My helmet smells. Even after I wash it, it still off-gases that synthetic-materials stench that gives used hockey gear a run for its money.
But my helmet fits, is relatively light, has good ventilation and whether or not Giro admits to changing their sizing in 2009, it’s the last year they made an E2 that fits my head. So it now has an irreplaceable persona to boot.
However, with each unsuccessful scrub-down in the sink I am reminded that it’s time to get a new lid. So when a Specialized Vice appeared on my desk, it wasn’t just another item to review, it was hope in a box.
Targeted as an “all-mountain” helmet, the Vice is a bit larger than most helmets and has a touch of heft as well, as it weighed in at a noticeable 65 grams more than my old helmet.
Seems the main culprits are the added coverage around the occipital bone, the heavy-duty visor attached by two industrial-looking screws and the full-coverage shell that leaves no exposed foam. All in all, relatively reasonable trade-offs especially with added protection for the back of the head.
I have to admit, though, that branding it an “all-mountain” helmet doesn’t quite sit well with me, as it seems a touch on the light side for that genre. “Trail” helmet seems a better fit, but that’s just my non-marketing-background opinion.
One of the best features on this helmet is the Headset SL Fit System. The dial adjustment is easily operated with one gloved hand and has small enough increments to really get a great, uncompromising fit. The large is a touch on the big side for me, so it wasn’t an issue to run a winter skull cap or thin head band, but whether or not you’ll have the same luck is obviously dependent on where your noggin lines up in Specialized’s three-size offerings (Small, Medium and Large).
While one of our editors said the helmet straps sat at an odd angle over his jawline, I thought the straps were easily adjustable, ergonomic and didn’t cause any annoyance to peripheral vision.
Speaking of personal fit, I found the fit pads to be very thin, especially up top, and if I weren’t wearing a thin cap there were a couple of hot spots on my bald head that lightly flared up. Probably not an issue for you people with hair, and it wasn’t quite enough for me to give up on the helmet, but it was noticeable.
Another observation was that the added protection around the back of the head didn’t interfere with the ability to fine-tune tilt adjustment. No, I don’t want to run it like a yamika, it’s just that some helmets I’ve tried with similar design have a tendency to anchor around the occipital bone, which can cause the visor to sit lower into my upper line of sight than wanted. And without any tilt adjustability in the Vice’s visor itself, this is key.
Venting and the Vice
Ventilation on the Vice is impressive. With a wide-mouth vent in the front and all the complimenting vents from that point back, this helmet rides more like a lightweight road helmet than what it is (I’m still not going to call it “all-mountain”).
All in all, I’d say this is a great option for trail riders who don’t need the lightest, raciest helmet out there, but also aren’t riding trails where the average rider is donning a full-face. With current safety standards that the Specialized Vice adheres to, the biggest concern with choosing a helmet these days is comfort, which is something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.
As for me, I’m not sure if this one will replace my favorite helmet, but it is definitely one that I’ll be happy to run when my other one is hanging out to dry.