My original review of the Caberg Sintesi was published on webBikeWorld in September of 2009. My conclusion about the helmet was...inconclusive.
I usually have fairly strong opinions one way or the other about a product, but I ended that review with mixed feelings, or what I'd call a "60/40" opinion of the Sintesi.
The reason I was 60/40 on the Sintesi was that despite being a promising design with modern styling, there were some issues. I had a few quibbles about the quality of the construction but the weight of the helmet was also a significant factor.
The Sintesi we purchased for that review was sourced in Europe and, as it turns out, it was one of the first off the assembly line.
As occasionally happens -- especially with a product as complex as a flip-up helmet (and the Sintesi is more complex than most) -- the first batch off the production line may exhibit assembly or quality issues that are identified and corrected as production continues.
In fact, Caberg sent us a note shortly after my Sintesi review was published which confirmed this.
That note was added in the Owner Comments section of the Sintesi review, and Caberg basically said that they were working to reduce the weight and that the quality issues were being addressed.
They also kindly offered to send a size L and XL from the latest production run so we could re-evaluate the situation and publish a follow-up.
Also, reading between the lines, it appears to me that developing, manufacturing and distributing a fairly radical new design like the Sintesi was a bit of a challenge, which I can completely understand, especially for a smaller helmet manufacturer like Caberg. Some choices had to be made, such as the decision to develop only two shell sizes for the helmet.
Thus, the small Sintesi shell was designed to fit head sizes from XS to L and the larger shell size to fit head sizes from XL all the way up to XXXL, which was done to give riders with larger-sized heads a chance.
That differs from the usual practice, which would probably have three shell sizes to span a range from XS to XXL/XXXL and this is the reason why the shell of the XL helmet I reviewed seemed larger than normal; in fact, the XL is at the bottom of the range of head sizes for that shell.
So we received the pair of what I'm calling "Version 2.0" Sintesi helmets from Caberg and I've been riding with them for several weeks, right up until the major snowstorm of last week, which dumped 21 inches on my doorstep.
A good time to curl up with the laptop in front of the fire and write up this report!
As I mentioned in my original Sintesi review, Caberg is a relatively small Italian motorcycle helmet manufacturer, known for their progressive flip-up helmet designs that are also very stylish.
For example, the Caberg Justissimo (review) is a solid helmet has been available for several years and is very popular with many motorcyclists in Europe and North America. The Justissimo was considered to be a leading-edge design when it first arrived and it still feels more solid than most of the other flip-up helmets available today.
The Caberg Rhyno (aka Caberg Trip) (review) has also been a very popular flip-up helmet and it is (was) one of the lightest flip-up helmets available.
The Trip is being phased out and will be replaced by the new Caberg Konda (First Look report), which was announced at the recent EICMA show and which we hope to review as soon as it's released for production.
The Sintesi (Italian for "synthesis" and pronounced SEEN-te-zee) will apparently fill the role as the flagship helmet of the Caberg line of flip-ups.
The helmet takes its name for the unique rotating visor which can be rotated upwards, where it automatically locks into the raised position.
The Sintesi is homologated as ECE 22.05 as both a flip-up and open-face helmet, so it can be used while riding with the visor in either position.
The Caberg design is not as complex as the Shark Evoline (review), which has a chin bar that rotates all the way to the back of the helmet, and the Sintesi also looks more "normal" -- although its styling is definitely futuristic.
While many riders incorrectly assume that all flip-up helmets can be worn with the visor rotated upwards, this is not the case and, in fact, this can be a dangerous proposition.
The visor on the Sintesi is spring-loaded and it positively locks in place either when it is closed or rotated all the way open and the helmet is specifically designed for use in either position.
This capability is very useful for both touring and slow-speed riding, but that isn't all the helmet has to offer, as the Sintesi has many other unique and useful features.
So the purpose of this follow-up is not to take you through another complete review. Instead, I'll point out some of the differences between the original and the latest version of the Sintesi by following each of the standard categories used on webBikeWorld for motorcycle helmet reviews.
First of all, I can positively say this: every one of the quality issues I had with the original have been completely resolved -- and then some.
Both of these most recent helmets have excellent quality and all of the tolerances are very tight and the fit and finish on both of these is outstanding.
In fact, rather than repeat the photos already published with my original review, I took some close-ups instead of many of the features on the helmet and put them together in an extended slide show, which you can see below. You can pause any one of the slides, click through the slides manually or just let it run automatically.
Either way, you will see that even in the close-ups, which usually uncover any detail quality issues, the construction and the tolerances are beautiful.
Overall Parts Quality and Vent Operation
All of the moving parts on both of these helmets have an excellent feel in the way they operate. The top vent and chin vent covers especially have a very solid feel and they snap firmly open and shut.
They have a bonus feature also, with their corrugated and rubberized grippers, which provide the best tactile feel of any motorcycle helmet venting system I've tried.
Designing solid-feeling vent covers should be a no-brainer, but for some reason this is a continuing problem on most motorcycle helmets -- even some helmets that cost north of $500.00 USD.
It's obvious that the designer of the vents on the Sintesi must be an avid motorcyclist who understands the importance of this simple function.
Rotating "Flip-up" Visor
The unique rotating and locking visor on both of these updated Sintesi helmets works perfectly. There's a small recess under the center of the chin guard to hook the thumb and the forefinger presses the red release button on the front of the helmet, labeled "Push".
Pull the visor forward against the spring and it can be rotated upwards and locked into position at the top of the helmet.
It all works perfectly and smoothly on this "Version 2.0" of the Sintesi, and the bonus is that the inside of the rotating visor and the tips of the shell at the chin where it meets are so nicely finished that it's difficult to determine how the visor actually locks to the helmet shell.
No exposed and ugly parts here, so a lot of work must have gone into this design.
Paint and Overall Finish
The two helmets shown here are the color code 90 "Gunmetal", which is a very nice metallic gray that is a few shades darker than the (06 color code) Silver Sintesi I reviewed previously.
Although probably not the most visible color -- and it would be nice to see the Sintesi in, say, a bright yellow or orange metallic -- the Gunmetal color is now my favorite. It gives the helmet a sophisticated look and the paint has been perfectly applied to both of these helmets.
The tiny metallic bits are perfectly distributed and the paint seems thick, deep and sturdy -- if that can be said of paint.
The Sintesi features the "hard" clear coat finish that we've noticed on several European helmets. This is an excellent coating that just feels harder than the clear coat on many other brands -- including the "soft" feeling clear coat on the very expensive Shoei X-12 (review) and RF-1100 (review).
I'm not sure what the difference is, but some of the European helmets we've reviewed recently use this new type of clear coat finish, which seems perfect for a motorcycle helmet, which naturally takes a lot of abuse.
I wish all helmets used something similar.
I couldn't be more pleased with the improvements on these "Version 2.0" Sintesi helmets. Caberg has addressed every one of the issues noted in the original webBikeWorld review and that says a lot for the dedication and determination of the company.
In fact, I'll go as far as saying that these two examples now have the best quality I've ever seen on a flip-up helmet, surpassing even the Schuberth C3 (review).
The quality on these is far better than the average flip-up, which usually has so many creaks and groans and loose-fitting parts that they can feel 5 years old right out of the box.
OK, here's a peek at the slide show I promised. Take your time and study all the details of the Caberg Sintesi "Version 2.0":
Not much changed here; I can still confirm that the Sintesi has what we'd characterize as a "Slight Round" fit, as described in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes chart.
As always, it's a difficult call, but the Sintesi does seem slightly on the round side of neutral with just enough "roundness" at the top so I can't slide my finger between the helmet liner and my forehead as I can with the "Narrow" shapes.
So the Sintesi should fit a majority of owners in the "sweet spot" of the standard distribution.
The shell used for the size XL still seems very large and it's too bad Sintesi didn't have three shell sizes, which would more evenly distribute the difference between the shell size and the internal head size.
However, anyone with an XXL or XXXL sized head should find the larger Sintesi shell to fit very nicely, which isn't always the case with flip-up helmets.
Conversely, the size large (head size) is at the top of the range for the smaller shell and the shell feels just slightly small, but it is a tight internal fit, with what I'd say is about a 1/2 size smaller than normal.
Caberg lists the size large for a 59-60 cm head and I think that range is ideal. The helmet feels tight when I first put it on, but the internal shape is generous enough that it feels comfortable when I'm riding.
The smaller shell in the head size large of course doesn't have the same roomy feeling in back of the chin bar, but such is the nature of compromise.
Overall, the size large in the smaller shell is obviously a better choice for me and the helmet just feels more proportionally accurate than the XL for my head size.
The removable liner is still comfortable, although the snugness of the size large does use up most of the cushioning effect.
You can see again in the photo below, taken from the rear and in the photo at the top of the page that the size differences in the helmet shells are very apparent (even taking into account the tilted angle of the smaller shell size on the left in the photo below).
The XL with the larger shell size makes the helmet feel too big on me and this also causes the outward peripheral vision to be slightly impaired.
With the smaller shell size in the head size large, the peripheral vision is slightly improved but the slanted edges of the chin bar can still be seen at the corner of my vision.
However, the top-to-bottom vision seems much improved in the size large, especially towards the bottom. So overall, the vision is significantly improved with the size large.
Face Shield Operation
The Sintesi face shield still has the small snap at the center of the bottom edge, which locks it in place when it's closed and the dual lifting tabs on either side at the center are also handy.
The face shield seals tightly to the helmet shell with a large gasket and it didn't leak the few times I used it in the rain.
However, I ran water along the upper edge of the face shield and it did not leak past the gasket but there is no gasket around the inside of the face shield removal mechanism, so some water may leak into the helmet via that path.
The solution is to maintain speed whenever possible!
Face shield removal was discussed in my original review and hasn't changed. By the way, something I should mention is the excellent anti-fog capabilities of the Sintesi face shield.
The label on the face shield claims that it is a double layer visor and although I'm not sure about this, I do know that it probably has some of the best anti-fog capabilities of any face shield I've used.
It may fog up slightly when I breathe directly on it, but the fogging seems to immediately dissipate, especially when underway.
Internal Sun Shade
The internal sun shade in both of these "Version 2.0" helmets works very smoothly via a slider at the upper rear portion of the helmet and it can be stopped at any intermediate position, which is a real plus.
The smaller shell size brings the top ventilation closer to my head, making it slightly better. But the vent holes through the EPS liner are hidden, as they are in the original version, so there's no direct path that I can see for air to flow through.
When I blow into the open top vent it appears that most of the air goes out the back of the top vent cover instead of down into the helmet.
So I'm now wondering if the upper ventilation in the helmet is designed to be indirect, so that the air is "pulled" up and through the helmet via negative pressure created by the open top vent.
The chin vent still works very well and flows a good volume of air. The large chin curtain, necessary to prevent lift when the rotating visor is in the raised position, helps the air from the chin vent to be felt on the rider's face.
Speakers and Bluetooth Communication System
The Sintesi is designed to readily install the Caberg "Just Speak" Bluetooth intercom and communications system.
We don't have a system installed so I can't comment on it, but the chin bar has a molded recess for the microphone and the EPS at the bottom of the ear pockets are also molded for speakers.
The helmet has a removable cover at the left-hand side to fit the Bluetooth module. This isn't just a simple snap-in cover; it's held in place by a spring-loaded slider that is located on the left side of the outer cheek area of the helmet shell, hidden from view when the rotating visor is closed.
It fits tightly and is indicative of the overall quality of the helmet.
This is a nice detail and indicative of the thought that went into the design. Inside the recess under the cover is a wire and connector, so apparently the helmet is pre-wired for the speakers and microphone.
Not much changed here either; the helmet vents don't generate much noise but both the "Version 2.0" size L and XL have a wind rushing noise that seems to be located under the helmet, below the ears.
I'm not sure what causes it, but the helmet shape is such that it feels angled upwards and it causes a wind rushing noise around the bottom rear of the helmet.
See my full review for more details on this issue.
Caberg said in their email that they recognized the weight issue in the larger shell and that they were "working to reduce it by a dozen grams without compromising the safety of the product".
Well, the dozen grams goal was achieved, as we measured the size XL shown here at 2,006 grams, 28 grams less than the 2,034 grams of the original size XL. That's still a lot of weight though and it breaks the 2 kg barrier.
The good news is that the smaller shell in the head size large weighs 1,772 grams, or 3 lbs., 14-1/2 oz., which isn't outside the realm of reasonability for a flip-up with the features of the Sintesi.
The combination of the smaller shell size and roughly half-pound or quarter-kilo weight reduction make the size large Sintesi a much better solution, at least for me.
For comparison purposes, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a listing of all of the helmets we've reviewed along with their weight and internal shape.
Note that the Caberg Sintesi meets EC helmets safety standards only and is currently not sold in the U.S.
As you can tell, I'm very impressed with the improved quality of the recent Caberg Sintesi. The helmet now feels solid and the parts and fit and finish are probably the best I've seen on a flip-up helmet.
Knowing about the shell sizing issue is important and can help owners obtain the best fit.
The higher than average noise levels from the lower rear of the helmet are the only concern, but since apparent noise is so variable, depending on the rider, head shape, motorcycle configuration and other factors, I'll leave this one up to you.
The bottom line here is that these latest versions of the Caberg Sintesi offer a lot of functionality and they may just be the "perfect" touring helmet.
More: Caberg Sintesi Helmet Review (includes specification table, slide show, video and more information).
Publication Date: December 21, 2009
NOTE: These are comments regarding
the "Version 2" Sintesi only.
Read more Owner Comments in our original Caberg Sintesi helmet review.
From "A.B." (01/11): "Fully agree on your Sintesi review. I bought a Caberg Sintesi a couple of months ago and I must say I am very pleased overall.
I bought it together with the Bluetooth kit and after being used to the Parrot SK4000 I felt a bit disappointed as I believe the Parrot is a better product as Bluetooth for helmet.
There are is one thing I donīt like about the Sintesi. It is so big that if I would not have the top case it would not fit in any of my MP3 Piaggio compartments. Also, I want to ask if this model can turn into a jet Sintesi for the summer by removing the chin guard. I believe the jet visor should be bought."
Response From Caberg: The flip-up Sintesi can't be converted into the Jet version unfortunately. Also for the Jet Sintesi, it is not possible to convert it into the HyperX (review).
Caberg could not help me because I am in the USA and this helmet is not DOT FMVSS 218. I did not realize they could not provide warranty service to the USA, but that is the way it is.
Even if they wanted to, they could not mail me a non DOT helmet or parts.
But this is where Kickstart Motorcycles really helped. They offered to send me a new helmet and work out the warranty issues with Caberg on their end. I was out the shipping back to them but they sent me another helmet and it is perfect.
What a great helmet, fit, finish and I love the features. It is comfortable and quiet. It fits the way I would have expected for the size. Great helmet.
Thanks for all you do at webBikeWorld, your real world reviews
are an outstanding source for information."