How does a 30 year old helmet compare to a modern one?

Giro made their first ever bike helmet in 1985. Here we take a look at that classic ProLight lid and compare it to a Giro Synthe from 2015.

The helmet below is thirty years old this year. It’s a Giro ProLight from 1985 and it was Giro’s first ever bike helmet.


The helmet below is a Giro Synthe from 2015. In some ways it doesn’t look wildly different – it’s a vented foam hat for your head – but the modern helmet has loads of features that the old one doesn’t.


The original ProLight was a polystyrene form with straps bonded into it and a stretchy, partly mesh fabric cover over it. The straps had adjustable buckles for a good fit with the ability to nestle the side buckles below your ears, just so.

And that was about it.

Nevertheless it was a pioneering bit of kit. It was relatively light and offered some noticeable venting. Believe it or not, it also looked significantly more stylish than any other of the alternatives then available.


Now let’s take a look at the veritable smorgasbord of features and technology found on the Giro Synthe.

The Synthe is a helmet that protects you in a crash, is comfortable to wear, has excellent aerodynamic properties, keeps you cool with loads of air flow and looks pretty darned good whilst doing so.

It’s a true do-it-all-very-well modern bike helmet.


The Aero Mesh side panels are the Synthe’s signature feature. They enhance ventilation whilst also improving aerodynamics. And the big hole in them is for docking your sunglasses arms into.


The Synthe’s wind tunnel testing has resulted in all harsh lines and edges being removed. The Aero Mesh panel at the very rear of the helmet helps with completing the air through flow.


Side buckles are a lot dinkier than they were in 1985. They’re more secure too. modern straps are thinner, more supple and lighter than old ones as well.


Giro’s Rocloc Air Fit retention band system is a spindly-looking but solid performer. It’s even adjustable up-down-fore-aft with just one hand if need be.


The inner plastic framework actually keeps the helmet hovering over the top of your head, allowing air enough room to squeeze through and keep things cool in there.


In the pic above you can see how the inner frame keeps the helmet from being in direct contact to the top of your head.


Due to its superior anatomical shaping, adaptable inner frame and impressive airyness, the Synthe doesn’t need all that much in the way of padding. And even then, the pads are vented!


Top profile shot of the Synthe shows how much more the overal shaping and head-profiling modern bike helmets are compared to the ‘pudding bowls’ of yore.


The inside back of the helmet is where a lot of things connect up. In the shot above you can see how the internal clip-anchor for the Rocloc can be adjusted fore-aft. You can also get a good view on the internal wind channelling grooves.

Giro Synthe road bike helmet at Merlin Cycles

If you want to see the Synthe in action check out this video featuring the magnificent Marianne Vos…

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