Specialized's carbon matrix shelled Dissident full face helmet is an extremely accomplished example of why the company's equipment range is just as polished as its bike designs.
At a mere 981g (size medium) the Dissident is quite possibly the lightest SNELL-certified full facer available for mountain biking. It certainly feels lighter than the Troy Lee Designs D3, which many consider the benchmark full face lid.
The reduced weight is a noticeable pleasure on the trail, dirt jumps or slalom course – so much so that it ended up staying on more often than usual on the chairlift or during the walk up to the top of the slopestyle course.
Plenty of mesh-covered vents offer good airflow throughout the helmet, and the helmet liner wicks sweat rather well. The large vent on the chinguard never noticeably restricted air intake, meaning we’d happily use this for enduro and downhill.
Those who sweat profusely, however, will notice that liquid ends up dripping off the forehead liner – this is slightly annoying when you're standing but almost any riding speed quickly dissipates the buildup. Still, it would be great to have some type of sweat gutter above the eyes.
It comes in four sizes, so getting the fit right was easy, and we were impressed by the snug, comfortable and secure feel. We also like the double D-ring closure. The cheek pads and liner are easy to remove for washing after really hot, sweaty rides, and reinstalled relatively easily, short of the chinstrap covers.
Specialized is offering the Dissident as compatible with the EJECT helmet removal system. This isn't a bad thing, especially as the easily removable cheek pads are designed to help the emergency services remove the lid with less potential damage to an injured neck. The EJECT air bladder itself is an aftermarket item, although we spoke to several doctors and paramedics in the US who were unfamiliar with the system.
Speaking of removable cheek pads, they did have a tendency to pull out of place when we removed the helmet. Specialized says it's well aware of the issue, and has remedied the interface in the latest generation of the helmet, which should have hit the shops already.
One small annoyance that Specialized didn't mention changing is the chin snap that holds excess strap out of the way. It's all but impossible to feel the 'snap' of it without taking off gloves, and is even a little covered by the chinstrap liner. A heftier snap, or magnet, would be a nice update for the Dissident at some point.
The adjustable visor is impressively stout – so much so that we duct-taped a 125g light to it during a 12-hour downhill race and it didn't so much as hint at moving, creaking or flexing.
The Dissident also worked well with a neck brace without restricting movement, and every pair of goggles we tried to fit did so without a problem.