Light, airy and strong
Reviewed by Gillian Scobie
After wearing my old helmet way too long until it was probably effectively useless if I had fallen on my head, I was assigned this Bontrager helmet to review. Ah! A lot has changed in the helmet world. The Specter helmet is extremely light and airy, made of carbon and modelled on the Bontrager’s pro-calibre Oracle helmet. Only 11 ounces. The only thing I don’t like about cycling—aside from wearing those form-fitting shorts on blistering hot days—is having to wear a helmet. They’re not compulsory here in Ontario and I’ve heard lots of arguments pro and con, but would you really want to be hurtling down hills through the countryside at top speed without one? So it’s got to be tough enough to protect me but also be full of air vents.
The thing about helmets is that you don’t know how well they’re going to protect you until/if you crash. So far my helmet hasn’t had that ultimate test and I don’t want it to. However, the Specter does come with an unconditional guarantee. May I never have to use it! For the best protection, you need two things: first, the toughest material to ensure the helmet will cushion and deflect any impact on your head. Bontrager uses an in-mold composite skeleton with both an outer and inner shell. In-mold construction is a manufacturing technique where the foam interior liner of the helmet is “blown in” while the hard exterior shell is still in the manufacturing mold. The hard foam liner inside the helmet crushes as it absorbs the force of the impact. This is by design, so the foam absorbs the impact instead of your head! In-mold helmets tend to be lighter and have more venting than traditional methods.
Second, you need to make sure the helmet fits as comfortably as possible. Bontrager does a good job here. The adjustment knob at the back, to tighten the fit at the back of the helmet, dials easily and can fit all sizes and shapes of heads as well as distributing the load. My head is long and the helmet fits very snugly. The straps are really long, much longer than I need so it was a bit of a challenge to get them short enough and tied up so they weren’t flying around. But they’re easy to tighten and there is a lock-down clasp to adjust them.
The other pleasing fact about the helmet is that it provides a lot of air flow, starting from the front air channels. The Specter is designed so air flows both through the helmet and over your head, keeping it cool. The increased air flow also has the effect of cutting down drag. Of course, I still sweat, and for that, there are moisture-wicking pads attached to most of the inside of the helmet, except for the last couple of inches at the back of the head. They really work well. This is an excellent helmet for those who spend a lot of time on their bikes.
• In-mold composite skeleton increases structural integrity and allows a greater variation of vent shape and size
• Headmaster II – Intuitive one-handed fit system adjustable by height and circumference with premier look and feel
• AgION fit pads – Moisture wicking antimicrobial pads eliminate odors completely and naturally
• LockDown strap dividers – Helmet strap management made simple: flip open to adjust, flip closed to secure
• Internal, recessed channels manage airflow through the helmet and over the head
• Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee
• Crash Replacement Guarantee – Free replacement if your helmet is involved in a crash during the first year of ownership
Specter helmet – MSRP $139.99
Gillian Scobie is an editor and writer who loves to run, cycle, and swim in the great outdoors of Lanark County.