Helmets sit at the very top of the ‘protection pedestal’ when it comes to mountain biking. Whilst it makes choosing a helmet a little overwhelming, I’m stoked to see so many different companies pushing them out. Helmets, and protective gear, are among the only product groups in mountain biking that I can get behind when it comes to companies pushing out gear quickly - ultimately, the safer we are the further we can push, and the less likely we are to develop injuries and conditions (such as CTE) further down the line.
It seems like only yesterday that 100%, a company with roots in motocross, started pushing into our sport. They’ve for sure made their mark - and the Altec is their first foray into open-face mountain bike helmets. It features 15 vents and, whilst this number isn’t even close to industry leading, the vents are all HUGE. It also features 100%’s Smartshock Suspended Rotational System, which is essentially their answer to MIPS. The Smartshock System is designed to absorb rotational impacts by compressing and allowing the helmet liner to move independently to the helmet’s shell. The independent movement reduces force on your brain, lowering the chances of brain injury in a crash. A network of shock absorbers throughout the helmet basically mean that unlike the traditional MIPS netting you may be used to on some older MIPS helmets, the Smartshock System doesn’t look all-too-different to a set of standard, pre-MIPS helmet padding – remember those days?
I’ll start off by saying that the Altec is comfy. Not necessarily ‘write-home-about’ comfy, but it sits firmly middle of the road. The first time I tried it on, I felt a little pressure right at my temples, but after noticing that there are two mounting points for the harness, I moved it to the backmost option and found the pressure was gone. I’m a couple of months into my time with the Altec now, and have found that when I first put it on there’s a tiny amount of pressure right by the adjustment dial on the back of my head, but once I’m moving I completely forget about it. It’s worth noting that I didn’t find any info on the different mounting points for the adjustment harness, but if you pull back the foam you’ll find you have two mounting points right above your ears, and two where the adjustment dial attaches to the helmet. I’ve heard a little feedback about how some people have found the Altec doesn’t fit ‘quite right’, so if you’re trying one in-store and it doesn’t feel ‘quite right’, have a play around with the mounting options. In terms of coverage, it does a decent job. It doesn’t sit cross-country helmet high, but it doesn’t cover as far down the back of your head as some of the other trail helmets do. Less coverage also keeps the helmet lighter, and I found the combination of this and the lower weight actually felt really good around some of my local trails, where there’s not a ton of steep, rocky or rooty riding.
This helmet really shines on the ventilation front. As mentioned earlier; whilst 15 vents isn’t an impressive claim in itself, the amount of air these 15 vents let through is definitely worth mentioning. I’ve been testing this helmet over our transition from autumn to winter, and on one cold winter morning I actually rode back to the car to swap out the Altec for another helmet that doesn’t breathe as well. I can already tell the Altec will be my go-to summer helmet, given how well it breathes and the fact that the foam liner does a great job of keeping sweat off your face. The Altec also features three visor positions, so you can ramp it all the way up to stash your goggles underneath, then pull it back down once you’re ready to ride. I was actually pretty stoked on the fact the visor is stiff enough that it won’t move by itself, but not so stiff that it feels like you’re trying to rip the helmet off your head to adjust it.
All in all, would I recommend the Altec? Definitely. It’s lightweight, great ventilation means you almost forget you’re wearing it, and the Smartshock System adds that little extra peace of mind.
Distribuited by FE Sport / RRP: $299
Words: Cam Baker