Bontrager might not be the most obvious choice when in the market for buying a new helmet, but recent vested interest sees the company producing a line of smart helmets. The Specter XR is their top-end mountain bike helmet and is clearly styled at cross-country riders with its sleek and pointy profile.

In the all-important comfort stakes, the Specter XR fits and hugs the head very well. Soft anti-microbial moisture-wicking pads cushion the head well and the Headmaster II Fit retention system clasps the head with little pressure while keeping the helmet securely in place. A ratcheting micro-dial provides easy adjustment on the move with nice positive feedback. Further customisation comes via height adjustable markers, so you can really get a good fit. The straps are soft and easily adjusted.

It's not reall carbon, but looks snazzy

The in-moulded shell has generously sized vents that provide decent ventilation. These vents work in combination with internal channels to pull air in at the front and push out the exhaust ports at the back. It’s not quite in the same league as Specialized’s Prevail but it’s not far off. At this time of year that’s no bad thing really.

The peak is removable (so roadies can use it on the road as well) but it lacks any angle adjustment.

Turn dial 'Headmaster II' retention device is easy to use

On the scales the Spectre comes in on a par with similarly priced helmets at 311g, though it’s not the lightest in its category. It feels lighter on the head though due to the good fit, enough that the extra weight isn’t a burden.

It’s also a good looking helmet and we all know how important it is to look dapper on the trails! On that note, it's available in several colours too if the silver option pictured is a little too conservative for you.


The Bontrager Specter XR is a serious contender for the money. It looks good, is light, comfortable and well ventilated.


Looks good


Effective retention system


Not the lightest

Not the most ventilated

Price: £109.99

Weight: 311g

More information: Bontrager Specter XR helmet

Bontrager's new helmet ticks all the boxes

What Bontrager say:

Keep your cool on the racecourse with the lightweight, composite-reinforced Specter XR helmet. This well-ventilated lid uses internal channeling to pull air through the helmet and over your head. Moisture-wicking antimicrobial fit pads and a one-hand precision adjustment retention system keeps the helmet resting comfortably and confidently on your head.