You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about high-grade protection brand Sweet Protection who make this Falconer MIPS helmet.
- Best bike helmets: a buyer’s guide to help you find what’s right for you
- Best aero road helmets – 8 tested and rated
- Best road bike helmets: 16 of our top picks
Launched in 1988, the Norway-based company forged its reputation in snow and paddle sports. Since 2000, founder and designer Ståle N. Møller has been producing cutting-edge head protection for snow, water, dirt and tarmac. Sweet was one of the first brands to use MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), another Scandinavian innovation.
The additional protection system is licensed from its Swedish designers, and adds an inner skin that provides a low-friction layer. In the event of an impact it allows the shell to move relative to your head. When you receive a head impact your brain is protected by a layer of fluid that surrounds it. MIPS emulates that same movement, so in theory it lessens the violence of bigger impacts.
The Falconer’s MIPS insert is custom to the helmet so it doesn’t impede the channels in the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) core. The channels are impressively wide and deep, which give the Falconer an airy feel.
I was hugely impressed with the ones that run just above the temples on both sides. These are called Superficial Temporal Artery Cooling Channels (STACC). The superficial artery runs from the carotid artery and is one of the major arteries in your head, so cooling here will keep your head cooler overall.
The two channels force air at quite a rate down the sides of your head and out through generous rear-facing exhaust ports, and the design works. The Falconer’s shape still protects your temples too (arguably the most vulnerable part of your head) while keeping you cool.
The front of the helmet has a full-width brow vent, similar to Specialized’s S-Works Prevail, and three substantial front vents, making the Falconer not only one of the best vented MIPS helmets I’ve tried to date, but also one of the best helmets for cooling of any spec I’ve tested.
The finish is exemplary too, with the matt finish shell wrapping completely around the EPS core, so there is no exposed and easily damaged foam on show.
The neoprene-like minimal pads are extremely comfortable, and a second set along with a carry bag are included in the price. The rear cradle is stable and the micro-adjuster is easy to use.
The straps are held in place properly and are made from three pieces with neat Y-shaped anchors for the chinstrap, so they always sit flat.
At 310g (L) there are lighter helmets on the market, but, for a MIPS-style system, only POC claims to have lighter in its Ventral at 248g, but I haven’t seen many that are built this tough and well finished.