Italian protection giants, Kask, is certainly no strangers to the road, triathlon and gravel markets but the Defender helmet shows it's looking to cater to gravity-focused mountain bikers, too. Available in four sizes the shell utilises a complete carbon construction which is said to bring top-level performance in a cutting-edge design. The blurb reads good but unfortunately, the final product really doesn’t seem to fulfil the claims or meet the standards we’d expect from a helmet costing £470.
Kask has entered into an extremely competitive field here with the Defender helmet and due to its top-end price point, it’s against the best in the business from a host of other big-name brands.
What surprised us most when we received the Defender helmet was the lack of any built-in rotational impact protection, such as MIPS or Fluid Inside technology. Considering other brand's entry-level helmets are now featuring this extra level of protection, you'd expect it as standard fitment on a top-end full-carbon downhill-focused lid like the Defender.
The outer shell features 18 ventilation ports so good airflow and fast heat dissipation shouldn’t be a problem, especially since all the vents are fully exposed and not covered in any form of mesh. The Defender also sees a fairly generous front opening to provide a better field of vision and more airflow for greater cooling. We also found this wide opening to fit well with every pair of goggles we tried. There’s also dimpled grippers featured on either side of the helmet to prevent any goggle strap movement. A double D-ring chin strap means it meets full DH certification and the removable inner liner and replaceable chin guard air filter mean the helmet can be kept fresh after sweaty sessions.
Attached to the shell is an adjustable visor that can be repositioned by popping a latch style clip which works but seems over-complicated, awkwardly prominent and less likely to detach easily in a crash to reduce injury than other solutions we’ve seen. We also found the claimed 750g weight for the size medium to be off as ours tipped the scales at 820g.
Unfortunately, the initial feeling of disappointment continued when we took the Defender to the trail. Upon installation, you’re greeted with a number of creaks which make it feel like you’re wearing a budget bike park rental lid, not a high-end boutique carbon full-face helmet.
The fit is acceptable and true to size but you are left with some movement rather than a totally locked in, safe feel and the way the cheek pads push against your face isn’t confidence-inspiring either. While the extra field of vision is good for looking down the trail, when you're hauling down proper flat-out aggressive downhill tracks the wider opening actually felt more vulnerable when carrying out back-t- back runs in our other favourite downhill helmets. On the flip side, if you’re looking to use the Defender for trail riding duties, the extra ventilation and lightweight feel will be welcomed especially if you’re leaving it on for climbs. Even then there are a number of other trail-focused full-face options we’d recommend first on performance, price or both.
While it’s light and well vented, sub-optimal fit, budget feel and lack of modern safety technology compared to other full-face helmets - some of which are less than half the cost - leaves Kask’s Defender hard to recommend if you’re on the search for a new downhill lid.
Tech spec: Kask Defender Helmet
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Colours: 4
- Weight: 820g
- Price: £470