Specialized makes some of our favorite trail helmets, yet at
the same time, they didn’t seem to have a large presence in
the full-face, gravity helmet world. The big “S” is looking to
change that with the Dissident helmet.
The Dissident helmet is constructed of a
carbon fiber shell. It features Specialized’s “4th Dimension
Cooling” system that boasts 20 vents. The design connects
the vents in the brow and front of the helmet with exhaust
ports in the rear via channels in the inner EPS liner to keep
air moving over the rider’s head. If the helmet still ends up
sweaty, the inner liner is removable for easy washing.
The helmet is designed to be compatible with the Leatt
neck brace and features quick-release cheek pads that snap in
and out of place for easy removal in case of an accident. It is
also compatible with Shock Doctor’s Eject helmet-removal
system. The system is essentially a folded mylar pouch that
sits at the top of the EPS liner with a hose that routes out the
back of the helmet through a specially designed vein in the
liner. The Eject system allows emergency personnel to safely
remove a rider’s helmet in case of a potential neck injury.
The system is not widely used in the mountain bike world
yet, but it is already standard equipment for race car drivers
and professional motocross racers. Though ours came with
the Eject system installed, it is not included with the
Other trick features include a slot in the rear of the helmet
and grooves in the EPS liner to route earphones internally,
titanium D-ring hardware on the strap, and three different
cheek-pad options to fine-tune the fit.
Field test results:
Specialized doesn’t do anything
halfheartedly, and on paper, the Dissident is packed
with features; however, if a helmet doesn’t fit and look
great, you won’t find it in many lift lines. Thankfully
for Specialized, this is not the case. The Dissident
embraces the modern styling that today’s downhill
riders are looking for and pulls it off well. Its lines
are aggressive but smooth. The DragBoat color scheme
is understated, as are most of the color options.
However, if a loud helmet is more your cup of tea, the
“Shredded Clown” paint job is about as bright and wild
as they come.
The fit of the helmet is where the Dissident really
shines. The helmet surrounds your head with even
pressure rather than feeling like it is sitting on top of it.
The three cheek-pad options help to fine-tune the fit.
We never experienced any awkward pressure points or
askew internal parts poking us. It sat a little lower than
some other helmets, and while this might seem like an
issue for neck braces, the rear lip is slightly raised to
allow more clearance when looking down the trail with
your head up.
The 4th Dimension ventilation system keeps your
head cool, though it’s tough to say that it works better
than other high-end options. The earbud routing is a
nice touch, but as we have experienced before, it is
tough to hear over the noise of smashing down a run.
This was not a huge problem, since we don’t usually
like to ride with music anyway.
While we feel the Eject compatibility and quick-
release cheek pads are a step in the right direction,
the integration of the two is not yet perfect. The
quick-release cheek pads snap into place with three
plastic fittings rather than Velcro. This makes the pads
very easy to get out in case of an emergency, but it also
makes it easy to dislodge them when taking the helmet
on and off. We figured out the nuances of getting the
helmet off without accidentally removing the pads, but
it caused some headaches at first as cheek pads went
Our size-large helmet weighed 2 pounds 4 ounces
with the Eject system and thickest cheek pads installed,
making it the lightest full-face downhill helmet we have
tested. The Dissident retails for $350 and is ASTM
Additionally, while the internal routing of the Eject
system is clean and well executed, the inflator hose
seems to sit awkwardly on the back of the helmet. A
piece of Velcro around the hose attempts to hold it to
the back on the liner, but the two materials didn’t
seem to play nice with one another. The result was a
dangling hose with the liner looking frayed from the
Minor complaints aside, the Dissident is an
impressive helmet. The combination of its spot-on fit,
light weight and top-notch safety features is sure to
make any day of lapping your favorite downhill tracks
that much better.