Review: Specialized's Updated Tactic Helmet

Oct 12, 2021
by Matt Beer  


The new Specialized Tactic sees major updates in terms of looks and safety all at a moderate price point. A redesign also means that the three sizes should fit a greater scope of riders, plus the "Round Fit" shells, tailored to the Asian markets, will now be available worldwide in all colors. Larger vents and a single-position, horizontal visor lead the way to a higher volume, modern style helmet that is offered in six earth-inspired colors with minimal logos.

In the event of a crash, Specialized has all angles covered. The helmet is certified for a higher E-bike safety standard, NTA8776, mandated in the Netherlands, something Specialized believes will grow to other regions. Retailing for $110 USD, you'll find MIPS C-solution. a minimalist version of the proven safety feature and the retention system has a specific mounting point for an angular G-force indicator (ANGi). Available separately, this sensor will detect the forces of a crash and send out an alert to emergency contacts through the Specialized Ride app.
Specialized Tactic Details

• 17 vents
• Breakaway visor
• MIPS C-solution liner
• Weight (size M): 380g
• Sizes: S, M, L
• Colors: Black, White, Dove Grey, Oak Green, Doppio, Cast Blue
• Price: $110 USD
• Certifications: NTA8776 (Dutch E-bike standard)
specialized.com


The strap system is now mounted on the outer edge of the helmet and not inside the helmet shell, at the high point. This should lead to less side to side movement of the helmet shell and is connected with a traditional buckle with the TriFix connection around the ears. The bottom rim of the EPS foam is capped to prevent dents and chips to the EPS when it’s laid down on rough surfaces, something normally reserved for higher price point helmets. Up top, the visor has one position, but stays out of view and blends well with the outer surface. In the event of a crash, it will disconnect without breaking off or destroying the mounting clips.



PERFORMANCE

FIT

It's obvious when you pop a new helmet on for the first time if it's going to work for you or not, and the Tactic immediately felt comfortable. It has a less oval fit, front to back, than the Fox Speedframe. Sitting at a medium depth on my head, the volume of the helmet was well balanced and neither the visor or brow impeded my vision.

Out back, the coverage is suitable for a mix of riding styles and stayed in place through the roughest sections of trail. However, the helmet did sit a touch further forward on my head than most, even with some vertical tweaking of the adjustable occipital strap or what Specialized calls the Integrated Fit System.

Storage for eyewear is well thought out with ample space under the visor for goggles, and glasses fit in the two outer intake vents when they're flipped upside-down. When I donned glasses of goggles for a descent there were no clearance issues around the entire bottom trim of the helmet and the arms of the glasses didn't touch the Integrated Fit System.

ADJUSTMENTS

Specialized uses a trick dial built into the back of the helmet's EPS to cinch down that strap and is vertically adjustable to maximize the fit window per shell size. It's easy to reach and I would often tweak it on the fly, loosening it up slightly for long climbs and a couple clicks tighter for descents. Another bonus of the larger volume EPS on the back of the helmet is the shielding offered to the Integrated Fit System against damage during transport.

The TriFix chin strap was comfortable, but doesn't articulate around the ears. This made the forward strap tension more than rear one as a I tightened the chin strap, causing the helmet to ride lower on my forehead. It wasn't a major concern since the helmet stayed put, but some adjustment here would take this helmet up a notch.

The single position visor use snaps that disconnect before breaking off, in the event of a crash.
Integrated Fit System has an easy to reach dial and has a specific mounting place for the ANGi sensor.

VENTILATION

Compared to the previous Tactic 3, the vents are broad and give a modern look to the helmet, delivering plenty of air flow. This also increases the density of the EPS foam and therefore the safety level. Specialized says that the new Tactic is ranked very highly by the stringent Virginia Tech Helmet rating system. I also appreciate the absence of a vent directly in the dead center of the helmet, where you're more likely to encounter a protruding object, even while riding right-side up.

Inside the shell, there isn't a lot of padding toward the back of the helmet, but that's not a negative point. The retention system keeps the rear portion raised off of your head slightly and allows air to flow in that area, although the liner didn't absorb as much sweat as something like the X-Static pads found in other helmets. However, they are easily washable and didn't irritate my skin, even after long hours in the saddle.

PRICE

$110 is a very reasonable amount of money to spend on vital protective equipment for your head. I felt totally confident and covered in the new Tactic with the extended portion at the back of the helmet. Concessions do need to be made to meet price brackets, so the liner and fixed strap position are evidence of that.

The paint and finish has been top notch and durable against many branch strikes and being bounced around in gear baskets during transport.

WEIGHT

Given the large volume appearance and price point, you'd expect the Tactic to be heavier, but at 380 grams for the size medium, it's very respectable. Compared to the previous generation Tactic 3, it only gains 13 grams, but the overall package looks and feels more refined.

An unbranded sweat pad is comfortable, but less absorbing than others I have tried.



Pros

+ Meets stringent safety certifications
+ Overall packaging and features per dollar
+ Durable and sleek visor mount

Cons

- Sweat pads are not as absorbent as other materials
- TriFix strap connector can make the helmet sit forward



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesFor $110, the Tactic fits almost all of my needs when it comes to styling, finish, function, and most importantly, safety. The non-articulating chin strap may not pose a problem for everyone, but some adjustability would make the fit work for a wider range of riders. Having that extra volume made for a safer feeling helmet and didn't pose any ventilation issues. A fixed visor makes a lot of sense and I appreciated the re-attachable/disconnect feature. As designed, it popped off cleanly and meant I didn't have to rock the bullet look or search for new visor parts. Matt Beer



86 Comments

  • 122 5
 Its becoming harder to hate Specialized.
  • 4 2
 And safer!
  • 25 49
flag FarmerJohn (Oct 12, 2021 at 7:08) (Below Threshold)
 No, no it isnt
  • 44 4
 The $5,000 S-Works version will fix that
  • 51 2
 @FarmerJohn: found the guy who lives in Boulder who dislikes stuff for being popular
  • 42 1
 With the recent mergers, The Big S is starting to look boutique.
  • 5 0
 Not sure the roadies agree lol. But yea always liked that they had a whole range of products for dudes to dentists.
  • 6 6
 @NorCalNomad: says the guy from Nevada who says he's from California
  • 5 1
 @mashrv1: they had their 11m (S-Works) carbon and X01 on a $5000 stumpy there for a while. Every other bougie brand still offers their B-tier carbon at that price point. Becoming harder to hate them for sure
  • 5 6
 @evel-onievel: lol if you're going to go into my profile to try and slam me at least try a bit harder. Maybe google what groom lake is... Or concentrate on Left hand getting threatened with a shut down Wink
  • 5 3
 Outside of the US, they are incredibly bad value for money.
  • 4 0
 @BenTheSwabian: I think there are other boutique brands with far worst value for money. It depends what it sold in your local stores more. I pay the same for my Enduro than a buddy for his Megatower with far worst components,almost a frankenbike. Compared both bikes to any direct sales bikes same range,you almost could buy top of the line for the same money.
  • 6 0
 It looks like he has a helmet under his helmet. It sits so tall on the top of the head or had a boatload of padding up top
  • 1 1
 @whambat: I think mergers and acquisitions are different... not so sure we've been seeing any mergers lately.
The terms "mergers" and "acquisitions" are often used interchangeably, but they differ in meaning.
In an acquisition, one company purchases another outright.
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: that’s what I thought too
  • 1 1
 @danosc: to your probably accurate definitions: yawn.
  • 27 1
 Why is the visor so high? It does not seem to have much functioning being so high.
  • 11 1
 Because for some strange reason they didn't know how to make it adjustable and yet wanted goggle room. Of course you're right, that visor is purely decoration.
  • 6 1
 My thoughts aswell it looks wrong and high enough that it loses its somewhat limited functunality
  • 12 1
 @bananowy: and completely necessary decoration. Would you wear one without the visor? I know I wouldn't. Looking cool is a big part of this sport.
  • 2 0
 @mexicanbikefiesta: Haha you have a point for sure, but if it's there anyway, why not make it functional as well as good looking?
  • 2 1
 no doubt. if you draw a line from the tip of the visor to riders eyes, you will see that line almost intersects the front of the helmet. to your point, the visor does nothing that he helmet shell doesn't do, itself. i take that back....the visor serves as a branch catcher being positioned that high. i don't care if it breaks away or not, catch it on a branch at full gas, and you're sure to get knocked off your line, at best.
  • 1 1
 it looks like they forget it and someone told them at the end. will stick with my scott helmet
  • 25 3
 Why are single position visors still a thing? I much enjoy keeping the sun off my face on the climb.
  • 46 2
 because single pivots and idlers dont fit so well on helmets
  • 17 0
 "A fixed visor makes a lot of sense"

No, it doesn't. Or at least explain why you think it does?

Because it's fixed they had to choose between placing it so high it is not functional or not having space for goggles. They chose the former. That visor is literally only there for looks.
  • 11 0
 Highest rated MTB helmet on VT helmet site! helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html
  • 4 0
 Yes, how can you guys review the helmet without mentioning it!
  • 1 0
 Well you did mention it, kind of.
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: because it's not that relevant. Good VT test results don't automatically mean it's a safe helmet. If you search back to when Kali released their Maya 3.0, there was a great discussion about VT testing methods, bias, and how they are the only testing facility in the world that uses the same equipment for all sports (football helmets are tested the same was as bike helmets). People need to stop using them as the end all be all guide to buying helmets.
  • 1 0
 @SkullsRoad: As long as it is the only independent testing out there, I think people shouldn't stop using them ! Or maybe you can judge security by yourself!
  • 9 0
 Leave it to the Swedes to coin their technology MIPS. Rolls off the tongue (as I sit here on my Blögg couch with Krusbär throw pillow). Impossible price.
  • 3 0
 I laughed
  • 9 2
 That visor position makes the helmet look ridiculous. It's on top of the helmet instead of on front. Looks silly from front and side. It's hard to believe anyone will buy this.
  • 2 1
 @lelanddjt I have a Tactic III with the removable visor which has given great service for the past 3 years as my day to day XC training helmet and I must agree this v4 thing looks bad. It sits too high on the head and the visor looks like it's right next door to useless.

I also have an Ambush Comp with the adjustable visor. I really like that helmet too.
I sure hope they don't go down this path with the rest of their helmets.
I like a lot of the stuff Specialized puts out but this thing is butt ugly.
  • 8 0
 Specialized helmets have always fit my noggin better than anything else out there.
  • 6 0
 Same, for years I've tried other helmets and always go back to Spec due to fit. My Ambush is amazing.
  • 6 1
 I know having the peak set halfway up the helmet like this is currently very fashionable and also practical for goggle, but it doesn’t half look stupid compared to a peak that’s lower down in line with the rim of the helmet.
  • 2 0
 Not to mention limits its utility as a shade providing device.
  • 8 1
 Thank you Specialized for making asian/round fit helmets available worldwide. I hope other brands will do the same as well!
  • 1 2
 Unfortunately, they are not available in the US market. - Confirmed by Specialized Customer Support. So it's not really available world wide.
  • 2 0
 Bell has been doing that since forever
  • 1 0
 @gr8fasushi: After seeing the round/asia fit listed on the Tactic 4 size chart on the US site I decided to inquire about it myself. I got a response yesterday saying that the round/asia fit helmets will be out around spring(2022) for the US market.
  • 4 1
 Letter sizes mean nothing. Providing useful information to consumers isn’t hard.

For those wondering the sizes are:
S 51-56. S Asian 52-56
M & M Asian 55-59
L 59-63. L Asian 59-64.
  • 2 1
 Sizing is wrong Large only goes to 62
  • 2 0
 @ThatKaliGuy: not according to the table on their website. It’s the second one down. The top one for the mode only goes to 62.
  • 2 0
 @Afterschoolsports: www.specialized.com/us/en/tactic/p/204745?color=331312-204745

You are looking at the sizes for the tactic 3 which does go to 63.

This new helmet is called the tactic 4 (click on the link above and hit the size guide. Top left is the sizing guide and has all the info for ya.
  • 2 0
 @ThatKaliGuy: the size chart for me on that link doesn’t list a tactic four. Probably as a result of some regional website misdirection. Which makes it even more important for pb to post the correct info with their advertorials.
  • 2 1
 To me the most important part of a helmet is it's ability to protect my head. It's great to see them meeting new standards but has this helmet been tested by Virginia tech? If so what rating did it get?
(Their system seems to be the only way to compare the protection of one helmet to another)
2 helmets can exceed the minimum requirements of a standard one by 1% the other by 80%, I want the more protective helmet. (Assuming it fit my head well)
  • 5 1
 @Tim-bikes-a-lot Along those lines, I only ride full face now. TLD Stage for trail, Proframe for park. Tons of super hot and humid rides, no biggie at all. And last year, after 30+years riding, had the worst bail of my life. Flung though the air, literally face first into a tree after a pedal grab. Initial impact point was the chin bar. Cracked and a hunk came off. But only had a couple stitches in lower lip and chin. Regular helmet? Life altering injury, potential fatal as for how long it would have taken rescue to get to me.
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: Glad you are okay! I have certainly debated riding with one of the newer, lighter, full-face helmets. Question- how do you think they compare for range of vision? In the past I've always hated the slight blocking of peripheral view and slightly limited range of vision in general that I would argue has it's own safety risks.
  • 3 0
 @NorCalNomad: I did not... it is the new #1 helmet on there... I'd think that would be a pretty good selling point
  • 3 1
 @snl1200: I guess that depends on your noggin shape. For me, nothing in the periphery. I guess maybe a little from chin bar but I haven't noticed it in years on either helmet. See if you can try one out. Ironically, my incident prompted some of my OG riding buddies to go online and purchase as I was texting from the ER waiting for films to get read. They both love them now. Guess that's one way to be an "influencer". :-D
  • 2 0
 Specialized and Trek both sell decent price point helmets in the $60-80 range. Prioritize a new helmet and shop for a used crankset. Hope you find a solution that works for your budget.
  • 2 1
 Does the helmet stow glasses comfortably and easily somewhere? Sometimes I like to put the glasses up in my helmet for those long climbs. Some helmets have a perfect space cut out so the arms just slide right in and hold well. Thanks for commenting on the eyewear fitment otherwise though.
  • 1 0
 "Storage for eyewear is well thought out with ample space under the visor for goggles, and glasses fit in the two outer intake vents when they're flipped upside-down. When I donned glasses of goggles for a descent there were no clearance issues around the entire bottom trim of the helmet and the arms of the glasses didn't touch the Integrated Fit System."
  • 1 0
 I have the Specialized Ambush helmet, if they binned the TriFix system it would be perfect. The rear straps always start to flap and resonate when you get some speed up, it's madness you can't equalise the strap tensions. The only way to fix it is with a needle and thread and shorten the rear straps by adding a fold.
  • 4 3
 Looks awful, this visor doesn't make any sense. It looks like they just wanted to look like a fox helmet. I'd rather them to focus on the core function than to try to emulate some stupid trend. I have the same reserve about the swat box on the alloy model, it is just not a good mechanical design to have a big hole in a frame, it's a big compromise for a gimmicky visual benefit
  • 3 0
 I'm sure Specialized have done absolutely zero testing of the SWAT box and it will fail on every frame. I bet they will read your comment and start sweating.
  • 6 2
 Looks pretty enduro, but will it work with my neck brace?
  • 5 1
 Why does it look so dork? Backwards trending style?
  • 1 2
 I just called Specialized Customer Support and they said the Round Fit option isn't even available in the US. LAME! They couldn't even give me an international retailer to contact to get one. So, NO, this is not available world wide. Get your crap together Specialized!
  • 1 0
 Bell, Fox, Laser, POC, Kask all have more circular fits than Specialized. I'm sure you'll survive.
  • 1 2
 So is he modeling the "Asian" fit version of the helmet? His head probably isn't round enough like an "Asian" person, therefore the con of the helmet sitting a little forward.
  • 2 0
 Awesome re-design, huge improvement over the old model!
  • 3 0
 No SWAT Box? Paaassss...
  • 6 9
 Rubbish looking helmet with non adjustable visor. I don't like wearing goggles with a half lid so why have a fixed visor that is so high up on the helmet. If it was adjustable it would suit people who ride with glasses or goggles.
  • 3 1
 Looks good.
  • 3 1
 No fid lock, gtfo
  • 3 0
 Agreed, I love it too, but also Fidlock is a premium feature and this isn’t really a premium helmet.
  • 1 0
 @jadias: MIPS used to be premium too....
  • 1 0
 yeah I'll just get right to the big con... shitty pads
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