.25 in (55–59 cm)
- L: 23.25–24.75 in (59–63 cm)
- XL: 22.75–25.5 in (58–65 cm)
MIPS & Other Safety Features
The Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology found in Giro’s Cinder helmet was developed by a Swiss company in 1996 and is now featured in more than 300 helmet models from 60 different companies.
In a nutshell, this technology involves an inner liner that has been “scientifically proven to reduce rotational motion by absorbing and redirecting rotational energies and forces transferred to the brain from angled impacts to the head.”
In layman’s terms, it helps prevent a brain injury during angled impacts, which the company claims are much more common than the vertical testing performed on typical all-foam helmets.
The Cinder MIPS helmet also boasts in-mold construction and a thermoformed SL Roll Cage™, which involves a polycarbonate outer shell fused to an impact-absorbing foam liner. Together, this offers lighter construction, enhanced structural support, and better ventilation.
Finally, Cinder is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is a requirement for all bicycle helmets sold in the United States.
Roc Loc 5 Fit System
While the current Cinder MIPS version has been around since 2017, the Roc Loc 5 retention system it uses has existed since 2010.
This Giro technology involves a small ratcheting dial at the back which you can use to customize the helmet’s fit—use your thumb and another finger to tighten by turning it clockwise, or turning counterclockwise to loosen. Each micro adjustment you make clicks into place for a secure fit.
You can also adjust the system’s Vertical Fit tab to move the helmet fore and aft a total of 15 mm.
Wind Tunnel Vents
The Cinder MIPS combines 26 vents and compact shape with Giro’s proprietary Wind Tunnel Ventilation System, which they say uses exhaust channels to force fresh air over around your head while forcing hot air out.
Together, they advertise it’s the most effective cooling system available.
Giro Cinder MIPS Padding
The Cinder bike helmet features two areas of strategically placed padding—one channeled area that extends on each side, from the forehead around to behind the temples. A second V-shaped pad on the top evenly straddles the skull’s parietal bones and ceases near the coronal suture.
A tag on my helmet (more soon) advertised that the pads are made from XStatic threads, which involve a core fiber surrounded by 99.9% pure silver, which they claim can help reduce bacterial buildup and related odors.
Like most modern bike helmets, the Cinder affixes to your head using Y-straps on either side with a length-adjustable clip underneath the chin.
My Experience Riding with the Giro Cinder MIPS
Appearance & Quality
I ordered a Cinder helmet in Matte Midnight from Competitive Cyclist, which arrived quickly and well-packaged.
I think its colors pop even more when viewed in person, with a smooth matte finish over the top and a high-end look that’s comparable to Giro’s more expensive Synthe helmet. Branding on the front and both sides are tasteful—the stickers seem high-quality and unlikely to peel prematurely.
In back, the Roc Loc 5 system (more soon) is adorned with subtle reflective elements that don’t impact appearance too much but could work as a significant safety feature when riding in low-light environments.
After an initial 70 miles, the Cinder seems well-built and sure to last more than a few seasons. My previous Specialized Echelon II lasted more than seven years, so the bar is set high.
Pro tip: Many manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every three years (or immediately after a crash), as the EPS foam can degrade and reduce its structural integrity. However, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports:
“In 2015 MEA Forensic reported on their extensive testing of used (but not crashed) bicycle helmets shows that the foam liners retain their performance over many years. Some of the helmets were as old as 26 years. They crash tested 675 helmets in their lab. Their analysis showed that there was no significant impact performance change with age.”
Giro Cinder Fit
I have a large head, so it’s not unusual for me to look like a swollen grape after putting on a bike helmet. And with its bulk that sticks out fairly far from my noggin, the Cinder is no different.
Still, many other online cyclists also report that the Cinder has a more substantial head form than some other models, so it’s worth emphasizing. On the flip side, this larger form can improve durability.
Like most modern bike helmets, the Cinder features fixed, non-adjustable Y-straps that meet underneath your ears and then continue underneath the chin, where they buckle (this part is length-adjustable) easily and remain in place while riding.
With my more massive skull, though, I have to fully extend the strap for a comfortable fit, especially when wearing my Walz cap on top. This isn’t necessarily a flaw, as it was much the same with my previous Specialized helmet.
I ride with an Apple Airpod in my right ear, which is fixed in place with silicone EarBuddyz inserts. It fits nicely—but firmly—next to my ear and doesn’t move throughout my ride.
While it’s always a bit of a process getting used to a new helmet, I’ve found that the Cinder’s padding is comfortable, and adjusting fit is as easy as turning the Roc Loc 5 system’s dial clockwise or counterclockwise with one hand. As I break it in, I’ll alternate between a tighter and looser fit several times during a single ride to give my head a bit of relief from the tension.
Although a medium Cinder weighs about 32 grams more than the high-end Synthe, this is minimal enough that most recreational cyclists probably won’t notice the difference.
So far, I’ve only had the opportunity to use my Cinder helmet in cooler weather during the Colorado Front Range’s early Spring.
But, after riding during the summer with my MIPS-equipped Smith Session MTB helmet, I can already tell that the Cinder MIPS will likely run hotter than my previous Specialized. While the system can certainly help protect your head in the event of a crash, it’s been my experience that it also reduces cooling.
Still, I like the Cinder’s large vents, which seem to send as much air as possible around the MIPS liner. Just keep in mind that compared to the higher-end Synthe, you might notice decreased ventilation.
Let’s carry this thought over to the final section as we wrap things up.
Is the Giro Cinder MIPS Helmet a Good Overall Value?
At $150, I think Giro’s Cinder mid-range helmet offers a substantial level of value for the money, with a premium look and many of the same features found on the higher-end Synthe model.
However, it’s worth noting that the Synthe is currently only $75 more expensive than the Cinder, but comes with the Roc Loc Air adjustment system and meaningfully larger vents.
Together, many online cyclists report these features can help keep the helmet slightly off of your head and maximize cooling. As such, you might opt for the former if you live in a hotter, more humid climate.
The Synthe is also more aerodynamic than the Cinder, but I—like most recreational cyclists—probably won’t notice the difference.
Bottom line: So far, I’ve had great experiences with Giro’s Cinder helmet during early Spring, and I think most recreational cyclists will too. I sweat a lot, though, and enjoy climbing, so I’ll report back with my verdict during the hotter summer months.
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