Handguards are a brilliant invention and I'm never going through a summer without them. These particular…
The Sweet Protection Arbitrator MIPS helmets is the Norwegian brand’s foray into the increasingly popular convertible helmet market.
- Brand: Sweet Protection
- Product: Arbitrator MIPS Helmet
- From: Jungle Products
- Price: £299
- Tested: by James Vincent for 4 months
Although such helmets started out as a solution primarily for enduro racers looking for maximum protection on race stages without sacrificing ventilation on the climbs, they can now be seen on trails across the land, worn by riders of all standards.
The Sweet Protection Arbitrator MIPS sits unashamedly at the burlier end of the category, being fully certified for downhill racing, and features mode specific retention mechanisms and a full MIPS liner for increased protection against rotational injuries.
It’s not short on certification either – SGS EN1078 (DH racing), ASTM1952 (European helmet) and the more stringent CPSC 1203 (US bicycle helmet). Despite all this certification, parts of the build feel a little plasticky and some of the trim looks a bit untidy right out the box.
Unlike most convertible helmets, the chin bar on the Arbitrator is a fully wraparound affair, making the helmet feel exceptionally solid when in full face mode. It’s made of pre-pregnated carbon fibre to try and keep the weight down without sacrificing strength, and is secured to the main shell with a metal clasp at the rear of the helmet, aided by two metal guide pins either side of the helmet.
One unique feature of the Arbitrator is the mode specific straps; When used as a trail helmet, the Arbitrator is secured with a regular chin strap, while in full face mode, these straps are tucked away and there’s a ratchet strap to fasten it instead as per a traditional full face. The process of tucking the other straps out the way is a little fiddly, so it’s not something to do right at the last minute before dropping into your race run – leave yourself plenty of time.
The chin bar itself is very bulky, and while this no doubt adds to the overall very solid feel of the helmet in full face mode, it does make it very awkward to carry the extra piece in your pack.
As a full-face helmet, the fit is nice and secure, and the dedicated ratchet strap really makes it feel like a regular full-face – it doesn’t feel compromised in any way at all. It’s a bit of a squeeze to get over my ears, but once on it’s very comfortable.
Sadly, as a trail helmet, the Arbitrator isn’t quite as good. It’s on the heavier end of the spectrum coming in at 550g without the chin bar, and you can really feel this weight when riding. The Arbitrator also sits quite high on my head, with the Occigrip retention cradle at the back of the helmet feeling less effective than other helmets retention systems.
It’s not the best ventilated helmet either, with a reduced number of vents on the top of the helmet. Sweet Protection claims it’s got “Digitally Optimised Ventilation” (optimised for fingers?), but I can’t help but feel as though it just needs more vents. This extra warmth is great if you’re uplifting in a miserable UK winter, but not so great when faced with a punchy climb mid stage in the height of summer.
Also, and this is admittedly pretty niche, but due to the lack of vents I’ve been unable to attach a light to it for night riding. Not a deal breaker, but something to consider if you’re looking for one helmet to rule them all.
Lastly, I’ve found the Arbitrator is a little awkward with certain glasses. Yes, yes, I know the MTB fashionistas dictate that we shouldn’t be wearing full-face helmets with glasses, but it’s the attachment points for the straps to the main helmet that cause a problem so it’s an issue when in trail mode too.
To sum up, the Sweet Protection Arbitrator MIPS is a fantastic full-face helmet, but an overly compromised half-shell. If you need a full-face helmet 90% of the time, then by all means go for it, otherwise there are cheaper, lighter and better ventilated options out there.
|Product:||Arbitrator MIPS Helmet|
|Tested:||by James Vincent for 4 months|