News & Reviews
- Jun 26, 2009
Specialized rolled out their new line of full face helmets last year at Crankworx, to the delight of many. Inside you'll find some HQ photos and a review of the new lid, detailing why it may or may not be the best DH lid out there.
Words and Photos by David Peacock
The helmet is arguably the most important piece of downhill mountain bike equipment. Without it, our inevitable on-trail gaffs become drastically more lethal. Dramatic introduction aside, it’s imperative that one purchases the right lid. Personally, I’ve had a pair of serious concussions, one from mountain biking and the other from hockey, so my helmet is something I take seriously. If the fit isn’t right, the protection not sufficient, or the price too high it might not be the lid for you. But, make no mistake, price shouldn’t be the determining factor when selecting a helmet; you don’t want the paramedics to be wrestling a shoelace secured WalMart lid from your concussed corpse. I’ve always been a fan of the Giro Remedy from a simplicity and affordability standpoint, but there’s other factors to be considered, such as looking more badass and increasing your level of safety on the bike.
When I first donned the Specialized Dissident, a few things surprised me. Firstly, it’s weight, as the helmet is incredibly light. It’s ever so slightly lighter than the carbon D3 and the difference between a $150 Remedy and the Dissident is massive. It features the HelmetEJECT system which is designed to aid in helmet removal in the event of a spinal…it’s also Leatt Brace compatible, I don’t wear one, so I can’t speak to the practicality of this, but apparently if you’re so inclined you won’t feel restricted by the shape of the helmet against your brace. Helmet technology has come a long way in the last few years, but the fact remains that the innate fit of the helmet is the primary thing that riders will criticize or appreciate. My head is of average proportions; I don’t have a five-head or a mega-jaw, and my size “L” lid was immediately comfortable, though admittedly tighter than I was used to with my Remedy. At first I wasn’t sure if I had chosen the correct size, but I quickly realized that it fit as intended. The fact that it’s snug is good, it keeps your head from banging around inside and also prevents the mouth/jaw portion from ending up over your eyes (so you won’t be another joey rocking the “nose-guard” style lid). Another notable feature is how close the jaw-guard sits to your face, and how secure the padding is in that area. Having had one faceplant, I can safely (no pun intended) say that this prevents your face from slamming into the front of the helmet. Interestingly enough, I also found the Dissident to be kind of “sound proof”, which some might see as a good or bad thing. It dampens noises as a result of padding around your ears and mouth, making you quieter when speaking and often guilty of repeating “what?” when talking on the trail. That could be perhaps the most benign qualm with a helmet, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
The Dissident retails for $350, which is significantly cheaper than the D3. That's a very reasonable price for the safety of your brain and the comfort of wearing a quality full face. Not to mention, it looks really sweet. After the relatively unsuccessful Deviant, Specialized has a winner with the Dissident. It’s worth the price tag on comfort and safety alone, and has the aesthetics to boot. Well done, Big Red S, well done.