The Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS is a vast improvement in fit over its predecessor, the Bushwhacker I, with a women’s-specific fit. It has excellent extended rear and side coverage and comes standard with medium and heavy-weight inner pads to ensure the most optimal fit. However, the padding comes up short in sweat management on very humid, high-exertion rides.
Like its predecessor, the Bushwhacker II comes standard with a second set of thicker pads. The pads (two large strips and two small pieces) eliminated any pressure points, especially in the forehead, making this helmet comfortable for all-day rides. The Bushwhacker II is a big improvement over the original. However, the padding still comes up slightly short compared to other helmets in the test for sweat management as illustrated by moderate dripping down the forehead and onto the face and sunglasses on any of our very humid, high-exertion test rides.
The Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS has thirteen air vents via a system that Sweet Protection dubs “STACC” (Superficial Temporal Artery Cooling Channel). The front vents move air through an internal channel to cool the temporal artery without exposing a rider’s vulnerable temples. With 13 air vents, the Bushwhacker has the fewest amount of all the helmets in the test. Our testers found rides in temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s, ventilation was excellent on fast descents and fast speeds on semi-flat terrain where there was little to no sweat dripping down testers’ faces. At slower speeds, specifically laborious ascents, ventilation was not as effective.
The Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS size small measures 14 inches from ear to ear and 17.5 inches from front to back for generous head coverage. This is an improvement over the Bushwhacker I model which measured 14 inches by 17 inches. Of the two helmets in the test that are size smalls, the Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II offers the least amount of head coverage. Still, the sizing is excellent.
Additional head protection comes from MIPS, a thin liner that protects against rotational forces by separating the shell from the liner to allow the liner to slide relative to the skull in an angular crash. Sweet Protection’s five-piece shell construction design provides varying degrees of thickness throughout the helmet to make it stiffer or more flexible in key areas to increase protection where it’s most commonly needed. While this beefed up and unique shell design offers key protective elements, it also increases the Bushwhacker II’s price point, which can be a deal-breaker for some riders.
A visor, which is 2.25 inches in length, is removable. It does a decent job of shielding the sun from the eyes and is shatter-resistant. Other features include tri-fixed webbing that is anchored into the helmet and a sunglass arm holder in the back of the helmet.
The Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS is available in a women’s design which significantly improves the fit. A glove-friendly four-way Adjustable Turn-Dial Occigrip fit system is simple and fast to adjust and can be done one-handed while riding. The ear straps are fully adjustable. Our testers found that the standard padding included with the helmet was sufficient for a secure fit. Some riders with skulls smaller than 54cm may need to swap out the standard padding for the thicker. Straps are composed of a single thick strand of webbing that becomes two thick strands at the chin which tended to feel bulky. Sweet Protection also offers a unisex Bushwhacker II without MIPS for $200, $40 less than the MIPS version.
With generous head coverage, sturdy straps and addition of the MIPS liner, the Sweet Protection Bushwhacker MIPS was the lightest of the two size small helmets in the test at 12.1 ounces (343g). This is an improvement in weight over the size small Bushwhacker I which weighed in at a svelte 12.9 ounces (365g).