First Rides: Mavic’s brain freeze-inducing Plasma helmet
Why jump into the helmet market? After all, there are loads of companies making very good helmets- many, it has to be said, more striking than Mavic’s 3-model line. Not claiming to have made any groundbreaking technical advances with their first helmets, Mavic are focusing on what what makes their softgoods line so successful- the details. And it’s the details that can make a helmet a fast favorite- or banish it to the closet forever.
Seeing as I’m a (Lycra wearing) ‘mountain guy’ and weighing the helmet’s gaping air vents against our recent weather, when my mid-range ($180) Plasma arrived I slapped the small included fixed-position visor on and hit the dirt. Hit the jump for photos and initial impressions…
With extensive dual-density padding (an industry first), the Plasma is at once everywhere an nowhere. When first wearing, the pads’ large contact area makes the helmet feel very present- but without creating hot spots or pressure points. The single main pad has nice flat sections where the straps run over it and a second pad keeps the fairly standard retention system comfortable against the base of the skull. Only warmer temperatures will tell if the extensive padding is a liabilty- in cool temperatures it helps to keep everything stable. The retention system is attached to a 3-position shell anchor.
Given the way in which most helmets call attention to themselves, the Plasma’s rubberized black finish is underwhelming at first but has quickly grown on me and already attracted several compliments. The helmet’s shape is intriguing- both sharp and organic looking, the Plasma looks different from almost every angle. The contrasting woven silver Alutex reinforcements and gloss silver lower section are classy- in the words or Ms. Marc, it doesn’t look as though Mavic is trying too hard. White/black, white/silver, and black/silver Plasmas all sport similar contrasts.
So far, the Mavic Plasma is shaping up to be an impressively comfortable helmet that doesn’t scream for attention (the $225 Special Service Course version in yellow with carbon fiber reinforcements will better suit extroverts). Rear coverage is better than most high-end road helmets, which goes a long way toward accounting for the Plasma’s 310g weight. It could just be the unusually cold weather, but ventilation seems above-average as well- the true test will come next spring and summer. Stay tuned!