Review: Scott Centric Plus helmet. Ventilation titillation.

Centric

Cool is undeniably cool. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, the Scott Centric Plus helmet.

Ventilation is where all Scott’s R&D funds were allocated. Well, that, along with the wind tunnel aero optimization and careful integration of the MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) inside the helmet.

All those three factors are the big reason why the Centric Plus ($199) might fit your bill for a well-cooled, wind-fast and extra safe lid. We’re been wearing the Centric Plus for six months so we’ve had a good amount of time to note how it performs.

Sideways

Let’s start with the cool stuff. When you look at the vent pattern, you’ll notice two intake points right at the top front part of the Centric. Scott did that to create cooling channels that go right where you’re likely to overheat and the, ergo, the best place to dissipate it.

Flip the helmet over and you’ll also see a deep, open cavity that runs from front to back, all the way to where the MIPS plastic liner attaches above the Halo System fit dial. Our riding experience is that really helps keep the air flow high and the temperatures down. Six good-sized rear vents are also a very good exit strategy for exhaust.

Backside

Part of that cooling expertise is the way the thin, MIPS liner or casing works with the outer shell of the helmet. First, as you can see from the photos, it’s covered with perforations to increase ventilation. There are also plenty of cut-outs in the liner so the MIPS doesn’t block the vents. Right where your forehead touches the front of the Centric, the MIPS liner sits just off the shell (with an  X-Static antimicrobial strip of padding) so there’s air moving there as well.

All this vent work and internal routing and channeling proved pretty successful out on the road. We’ve had lots of global weirding these last few months in Northern California with a good number of days with temps in the 90’s. We can honestly say we kept as cool as humanly possible. Scott claims the Centric is  actually2.5 per cent cooler than not wearing a helmet at all. We’re not prepared to believe it’s quite that cool but this is a very good choice when staying cool is at the top of your priority list.

Halo and MIPS

In terms for safety, the Centric Plus checks all the boxes with MIPS. It’s a simple concept that took a long time to prefect in helmet design but it seems we now have an agreed upon standard. The inner MIPS liner is designed to move independently of the outer shell of the helmet so it has the ability to rotate in a crash. That protects the brain from the rotational forces that could mess you up very badly.

It’s sort of like the way Formula 1 race cars were designed to fragment and thereby absorb impacts better by dissipating the destructive energy. MIPS allows your brain some motion to lessen the forces. I just turned 60 and would never ride without MIPS and the helmet I bought my daughter when she started mountain bike racing also has MIPS. The Centric Plus is about as safe as you can get.

The details

The Halo Fit system is set up with a dial in back to set how tight or loose you like your fit. It works well, solid clicks, nice, measured progression to the adjustment. Halo also gives you three height positions in the back and unlike some lids, this is easy to set just by pushing up or down on that real dial unit. I’v had my issues with situations where I was literally afraid I was going to break the plastic trying to change the setting. That’s on the case with the Centric, the height adjustment might be the best I’ve experienced. As far as straps, they’re nice and soft and on the thin side.

Last stop aero. The Centric Plus has a definitely smooth, sculpted look but it’s not full-on aero. That would be the jurisdiction of their Cadence model. However, the same aerospace engineering and fluid dynamics research that went into the Cadence has provided some insights for the Centric Plus.

Holes, holes, holes

The Scott claim is that over a distance of 40km with an average speed of 40km/h, the Centric PLUS will save you just shy of a second on the closest competitor, while distancing others by more than 6 seconds. You and I, not having disposable income for wind tunnel testing, will not be able to verify those numbers. Personally, as someone who no longer races and isn’t playing on any time trials, aero isn’t our primary concern. Still, as we say in business, aero skills are a nice to have.

As a final note, having worn the Centric Plus for a number of months, we’re pretty happy with fit and comfort. It might be the nature of the MIPS system, but the helmet looks and feels like it would fit a rounder head shape but we have a narrow shape and the fit was perfect. This may be one of those helmets that strikes that nice balance with a wider range of head shapes.

Verdict: Big on cool and safety with a slice of aero. That makes the Centric Plus an excellent choice for the all-around lid.

Sizes: Small (51cm – 55cm), Medium (55cm – 59cm), and Large (59cm – 61cm) Colors: black, black/yellow, black/green, and white/red and white/teal

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