Giro's Vanquish MIPS is a well-designed aero road helmet with a great fit system, and it comes with innovative new technology designed to reduce drag.
• Pros: Great fit system and eye shield
• Cons: Price
Let's start with the aerodynamics. Rather than a development of the brand's existing Air Attack, Giro says that the Vanquish MIPS is an entirely new design resulting from extensive computational fluid dynamics analysis – naturally enough.
One of the key aerodynamic features of this helmet is what Giro calls TransformAir: an aerodynamic 'cliff' on the shell. Rather than being a smooth, continuous shape from front to rear, about halfway back (just behind the logos) the shell steps down a few millimetres from one level to another. The idea is that this makes the air act as if the Vanquish MIPS was a full teardrop-style time trial helmet, but in a profile that's much more versatile.
As is usually the case with aero helmets, there are relatively few vents – four up front leading via deep internal channels to four more towards the rear and a couple of large exhaust ports right at the back. At certain angles you can see right through the helmet, the idea being that air flows in, over the top of your head, and out.
The Vanquish MIPS comes with a magnetic eye shield called Vivid that, as well as protecting your eyes, is designed to reduce drag further. More on that in a mo.
Giro claims that the Vanquish MIPS with the eye shield fitted has lower drag than the Air Attack with an eye shield fitted – the equivalent of 1.76 watts at 25mph, or the equivalent of 7 seconds over a 40km (25 mile) time trial at 400 watts. Without the eye shield fitted it is said to be 5 seconds quicker than the Air Attack with an eye shield fitted.
Giro also claims that the Vanquish without the eye shield fitted is 9 seconds faster than the Met Manta helmet, 10 seconds faster than Bontrager's Ballista and 18 seconds quicker than Giro's own Synthe MIPS.
You would get lower drag by switching to the Aerohead Ultimate MIPS, according to Giro, but that's a time trial helmet with an extended tail.
Enough of the figures! We can't confirm or deny the claims, we're just reporting them.
I got on really well with the Vivid eye shield. It offers good eye coverage and excellent vision. I can imagine some people struggling with the sci-fi looks but you can't really argue with the function. I've been using the Vanquish for several weeks and the shield has always stayed firmly in place. It just isn't going to budge accidentally. Plus, being slightly removed from your face, it doesn't get sweaty as easily as a pair of glasses.
When you do want to remove the eye shield, you just grab it – one handed is fine – flip it over and stick it to the outside of the helmet. The magnets pull it into the right place. I'm not going to say it would be impossible to mess up this process, but it would be pretty difficult. Again, once in place, the eye shield isn't going anywhere.
If the eye shield is a bit full-on for a Sunday group ride you can, of course, use the Vanquish MIPS with regular glasses. The vents are specifically designed to double up as eyewear ports and I've found them to work well with a couple of different pairs of Oakleys, for example.
One thing that surprised me is Giro's claim that you get better cooling efficiency with the eye shield attached than without it. I must say that, to me, things felt a little warmer on the climbs with it in place. Either way, the Vanquish MIPS still feels cool by aero road helmet standards. One of the rides I've done wearing it was well over four hours, including a climb of well over an hour, in temperatures up to 28°C and I didn't feel that my head was getting too hot.
Giro claims a weight of 305g for the Vanquish MIPS (without an eye shield). Well, ours, in a size medium, came in at 367g. For comparison, the Bontrager Ballista aero helmet that I reviewed a couple of years ago was 266g (very lightweight for an aero helmet). The eye shield adds 50g.
In use, the Vanquish MIPS does feel a little heavier on your head than something like Giro's Synthe – probably because it is – but not to the point that you give it a whole lot of thought. I've not found it uncomfortably heavy.
The MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) design comprises a skeleton internal cradle that sits next to your head, connected to the rest of the helmet via little yellow tabs that allow quite a bit of independent movement. MIPS is a slip plane system for absorbing certain rotational forces in the event of a crash.
The MIPS design used here is specific to the helmet and is integrated with Giro's Roc Loc Air fit system. It surrounds your head entirely, you get the choice of three different height settings at the back and it's adjusted via a clicky dial. It's comfortable and tuneable.
All in all, this is a really high-qualit