By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.
Mavic has released their new helmets for 2012, the Plasma and Synchro. Mavic, a legacy cycling brand dating back to 1889, enters the helmet market with several key technologies; Ergo Fit Pro Pads, Ergo hold Retention and the Ergo Shape. We rode in both helmets across a wide temperature range from 34 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit in our tests.
Mavic’s Plasma helmet is $179.95 and weighs 323 grams measured weight in a size Medium. The less expensive Synchro is 19 grams lighter at 304 grams measured weight for a size Medium. While the more expensive helmet being slightly heavier seems unusual the $179.95 Plasma provides more coverage, a more aerodynamic appearance and larger vents. If you compare the weights of the helmets on Mavic’s website, the site states the weights for both at “150 grams”.
The Plasma and the Syncro both come with removable visors that snap into place. There are snap-in covers for the visor mounting points when the visor is not installed. We used the helmet with the visor on one ride and it provided a nice level of sun protection without obstructing the field of view. A removable visor is also useful in bad weather since it prevents heavy rain from hitting you directly in the eyes.
In our road tests of both helmets we felt the $179.95 Plasma offered slightly better ventilation than the Synchro at $125.95. Both helmets had very good ventilation but the slightly heavier, $179.95 Plasma was noticeably cooler and also appears to provide greater head coverage. If you look closely at the helmets side by side it is easy to see that the vents on the Plasma are slightly larger than the Synchro.
Both helmets use an adjustable internal hatband device Mavic calls the Ergo Hold Retention System. Ergo Hold adjusts the helmet size internally with the turn of a wheel, an easier system to use that Giro’s Roc-Loc system. The adjustment wheel turns in both directions, one direction tightens the helmet, the other loosens it. Since the attachment point for the Ergo Hold Retention System is well forward inside the helmet this adjustment effectively changes the shape of the interior of the helmet in contact with your head, making the fit feel very precise and keeping the helmet in place on your head. This helmet sizing adjustment system is among the best we’ve tried from any brand.
The chin strap on the Mavic Plasma and Synchro are fully adjustable for precise fit, a refreshing feature some helmet manufacturers have eliminated to save weight and cost. It is important to have a fully adjustable chin strap harness for precise sizing when you wear a thin hat under your helmet on cold days, then take the hat off as the temperature rises. Between the adjustable Ergo Hold System and the fully adjustable chin strap harness it is easy to tailor the fit of both Mavic helmets for good comfort.
Both Mavic road helmets are sold in three sizes; Small, Medium and Large. We found the helmets trend slightly small. This reviewer with a size 7&1/4 hat size wears a size “Medium” Giro brand road helmet but needed the “Large” in both Mavic models.
The key difference between the two helmets is coverage and ventilation, with the more expensive Plasma road helmet using the larger vents. It may seem curious that the more expensive helmet is a trifle heavier. Helmet brands have been on a race to the bottom with weight being the metric some consumers have focused on. That is a mistake when buying a helmet. The primary purpose of any cycling helmet is protection. Mavic’s designs provide excellent coverage and protection, especially at the back of the head, to exceed both U.S. consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and EN1078 standards. As importantly, the Mavic helmets are built to last with reliable, adjustable hardware and durable full-coverage hard shells to protect the helmet when being transported.
Having ridden in the Mavic Plasma for about 2 weeks across a wide temperature range I am impressed with its fit, comfort and ventilation. The size run is slightly different from U.S. brands Bell and Giro causing me to “size up” to a Large Mavic helmet from my usual Bell and Giro Medium. Ultimately, the fit and feel are nicer than Giro and Bell and the adjustment seems more robust; only time will tell. On warm days the ventilation is superb at high speed and at very low climbing speeds. Another thing I appreciated about the Mavic Plasma was it did not dump perspiration in my eyes even when the interior got wet from sweat, a thoughtful design feature.
Based on Mavic’s strong legacy for high end cycling innovation and proven quality we aren’t surprised the new Mavic Plasma and Synchro helmets are so good. The dedicated helmet brands should take notice of these two introductions as Mavic has stolen the show from dedicated helmet brands with the Plasma and Synchro. They are true stand-outs in the helmet category.