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If you've watched any pro racing this year then you may have noticed the new yellow helmets atop the heads of the Orica-Scott team this year. They are wearing this, the new Scott Cadence Plus Mips helmet. As you'd expect, it's an aero helmet but it's well ventilated too. It features the MIPS technology to help prevent brain injuries from angled impacts, and of course passes the CE tests.
Aero helmets for road racing are still a relatively recent development and the approaches from different brands haven't yet entirely converged. Quite a few have gone for the approach of retaining vents front and rear and smoothing over the top of the helmet, as we see here. Empirically it seems like a sensible approach given the somewhat conflicting needs to improve airflow without depriving the head of cooling. Scott claimed when it launched the Cadence Plus that it offers "class leading ventilation without compromising aerodynamic performance".
Let's have some nice stats then, shall we? Per manufacturer claims, the Cadence Plus will "save up to 13 seconds compared to competitor aero road helmets, when riding at 40kph over a distance of 40km." As is often the case, there aren't any specifics about which competitor helmets were tested, but what is more eye-opening is the parallel claim that this helmet is so well-ventilated that it is "cooler than not wearing a helmet".
That sounds unlikely, doesn't it, but there are some stats here too. Scott used 36 temperature sensors mounted to a head while wearing the helmet, at a speed of 40kph with a 15-degree head tilt angle and 0-degree yaw angle, and concluded that it cools your head 1.1% better than if not wearing a helmet at all. I'm not sure how it did that, but hey – I'm not a leading aerodynamicist.
We've not had any scorching hot days round these parts yet, but I've worn the Cadence Plus on some days where it was in the high teens and low 20s and I have to say it does offer very decent ventilation, certainly better than most aero helmets, and such that I wouldn't expect problems wearing it in high summer.
On colder days, or when you need even more aero, Scott supplies the helmet with bungs to close up the front vents. They're a simple concept, like Polo holes – sections of expanded polystyrene bonded to polycarbonate skin that simply push in from the outside.
I expected to have a sweaty melty head as soon as I stuck the bungs in, but to my surprise I found that I was comfortable going at a reasonable pace in the mid-teens. I noticed while watching some of the grimmer stages of this year's Tour of Romandie that a number of the Orica-Scott riders had the bungs in place, and if you get a cold head during the winter then this will be a definite benefit. One of my bungs was initially a bit reluctant to push fully into the vent, as you can see in the photo below, but over time it settled in nicely.
One area where the Cadence Plus is really not competitive when measured against some competitors is weight. Making things more aero commonly results in some added weight, but even so I was surprised to weigh this helmet (in large) at a portly 346g without the bungs. Scott claims a weight of 280g, presumably for a smaller size, but even that is comfortably more than some competitors. After an 11-hour ride I could feel some extra fatigue in my neck, but for shorter rides or races you probably wouldn't notice the difference. My suspicion is that most of the extra weight is in the tail of the helmet, where – in the name of aero – it extends further back from the head than a conventional lid.
Fit and comfort are very good. This helmet is fitted with Scott's top end retention system which it calls Halo 360. There's a twiddly knob at the back to adjust around your head, and the rear cradle is also adjustable in the vertical direction to suit different head shapes. My head is large and quite tall, and some helmets sit on top of it, looking quite ridiculous. Not so here – it offers decent coverage and (I think) doesn't look too bad. The X-Static anti-bacterial padding inside is slim and lightweight, but very well positioned such that it remained supremely comfortable with no pressure points even after 11 hours.
The arrangement of straps under the ear is unusual, sitting flat against the jaw. The strap that goes under the chin is a separate piece of webbing to the ones around the ear. This doesn't allow any adjustment to suit different ear positions. If you have lower ears than average, you might the straps are a bit close to them – mine were generally comfortable but I wouldn't want the upper straps any shorter.
It's really good to see more helmets being fitted with the MIPS system. We've written about this before in other helmets, but the basic idea is that there is some rotational slip allowed between the helmet and the head in the event of an angled impact, to reduce the rotational forces transmitted to the brain. Scott has adapted the yellow MIPS layer here with lots of small holes punched through the yellow plastic to help with the ventilation. Happily, I didn't have occasion to test the helmet in a crash, but for my money I would certainly prefer a helmet which has this additional layer of safety.
It's a decent helmet, this, offering aerodynamic benefit without sacrificing ventilation. I applaud Scott's use of the MIPS system and its adaptation here to improve airflow through the helmet. The only real downside is that it is on the heavy side compared with most of the competition. Comparison with aero rivals such as the Kask Infinity (265g), Bontrager Ballista (266g) and particularly the Met Manta (215g) don't do it any favours. A full-on TT pointy hat is going to be heavier still, and with its small rearward extension, perhaps this is best seen as being part way to that sort of helmet.
Like most stuff worn by the pros, it's not cheap, with its RRP of £169.99 setting it up against popular choices such as the Giro Synthe and (my personal favourite) the Kask Protone. That's to be expected, and there are plenty of lower cost options if you want to spend less. For me, the main factors in choosing a helmet would be comfort and fit, and the Cadence Plus is excellent in both of those respects, so I'd recommend it.
Excellent combination of MIPS-enhanced safety, aero, ventilation and comfort, if a bit overweight
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Scott Cadence Plus Mips helmet
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Scott says: The Cadence PLUS was designed and developed for our world class road racers and triathletes. We leveraged our extensive aerodynamic expertise to make one of the fastest and best ventilated helmets in its class. This was achieved through optimization of airflow on both the outside and the inside of the helmet. MIPS with SCOTT AIR technology provides the benefits of a MIPS brain protection system and features a unique construction to further enhance ventilation. The Cadence PLUS, get your head in the game.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Range of use - ROAD
Construction - In-Mold Technology, Polycarbonate Micro Shell
Fit system - HALO
Features - Aero Optimized
MIPS® Brain Protection System with SCOTT AIR Technology
X-Static® anti-bacterial padding
Sizes - S-M-L
Very nicely made helmet, with good shell coverage, offering protection to the polystyrene inner. Adjusters and straps feel of good quality too, and it's great to see the MIPS system included.
Does a pretty decent job at the stuff which we can actually test – it is comfortable and effectively vented. Good to see the MIPS technology integrated too.
Good coverage from the shell means that it'll survives the odd knock better than some.
At this price point, it is a bit on the heavy side. Typically that's the price you pay with aero helmets (or aero anything, as often as not), but it doesn't stack up well against rivals such as the Giro Synthe or Kask Protone.
I found it pretty comfortable on my large, tall head.
It's in line with other pro-level road helmets and Scott claims it matches or betters them from a performance point of view. If you just want head protection that's passed the same CE tests as this, obviously you can get it for a lot less.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's really not possible to assess aero benefits outside of the lab, so we can only go by what Scott claims. I found it all-day comfortable, well vented and I think it looks good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that you can (supposedly) get aero benefits without sacrificing much in terms of ventilation. MIPS integration. Decent looks. The bungs are a simple but effective way of adjusting the balance between aero and air-flow.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It is a good bit heavier than claimed, and quite heavy even for an aero helmet (in this large size). It shouldn't be considered a deal-breaker, but I did notice the weight at the end of longer rides.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe, although I prefer the fit and the lower weight of the Kask Protone.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It does a lot of things very well, this helmet, and it looks nice too I think. The fact that it is 100g+ heavier than most of its rivals is the only significant negative in my eyes.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.