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Bontrager Specter helmet – review

The Bontrager Specter is a good mid-range helmet which combines plenty of ventilation and a comfortable fit, borrowing some of the tech from the American firm's more expensive Oracle lid but bringing it at a more affordable price.

The most important element of any helmet is the way that it fits. Bontrager have used their Headmaster II retention system which uses a dial behind the head to adjust from the back through to the temple area. This means that it stays firmly on your head, with a secure all-round fit without any shifting, and the retention system also has three height positions.

The Specter benefits from soft straps which are comfortable around the chin and have lockdown strap dividers, allowing you to fix their position meaning no slipping while riding. It’s worth noting, as with any helmet, that fit is a fairly personal thing, and varies from rider to rider, so it’s worth trying one on before you buy to ensure it suits the shape of your head, but otherwise the Specter’s retention system means there’s a good level of adjustment on offer.

The pads within the helmet could be a little thicker (though, again, there’s a degree of personal preference to that), but do have the advantage of being antibacterial, meaning that they shouldn’t end up smelling.

Ventilation is managed by recessed channels within the helmet and the 24 vents throughout the shell. Bontrager say the in-mold composite skeleton that’s part of the Specter’s construction has allowed them to achieve a greater variation of vent shape and size. Either way, I found that the vents kept my head cool throughout a variety of conditions and had no issues of overheating at all.

The helmet comes in at 300g, so it could be lighter when compared with others at the £90 price point. When you look at the options available at this mark from companies like Lazer and Giro, they’re coming in between 240-280g so there’s definitely scope to go lighter if that’s one of your chief concerns. That said, weight is far from a deal breaker when it comes to a helmet, particularly with the relatively small differences involved here, and fit is far more important, so it’s just something to consider.

The Specter is also quite bulky on the head as the foam within the helmet structure itself is relatively thick, and it doesn’t quite have the sleek looks of the Oracle or top-of-the-range Velocis, but it’s far from a bad looking helmet and it comes in four colours, with white, black/cyan and white/orange options alongside our fluoro test lid.

Conclusion

It’s at around the mid-range £60-£100 mark that a lot of helmets begin to offer much of the performance of more expensive lids, but without the associated price tag. The Bontrager Specter delivers in that regard with good all-round performance.  It’s up against some stiff competition and yes, it could be a few grams lighter, but it offers excellent ventilation and an easily-adjustable retention system.

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