Now only in its third year, the Sweet Protection Bushwhacker mountain bike helmet didn’t seem to need much in the way of improvements. As good as the first generation was, the Norwegian helmet maker did find a few ways to make it even better.
At first glance the updates to the new model are hard to detect. The outer shell is still made of five independent polycarbonate and carbon fiber components with an in-molded EPS foam liner. It’s a sharp looking helmet and retains the original Bushwhacker’s stylized “S” sculpted into the shell.
After evaluating the existing ventilation system Sweet Protection’s engineers found a way to maximize the existing volume of airflow. By using a computerized air-mapping system, they optimized the vents to move more air over the temporal arteries for better cooling. As a resident of the Southwest and a self-confessed hot weather weenie, the Bushwhacker II is quite cool in warm temps. Seven large ports atop the shell help heat escape when at a full stop and the internal channels keep air moving at any speed.
The Occigrip retention system received only slight tweaks and secures the helmet firmly in place. A small dial—and I do mean small—at the back of the helmet adjusts the retainer tension. I find my skull doesn’t pair well to the placement of the mechanism. Despite the ability move it up or down, it causes an uncomfortable pressure point, but only if tightened one click too many.
Minor details often make a big impression and the new Bushwhacker includes a small plastic yoke to spread the nylon retention straps away from my ears. A tough visor critic, I find the impact-resistant sun shield is easy to adjust and has a wide range of movement. The lack of detents made me wonder if it would stay in place, and so far it does. The thin brow pads provide sufficiently soft contact, but don’t absorb enough (and then purge more perspiration than they should).
Sold in S, M/L, and L/XL sizes, the fit is fine tuned by swapping out thin pads for thicker versions and locating them as needed within the shell. Coverage of the temples and back of the skull are commensurate with a true mountain bike helmet, but some riders might find the Bushwhacker II sits a little low. When in a crouch and looking up, the helmet wants to lift off my head, if just slightly. Every noggin is shaped differently, so that may not be an issue for all users.
Available with or without a MIPS liner, I elected to forego it this time around. For riders watching their bike budgets, the extra crash protection bumps the price up from $219 USD to $259 USD.
Overall, it’s been a great helmet for sweltering summer days in the desert and cool autumn romps in the mountains. The relatively low 320 gram weight makes it all but unnoticeable and although I haven’t been forced to pit it against an actual impact, I’m sure it will offer Sweet Protection.