Sometimes it can be challenging to choose a helmet that suits you and your needs, given how many different options are out there on the market today.
Not only do all helmets have different weights, different uses, different colors, and different ventilation systems, but the modern cyclist must now decide whether to splurge on a helmet that has MIPS technology or not.
To help you make these decisions, in this article we’d like to do a comparison between three different helmets that are all sold by the company Giro – in addition to helping you decide if the features of a modern MIPS helmet warrant its higher upfront costs. Plus, we’d also like to let you know what makes MIPS helmets different, in case you are not aware of what a MIPS helmet can offer you.
Why we love Giro cycling gear
Giro is a company that has been around for over three decades when it’s founder Jim Gentes first turned his passion for biking, skiing, and snowboarding into a career manufacturing and selling high quality, modern, and technology-driven sports equipment.
This company is full of passionate innovators who feel that it’s possible to have a successful marriage between style and safety – and their sleek and comfortable helmets reflect that conviction.
All in all, we love this company because they are always pushing themselves to be the creators of the next big thing in the cycling world. They seem to be at the forefront of a lot of cool, tech-driven new ideas that are shaping and changing the way people look at how gear can have a big impact on performance.
What is a MIPS Helmet?
One of the great new ideas that Giro has put into action to enhance a cyclist’s safety on the road and during a potential crash situation is the inclusion of MIPS, or multi-directional impact protection system, technology.
All the helmets that this company makes with this technology include three layers: the base layer is a low friction headliner which uses an elastomeric attachment system (the second layer) which is connected to an interior foam liner (the third layer) which itself is attached to the exterior hard plastic of the helmet.
The purpose of this system is to allow greater protection for your head during certain types of impacts by keeping your head better protected.
How are MIPS equipped helmets superior to regular helmets?
In-Depth Explanation of MIPS:
As explained on Giro’s company website in an informative video you can access here, there are two types of force that are the leading cause of brain injury during cycling accidents – linear force and rotational force.
Linear force is something someone experiences when they are traveling forward in a straight line and hits an object full-on with the front of their head, such as skiing downhill and hitting a tree branch. Traditional helmets protect the head from linear force by acting as a second skull and reducing or eliminating head injury.
However, traditional helmets do not protect your head from brain injury if the accident that you experience also involves, or solely involves, rotational force. In an accident of this type, your head will hit something on an angle and then come to a sudden stop, which will force your brain to twist within your skull and become injured.
The issue with this type of impact is that your brain’s natural defense mechanism to protect itself is to send a rush of cerebrospinal fluid, a fluid that floats between your skull and your brain, across the surface of the brain to cushion it from the impact of the accident.
With traditional helmets without slip planes and elastomeric attachments allowing the interior of the helmet to shift, it is more difficult for your brain to perform this function.
A MIPS helmet, however, has a slip plane interior liner that allows the inside of your helmet to rotate just a few millimeters, which is enough to not only allow your brain to more easily protect itself but to actually enhance the self-protection system.
It does this by transferring the rotational force of the impact away from your brain and deflecting it into the helmet instead – which mimics the same function your brain performs during an impact when it moves cerebrospinal fluid to where it is needed most.
Brief Explanation of MIPS:
Essentially, the most important thing to remember here is that a helmet equipped with MIPS technology will reduce both linear and rotational force energy if you experience a crash or an accident. Less energy from the impact hitting your brain means a higher chance of avoiding serious brain injury.
A MIPS equipped helmet is better than a regular helmet because it does a better job of protecting your brain from injury during a greater variety of different potential crash scenarios.
If you are involved in mountain biking, downhill racing, or some other subset of cycling which increases your risk of getting in high-risk accidents, having this helmet technology may be of serious importance to you.
The Atmos, the Foray, and the Savant – a helmet comparison
Now that we’ve discussed what a MIPS helmet is, why you may need one, and the reason we love the Giro brand, we’ll give you a brief overview of the three helmets will be comparing today – the Atmos, the Foray and the Savant so you can decide which one is best for you.
We’ve already talked about the Atmos in a previous article and listed the reasons we like this helmet, but today we want to expand on that review by comparing this helmet to another to excellent options from the same company.
This helmet is offered in small, medium, and large, and has a choice of four color options: black/blue, black/yellow, plain black, and plain white. If you are not picky about the color, it is important to note that Amazon seems to vary the price of this helmet based on the color option you select. (Click here to see current price)
Features and Benefits of the Atmos
Stylish, well designed and durable: This helmet features an in-mold polycarbonate shell which is reinforced around the vents and ribs of the helmet, which creates a one-piece outer shell and allows it to be lighter and more durable than traditional helmets.
Lots of ventilation to keep you cool:
The roll cage in this helmet is thermoformed to its skeleton and foam liner, which provides structural support without restricting breathability and venting. We feel that for breathability this helmet beats all the others on our list, as it has 26 wind tunnel vents (the most of all three options) that thrust cool fresh air over and around your head while forcing heat and stale air out in addition to wicking moisture with its antimicrobial padding.
If lightness is important to you this helmet may be your number one choice, as it is 40% lighter than its popular predecessor by the same company along with being lighter than the other helmets on this list as well and also includes a redesigned ultralight buckle. The entire helmet actually weighs less than 1 pound!
Customer stories claim this helmet is top-notch:
If real-life examples are important to you when you make purchase decisions, the Amazon reviews of the Atmos will not leave you disappointed. There are over 10 different examples in the five-star rating section on Amazon of customers who’ve gotten into serious accidents while wearing the Atmos and claim that this helmet was destroyed in the accident but left them unscathed and eager to buy a replacement for such a superior and obviously well-made product.
Drawbacks of the Atmos
Doesn’t have MIPS:
Although this helmet has many fantastic features, as described here and in our previous review, it is important to note that this helmet does not feature MIPS technology if that is something you require in your new helmet.
Uncomfortable, not much padding: Reviewers note that if comfort is of primary importance to you in selecting a new helmet you may not want to purchase the Atmos. Despite its many features, the only complaints it seemed to receive were from reviewers who felt it didn’t have much interior padding and was not the most comfortable helmet to wear.
This helmet is offered in small, medium, and large and comes in only one color-basic black with a white stripe.
Features and Benefits of Foray
This helmet is a winner if price point is of equal consideration to quality in selecting your new helmet. This helmet is the most economical of our three options (Check price at Amazon) without compromising too much on style, quality, and safety.
Lots of vents to keep you cool:
This helmet features a streamlined design with a plush interior and great ventilation with 21 vents included. Reviewers note that if comfort is important to you, this may be a good helmet to choose as it was ranked as the most comfortable and best fitting of the three helmets we reviewed.
If you need a helmet that comes with MIPS technology, you’ll be happy to know that this helmet is a great option for that purpose.
Drawbacks of the Foray
Chin strap is hard to adjust:
For the price point, we couldn’t find many things wrong with this helmet other than the small issue that a few Amazon reviewers noted the chin strap on this model is difficult to adjust, especially while the helmet is on your head.
Only one color, black:
If aesthetics or style are important to you, we suppose one could argue that since this helmet is only offered in basic black, it may not be suitable for those who value owning a sleek and stylish helmet or who need a brightly colored helmet for improved night time visibility.
This helmet comes in all the standard sizes listed above and offers the rider a color choice between plain white, plain black, solid matte red, and a black and white stripe design called “dazzle”.
Features and Benefits of Savant
Like it’s more economical cousin the Foray, the Savant also offers top-of-the-line MIPS protection technology to ensure that a rider is protected from both linear and rotational impacts caused by accidents or collisions while cycling.
Like the Atmos, this helmet focuses on high-quality ventilation to ensure that even in hot weather or during intense exercise your head will remain cool by forcing fresh air through the vents and forcing stale hot air out. If you need a helmet that offers a lot of ventilation but also has MIPS technology, this is the one for you.
Really comfortable and easy to adjust:
Most reviewers on Amazon stated that they felt this helmet was very comfortable and had an adequate amount of padding without making the helmet to warm. It seems that the sizing on this helmet is very accurate, with most users finding that the easy to adjust straps and multiple size options available made finding a helmet that really fit their head well, an easy task.
Again, like the Atmos, the Savant was noted several times for being extremely lightweight, which could be very important for those involved in things like road or crit racing, those who love to take long multi-day bike journeys, and perhaps those who commute by bike to work or school and live in an area with mostly warm weather.
Drawbacks of the Savant
Long hair gets caught: If you have long hair you may want to consider skipping this helmet as several reviewers, unfortunately, noted that the inner liner of the MIPS system almost functions too well in that it sticks very strongly to the rider’s head. For those with long hair this issue could be painful or annoying, and to be avoided.
Several reviewers noted that this problem can be easily solved by wearing a cycling cap, thus if you live in a colder location where your head will not become overheated from wearing a cycling cap and a helmet, you may still be able to use this helmet even if you do have long hair.
Although this helmet is our most expensive option, we feel that even though it’s the price is steep, the number of features of both convenience and safety more than justify the high price tag of this premium item. (See it’s current price here)
Thanks for reading our review about the Atmos, Foray and Savant helmets by Giro.
We hope that this article helped you learn a bit more about the new MIPS technology (since its starting to become more commonplace in bicycle helmets), as well as allowing you to get a full understanding of the features, benefits, and drawbacks of each helmet we profiled.
Some of our other helmet articles:
Five Bike Helmets under $100
Stats behind the Bicycle Helmet
Best Road Bike Helmets under $50