Saturday, March 08, 2008

Equipment - S-Works vs Decibel

I noted in my last post that I recently received my Specialized S-Works helmet. It has a lot of the standard Specialized helmet features - the big mouth in front, even rows of air channels bridged by some thin pieces of reinforced foam, and a huge vertical set of rear exhaust ports (that last bit makes it sound like I'm talking about a car or a spaceship - but if you look at the back of the helmet, it really does look like part of a spaceship).

The helmets from the bottom - S-Works left, Decibel right.

Note the full circumference lock system on the S-Works. The Decibel gets the half price version - it ends about 2/3 of the way around the helmet. The S-Works is very nice, it holds the helmet in a balanced way, not squeezing your forehead into the front of the helmet. The only draw back might be that if the pads slip on the lock system, your forehead is on hard, stiff plastic. Not comfortable.

The straps are pretty much the same between the two. The recalled 2-D had very, very thin straps that didn't absorb moisture. Apparently they didn't absorb energy either because they disappeared from the stronger S-Works. Pity because the thin straps were, well, thin.

The mouth up front didn't seem that much bigger until I compared it to my Decibel, the interim helmet Specialized provided its S-Works (originally named the 2-D) helmet while the recalled 2-D helmets were replaced. Once I looked at them side by side, I was amazed at the differences. I thought they were significant enough that I wanted to show them to you all.

The maw on the S-Works (left) and the Decibel (right). Jaws versus a guppy. Okay, not quite, but you get the idea.

It's obvious even from my poor photography that the S-Works has much larger vents up front. They're so large that, well, I think they supplied the semi-hardshell case with the helmets for a reason.

Look closely at the Decibel. Look at the mouth which has the blue sticker behind it. See that crack?


I only noticed it when I was taking pictures. It must have happened on my nightmare trip home or when I tossed the helmet in the back of the car last weekend. Either way I'll see if it warrants a replacement.

The vertical exhaust ports. S-Works up top, Decibel down low.

The S-Works has longer vertical columns but they are broken up by very thing horizontal fin-like braces. It must be where the kevlar framework sits. The underside of the rear (not pictured) is a little more finished on the S-Works. Details, details, details. When you refine something, it's the details that count.

A sexy rear three quarters shot. S-Works left, Decibel right.

The rear shot, from above, shows a distinct difference in pattern. The S-Works has this V-shaped thing going on, the V starting at the back and wrapping around the helmet to point at the top of your ears. I don't think it has any functional purpose but it's an easy way to tell the two helmets apart.

Of course, if you get them in different colors, that works too.

Difference in vents. Decibel left, S-Works right.

Once I noticed the gaping maw up front, I figured the rest of the vents would be sort of the same between the two helmets.


The S-Works has enormous vents which maintain their diameter through the helmet. In other words, many vents start out big but by the time you get to the head, the vent is disappointingly small. This leads to the acts of desecration where riders use fingernails, pocket knives, nail clippers, cigarette lighters, and anything else they can get to bore out the vents.

With the S-Works, that won't be necessary. I can't imagine where you'd get rid of any foam without causing the whole thing to crumple. The vents are wide everywhere.


Now I have wait for the weather to warm up.

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