How much helmet do you wear? Do you go for the 200-gram super-xc one or the 1200-gram full-face protective one on any given ride? Most folks wear a lightweight helmet for most rides and then a full-face when they go to the bike park. That's been the model for decades as full-face helmets are a very good tool older versions are full of compromises.

Creator video by Specialized

But mountain biking is evolving as many folks are starting to do fun and aggressive rides (or segments) every time they go out. Nobody plans on crashing so it is cumbersome to take the really protective helmet only on most days. As many have realized, serious crashes often occur due to inattentiveness on even simple or familiar terrain. When one slaps the ground with little warning, energy is not dissipated and it can thus inflict serious injury. And when a rider hits their face, everything seems to change.

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4 colors and 3 sizes will appeal to many

Much progress has occurred in recent years in making full-face helmets lighter, modular, and easier to live with. Removable chin guards have made a strong move in the past five years with the Bell Super and Giro Switchblade. But for many, they are unreliable solutions to the problem and there are few ideal opportunities to add/remove/stow the chin guard seamlessly.

Specialized attacked the problem with a full R&D effort with their new Tactic helmet. At its core, they wanted to create a full-face helmet that one can ride all ride, every ride. This meant that it had to minimize the compromises of existing helmets that include heavy weight, compromised vision, hearing, ventilation, and looks.

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Our sole rider without the Gambit is 'sad panda on this ride opting out of the big hits. Something cool about the Gambit is folks can see our smile beneath the full-face protection.

What they've come up with is a pretty incredible first effort. It's unlike any full-face helmet that exists today and it weighs only 640 grams. The field of view is absolutely incredible as one can barely see the side edges of the helmet or even the chin guard. What this translates to is a full-face helmet that I'm able to use more often. In my case, I don't really 'plan' when I crash or when I get daring or aggressive. It just happens and it's cool when I can get out of my comfort zone and not have to worry that I don't have my knee pads or full-face.

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Getting outside of one's comfort zone is easier when the full-face is always at hand.

A few surprises:
The weight and field of vision are pretty incredible and that is a true delight as I sometimes forgot I had a full-face on. One really cool surprise is people can see my smile and it seems easier to communicate with others. I can hear better too as my ears are not covered by some big panel or foam pads.

Some things I don't like are the minimalist padding and straps. These seem like XC padding and pads and gram shaving were done here I suspect. On other helmets, I love those new magnetic Fidlock strap latches and this is definitely not at that level with small plastic snap locks. The ratcheting system is ok but on a full-face helmet, it can be an inconvenience as it has to be loosened and tightened every time, unlike a half-lid helmet. And I sometimes feel hotspots with the shell or retention system since there's not much padding. In contrast, the Fox Dropframe is heavier but I just slip it on, get the magnet lock close, and it is done.

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We can converse, and even drink with a waterbottle with this helmet.

  • 640 grams is a new lightweight bar for full-face helmets
  • aesthetic is incredible as key lines are integrated into visor and chin guard
  • field of view is ground-breaking
  • can hear very well with it
  • the adjustable ratchet system is unique in full-face helmets
  • 3 sizes and 4 colors
  • next level ventilations
  • it disappears into the ride

  • $300 is a lot
  • padding is minimalist so hotspots can develop
  • does not feel as secure as other lightweight full-face helmets
  • straps are minimalist and can seem thin/uncomfortable

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Fox Proframe and Specialized Gambit on the right

Gambit Details:
  • SBC Integrated Fit System (Adjustable Occipital base)
  • 4 Position Cheek pad Adjustability
  • Ventilation Focused
  • Youth Shell Size (Size Small splits Shuffle Youth/Child)
  • ASTM DH Certification
  • Carbon Shell
  • Dual Density
  • ANGi Ready
  • MIPs SL Solution
  • Fixed Visor
  • MSRP: $300
  • Size/Weight Range:
    • Small : 51-56 CM, 600gr
    • Medium : 55-59 CM, 640 gr
    • Large : 58-62 CM, 730 gr
  • Price: $300
Gambit is Specialized's new, lightweight, DH-certified full-face helmet. Utilizing a shell made of innovative integration of carbon fiber, polycarbonate, and five unique pieces of energy-optimized EPS foam (patent pending), combined with our SBC Integrated Fit system, 4-position adjustable cheek pads, a fixed visor, and MIPS SL, Specialized created a unique combination of lightweight, adjustability, and comfort in a DH-certified full face. The Gambit aims to be a 640-gram helmet you can use every ride.