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.

The shark fin at the back is cool- though the yellow M decal is sadly starting to lift away.  The white lines around the helmet are reflective, as is the decal at the back.

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!

marc

www.mavic.com

Comments

DT - 12/13/11 - 9:46am

Commnt more on the most important part of the helmet: how it FITS YOUR head shape.

mkrs - 12/13/11 - 11:01am

OK, so what we have here is a $180 helmet that does nothing more than do its job? Thanks a lot – I generally appreciate Mavic products but this time I’m underwhelmed.

J ruff - 12/13/11 - 11:58am

Like when some one says.. ” I Take Care of My Kids!”

o_O

Rick Vosper - 12/13/11 - 2:28pm

DT nails it.

The real question is which helmet is right for your personal head shape. Different head forms (the “dummy” brands use to determine helmet shape) is what makes Brand A fit differently than Brand B.

But what makes one helmet fit better than another is how close *your* head shape is to the form the brand used. Since there’s a lot of variety in head shapes and brands can only use on set of head forms (for practical reasons), that’s the difference that makes all the difference.

Same with footwear, only with lasts. Of course, a wider range of sizes helps, too.

Riva - 12/13/11 - 10:22pm

What’s up with these offroad non rounded back helmets? Safety should be over style! I think I’ll stick with my MET Kaos, POC, and Urge…

Marc - 12/14/11 - 8:00am

All,

I would say that the Plasma has a generally oval shape (or Giro shape as opposed to Bell), with our medium running on the small side (if you’re on the cusp, order up). As mentioned, there is a good deal of pad contact, which prevented hot spots on my head. Really, though, when spending $180, you’ll want to try it on at a local shop.

Riva,

The Plasma has more coverage than most road helmets- making it acceptable (to me) for XC and light trail use. For all-day alpine descending? I’d grab something bigger. But there’s no way I’d ride a POC in an XC race or hot day in the desert… We’re looking forward to US-approved MET Kaoses when they become available this winter…

marc

J ruff - 12/14/11 - 11:39am

I remember back in the early to mid 90′s or so.. a lot of the helmet features included the fact that they were easy to wear with pony tails. (and I’m not talking about Womens models). So you can thank all those pony tail wearing mountain bikers from the early to mid 90′s for the high backs on most helmets today… Thanks dad.

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