The morning was warm, the trails were running quick and I was keen to get out and explore. I was even feeling confident even to don the GoPro and film a few bits of my adventures. So off I set, flashing GoPro attached to my head making me look like some form of high tech telly tubby. Following the usual forestry track to get to the decent off-piste stuff, I was psyching myself up for producing footage that was RedBull worthy (lol). There it was, the little gap in the ferns which would lead to steep descents and loose berms, I was buzzing, this was my rampage moment!
Turning off the track and onto the trail my hopes of producing any form of ‘rad edit’ disintegrated as my GoPro rattled on my helmet, its weight shifting the whole thing forward enough that it started to impede my view. Frustrations ran high as I stopped several times to readjust, push back up the track and reattempt a good descent only to find my helmet would slip right back. This had never happened before, why was it happening now?!
Long story short, my helmet was a fraction too big and didn’t agree with the shape of my head and the weight of the GoPro amplified this. I had been riding for months with this helmet and had never considered that it may not have fitted correctly, surely if its comfortable that’s all that counts right? Wrong!
As a qualified equestrian helmet fitter (totally CV worthy), I should have known better. But the pretty colours and fancy prices had lured me into buying a helmet that wasn’t necessarily for me. And so began my quest to find my Cinderella’s glass slipper of a helmet.
The four Enduro/All-Mountain helmets that were up for grabs ranged in price, fit, weight and style. Prices ranged from a standard £76.99 to a hefty £174.99 (Chain Reaction Cycles). All reviews are from personal experience and not designed as advice for individual helmet fitting. Helmets should always be tried on by the buyer first to ensure a secure, safe and comfortable fit.
Bell Super 3 MIPS 2017 – £125.99
The Bell Super 2 had a mixed review when it came into production, with some claiming that it gave a ‘mushroom head’ appearance. Unfortunately for the Super 3, this issue had not gone away. As the second cheapest on offer it definitely looked the part, felt well-constructed and showed the potential to have good all over head protection with Bell’s trademarked ‘Float Fit’ system. A common issue that was experienced with this style of helmet however was the uncomfortable pressure on the forehead that was also present in the Super 2 model. I can only imagine that this is more of a ‘head type’ issue rather than a design or manufacturing fault.
POC Tectal Race 2017 £174.99
This helmet came in with the heftiest price tag of the four on offer. The construction felt secure and appeared well built. Its coverage was low at the back of the head and still managed to provide good coverage across the rest of the crown and forehead. This all over coverage meant that out of the four it was also the heaviest, and with little internal adjustment was prone to squeezing on the side of the head around the temples. Ventilation wise it had fewer air ports than its competitors due to its protective design that would eventually produce a bit of a sweat fest.
MET Parabellum 2017 – £76.99
This was by far the cheapest option and easily the lightest. The ventilation was hugely noticeable with an ‘in-mould’ form of protection, meaning that it had a singular shell of polystyrene. Even though the design claimed to provide the necessary protection to the back of the head desired in an All-Mountain helmet, I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t provide as much coverage as its three competitors and left an uneasy sense of exposure. This could possibly be due to it’s boasted “ponytail compatibility” for female riders (or those with the coveted man buns). Its aggressive styling and choice of colours would certainly make it a real head turner out on the trails though. All in all it was a superbly lightweight and good looking helmet but didn’t provide the confidence of coverage that was on offer elsewhere.
Troy Lee Designs A2 MIPS 2017 – £139.99
As the second most expensive helmet I expected quality and was pleased with what I found. First impressions were that it looked aggressive in style with its large peak and colouring but also had a weight that was only fractionally beaten by the MET Parabellum. The design and construction meant that despite its lack in weight, it provided the essential head coverage for confidence but also had enough air vents to stop an unnecessarily hot head. The helmet came with instructions and multiple inserts to adapt to the shape of your head giving an extra tailored feel with no unintended pressure around sensitive points of the head.
For me the clear winner was the Troy Lee Designs A2. Despite being pricier than the MET Parabellum, it provided the confidence of real coverage and protection across all areas of the head. Understandably it could be argued that the results are completely dependent on personal head shape and taste but the A2s ability to have a tailored fit is an undeniably enviable design trait for any manufacturer to attempt to follow. Definitely on the pricier end of the scale for an Enduro/All-Mountain helmet but in this case, money definitely equals quality, and where head protection is concerned, its money well spent.