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Apparel & Accessories

Spotted: Specialized Evade aero road helmet

Specialized's new helmet focuses on evading heat and aerodynamic drag

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PORTO-VECCHIO, France (VN) — Specialized’s secret black aero road helmet, worn this spring by Mark Cavendish and Vincenzo Nibali, now has a name, and that name is Evade.

Apparently, the new helmet does quite well at evading aerodynamic drag, saving a claimed 20 watts at 50kph and 10 watts at a slightly more reasonable 40kph. And it does so while keeping a rider’s head cool, according to Specialized.

That’s because the design team spent nearly half their time working on ventilation, explained Specialized aerodynamicist Chris Yu.

“We saw that the guys (in last year’s Tour) were just refusing to wear some of the helmets. It was just too hot. So we knew we needed to start with a helmet that can be ridden in the heat and go from there,” he told VeloNews.

The front section of the Evade is based loosely on the McLaren time trial helmet, while the back tapers to a more normal road-helmet shape. The vents, which are far more numerous than on other aero road helmets, like Giro’s Air Attack or even Kask’s new adjustable Infinity, are more slits than holes, and are situated so that they do a minimal amount of damage to overall drag.

“We left the top alone for that reason,” Yu said. “If you put vents there, it just does terrible things to the aerodynamics. But if you put them on the sides and the front, and shape them correctly, you can minimize the impact.”

In fact, Yu says that when Specialized compared a mock-up Evade without any vent holes with the final vented version, the difference between the two was minute.

Is it ugly?

Yes, of course it’s ugly. But ugly is a spectrum, and at least the Evade doesn’t look like it popped straight out of a 1993 Nashbar catalog. It looks more ’98-ish. The lines are sleek, and some of the bigger, clunkier panels have been neatly masked by the clever graphics, at least on the three team models shown in Porto-Vecchio.

Particularly in team livery — those of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Astana — the helmet looks better than it does in the solid black version we’ve seen on Cavendish and others since Milano Sanremo, which will also be available to consumers. But even the black version looks a lot more like a modern road helmet than any of the other aero road options currently available.

Indeed, Specialized was surprised by the response from the pros themselves, who requested the helmet in far larger numbers than expected. Whether that’s down to the improved cooling or the cooler looks is up for debate; we’d wager it’s a fair bit of both.

The Evade is shipping now, and will hit shops in the next few weeks. Retail price is set at $250.