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The Giro Cinder and Ember MIPS are the little brother and sister of the Giro Synthe MIPS. Where the Cinder has been introduced as a men’s helmet, the Ember is introduced at a later point as a women’s helmet with only the esthetics to differentiate itself.
There had to be taken some cost saving measures to bring down the price from a steep 300 euros for the Synthe, down to a more reasonable 150 euro’s retail for the Cinder. But looking at this comparison, the differences aren’t as big as you might expect.
Probably one of the most noticeable differences while wearing the helmet is the weight. The Cinder is about 20% heavier, but, can still be considered a light helmet with its claimed and actual weight of 295 grams for a medium sized helmet. The Cinder is also a bit rougher around the edges in terms of finishing.
The Roc Lok 5 system is slightly different and a little less refined compared to Roc Lok Air system found on the Synthe. But you still have a knob on the back off the helmet to easily finetune the fit of the helmet with one hand and vertical adjustments can be made.
Both helmets feature removeable pads that you can clean and stick back onto the Velcro pads. A feature that has been completely left out for the Cinder, are the docking ports for storing your sunglasses and this can be a deal breaker for some.
Both helmets are EN1078 certified, which is one of the main things that any helmet at least should comply with, thus ensuring a certain level of protection. MIPS is an added protection that reduces rotational forces on angled impacts and therefore reduces the chance of concussions. But MIPS testing is still not included in the certification process of helmets, meaning the effectiveness of these implementations to reduce rotational forces can vary greatly.
I don’t say that MIPS is bad, I do support every attempt to make helmets safer and looking at the way it works, it seems obvious that it could be very effective. But without some publicly available independent test reports to compare and prove its effectiveness, I remain skeptical.
If you do crash with this Giro Cinder MIPS, you can make use of the crash replacement program till 3 years after your purchase. This way you can buy a new Giro helmet at a discount. The discount is usually 50% of the retail price.
On the trails
I’ve ridden with this helmet in the summer and down to temperatures to near freezing. And with 26 ventilation holes you would expect it to be very well-ventilated right? Well, I feel that it actually lacks airflow inside the helmet, especially at the top of the helmet. I felt that the MIPS layer also was obstructing some of the airflow.
Storing sunglasses in my helmet isn’t something that I do that often, but I did find it a bit annoying that I couldn’t put my glasses anywhere if they kept fogging up. You can put your sunglasses in the vents but they won’t stay nearly as securely in the vents, if at all.
Clearance with the use of bigger sunglasses in combination with the Cinder was not an issue for me. From standard sized Oakley Jawbones, to the bigger models like Jawbreakers and Speedcrafts, all sunglasses did fit well with room to spare.
I like to test product thoroughly for these reviews, with the exception of safety equipment for obvious reasons. However, I did have to bin this helmet after about 6 months of use due to a pretty severe crash over the handlebars in a ditch after being in contact with an upcoming cyclist on my lane. The cosmetic damage to the helmet was minor, but the helmet cracked and I myself did sustained a serious concussion. The MIPS layer reduces the chance of a concussion, but doesn’t completely eliminate it. Just like all helmets in general, they only reduce the chance of severe injuries.
The Cinder MIPS is mid-range helmet that is not far of the high end Synthe helmet. Yes, the Synthe is a better helmet, it fits better, looks better, has better airflow and has a nicer finish. But still…is it €150 euro’s better? If you have the money to spend and the helmet it fits well, then it’s a no-brainer. But if its more value for money you look for, then the Cinder is definitely a better choice.
Crashing with a helmet and sustaining an injury doesn’t directly mean that a helmet is bad. Even though I feel that the Cinder (and helmets in general) could do a better job at protecting your head. But it all comes down to chances, and as long as testing methods and research stay behind, this unfortunately will be the case for some time. That is why I won’t give the Cinder a negative rating regarding the crash test.
Choosing a helmet is always personal and I do recommend to try a few helmets out. If a Giro doesn’t fit well, I’d recommend looking into something like the Bell Stratus MIPS which also sits in the same price range as a Cinder and has a slightly different fit. But there are of course many other options to choose from. The fit of a helmet should be priority and after that price and esthetics.