Cannondale Dynam helmet review: crash tested!

Cannondale Dynam helmet review: crash tested!

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american manufacturer cannondale is better known for bikes than accessories. The Dynam, however, the first helmet from the brand to really catch my eye, could change that.

This latest helmet is positioned as an all-around lightweight model. While Cannondale’s main business isn’t helmets, it is clear that a lot of thought that went into this particular one. We tested the Dynam to figure out just how its on-paper features translate to the real world.

All Dynam colorways feature a fun, speckled foam inner.

Cannondale Dynam details

From a distance, the Dynam helmet vaguely reminds me of the road-centric helmets Instagram influencers use like the Sweet Protection Falconer 2Vi or a POC Ventral Lite. Both of those helmets are good places to start, even if the Dynam starts to separate itself with time.

Three large vents separated by a pair of polycarbonate supports Cannondale calls ‘PolyRail.’

The defining visual characteristic of the Dynam is the three large vents that go across the front to the top of the helmet. These vents are separated into three sections with what Cannondale calls a PolyRail structure. In short, the structure is a pair of polycarbonate arches that run across the helmet. According to Cannondale, this reduces weight without sacrificing strength, and further channels airflow to your head.

The Fidlock magnetic closure opened. Slide the keyed, circular side into the other half and it comes together quickly and neatly.

Other features include a height-adjustable cradle, lightweight webbing with large, POC-style splitters around the ears, and a Fidlock magnetic buckle. I will never choose a helmet purely because of a magnetic buckle, but the substantial “click” sound that comes every time the magnets meet adds an air of polish and sophistication to an item you’re likely to use over and over again.

The Cannondale Dynam helmet is quoted to weigh in at 320 g in a size medium. My size medium in white weighed in at 315 g. This makes it light, but not as light as more expensive helmets.

Of course, there are plenty of safety features touted here. The Dynam uses a MIPS low-friction liner, which is claimed to reduce the incidence of closed-head injuries. According to MIPS, the plastic liner minimizes how much your head and brain rotate inside your skull during a crash.

MIPS Air Node uses a single, connected piece of padded liner. Safer? Maybe. Less likely to catch long hair? Definitely.

The Dynam uses MIPS Air Node, which Cannondale says is the lightest version of MIPS available. Air Node focuses on the pad design, which has a low-friction backing that releases under force. Most importantly for folks with long hair: this iteration of MIPS doesn’t have the silicone anchors that will snag a rider’s hair.

And in an unfortunate set of circumstances, I was able to test just how good these safety features are.

Testing the Dynam

I’ve ridden with the Cannondale Dynam for a total of four rides. Three of them were pleasant; the helmet webbing straps are easy to adjust, the rear retention system is easy enough to adjust for height, and the Fidlock buckle is simple to put on and take off. The fourth ride? Not so much (and not because of the helmet).

This doesn’t look like a lot of damage, but the foam is soft when pressed, making it unsafe for future use.

The fourth ride left me with a black eye, scrapes on my right elbow and knee, and a bruised ego. I wish I could tell you the crash was some sort of supreme dedication to my work, but unfortunately, it was just poor luck.

The crash saw me hit the front left side of the helmet (the right side of my head), with my right shoulder receiving a majority of the force.

MIPS Air Node doesn’t use the traditional plastic slip plane and silicone anchors of the usual MIPS. Rather, it is a single attached pad that releases easily under force. The backs of my padding released, showing that MIPS did something here.

The MIPS padded area includes slick, rectangular strips. These are said to facilitate movement in an accident, redirecting rotational force away from your head.

While most helmets use MIPS, there isn’t universal acceptance as to just how much additional protection MIPS provides. My take? I’ll accept any additional protection that’s on offer, and MIPS is a worthwhile, unobtrusive addition.

And until there are studies showing that MIPS might actually be harmful, I will continue to reach for helmets with that system, or systems that provide similar benefits.

The Dynam with glasses inserted. (Not me; I am far too scraped up to be camera-presentable.)

Crash aside, the Dynam is a comfortable helmet. The generous amount of padding is well-placed, making for a helmet that seems to do a good job molding to the head. Even if you over-tighten the retention system it never feels like it’s digging into the scalp.

The side vents neatly hold in glasses, though your glasses arms won’t go in as far as one might think. Removing the helmet, inserting glasses, and putting the helmet back on usually resulted in the glasses’ arms digging into my head. Fortunately, however, just about any glasses I used interfaced neatly with the retention system resulting in a comfortable fit.

The particularly thick foam layer the helmet uses on top means the helmet sits higher above your head than you’d expect.

The Cannondale Dynam doesn’t have a particularly low profile. I suppose this is the price you pay for the large central vents: lots of foam to add enough strength to it all. As a result, the helmet sits a bit taller on your head than its profile might make it seem. Not a deal breaker, but definitely something to consider before ordering without trying it on.

What I haven’t been able to test is the helmet’s ventilation in Central Texas heat. Temperatures haven’t really risen past 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) here but I never felt any less ventilated than I do in my current favorite road helmet, the cute aries.

I am not necessarily one to seek out the most aero helmets (sorry Sweet Protection Redeemer 2Vi). Rather I prefer as much ventilation and protection as possible, and any extra aero benefit is the cherry on top. One benefit I have found to more aero-focused road helmets is that they also tend to be quieter at high speeds.

The Dynam was about as quiet as the likes of a Bell XR Spherical helmet, which is to say: not bad, but not as quiet as the likes of a Eclipse Gyro.

There aren’t any specific features to making space for long hair, but the retention system clears a low ponytail without much issue. (Again, not me.)


Cannondale doesn’t have a crash replacement policy around their helmet, but the price point of $180 USD seems a good value for what this helmet offers. That is a chunk of change for what amounts to a disposable, consumable item, especially if you test it as thoroughly as I did. But considering the feature set here — and that I didn’t suffer any major injuries besides scrapes and bruising — the Dynam is an easy recommendation for folks looking for a feature-rich, all-around helmet.

Price: $180 / £150 / €200

MIPS Air Node details.

The Dynam has no trouble with glasses. The side webbing is easily adjustable as well. (Sorry again, not me!)

Cannondale added a bit of fabric to the side vents to better grip eyewear.

The Fidlock buckle when closed. There are lower-profile buckles on the market but none make you ask yourself how magnets work!

The retention dial features the Cannondale ‘C’ inside.

The Dynam helmet in “Starry Night Black.” (Image: Cannondale)
The Dynam helmet in “Blue Ribbon.” (Image: Cannondale)
The Dynam helmet in “Electric Yellow.” (Image: Cannondale)
The Dynam helmet in “Green Marble.” (Image: Cannondale)
The Dynam helmet in “Polar White.” (Image: Cannondale)

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