Update: The Specialized Tactic 4 has topped the Virginia Tech helmet safety rankings, awarded 5 Stars with a score of 8.6. The lower the score, the safer the helmet. That score compares to the Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS’ 8.7, the Fox Dropframe Pro MIPS’ 8.9, and the Bontrager Rally MIPS’ 9.3, all of which are a fair bit more expensive than the Tactic 4.
Specialized has revamped a long-standing member of their range of mountain bike helmets, the Specialized Tactic, with an all-new fit and improved safety features. Retailing at $110 USD, the Tactic costs $10 more than its predecessor; that extra cash gets you a rotational impact protection upgrade to MIPS Evolve, improved integration with sunglasses and goggles, and increased coverage, in addition to the dramatically more modern trail/enduro aesthetic. Here’s how we got on with it.
Review: Specialized Tactic 4
The Specialized Tactic 4 open-face mountain bike helmet is suited to a wide range of off-road riding from gravel to enduro, though its weight (364g in small) and generous coverage push its niche closer to the trail riding end of that spectrum. Tested to the Dutch e-Bike Standard NTA8776 certification, it is also approved for eMTB.
At $110 USD, we mark the Tactic 4 as a fairly reasonably priced mountain bike helmet. Especially, when you consider the extended rear coverage, thick EPS shell, and MIPS Evolve liner. From a safety point of view, it certainly ticks all the boxes.
While the in-molded EPS absorbs forces from direct hits, the super thin MIPS Evolve Liner deals with the rotational forces that are present on impacts where the head is forced to rotate. This new liner is lighter than the MIPS-C2 liner you’ll see on similarly priced helmets in this category, and also better suited to helmets that feature a lot of vents. The liner attaches to the EPS shell via several elasticated rubber pucks that allow the liner to move 10-15mm in any direction independently to the outer shell.
The fit system is of reasonably good quality. It runs 360°, tightened via a ratcheting dial that is recessed into the body of the helmet, rather than floating below it. This makes the helmet a little more ponytail-friendly, as hair is less likely to get tangled up in the mechanism as you tighten and loosen it off. Still, you’ll need to wear that ponytail fairly low for a safe fit.
Over tightening the fit system reveals no uncomfortable pressure points; it seems to tighten evenly right the way around the head. The three-part comfort liner is plenty padded. The fit system is also vertically adjustable. You can move the occipital cradle between 5 positions to find the best position for the unique shape of your head.
I did note one potential issue, however. The occipital cradle adjustment arms, which insert directly into the helmet body, can quite easily be pulled out entirely if you accidentally pull them too far. That said, you can simply slide them back in again, where they click back into place. Having given it some thought, and after yanking the rear of the helmet forward quite enthusiastically, I’ve concluded this wouldn’t actually become an issue. With the chin strap tightened sufficiently, those plastic arms shouldn’t ever come under undue strain causing them to release from the helmet body.
The Tactic 4 is pretty well-ventilated. The position and size of the 17 vents are well-thought-out with a voluminous cavity running over the top of the skull from front to rear, helping heat and moisture escape. The peak is a good size, long enough to hide from the sun a little, but not so long that I can see the end of it while riding.
The peak position is fixed, so you can’t lift your goggles from your face and stow them underneath it. You have to stow them rear-facing instead. Specialized opted for this fixed peak position as it too has three ventilation holes that line up directly with the three largest vents on the front of the lid.
I really like that the front side vents allow the rider to securely stow sunglasses. You just slide the arms into the vents where they sit comfortably without interfering with the wearer’s head.
Pricing & Availability
The Specialized Tactic 4 Trail Helmet is available now, retailing at $110 USD.