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Road Gear

Clothesline Review: Specialized’s new Prevail helmet

A look at the Specialized Prevail helmet: Is the Morgan Hill company breaking new ground with an aerodynamic everyday helmet?

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Clothesline Review: Specialized Prevail helmet
The chrome 'S" is a nice touch

Specialized’s new Prevail helmet was seen at this year’s Tour de France. The 230-gram helmet (size medium) costs one dollar for every gram of its weight ($230). Funny how expensive so little material can be! It is worth it though? Yes.


If you’re currently on a Specialized helmet and you like the fit, there will be no surprises with the Prevail. Specialized has stayed true to its shape and fit. The new Mindset internal fit system is fantastic. I really like the one-handed adjustability of it. You can also adjust how far down the back of your head the Mindset sits. (Or conversely, how far down your brow the front of the helmet reaches). This is especially handy for fall and winter when you’ll have a hat on underneath your helmet.

The other improvement over past Specialized lids is the abbreviate nature of the Mindset. In the past, they wrapped all the way around the head. The forehead part always dug in to my head. This is now a thing of the past. Well done, Specialized.

To save weight, the straps are thinner and there is no adjustability on their junction under the ears. Specialized calls it its Tri-Fix strap arrangement. I was initially worried about the lack of strap adjustability. I’m picky about how straps fall around my ears. But the Prevail was extremely comfortable and the Tri-Fix places them well below the ear.

Clothesline Review: Specialized Prevail helmet
The Mindset's internal adjustment is simple to use and adds to the dimensions the helmet can be fit.

One small item I didn’t like was how sunglasses fit with the helmet. I’m sure that Specialized glasses will fit without any problem, but my Giro and Oakley glasses didn’t work as well. Part of this is due to the wide, away-from-the-face, position of the front straps. Specialized has done this for years. Your glasses need to go on inside the straps. The other half of the problem is how far down the side of the head the helmet comes. The helmet front wraps your face on the sides and some glasses interfere here. Not a big issue, but bring your riding shades if you go to try on a Prevail.


Modern helmets are all very light. But recently the competition for world’s lightest helmet has been hotly contested. In the early nineties, Specialized started the light helmet craze with the Sub 6 and Sub 6 Pro. The Motorola squad brought them to the world’s attention. On the climbing stages of the 1993 Tour de France, the Colombian, Alvaro Mejia, wore his Specialized Sub6 Pro helmet. The bright blue finish of his helmet contrasted with his dark skin and the bare heads of his competitors around him. The bar had been raised and other helmet makers had to react.

Fast forward to 2009. Giro unveiled its Pro Light helmet at the Tour de France and reignited the lightweight helmet race. At 230 grams, a medium Prevail is thirty grams heavier than a medium Prolight. Specialized, though, doesn’t seem bothered by the weight race, instead, in designing the Prevail, they focused on aerodynamics.

Specialized claims that the Prevail will put you 250 meters farther down the road after an hour riding at 250 watts than you would be wearing a Giro Ionos. At first that doesn’t seem like very much, but race for four hours and you’re a kilometer ahead (theoretically speaking). In the real world, of course, this advantage will lead to better conservation of energy and that is the big gain.

I think that there is big potential for aero ventilated helmets in the future. Wheels, bicycles, cable routing, rider position have all been optimized, or at least examined. Helmets are crucial in time trialing, and many are waking up to their potential as an advantage in a mass-start race application. It’s just like Specialized to start the race off the front.


$230 is a lot for a helmet, but the Prevail fits well (just bring your sunglasses with you when you try one on) and the 4th Dimension ventilation is excellent. Its price puts it $5 less than a Giro Ionos but $30 more than a Pro Light. If you want a top-of-the-line helmet, this is the price range you’re looking at.


Specialized has never seemed like a company willing to rest on its laurels. The Prevail, with its aero-focused design, could become as iconic as the Sub 6 helmets from the nineties. Time will tell. In the meantime, try one on and see for yourself.