Mavic Plasma ReviewMay 21, 2014
- Uncluttered, unique look
- Straps and head cradle offer excellent adjustability
- Good ventilation
- Noticeably heavier than other helmets
- Hotspots in fit may develop during extended use
The Mavic Plasma may not break any new ground, but Mavic's attention to detail is obvious throughout its design. The Plasma is a strong entry into the crowded helmet market. The Plasma’s only drawback is its weight.
Traditionally known for their wheels, Mavic diversified their product range in the last few years by delving into cycling shoes, clothing and now, helmets. Their focus on fit and comfort led to a three-year research and design process where they first mapped 25,000 different heads and continually refined their helmet shape based on testers’ feedback.
The overall design is clean and simple with a shape that is just unconventional enough to set it apart. Graphics are tasteful with some reflective accents which seem to be rare in the high end segment of helmets. Construction is expanded polyurethane foam co-molded to a thin plastic shell but is reinforced with a aluminum/nylon/glass fiber composite. Nylon webbing straps are fully adjustable and feature the ubiquitous but functional side-release buckle. One obvious nod to comfort is that the entire front two-thirds of the interior of the helmet is lined with dual-density padding wherever it contacts your head. Most other helmets provide quite a bit less. Details such as thinner sections where the straps cross the padding or the molded-in recesses for the Velcro attachments demonstrate the degree to which Mavic went in their quest for comfort. Even the stickers on the inside of the helmet are die-cut to match the space provided. The head cradle appears to be a bit of a throwback with its oversized ratchet knob and housing but features more dual density padding. Vertical position of the cradle is adjustable in three increments.
The interior shape of the Plasma is in the middle of the five helmets tested–neither long and narrow nor fat and round. It has the thinnest shell at the forehead and the second thickest at the sides and top and because of that it has a high mushroom factor. Mavic states that lightweight was not the highest priority when designing this helmet and that shows: the Plasma is the heaviest of the helmets I tested.
The Plasma was easy to adjust and the adjustments stayed put throughout the test period. The numerous large vents and interior channels provided good ventilation. However, the real metric the Plasma should be judged on is comfort. During training rides, the helmet initially felt great, but after an hour I would need to back off the head cradle tension because of hot spots. Eventually I traced the source of the pain back to the Velcro holding the padding to the ratchet housing. Unlike in the rest of the helmet, these little Velcro pieces were not recessed.
Though I was impressed with Mavic’s attention to detail, the one thing they missed did have an impact on comfort. That said, helmet comfort is a bit like saddle comfort–everyone’s anatomy is a little bit different and it may take some time to find the right match. For a first effort, Mavic knocked this one out of the park. I look forward to seeing how their second generation helmets improve on the Plasma.