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Spiuk Dharma helmet – review

The Spiuk Dharma is the Spanish firm's top-end helmet but, at £119.95, it's competitively priced for a flagship lid, combining relatively low weight and an impressive fit with a handful of interesting features - some more useful than others.

The Dharma was a new addition to Spiuk’s helmet range in 2014 and you would have seen it on the heads of  Bretagne-Seche riders at the Tour de France, in what was the team’s first outing in cycling’s most famous race. Despite the Dharma being Spiuk’s top-of-the-range model, it costs significantly less than many other flagship lids from rival manufacturers, without giving up much in the way or weight or features.

The helmet has a claimed weight of 260g and we weighed our M-L (53-61cm) test model at 247g without the clip-on aeroshell (which I’ll come on to) and 288g with. Either way, it’s at a competitive weight for the cash – if not as featherweight as the likes of the (more expensive) Poc Octal (200g) and Lazer Z1 (225g) – and it sits inconspicuously on your head, just as a helmet should. The straps are also very thin and light, and I found they can sometimes twist into odd positions while riding, but it’s nothing too major and can be sorted quickly using the strap clips.

The fit is very good and the helmet uses Spiuk’s W-PRECISION X1 adjustment system, consisting of an easily adjustable wheel at the rear of the lid. This is micro-adjustable and allows you to fine-tune the fit, while the cradle can also be adjusted to one of three height positions to further fine-tune the helmet. It means the Dharma should fit most head shapes and sizes, and I found the Dharma to be very comfortable.

The helmet is also well-padded on the inside to help provide a comfortable fit and I found the pads managed to avoid becoming unpleasant sweat sponges (the pads are also replaceable and can be bought for £8.95). In addition to the regular padding, the helmet also comes with an insect netting, something that I didn’t find particularly necessary while testing in the Surrey Hills, but it may be more useful to fit in the summer, or if you ride in a more exotic (or, rather, insect infested) location. The lid also comes with a visor, which I found to be largely ineffective and I actually struggled to fit it in the first place.

Ventilation is taken care of by 20 vents and these, on the whole, keep enough air moving through the helmet to keep you cool. I’ve tried helmets which offer more ventilation, and while at no point when using the Dharma did I feel a large mass of cool air flowing through my hair, at the same time it’s perfectly adequately vented to stop your head overheating working hard under prolonged exertion.

If you want to block the vents then that’s where the clip-on aeroshell comes in. Ok, it’s called an aeroshell, so it’s designed to offer an aero advantage (though Spiuk don’t offer up any numbers, which is just as well as we’re always skeptical and don’t have any way of testing them). Still, for the likes of you and I, the aeroshell is most likely to be employed as a means to keep cold air off your head in winter, or provide a barrier against rain, and it’s effective at both. When the shell is on the helmet, there is still airflow through the temple vents and the back of the helmet, so although it’s certainly warmer when in place, there is still enough air coming through the lid to stop you instantly overheating.

In terms of construction, the helmet uses what Spiuk call ‘Cone Head’ technology and a dual density EPS foam. That, according to Spiuk, results in “a stronger outer that absorbs impact better than the average helmet. The low density areas create softer protection for low impact areas closer to the head, so you don’t take an unnecessarily rough knock and your helmet doesn’t take unnecessary damage.” We weren’t able to put that to the test but the helmet does meet the same European CE EN1078 safety standard as the majority of helmets. Finally, the helmet is available in nine colours and comes with a protective microfibre bag.

Conclusion

Overall I was fairly impressed with the Spiuk Dharma helmet. It manages to keep the weight low without sacrificing any of the key features. The fit offers plenty of adjustment, and while I was a little confused about some of the accessories, like the visor and the insect netting, the aeroshell is a useful addition in poor weather (or if you’re determined to eek out a few extra watts), and that results in a package which represents good value for money.

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