Specialized S3 MT Helmet: Review
By Mike Kazimer
The most noticeable feature of Specialized’s S3 MT helmet is it's lightweight. The S3 meets the CPSC safety standards for helmets, yet still manages to come in under 300 grams, including the visor. There’s no doubt about it – the S3 MT is light. There are hamburgers (or veggie burgers) that weigh more than this helmet. Weight weenies could even ditch the visor to save 25 or so grams. An internal, Kevlar reinforced skeleton allows Specialized to maximize vent size without compromising strength. The straps and fit system are also designed with an eye towards maximum weight savings.
No matter how light or well vented a helmet is, the most important thing is fit. So how does the S3 MT fit? For my head shape, which I’d categorize as more oval than round, the fit of the S3 was excellent. I especially appreciated the minimalist design of the straps, an area that other helmet manufacturers tend to over complicate. Specialized’s retention system, called the Mindset, was easy to operate with one hand, and had a nice positive click when the dial was turned.
The visor position was nearly perfect, but it occasionally entered my peripheral vision on steeper climbs. I would have like the ability to move it a couple of degrees up to solve this. It is easily removable, so mountain bikers who want to try and blend in with the road bike crowd won’t have to buy a separate helmet.
Another small issue I noticed occurred when I tried to take my long sleeve jersey off with the helmet still on. I can pull this move with other helmets, but the rear of the S3 is rather pointy, and would catch on my jersey. It’s hard not to feel silly when you’re standing next to the trail in a helmet vs. jersey battle. Luckily, I usually ride alone. It’s a very minor issue, but if the back of the helmet was rounded off a bit more this wouldn’t happen.
According to Specialized, the S3 MT has “4 Dimension Cooling with Mega Mouthport.” What does that mean in non-marketing lingo? It means the S3 is one of the best ventilated helmets I’ve ever worn. Although this helmet was tested in the fall/winter, most of the rides I went on had extended, slow speed climbs. With the S3, my head stayed cool even when my lungs and legs were burning.
With the S3 MT, Specialized has accomplished their goal of creating a comfortable, lightweight and well-ventilated cross-country helmet. Its excellent fit and ease of adjustment make this a worthy choice for any cross-country rider.
For more information visit www.specialized.com