The TSG Scope is the top end mountain bike helmet in its lineup, and it’s a high coverage lid, aimed at riders who want to go fast on the downs but aren’t too fussed about the ups. A crowded market segment, in other words.
TSG probably isn’t the first brand that springs to mind when you think of MTB helmets, but the Swiss company has a sizeable presence in the BMX and skate world.
The Scope is available in two sizes and a variety of colours, including some snazzy “Graphic Design” editions, of which this is one. There’s also a MIPS version which will set you back an extra £40.
First impressions are of a solid but not too weighty lid with a very good build quality. The weight is quoted at 380g and on my kitchen scales it comes out at exactly 380g. Insert remark about Swiss precision here. The finish is good, and the way the different layers of polycarbonate shell have been applied, deliberately leaving some of the EPS liner exposed, looks very neat indeed, with nary a slightly ragged edge or a smear of excess glue. The decals are part of the shell, not just stuck on. The polycarbonate outer also wraps around the liner at the helmet’s edges to prevent accidental dents and dings.
The retention system is adjusted via a circular dial with a pleasingly positive feel, and the cradle at the back of the helmet can be moved up or down by means of some pop-out mounts. While there are only two helmet sizes on offer, the fit of the Scope can also be tweaked by swapping between different thicknesses of pads.
The chin strap has adjustable 3 point sliding buckles and a simple plastic side-release closure. Slightly at odds with the high-quality feel of the helmet, the loose end of the strap is held in place by a cheap-looking rubber band.
There’s no fancy integrated light or camera mount, but the top of the helmet has a flat area which is ideal for attaching said accessories. Hidden under the padding inside the helmet, there’s also a channel in the EPS liner which is designed to hold a light or action camera strap in place, without it affecting the fit of the helmet.
The visor is a perfect colour match for the shell of the helmet, has a very solid feel and is secured by a couple of chunky alloy bolts. When it’s up, it stays up, when it’s down, it stays down. There’s enough room underneath for a pair of modestly-sized goggles (although my tour bus window-esque Fox goggles intrude on my field of vision slightly when I park them there). There are also a couple of extra vents in the front edge of the helmet which are revealed when the visor is pushed up.
As the possessor of an imposing 59cm melon I went straight for the L/XL size. The shape of the TSG Scope doesn’t throw up any surprises, and if you suit (insert name of another major helmet manufacturer)’s products, you’ll probably get on with this one – but obviously, try one on first if you can. I found the fit very comfortable with no need to resort to the thicker pads. Larger-headed riders might have to look elsewhere though.
In use the Scope is really comfortable and stable. It’s not noticeably bulky or heavy, and I didn’t get any hot spots from the retention system. For me personally, it’s suited to cooler conditions. There are better-vented lids out there, and the pads are also made of a fairly thick foam, which seems to soak up sweat, then squeezes it out just when you’re dropping in to something steep and sketchy. Admittedly I sweat a lot – a casual observer on a warm day might mistake me for a melting ice sculpture – and if you’re less perspiration-prone you may find this less of an issue.
The choice of a basic buckle rather than a fancy magnetic catch doesn’t bother me, but the strap system of the TSG Scope needs a bit of care. The three-way buckles that sit below your ears don’t lock, and as a result they tend to slip down and need repositioning every couple of rides.
Apart from these grumbles, I do have to wonder how many riders are in the market for a helmet that costs £100 but doesn’t feature any rotational impact protection. MIPS is available on helmets that cost less than £50 these days, so it seems odd to charge nearly as much again just for adding it to the Scope.
There’s no doubt that the TSG Scope is a quality helmet. It fits well, it’s solidly built, and spare buckles, pads and visors are available and cheap. However, its no-frills design does seem a bit dated compared to the latest generation of all-mountain lids with their slip-plane construction, clip-in camera mounts and fumble-free buckles. That said, if you’ve used their BMX or skateboard products and trust them, a mountain bike helmet from the same brand could be an attractive proposition.
While you’re here…
|Tested:||by Antony for 3 months|
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