Thursday, April 10, 2014

Product Review: Specialized S3 Helmet

Pros: Design, Ear/Chin Strap Compatibility, Fit Adjustment
Cons: High/Low Helmet Appearance
Specialized S3 Helmet (Front)
Specialized S3 Helmet (Side)
Design
     Specialized has outdone themselves, once again, with the sleek and stylistic appearance of the Specialized S3 helmet. The S3 includes numerous outstanding features that typically go unnoticed or are taken for granted in a helmet. First, one of the primary necessities in a helmet is a balance between protection and minimalism. The S3 helmet does not feel bulky and its openness allows for it to breath extraordinarily well. Climbing and descending do not interfere with optimal comfort. Second, the S3 incorporates a minute notch, in the front of the helmet, that securely fastens an optional visor. Therefore, the S3 easily doubles as a road and mountain helmet. The visor is an optimal addition for sunrise/sunset riding. As a complement to the visor for dawn/dusk riding, two reflective strips are located on the rear of the S3. Seeing and being seen are equally important. By incorporating so many features into a simplistic and versatile helmet, the S3 is a fantastic helmet for all bike junkies, especially commuters.
Reflective Strips (Back)
Ear/Chin Strap Compatibility
     Arguably one of the most time consuming, annoying bits that comes with a new helmet is adjusting the ear and chin straps to fit appropriately. Specialized has taken the hassle out of purchasing a new helmet with their one size fits all ear straps. The one downside to the ear straps is their slightly looser design causes increased flapping on fast descents. However, this appears to be a temporary issue that quickly subsides with a change of direction and/or conditions. In addition to the ideal ear strap positioning, the chin strap can be adjusted with ease. A micro fastener complements the chin strap to prevent excess material from dangling.
Ear Straps and Fastener

Fit Adjustment
     As an all inclusive measure, Specialized includes the ideal fit system with the S3 helmet. With five different options to encompass various head sizes, the rear webbing of the S3 can be adjusted in an up and down manner. The adjustment moves the webbing closer to the helmet or closer to the rider's neck. In addition to providing a better fit, the adjustment prevents any hot spot or sensitivity issues relating to personal features. If this was not enough, a tightness adjustor is included at the rear of the helmet. Combining the ability to adjust both tightness and webbing is an example of innovation at its finest.
Fit System (Gray) with Tightness Adjustor
High/Low Helmet Appearance
     The one downside of the Specialized S3 helmet is its tendency to sit low on the forehead and high on the rear of the head. The frontal slouching is not a large inhibitor. However, it does take some adjusting to a helmet that sits higher, in the rear. This is mildly counteracted by the ability to adjust the structure of the helmet.

Overall
     As one complete package, the Specialized S3 helmet is absolutely one of the top pieces of equipment on the market. Seeing other riders switch away from higher end Specialized helmets for the S3, due to the features it offers, is understandable. The sleek and minimal design, ease of adjustment, and superior inclusion of necessary but rarely incorporated features, places my overall rating for the Specialized S3 helmet at a 8.5/10. For more information on the Specialized S3 helmet, please visit here. Thank you very much for reading. Please check back soon for more updates.