What more can you do to improve a mountain bike helmet? Good question. It’s a question SCOTT asked and the answer, after four years of development, is the Centric Plus.
SCOTT’s objective was to develop a helmet that fits so well that you don’t really notice it. We’ve heard that before. Nothing new. But did SCOTT achieve that objective?
Gone are the days when number of vents is important. Now it’s vent shape and angle that count. When you look at the front (or back) of the Centric Plus, you notice how the vents have been designed to channel air as directly as possible from the front and out the rear. It’s not unique to this helmet, but it’s probably the most noticeable of all the helmets we’ve worn.
SCOTT claims the Centric Plus is cooler, by 2.2%, than wearing no helmet at all, when riding at 40kph, thanks to air being channelled by large vents over the top out round the back of the head.
We only really reached that speed on some descents. Did it feel cooler than wearing no helmet? We’re not sure. We haven’t known that no-helmet feeling since we were kids…
It does fit incredibly well though, even on the different shaped heads in our test crew. The reason for this is that the Centric Plus has the Halo Fit system, which was designed by using a pressure map to apply pressure where it feels best and avoid placing pressure in sensitive areas, such as the top of the head, the temples and the forehead.
Using a dial at the back of the helmet, you tighten the Halo Fit cradle incrementally. You feel the entire system moving to cradle your whole head, not just the lower loop as is the feel on most micro-adjust helmet fitment systems.
Strap adjustment can become a major source of frustration, but SCOTT has used a simple, yet smart strap thread ‘clasp’ on either side to allow you to make easy adjustments to the helmet’s fore/aft position.
In its pursuit of speed and ventilation (SCOTT developed the more aero Cadence Plus helmet at the same time), SCOTT never let these goals overrule the primary objective of a helmet – safety.
The Centric Plus incorporates the MIPS system. You can read the detail on how the MIPS system works here: MIPS , but in summary, it’s an internal layer that moves slightly and which offers increased brain protection in angled impacts.
But instead of using the traditional MIPS system, SCOTT worked with MIPS to add perforations to improve airflow to the rider’s head on the Centric and the Cadence.
From a looks perspective, the Centric Plus is pretty neutral – nothing outrageous – but we do rather like how it looks from the rear with its large vents accentuated by the contrast colour of the rear-end frame work. Nino Schurter and Jenny Rissveds made the Centric look pretty cool on their way to winning Olympic gold in Rio. Nino also wore it when winning the 2016 World Champs title.
The Centric doesn’t come with a visor, but is categorised by SCOTT for XCO and road racing. If you want a similar lid with a visor, you need to look at the SCOTT Fuga Plus model.
SCOTT claims that the Centric Plus is the world’s coolest helmet. By that the Swiss-based company obviously means best ventilated. There are all sorts of laboratory and controlled test stats to confirm that it is – and by how much over its nearest rival. But when you’re riding on a South African trail and the sun is unleashing its best heating effort, stats mean nothing. It’s all about how you feel.
We purposely held off on writing this review until we’d had the chance to ride in very hot weather, which we did in mid-to-late October/early November both in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
We can’t say that we felt like we weren’t wearing a helmet (anything clasped beneath your chin is hard to not notice). But we can confirm that the Centric Plus is easily one of the lightest, most comfortable helmets we’ve ever worn. And by comfortable, we include ventilation, not just fit.
It’s one of SCOTT’s top-end lids, so the R2999 price tag isn’t unexpected. There’s four years of R&D in Centric Plus and some seriously big results under its chinstrap already. We like it. A lot.
SCOTT Centric Plus development: Link to PDF
WEIGHT: Approximately 200g
SIZES: S, M, L
COLOURS: Black/Yellow (tested), Black, Green Flash/Black, White/Red, White/Blue