Review: Mavic’s airy Plasma helmet

Coming in three understated colors (silver, black, and white) and sporting minimal graphics, the middle child in Mavic’s three-model inaugural helmet line doesn’t draw a whole lot of attention to itself.  The flashes of woven silver Alutex reinforcement add a bit of bling, but it’s the massive vents that call more attention to the Plasma than anything else.  Its fit, details, and performance?  Join me below the fold to find out!

The Plasma’s 20 outsized vents are separated by pronounced ridges, which I’ve come to find quite handsome (or at least as handsome as something that looks like a space fish can).  On my oval head, the Mavic’s slightly round shape is noticeable but not uncomfortable, seemingly splitting the difference between ’round’ and ‘oval’ fits.  The helmet sits visibly closer to the head than many, helping to avoid too much of a mushroom look.  With many companies paring their helmets back to achieve headline-grabbing weights, Mavic have gone for a bit more coverage: fine by me both on road and off.  The result is a still reasonable 305g (medium, without visor).

Mavic’s dial-type Ergo Hold Adjustment System is a bit bulker than current Giro or Garneau retention systems but, thanks in part to a removable pad, has never been uncomfortable or hot.  The Ergo Hold also system seems better able to take normal handling than some superlight retainers- a surprisingly common cause of helmet failure.  Even in its lowest mounting position, the Ergo Hold system remains comfortable for head down/chin up road riding.  When all is said and done, its only real sin is slight interference with some longer sunglass arms.

On road and off, the Plasma has stayed stable and avoided pressure points for hours at a time.  Even on 100 degree-plus days, I haven’t found the black Mavic uncomfortably hot.  The vents themselves to a very good job at exposing as much scalp as possible to the outside world- though deeper channels connecting the intake vents to the rear exhaust vents could only improve airflow.  The full-width, dual-density helmet pad is a mixed blessing- it doesn’t store (or dump) sweat like some can and is easier to wash but is a bit warmer than less substantial pads.

Mavic have done an excellent job on their first helmet.  Sure, saving funk-fighting X-Static pads for the $225 Plasma SLR is a bit tacky and the “M” logos on the straps always loose the logo battle that they’ve picked (glasses go outside of straps).  The head-hugging shape is attractive and the “M” decal on the central fin hasn’t come any further away from the helmet than it was when new.  The reflective white stripes are even integrated well but the visor’s non-adjustable mounting points seem borrowed from a much cheaper lid (I’m always afraid of breaking the tabs when switching to road mode).  All of this combines to give the unfortunate impression that the Plasma’s $180 price point might be a little ambitious.

Ultimately, great fit is the best reason to buy a given helmet.  Riders whose heads fall somewhere between traditional Bell (round) and Giro (oval) fits should love the Plasma.  Similarly, anyone who finds other brands’ small, medium, or large sizes just a bit too big will also appreciate Mavic’s small-ish sizing.  Either one will get a well made, comfortable, and stable helmet that’s cool enough for road riding, substantial enough for ‘cross or mountain biking and with looks that go with just about anything.

marc

www.mavic.com

Comments

Tried 'Em All - 07/10/12 - 11:57am

Comfortable, but heavy for a high-end helmet. Also poorly ventilated compared to
an Aeon, Gage, or Sweep. Looks good though. Hopefully next year’s model gets bigger vents and better channeling.

uglyyeti - 07/10/12 - 7:25pm

Being a bald guy myself, I find huge vents a negative. Increased sun exposure and risk of scrapes from branches on the trail. Greater chance of catching a bee in a vent. A lot can be done with air channeling without maximizing scalp exposure. Might be better for hairy folks.

Le Piou - 07/10/12 - 8:48pm

With vents that huge, I would have liked to see built-in anti-bugs nets…

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