Is it cool to be fast or fast to be cool?
For the last five years, Specialized’s sponsored athletes have had to decide between a ventilated helmet — usually the Prevail II — and its aero helmet, the Evade. Now, the company hopes an updated version of the Evade can make it easier for them (and maybe you) to choose aero.
As is the case with all aero road helmets, efficiency in the wind tunnel usually comes at the expense of cooling vents. Some helmets, like Lazer’s Bullet, employ sliding vents that open and close. Others simply forgo cooling for the sake of speed.
The funny thing about the Evade II is that it looks a lot like the old Evade. In fact, it has four fewer vents. So what did Specialized do improve ventilation?
Specialized says the helmet’s internal channels and exhaust ports are the keys to making the new Evade cooler. Using a mannequin head with 12 different temperature sensors, Specialized sculpted a new helmet interior. Engineers focused on boosting the volume of air coming out of the rear vents, which they feel is more important to cooling than the intake vents.
According to Specialized, all of this R&D resulted in a helmet that is as cool as a bare head at speeds of around 20mph. Our initial ride impressions confirm that. The design seems especially suited to cool off your forehead — understandable, given the vent placement. Once we started climbing at little-ring speed, the Evade II felt a bit warm, as most aero helmets do. Specialized is closing the gap between comfort and aerodynamics, but don’t expect pure climbers to give up their Prevail helmets entirely.
With only minor changes to the external vents, the Evade II’s aerodynamics don’t differ much from the previous model. It is a bit faster though, according to Specialized’s wind tunnel testing.
Engineers shortened the helmet’s overall length by about 10mm and reshaped small details, like the center line curvature and the edges near the ears. They say this helmet is six seconds faster in a 40km time trial, relative to the old Evade.
We’d be very impressed if you could detect that slight aero improvement with this new helmet. When it comes to weight, the 285g Evade II (size medium) is nearly the same as the old model.
The new model’s magnetic chin-clip is one noticeable change. It’ll take a few rides to get accustomed to this buckle, but it’s easy to close and open with one hand, which we liked.
If you’ve already got an old Evade, don’t despair. This latest model is a great helmet, but not worlds apart from yours. If you’ve been holding out for a better-ventilated aero helmet, then the Evade II is one of the best options on the market. Plus, it’s fairly priced at $250 — $25 less than the previous model.