In Australia (and New Zealand), we often read of the latest and greatest helmets, then have to patiently wait for the model to be (hopefully) released Down Under. First appearing at last year’s Tour de France, Giro’s latest aero road helmet, the Synthe, has now passed Australian standards.
Giro’s Australian distributor, Sheppard Cycles, invited us to the Monash University Wind Tunnel to find out more about this aero road helmet, which has been designed for road racing and general riding too.
Having covered the finer details previously, we wanted to know how the Aus-edition Synthe differs from the international models and what takes so long for helmets to arrive. Rob Wesson, Giro’s head of research and development, was on hand to offer an answer.
Rob Wesson of Giro talks through the Synthe's ventilation, and how such a thing is tested
Wesson explained that there are two tests in the Australian standards (AS/NZS 2063:2008) that greatly differ from those in Europe and North America, the first being the dynamic retention test and the second being the load distribution test.
The dynamic retention test places sudden downward load on the helmet’s straps. “For many international helmet models, this leads to failure at the buckle, the straps or the straps’ attachment point within the helmet shell” Wesson said.
To overcome this, Australian models often feature reinforced buckles, heavier duty straps and changed strap attachment methods or foam types.
It's not just a matter of slapping on a sticker and charging a premium...
According to Wesson, another tough part of the Australian standards, and one that can be difficult to overcome is the load distribution test. Wesson explained that “this effectively takes the straps' attachment point within the helmet shell, generally near the temple of head, and lines it up to hit a 1cm anvil”.
This test looks at how well the helmet is handling a direct and specific hit (such as from the edge of a kerb) to an area that often contains reinforcing plastics, or in the case of a mountain bike helmet, the bolts for a visor.
As for the general delay in reaching Australian shores, Wesson said: “Historically there has been some lags in getting products to Australia, but we believe those days are behind us from here on. In the past, we’ve developed helmets for the American and European markets, and then we redesign it to pass Australian standards. Moving forward, Giro is streamlining this at the time of initial design processes, and so expect to see future models released in Australia within a short time of international releases.”
Australian approved claimed weights of the three sizes
Unfortunately these additional reinforcements have (and always do) come at a weight penalty, with our Australian standards medium sample weighing in at 283g, an approximate 30g penalty over the international versions.
With an approximate US$750,000 invested in the research and design of this model, and general issues of economies of scale associated with specific versions for Australia's and New Zealand's populations, the Synthe is the brand's most expensive road model yet – with a retail price set at AU$399. Expect to see the helmet hit Australian retailers from June.