Bluegrass Vanguard Core Full Face Helmet

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Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
$262.50
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
First Ride: Bluegrass Vanguard Core Helmet
Bluegrass hits a homerun with their newest lightweight full face helmet.
Rating:
Vital Review
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With more and more riders looking for extra protection without the extra heft and heat, the fullface helmet market has seen a lot of development over the past few years. Italian protection specialist Bluegrass is throwing its hat (helmet) in the ring too, with the all-new Vanguard. It features plenty of vents, meets and exceeds the ASTM downhill standard for impact energy absorption, and weighs in at a scant 725 grams. We’ve had it out on the trails to see what gives, keep reading to learn more!

Bluegrass Vanguard Core Highlights

  • In-mould polycarbonate shell with EPS liner
  • MIPS C2 rotational management system, engineered to add protection in case of certain impacts
  • Five-star rating from the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab
  • Fidlock magnetic buckle makes it easier to secure the helmet
  • Adjustable C-shaped cheek-pads to help achieve the perfect fit, with two different thicknesses included
  • Integrated, fixed chin bar for full face protection
  • ASTM 1952-15/2032-15 and NTA 8776 certified, CE, US, AS/NZS
  • Safety release and flexible injected visor to avoid extra rotation of the neck in case of a crash
  • Breathable chin bar with removable mud-grill
  • Safe-T Heta fit system
  • 360° head belt and 3 vertical adjustments give you everything you need to find a uniquely individual fit
  • 24 vents work in concert with internal, engineered air channeling system to improve ventilation and comfort
  • Comfort pads are hand washable for improved hygiene and extended product lifespan
  • Wide field of view makes it compatible with all goggles and sunglasses
  • Soft storage bag included
  • Weight: 725 grams (size M, tested)
  • MSRP: $350 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the new Vanguard Core from its box, we were met with a very well-executed product indeed. The finish is exemplary, and the whole thing gives off an air of quality that’s always reassuring when it comes to head protection. The Bluegrass lineage and identity is clear to see, but the shape is more refined and we’d say this is now the best looking lid they have produced to date.

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Beyond the visual aspects, Bluegrass has done the homework. The Vanguard meets and exceeds the ASTM downhill standard, which means that it is able to absorb the prescribed amount of impact energy without transmitting too much to the head inside it, and that the chin bar will stand up to a certain amount of impact force as well. The visor is flexible and is held in place with three snap-buttons, to ensure that it can easily detach itself in the event of the crash and avoid twisting your head. We tested the Core version, which also gets an additional MIPS C2 layer to help it deflect rotational impact forces before they can reach your brain. The Core version achieved a 5-star Virginia Tech rating (one of the first full face helmets that Virgina Tech has tested, BTW).

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One of the key goals with the new helmet was to make it light and very breathable. At 725 grams, the Vanguard Core is certainly light, and with 24 vents connected to large internal air channels, it was built to be able to move significant amounts of air through the helmet as you ride. The internal comfort liner provides enough coverage to give that full face feeling, without obscuring any of the air channels, and there is a removable mudguard at the front of the chin bar to really boost the airflow.

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The cheek pads feature a novel shape, kind of like a horse shoe that contours one of the chin bar vents. This is obviously meant to help with air flow in this area, and also to make putting the helmet on and taking it off easier. In terms of adjustments, two pairs of cheek pads of different thickness are included in the box, to allow you to adjust the snugness to your liking. The cheek pads can also be mounted in two slightly different fore-to-aft positions to really let you dial things in. The chin strap is anchored at two different points for extra security, and a Fidlock buckle makes attaching and releasing the chin strap easy. Out back, there’s a ratcheting harness for fine tuning the fit around your head – this harness can also be placed in three different positions vertically, to conform to your head shape (or make room for a pony tail).

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On The Trail

Slipping into the Vanguard for the first time was a mostly comfortable event. This tester’s head measures in at 58.5 cm, which is at the top end of the size recommendations for a medium (56-58 cm per the spec). This made getting into the helmet slightly more challenging but once it was on, the fit was perfect. We still had a few clicks left in the adjustable harness as well, to really tighten things down. (we did try a size L briefly, it would have been too big for this tester to provide a secure fit).

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The interior of the Vanguard provides enough padding to give it that full face helmet feeling, not as plush and pampering as a full-on DH helmet of course, but also not like an XC lid with an extra chin bar. This tester generally prefers his full face helmets to just use padding inside, without the adjustable harness, but Bluegrass have pretty much nailed their take on the harness here and the helmet has been nothing but stable and comfortable in action. The MIPS C2 layer is as close to silent as these types of layers come, and the overall balance of the helmet on the head is exemplary. We tested with several large goggles and there is enough room to accommodate them all - with extra bonus points to Bluegrass for not placing any of the vents under the goggle strap. The field of vision is excellent, with just the tip of the visor visible up top. The visor attaches with three snap-buttons, if you unsnap the middle one you you can push the visor up out of the way to store your goggles there for climbing (we prefer them around the back of the head or even hanging around the neck though, to avoid obstructing the airflow through the forehead vents). As for one of your other senses, there are also large vents placed in proximity to the ears, which allows you to hear everything that’s going on around you perfectly.

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At just 725 grams it came as no surprise that the Vanguard feels light on the head. As soon as you start moving, the vents and channels come into play as well, moving plenty air over your head to keep you fresh. Soon enough, the helmet had made itself all but forgotten and we were left to focus on the trail ahead. Keeping the helmet on for the climbs is entirely feasible, even as the temperatures soar. All in all, we feel like Bluegrass has indeed nailed the design brief – and then some! Sure, the Vanguard Core comes in at a pretty hefty $350 USD, but that is pretty much in line with competition at this level, and you get a ton of safety and comfort features for your money. If you’re not convinced you need MIPS, you can go for the regular Vanguard and save about 60 bucks.

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What’s The Bottom Line?

There are plenty of options in the lightweight full face helmet market these days, so Bluegrass made sure to give you plenty of reasons to consider their latest offering. The Vanguard Core ticks all the boxes when it comes to safety, comfort, ventilation and adjustability. It is very stable in action and works with the goggle of your choice to provide a wide view of the trail ahead, and it stays cool enough to leave on your head even for the climbs. Add to that the high level of build quality and the excellent finish, and you’re looking at one serious contender among the other premium lightweight full face lids out there – it's one of the first to achieve a Virginia Tech 5-star rating as well!

More information at: www.met-helmets.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 50 // Years Riding MTB: 18 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord and Nils Hjord

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Specifications

Product
Bluegrass Vanguard Core Full Face Helmet
Riding Type
Downhill
Enduro / All-Mountain
Freeride / Bike Park
Trail
Other: E-MTB
Rider
Unisex
Number of Vents
24 vents and internal engineered air channeling system to improve ventilation and comfort
Construction
In-mold polycarbonate shell with EPS liner
Mips® C2 rotational management system
Integrated, fixed chin bar for full face protection
Adjustable Padding
Adjustable C-shaped cheek-pads to achieve the perfect fit, 2 thicknesses included
Certification
ASTM 1952-15/2032-15, NTA 8776, CE, US, AS/NZS
Bag
Soft storage bag included
Size
S, M, L (size guide included with photos above)
Colors
White Black Matte, Blue Fluid Matte, Green Fluid Matte, Black Matte Glossy
Weight
Size S: 1 lb 8.7 oz (700 g)
Size M: 1 lb 9.6 oz (725 g)
Size L: 1 lb 11.9 oz (790 g)
Miscellaneous
• 2023 product year release
• MIPS C2 rotational management system, engineered to add protection in case of certain impacts
• 5-star rating from the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab
• Fidlock magnetic buckle makes it easier to secure the helmet
• Safety release and flexible injected visor to avoid extra rotation of the neck in case of a crash
• Breathable chin bar with removable mud-grill
• Safe-T Heta Fit System
• 360° head belt and 3 vertical adjustments give you everything you need to find a uniquely individual fit
• Comfort pads are hand washable for improved hygiene and extended product lifespan
• Wide field of view makes it compatible with all goggles and sunglasses
Price
$350.00
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
$262.50
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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