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Specialized Tactic Open Face Helmet

Vital Rating: (Spectacular)
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Tested - New Specialized Tactic Helmet

Specialized nails it with this new half-shell helmet aimed at the growing trail and enduro segment.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested - New Specialized Tactic Helmet

Today is a good day for mountain bikers that want greater performance at a more attainable price. Specialized seems to have made a one-two punch with its new Stumpjumper EVO alloy and the all-new Tactic helmet. We sent the Stumpjumper EVO alloy to Arizona for a proper flogging and a new RAW edit, whilst the Tactic stayed in-house.

Big waves are often made with the launch of high-end equipment. However, it seems in these past few seasons, the lower, to mid-priced gear is cause for greater celebration. Specialized's new Tactic is just such an example. $110 for a mountain bike helmet is absolutely acceptable. At this price point, riders should expect key safety features and a decent finish. In brief, we would say Specialized has over-delivered.

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Features and Safety

Moving away from its proprietary interpretation of MIPS, Specialized uses a standard MIPS linter in the new Tactic. Specialized is also using a lower-density foam in the Tactic, along with adding more of it. The outer profile of the new trail helmet is slightly larger as a result. While Specialized could make something resembling those cool lids from Spaceballs, they needed the Tactic to be something people would still wear. Style is subjective, but the overall shape and lines of this helmet are aggressive enough without being kooky.

Editor's note: The infamous Virginia Tech crash rating test just put the new Tactic as head of the class, rating it as the safest open-face helmet tested.

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Specialized is phasing out having the Angi device as standard on its helmets. Because not every rider may want this device, Specialized is simply making all its helmets Angi ready and letting those that want to spend the extra $50 do so, while keeping the overall cost of lids lower. To that end, the Tactic is Angi ready, not Angi equipped.

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The Tactic has a fixed visor that sits higher on the helmet. At first, we were a bit sad to see this, we like a bit of visor adjustment. After actually riding with the helmet, we changed our tune and the fixed visor is a non-issue. Specialized went this route because they felt most riders tend not to fuss with visor adjustments anyway and a fixed system stays out of the way but not angled to the sky. The particular design of the Tactic's visor is not without purpose though.

In the forehead piece, there are two, smaller ports specifically designed to stow riding glasses. We made use of these ports and absolutely loved the functionality. Our glasses were securely stored and out of sight. The earpieces on the glasses route through an inner channel, so they never flop or make contact with your head. With the integrated visor design and massive air vents, our head was never the hotter having our glasses mounted. Pulling down our shades at the top of the climb revealed a fog-free set of optics.

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Fit is pretty darn personal and Specialized recognizes that. They are offering the Tactic in a traditional fit, as well as making their round fit shell available globally. Traditionally, this fit was only available in Asian markets, but that has now changed. Integrated into the fit system is an occipital adjustment, moving the retention system further down to fine-tune how the Tactic clutches your melon. The ratchet for the retention system is integrated into the shell of the helmet and the whole system is tucked away to prevent unwanted mishaps in transport.

Specialized Tech vid on the new Tactic

On the Trail

For ourselves, the initial fit and depth of coverage on the Tactic were impressive. Sliding on this lid felt more like a well-fitted cap than a fresh foam, brain bucket. Ratcheting down the fit system gave our head a warm hug, without feeling oppressive or any binding. We did take note of how much we had to let out of the chin strap to have it comfortably run beneath the chin. While most helmets seem to leave too much strap, Specialized is on the brink of not enough. There was only about an inch of strap left to play with once properly fitted.

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We were impressed by the wrapping of the shell with a helmet at this price point. We've often used helmets in the $100 range that have exposed foam along the lower and bottom edge, making it susceptible to damage. The Tactic's shell wraps all the way around, helping to extend its lifespan, barring a crash. Our former helmet was the Giro Chronicle (now discontinued) and our key gripe was the lack of protection around the edges. The fit of the Tactic mirrors more closely to the Chronicle than either the iXS Trigger AM we tested or Ambush we own.

Our personal helmet is the Specialized Ambush with Angi. We happily plunked down over $200 for this helmet at our local bike shop just last winter. We can't help but draw comparisons here, even though the helmets are a fair chunk of money apart. To start, both helmets use a fixed yoke where the ear straps meet the chin strap. As long as the helmet is sitting just so, and fitted properly, this never bothered us. Additionally, what might feel restrictive in the living room feels just dandy on the trail.

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When it comes to fit, comfort, and depth of protection, we are reminisced to say that we have to give the nod to the Tactic. At a price that is substantially less, the Tactic just feels better in every way. While the Ambush is ever-so-slightly on the narrow side, the Tactic carves out a bit of room to alleviate any pinching or tight spots. We'd also note the amount of padding and overall more robust internals of the Tactic speak to comfort and durability over the unapologetic performance of the Ambush.

We'll make no higher recommendation for a half-shell helmet.

Lastly, there is the price front. Our checking account wants us to forget the exact price, but the Ambush was over $200, plus tax. Currently, it is listed at exactly that price on Specialized.com. The Ambush does come with Angi as a standard feature, which was part of why we bought it. We often ride alone (does that even make sense?) and like the added security that the family will get a notification if there is a crash. The new Tactic comes in at $110 and will take another $50 to add the Angi sensor, for a total of $160. For our money, we'll buy the Tactic.

What's the Bottom Line?

By every objective measure, the Specialized Tactic packs more features and quality into a helmet that costs less than its competitors. In the realm of fit, comfort, and on the trail functionality, it still beats out everything we have tried. If it is time to get a new lid, we suggest you head to the local shop, make sure the Tactic fits your head and snag it. We'll make no higher recommendation for a half-shell helmet.

Head to Specialized.com to learn more.


About The Reviewer

Brad Howell- Age: 42 // Years Riding: 27 // Height: 5'9" (1.75m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

Brad started mountain biking when a 2.25-inch tire was large, and despite having threads, bottom brackets sucked. Riding in the woods with friends eventually lead way to racing, trying to send it at the local gravel pits, and working in bike shops as a wrench to fix those bikes. Brad has been fortunate enough to have dug at six Rampages, attend some World Cups, work in the industry for a few years, and become friends with some of the sport's biggest talents. These days, he just likes riding his bike in the woods with friends.

Specifications

Product Specialized Tactic Open Face Helmet
Riding Type Trail, Other (E-bike)
Rider Unisex
Number of Vents 17
Construction
Adjustable Padding Replaceable padding
Certification
  • Passes the Dutch e-bike Standard NTA 8776
  • Earned the highest 5-Star Virginia Tech Helmet Rating from the internationally renowned Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Bag
    Size S, M, L (size chart included in photos above)
    Colors Black, white, dove gray, oak green, doppio, and cast blue
    Weight 0 lb 13.4 oz (380 g)
    Miscellaneous
  • Tactic 4 – 2022 model year release
  • SBC Integrated Fit system provides a precision tune for variations in head shape and occipital fit
  • Occipital base adjustment personalizes fit for comfort and tunes helmet angle to ensure eyewear stays perfectly synched
  • Accommodates wide lens glasses and goggles
  • Specifically designed eyewear channels always give you a spot to store your glasses
  • Integrated, fixed visor maintains a wide field of view while directing air through the center channel for increased ventilation
  • Maximum internal channeling for optimal airflow through the helmet, drawing heat away from the head
  • 4D brow cooling provides a gap between the helmet and forehead, drawing airflow into internal air channels at all speeds
  • ANGi ready, with a fit system mount designed for easy integration with Specizlied's ANGi crash sensor
  • Outfitted with MIPS (Evolve) technology
  • Average weight: 380 grams (size M)
  • Price $110
    More Info

    Specialized.com

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