If you could have a helmet that was safer, more aerodynamic, or better ventilated, which would you pick? Now what if you didn’t have to just choose one? That of course, is the goal of every helmet manufacturer. The holy grail of helmet design if you will. And with the introduction of the new Aether MIPS, it looks like Giro is one step closer to realizing that goal.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road
Photo c. Giro
Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road
Photo c. Giro

Over the past few years, MIPS has turned into one of those industry buzz words, but for good reasons. The company has been instrumental in increasing awareness of (and helping to reduce) the effect that rotational motion has on the brain during impact. Along the way, many different helmet brands have integrated MIPS technology, but Giro has taken it above and beyond with their own advanced testing in house. Before they ever started down the path of MIPS integration, they independently verified MIPS claims using their own test rigs over the course of two years (Giro has three tests just for rotational impacts). And while MIPS was as one point owned by the same parent company as Giro, Giro points out that there is no longer any financial stake involved – if there’s a better technology out there, they’ll take it.

But for now, Giro claims that there is nothing better out there, and that MIPS is ahead of the curve when it comes to managing rotational energy. Now with more than 20 years behind them, MIPS is yet again raising the bar with MIPS Spherical. First introduced on the Avance MIPS ski helmet, the bike industry saw the first use of the technology in the Bell Super DH, but for road biking, Giro is first.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

MIPS Spherical

You could almost think of a MIPS Spherical helmet as two helmets in one – like a ball and socket. Instead of using the low friction layer that is attached to the inside of the helmet with elastomers, the elastomers are hidden between the two layers of EPS foam which allows the two halves to move independently of each other.

Critical to the design is the ability of the system to provide 10-15mm of relative motion between the head and the helmet while under significant point loading. All of this happens in about 1/10th of the time it takes you to blink.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

One of the benefits to MIPS Spherical, is that when it’s integrated into the helmet, you can include massive vents without a liner to get in the way. However, to build such a light helmet with gaping holes required some special construction techniques. The foam itself is actually a dual-density Nanobead EPS which uses a finer bead to get into smaller spaces. This was required to create the more complex shape of the helmet, but it also helps absorb a wider range of impacts.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

Aura

To reinforce the helmet between the vents, Giro uses a new material they are calling Aura reinforcement. The shatter-proof ABS material is lighter than carbon fiber and just as strong, so it seems like a good choice.

The outer shell is a 6 piece polycarbonate “Hardbody” which wraps around the inmolded EPS foam. Note that the Giro logo is actually molded into the shell – not just a sticker.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

Aero + Vents

Of course aerodynamics are important as well, which according to their own wind tunnel test results, the Aether MIPS stacks up pretty well considering its closest competition are actual aero road helmets. Ventilation was verified as well – Giro’s Therminator test rig clocks the Aether at a full 2° cooler than the Synthe, which was already a pretty well ventilated helmet.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

In addition to the safety, aerodynamics, and ventilation, the helmet also features a few details like eyewear docking ports up front, CoolFit Anti-Microbial padding, and a new RocLoc 5+ Air fit system. The fit system not only has the usual three position up and down, but you can also independently adjust the left or right side of the cradle with three positions each.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

Weight, colors, pricing, and availability

Once the Aether is available in August, the helmet will have a $325 retail and will be available in 9 colors including three limited editions.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

Our CE rated test sample in medium came in at 269g on the scale, though the front pad is not the production piece. Claimed weight on a CE Rated medium is 250g.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

First Impression

It’s that time of year where it’s so humid that when I walk outside to take pictures, my camera immediately fogs up for 30 minutes. Perfect helmet testing weather. Well, perfect if you want to see if a helmet lives up to its claims of being well ventilated. And to that, I can say that the Aether absolutely is extremely well ventilated, but just as important, the helmet is super comfy. To be fair, Giro helmets have always fit my squarish head quite well, and this one is no different.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road
The red lines underneath are from a Sweathawg helmet liner. Blurry halo courtesy of insane humidity.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

The Roc Loc 5+ air makes it easier than ever to get the perfect fit, and the system is as good as ever. While the straps lack any sort of cam lock for the ear piece, they’re easy to adjust to get them in the right spot.

Considering the Aether is a two part helmet, it is surprisingly low profile – barely looking any different than your average helmet. As for the MIPS Spherical, I don’t plan on testing its efficacy, though I can say that while out on the road the two pieces stay still – there’s no indication that the helmet is actually two pieces connected with high tech rubber bands. As long as the helmet doesn’t develop any creaking down the road from the two pieces rubbing together, MIPS Spherical seems like a huge step in the right direction.

Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road Hands On: Impressive Giro Aether cycling helmet brings MIPS Spherical to the road

At this point, it’s almost guaranteed that when Giro comes out with a new helmet it’s going to be good, and the Aether continues that trend. It looks great, vents like there’s nothing there, and claims to have great aerodynamics and next level safety. Other than the price, what’s not to love?

giro.com

32 COMMENTS

  1. This is Giro’s replacement for the successful Aeon and somehow the only comments are about guns? Wow. You guys don’t need helmets.

  2. The Aeon? I’d say this is the Synthe replacement. I can’t even remember the last time I saw somebody wearing an Aeon.

    • The Synthe is staying put, though it is dropping in price to $250 as this will now be Giro’s premium option.

    • I was disappointed when I bought a Synthe earlier in the year after having owned 5 Aeons. I’ve worn a size small in Giro and Bell dating back to the days of the Ventoux but the Synthe wasn’t even close. The MIPS cage thing took up way too much space inside so I’d have to go up to a Medium, but then the overall size would be far larger than what I’m comfortable with. So, back to using the Aeon. It’s still one the best designs on the market but the Pneumo holds the crown for best-looking helmet over the years.

      Obviously, all personal opinion.

      • Totally agree. Hopefully this version has the MIPS better integrated into the helmet. I bought a new helmet with MIPS and it is definitely tighter for the same size.

        • As the article states, the MIPS isn’t part of the retention system in the helmet. It sits between the two foam shells.

  3. Getting back to the actual helmet discussion, this seems pretty sweet. I liked the concept behind original POC MIPS full face with the slip plane located on the outside of the helmet, and was bummed that all the modern iterations of the concept had moved it to the interior. It is nice to see companies gradually moving it back out, and seems that it will allow the EPS liner itself to maintain position on the head better in a crash.

  4. Interesting. It’s quasi similar to the Bell Z20 MIPS with the use of 2 difference densities of EPS, and the Z20 did well in among the helmets tested so far by Virigina Tech and the IIHS, finishing in the top 4 of the 30 helmets tested. It’ll be interesting to see how the Aether does when it’s eventually tested.

    How well do sunglasses park in the helmet vents?

    • As long as you figure out how your specific glasses fit best before hand, they work pretty well. The only pair I’ve tried so far worked well when in upside down, but if you put them in right side up they’d fall right out. I’m assuming most glasses will fit best while upside down, but double check at home before you trust your pricey shades to stay in place out on the road.

    • Maybe, maybe not. Other helmet manufacturers have told us that much less complicated helmets still have a high percentage of waste during manufacturing because it’s hard to get all of the plastic pieces to line up properly during the molding process. It’s quite possible that Giro has a great margin on this helmet, but given its complexity it’s also possible it costs a fortune to make properly.

    • Wait a year and you will be able to get it at a much lower price. Giro is a big company with a big bottom line, therefore needs to sell high margin products to those willing to fork over the money for first run got to have stuff.

      • Never implied otherwise. Bike helmets aren’t a commodity and the bike industry in general prices to what the market will bear. Doesn’t mean margins aren’t high does it?

        • Not sure what the wholesale price is going to be to the brick and mortar guys, but surely with Giro’s resources, the manufacturing cost can’t be more than $150.

          • I would be astonished if manufacturing costs exceed $75 excluding R&D (which is technically spread across all models).
            MSRP of Giro’s cheapest road model is $40. Cheapest mips road helmet is $65.
            Obviously the retention devices are different but the manufacturing methods are largely the same between high end and low end. Higher precision molding cost significantly more, but still. Its likes jeans. Does anyone really think the pair for $200, made in SE Asia costs significantly more to manufacture than a pair selling for $40, also made in SE Asia.

            In the end, I don’t care. They can charge $1000 if they think there is a market. Nobody is forcing anyone to buy anything.

  5. I wonder how much design or tech sharing happens between Giro and Bell. After all, Giro bought Bell (we’ll ignore everything that happened after that). Now, they’re the only two helmets on the market with 2 piece EPS shells with EPS foams of two different densities. The Giro places the shear plane between the two shells, but the Bell Z20 MIPS is a one or two years older in design.

    In your use, did you have any sweat in the eyes issues, Zach?

  6. You’re also paying for all the R&D that has gone into this, which the press material makes it sound like it was substantial. But yeah, I hate hearing that a company might be making money off my purchases. Lol

    • Yes, very similar to 6D, except 6D uses a bigger gap between inner and outer foam layers, with correspondingly thicker elastomers. That gives them a bigger form factor, but also allows the elastomers to cushion linear loads in concert with the EPS, not just acting as a slip plane.

  7. The text claims 10-15mm of movement but the video shows what looks like 3-5mm. I still don’t believe that those 3-5mm of movement are you biggest problems when your head is hitting the ground.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.