A lightweight, airy helmet with no compromise on safety and fit comfort
Superb ventilation properties
ANGi crash detection included
Good fit retention and rotational safety slip liner
Multiple colour options
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The Specialized Prevail has long been considered the brand's best road bike helmet having first debuted in 2010 as a replacement for the 2D S-Works helmet. While the basic design blueprint and core ethos have remained pretty much unchanged over the years, the helmet received a major overhaul in 2016/17 in the form of the all-new Prevail II. Since then the tweaks have hinged more around safety than anything else with MIPS slip-plane integration and the brand's very own ANGi Crash Sensor being the most notable upgrades.
The helmet you see here, however, is the latest addition to the family - the Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent helmet, which aims to boost performance through improved ventilation.
Those with an eagle eye would have noticed Deceuninck-QuickStep's Mark Cavendish and L39ION of Los Angeles rider Justin Williams teasing the helmet on their Instagram feeds prior to the Morgan Hill-based company making any official noise about it but it's finally here and this is what we think so far.
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Design and aesthetics
As far as visuals go there's no mistaking the Vent for anything other than a Prevail - the basic design architecture and hallmark central Mega Mouthport is identical to the standard model. The helmet is available in four colour options - gloss-white metallic (pictured here), matte-gloss black, gloss sand/dopio and matte maroon/gloss black.
Of all the colourway options it's naturally the matte-gloss white shell that best demonstrates the helmet's contours and new ventilation design. At first glance the family resemblance is clearly evident - even the EPS foam profiling is the same. But closer inspection reveals the paucity of foam bridges along the central vent and two side channels. These pieces have been cut away exposing the Aramid rope cross-bracing which serves as both a functional and aesthetically pleasing design measure.
In terms of the logo placement, the Vent follows very much the same layout protocol of the regular Prevail II helmet with a brace of S-Works wordmarks taking up residence on the flanks while a chromed 3D 'S' logo takes pride of place on the Mouthport. The only real difference comes at the rear with the introduction of a centrally organised 'S' logo - the placement of Prevail and S-Works monikers remain unchanged.
- Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi helmet review (opens in new tab)
The biggest talking point here is the improved ventilation channels that have been introduced by cutting away seven of the airflow-inhibiting EPS foam bridges down the centre and side channels of the helmet. This was achieved by completely re-engineering the internal skeletal structure with robotically spun high-modulus, high-strength Aramid rope. Not only has this bolstered internal strength but it's also improved ventilation by a claimed 20 per cent over the standard Prevail II.
That said, the Prevail II Vent is as much about safety as it is cooling efficiency with a MIPS SL rotational slip-plane liner providing 10 to 15 millimetres of rotation in every direction. This Specialized-only system uses 14 strategically placed elasticised rubber 'watchband' retainers on the padding inserts, the latter of which has been redesigned with perforated ripstop backing for improved breathability. As such the Prevail II Vent is Specialized's safest helmet offering - a fact underscored by five stars it was awarded by Virginia Tech Bicycle Helmet Ratings.
The S-Works Prevail II Vent also benefits from Specialized's ANGi Crash Sensor that's integrated into the rear assembly of the retention system. ANGi can send a text message to specified contacts on your phone in the event of a fall or a collision, granted you've downloaded the Specialized Ride app.
Surprisingly, the reduction in the multi-density EPS polystyrene bridges has done little to affect the helmet's weight, which remains unchanged over the standard model at 228g for a medium (actual weight).
With the S-Works Prevail II Vent, Specialized has taken an already superb helmet recipe and made it even more appealing without negatively impacting comfort, fit and safety. It also looks the business thanks to the Aramid rope design reinforcements, which have not only helped improve ventilation but also made for a cleaner, less complicated design.
Is it worth it over the regular Specialized S-Works Prevail II? Well, that depends on where you live as both versions of the Prevail are equally as good at what they do - one is just better suited to hotter climates than the other. Then there's the pricing discrepancy between both Prevails which varies from country to country but costs the same in the US - in this case, $250.
No matter your choice, the S-Works Prevail II design blueprint in general and the fit-and-forget nature of its application makes it a winner in our books - and a serious contender for the top spot in the best road bike helmets category.
View the S-Works Prevail II Vent at Specialized (opens in new tab)
Tech Specs: Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent helmet
- RRP: £240 / €319.90 / $250 / AU$400
- Weight: 228g (medium)
- Rotational safety: MIPS SL
- Aero: Yes
- Sizes: S, M, L
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Aaron was the Tech Editor Cyclingnews between July 2019 and June 2022. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. Throughout this career, Aaron has spent almost two decades writing about bikes, cars, and anything else with wheels. Prior to joining the Cyclingnews team, his experience spanned a stint as Gear & Digital editor of Bicycling magazine, as well as a time at TopCar as Associate Editor.
Now based in the UK's Surrey Hills, Aaron's life revolves around bikes. He's a competitive racer, Stravaholic, and Zwift enthusiast. He’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, completed the Haute Route Alps, and represented South Africa in the 2022 Zwift eSports World Championships.
Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB
What is a hands on review?
'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.