‘Aero’ and ‘airy’ helmets are often at odds with one another, with the latter designed to be full of holes to get as much air to pass through the helmet as possible, while the former is often closed up in an attempt to guide air over the smooth exterior with as little disturbance as possible. The Scott Centric Plus seems to be an exception to the rule, however.
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If I'm honest, I’ve never been big on road aero helmets and usually prefer lids that prioritise venting because I tend to suffer from a hot head (not angry). Scott's Centric Plus helmet, which is designed for road and XC riders, seems to have changed my tune though.
The Centric Plus was announced at the same time as its more aero cousin the Cadence Plus, and is claimed to be cooler than wearing no helmet at all at 40kph.
Both lids were developed by a team at the University of Adelaide. Using 36 sensors to test head temperature while wearing the helmet at a speed of 40kph, with a 15-degree head tilt angle and 0-degree yaw angle, the team found the Centric Plus cools 2.5 percent better than letting the wind blow freely through your hair.
The same team also said that the Centric Plus can save 12 seconds over 40km.
Having previously tested the Vanish Evo, I can’t comment on whether it’s any faster in the wind tunnel, but I can say that it seems to vent a heck of a lot better.
The Vanish Evo 24 comes with decent sized vents, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by the way it handled airflow and heat. The Centric Plus, however, has only 16 vents and is a marked improvement.
There are a few helmets on the market at the moment that give you that 'fresh haircut, cool head feeling' when you put them on, and I’ve only ever experienced it with the POC Octal and Giro Aeon before, but I've now added the Scott Centric Plus to that list.
Performance on the road and trails
Over the past few months I’ve been using the Centric Plus on the road and trail, and I’ve been impressed. The large vents on the front and side provide fantastic airflow over the top of your head, especially on the road.
At lower speed, the airflow is still good, but the semi-closed nature and lack of vents on the top doesn't allow the same amount of heat to escape as a more open lid does.
On the road, I never really had a problem with overheating, even on slow climbs there is still enough air moving through the helmet to evaporate sweat before it can drip into your eyes, but wearing the helmet while mountain biking was a little different.
On one particularly tough climb at my local trail centre — it’s slow, averaging a speed of 3mph / 4.8 kph on a good day — and in the full Aussie mid-day heat and humidity, I experienced sunscreen-infused sweat cascading into the top of my sunglasses. However, I’ve had same problem to a lesser extent with more open road and trail lids, but this seems to be the chink in the Centric's armour.
The Centric falls middle of the road when it comes to weight, with my size medium AU standard lid tipping the scales at 279g — that’s 4g heavier than an AU standard Vanish Evo in the same size — and the CE version 260g.
MIPS Scott Air liner
To keep your brain from smashing around inside your skull, should you hit the deck, the Centric Plus comes with a MIPS liner — however, this particular perforated ‘Scott Air’ liner is exclusive to the Swiss brand for the time being.
I’d guess this is the first of many similar liners that should do away with the complaint some have that MIPS-equipped lids don’t vent as well as those without it.
Scott’s HALO retention system offers a snug fit, and the decent sized rear dial gives a positive click when adjusting the helmet. The HALO fit system also offers three positions of vertical adjustment, and changing them is as simple as pulling up or down on the harness.
There’s hardly any padding in the helmet, yet it's still quite comfortable. The MIPS liner provides the majority of the helmet's contact with your head and it does well to distribute the weight of the lid evenly throughout. The lightweight webbing and fixed strap dividers are fuss-free too.
It’s a great looking lid and should the green and black not spark your fancy it's available in four other colours.
POC’s Octal has been my favourite lid for quite some time, but since the Centric Plus landed at BikeRadar Australia HQ, I’ve found myself reaching for the Scott much more often.
Pitched to roadies and XC riders, the Centric Plus is competitively priced £146 / $200 / AU$300.