A bike helmet saved my life. Well, maybe not my life, but definitely kept me from major injury.
See, I took a serious header a month or so ago. Riding along the trail, I missed all the clues that there was a sheer drop ahead. It wasn’t massive, probably about three feet or so, but it sent me over the handlebars and straight into the dirt. Hands broke the fall followed quickly by my head. The helmet did its part and absorbed the impact, deforming around my noggin, cracking essentially in half. Sunglasses cut the bridge of my nose and ear, making for some additional drama upon arriving home (Daddy, what happened to you? I need to get mom!). And the bike cartwheeled about 20 feet to the left, front wheel bent beyond repair.
After the wife and daughter helped clean me up, it was time for a new brain bucket and a new wheelset (more on that later). With no shortage of options, we set some criteria for the search. We needed mountain bike specific features — visor, extended coverage across the rear of the head, fit adjustments and good ventilation — and we wanted to stay in the sub-$75 price range. The product we chose was the Bontrager Quantum.
The Bontrager Quantum sits in the middle of the company’s helmet lineup which includes products priced from roughly $40 to more than $140. MSRP on the Quantum is $69.99. It comes in six colors including white, visibility yellow, red/white, green/black, volt/black, and straight-up black. The Quantum features a detachable visor, good rear head coverage, the Micro Manager fit adjustment and 21 vents for good airflow. In short, it had everything we were looking for at the right price point.
Outer shell: Hard composite
Inner shell: EPS foam
Safety standard: CPSC
Weight: 340 g (medium)
The Quantum’s rigid exoskeleton is made of hard composite material and wraps to the edge of the EPS foam liner. Inside, Bontrager lines the Quantum with a foam pad for comfort. It extends over the top of the head and is washable. Fit adjustment is done via the Micro Manager, a wheel located at the rear of the helmet. Turn it clockwise to tighten. Press in and turn counterclockwise to loosen. It worked very well in our tests.
Fit is good thanks to the Micro Manager. A few clicks to the right and everything gets locked into place. No complaints there. Where I do have an issue is with the foam padding. Unlike most other mountain bike helmets I’ve warn, the Bontrager Quantum doesn’t seem to either have enough padding or have it in the right spot. It just doesn’t absorb sweat and, on initial rides, I found myself constantly wiping my brow to keep sweat from falling into my eyes. On subsequent rides, I started wearing a Buff to absorb the perspiration.
The Bontrager Quantum delivers protection, ventilation and other mountain bike specific features making it a solid, mid-priced contender. We found it comfortable and easily adjustable. But we missed the better padding (and sweat absorption) of other products. Overall a good choice for mountain biking and commuting.