The Mountain Bike Life
A seasonal model.

Once realizing that having any old bike helmet wasn’t really good enough, I upgraded to a mountain bike-specific helmet still within a reasonable price range, the Specialized Tactic II.  After any somewhat serious crash involving your head hitting something, a helmet greatly loses its ability to further protect against an accident. It’s also been said that after around 4-5 years, the foam in a bike helmet starts to break down; this means a helmet should be replaced if its over 5 years old, regardless of the abuse its taken. Any MTB-specific helmet should basically include a visor and increased protection at the back of the head.  So, with 3-4 months of use on the Tactic II, I’ve been extremely pleased with the quality of helmet Specialized has made for $75.

The Tactic II definitely gets style points in my book.  However, the reason I chose it over the similarly priced Vice ($85) was for the large absorbing pads.  The pads are definitely comfortable, and fairly absorbent (though I still often need a headband to redirect sweat).

Besides the protection, one of the most important things about a helmet is how it feels while riding.  The “Trifix” strap system is really comfortable; I’m a fan of how it gives a wider space for my ear to fit in.  The dial in the back used to tighten the helmet is also fantastic. 
I can easily make adjustments on the trail when I feel a particularly hairy section coming up, and the helmet stays put when on a tight setting.  I’ve found that I can tilt the lid downwards when it’s really sunny, and tilt it upwards when I’m going through a shady section.  
I’ve used the helmet in the humid heat of a New Jersey summer, and felt that it ventilated well.  I’ll have to wait and see how it holds up in the upstate New York winters, but I already have the sense that it can hold heat well when it needs to.  On a couple of my rides recently, I actually felt pretty warm.

Great protection in back.

The Tactic II is light, stylish, and comfortable.  I think it gets the job done for its price point.  It has no fancy bells and whistles, but it protects the back of my head.  If your helmet is old, or want something more protective without totally breaking the bank, check out the Tactic II.

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