Specialized’s Prevail II is an excellent lightweight, ‘fit and forget’ road helmet that’s equipped with MIPS and the bonus send for help crash detection from ANGi
ANGi crash detection included
Retention sits high on the head
In-moulding doesn’t offer much coverage
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The S-Works Prevail II is Specialized’s premium road racing helmet, redesigned with input from riders and pros, the second edition of the Prevail is claimed to be safer, lighter, more aero all whilst reducing the overall volume of the helmet. Specialized is confident that the resulting product excels at hot rides with plenty of vertical as well as flat fast rides, we have been riding the Prevail II to find out how it performs.
Design and aesthetics
As with any Specialized product that has been given the S-Works moniker, the Prevail II shows some very high attention to detail in the design. While Specialized has managed to pack a wealth of safety features into the Prevail II, serious consideration has been made into how the safety for riders can be improved beyond the usual construction, fit and rotational safety features that can be found on the best road bike helmets.
The most notable addition is ANGi, a little crash detection device mounted on the rear of the helmet that, on detection of significant impact or rotational forces, can notify an emergency contact of an incident and coordinates of your location. For riders who are often on their own, this could be a significant advantage as in serious crashes time is often of the essence. It isn’t perfect, ANGi is dependent on the Specialized Ride app - which means remembering to open yet another app on your phone before you start riding - and relies on your smartphone having a signal to be able to send the notification with your location. If you anticipate riding into an area without a signal, a ride timer can be set that automatically sends a distress message with your last known location should you not finish your ride when expected.
Whether you use it or not, considering ANGi’s unobtrusiveness it’s certainly a nice feature to have and it’s good to see Specialized thinking out the box. There have been no false alerts during testing but if there is, ANGi that can be disarmed either from your phone or a Wahoo computer that’s synced up to the Specialized Ride app - Garmin isn’t compatible and has its own built-in crash detection. The unit only weighs 10g and uses a coin battery which lasts a claimed six months of riding too.
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Specialized has equipped the Prevail II with plenty of other crash proofing features as well. The helmet is constructed from multi-density EPS foam to improve impact absorption and has an aramid-reinforced skeleton to stop the helmet from breaking apart on the initial impact. Slightly disappointing though is the coverage of the in-moulding which has been used a little more sparingly than we would like and could lead to premature damage to the EPS foam that’s left unprotected. Being picky it could also be a little neater which shouldn’t be a talking point on a helmet at this top-shelf price.
The Prevail II has had a bit of a facelift, or rather a face drop. Visually the Prevail II is the obvious successor in the Prevail line and carries over many aesthetical ques from the previous model however Specialized has added more coverage with the Prevail II sitting a little lower on the head than the previous model to add more coverage and protection.
While the Prevail II is not an aero helmet, Specialized has had it in its wind tunnel and make a loose claim of a six-second advantage over 40km when compared to a ‘standard road helmet’. We expect the claim is mostly due to the reduced overall volume of the helmet. The lack of a Cyclingnews wind tunnel means we are unable to confirm this, although anecdotally the Prevail II is a very quiet helmet when riding at speed.
Specialized is committed to the MIPS concept with every helmet in its range available with a MIPS system. The Prevail II is no different, however, it gets an exclusive MIPS SL design, designed as a collaboration between MIPS and Specialized, the MIPS SL liner is extremely minimalist so it doesn’t impede the helmet’s ventilation. The liner itself consists of sections of plastic sheet that are held between the helmet and the padding using rubber pins to create a slip plain to help absorb rotational impacts. Other than the rubber attachments, MIPS SL is visually unnoticeable and hasn’t been the cause of any discomfort.
Specialized offers a range of different colours with classic black, white and of course the trademark Specialized red. There are also a few other colours as well including the wonderfully outrageous Acid Lava/Acid Purple fade that they sent us.
Performance and fit
The Prevail II is an extremely well-fitting helmet, personally. It has a very comfortable shape and sits perfectly around my head. The low weight also goes a long way to giving the Prevail II the 'forget you're wearing it' holy grail of helmet compliments.
A total of 36 vents mean the Prevail II is an airy helmet with the vents linked together by the internal channelling to aid airflow across the head. The setup is effective as well, pulling hot air away from the head even when riding at slower speeds and the MIPS SL helps here by avoiding any obstruction to this airflow. Sunglass storage is easy, and any pair I tried easily slotted into the vents without feeling like they are going to leap out if I looked at the ground.
Straps are fixed within the EPS rather than mounted within the shell. This means unlike most helmets the straps sit a little bit away from the head. In use, this makes little difference other than encouraging the fashion faux-pas of sunglasses under straps. The straps themselves only offer under the chin adjustment but are well-positioned to give plenty of ear clearance and the Tri-Fix web splitter keeps the strap junction organised and free of fluttery annoyances.
The retention is managed by Specialized’s Mindset HairPort II micro-dial fit system, vertically adjustable with retention managed using a traditional dial. The helmet snugs up gently yet securely with a good amount of fine adjustment. There are five vertical positions although the pads don’t go as low as some other helmets which left me running mine in the deepest position. If you like the ultra locked-in feeling of low down retention then the Prevail II may not give that. Overall once cinched down, the helmet is extremely secure and hasn’t required any mid-ride adjustments.
Specialized has designed a Gutter Action brow pad that is designed to divert sweat away from your eyes, I can’t really comment on how effective it is as it’s either not been that hot or I haven’t been trying enough. I can confirm that rain dripping down my face hasn’t been an issue.
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Specialized has achieved the trifecta of helmet goals with the Prevail II making it a serious contender as one of the best road helmets available. The zero fiddling, ‘fit and forget’ comfort means that whether you are racing or racking up the miles you are never distracted or uncomfortable and the ventilation is also superb. Combine that with the low weight and forward-thinking safety features make the Prevail an excellent choice. For riders who enjoy solo training missions, ANGi is no doubt a big selling point over many other helmets as well, although its limitations certainly lean it more to road riding where phone signal is likely to be more reliable.
Tech Specs: Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi helmet
- RRP: Starting at US$250 / £220 / €279.90
- Weight: 227g (actual, medium)
- Rotational safety: MIPS SL
- Aero: No
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
- Colours: 8 (country dependent)
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Graham has been part of the Cyclingnews team since January 2020. He has mountain biking at his core and can mostly be found bikepacking around Scotland or exploring the steep trails around the Tweed Valley. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has gained a reputation for riding fixed gear bikes both too far and often in inappropriate places.