Have a look around the mountain biking scene these days. Rather, look at the trend of mountain bikes Vital has been covering lately. Mountain bikes are billed as more capable than ever and that descriptor has to do with descending. There are brands that hustled to produce lighter, full-faced helmet offerings to answer the call of today's aggressive riders. Other brands took longer and wound up creating lighter, more ventilated helmets. Specialized has a brand-new helmet to put into the ring, the Gambit.
- SBC Integrated Fit System (Adjustable Occipital base)
- 4 Position Cheek pad Adjustability
- Ventilation Focused
- ASTM DH Certification
- Carbon Shell
- Dual Density
- ANGi Ready
- MIPS SL Solution
- Fixed Visor
- MSRP: $300
- Size/Weight Range:
- Small: 51-56 CM, 600g
- Medium : 55-59 CM, 640 g
- Large : 58-62 CM, 730 g
Specialized's Gambit helmet fills and fits in a unique area between routine downhill helmet and trail/enduro crossover. Particularly as popular options from Troy Lee Designs and 7iDP have allowed even more ventilation while retaining safety ratings. The Gambit does not fit or feel like those other options, despite carrying a full downhill safety rating among other safety features. The interior is light and roomy with a large void between the cheek pads and surrounding pads around the head. Ratcheting down the SBC system feels reminiscent of a half-lid but once snug, the Gambit takes on the character we are more accustomed to in a full-faced helmet.
Make no mistake, the Gambit does not feel like a compromise, nor do the ratings suggest it as such. Riders wanting a more airy feel should be levitating with joy. Here is a full-face helmet that delivers all of the safety and security of a regular downhill helmet without feeling as though we've gone too far.
With three different cheek pad options and two mounting holes for each one, riders will be able to customize the fit of the helmet to maximize that secure feeling. We did notice that while removing the cheek pads was relatively easy, getting them lined up and popped back into the mounting holes was tedious.
Another feature giving the Gambit that hybrid feel is the ear/chin strap. Specialized used the same fixed ear yoke system and chin buckle that we see on half-lid helmets. For those helmets, we do get along with this system. We didn't immediately jive with them on the Gambit but it was more about mentally getting used to a trail-feeling strap on a downhill rated helmet. Again, this is sensory bias, not an objective jab.
We tried the Gambit with two different types of goggles - Oakley's Airbrake (outrigger style) and the 100% Strata (no outrigger) and found the helmet to accommodate both, perfectly fine. Some helmets can get a bit too deep around the face and require a goggle that uses an outrigger, but this was not the case with the Gambit. With the fixed visor mounted higher up, we could see riders ascending enduro transfer stages with their goggles up here.
Where do we see the Gambit lining up? First and foremost, enduro racers. The Gambit is light, well ventilated, and fully rated to take on the burliest of enduro stages. For time between the tape, we have no doubt the Gambit will fit the bill. The other area we see this light, full-faced helmet working is in the e-bike segment. E-MTB's go far and they go fast. Having the additional protection the Gambit offers is a great addition for the e-bike crowd.
With respect to the lightweight full-face helmet category, the Gambit is in strong company. Brands that have gone all-in with ventilation and protection have all done an excellent job in their execution. As we have come to expect from Specialized, they too, have delivered a worthy contender.
To learn more about the Gambit, head to Specialized.com
View key specs, compare helmets, and rate the Specialized Gambit in the Vital MTB Product Guide.
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