Chances are you’ve probably seen a Specialized Prevail sitting on top of the heads of many a rider over the years. It’s a popular choice among pros and recreational riders alike, and we can see why. We spent the last several months getting to know the S-Works Women’s Prevail Helmet, and it’s definitely earned a spot in our regular helmet rotation.
The Prevail is a lightweight road helmet designed to combine both comfort and ventilation. Before we dive in, we thought it was worth mentioning up front that the Prevail is designed to be just that—a road helmet. That puts it in a completely different category than something like the S-Words Evade. So if you’re looking for a lid from Specialized that offers more aero benefits, go here and here for a look at the Evade.
Now back to our review. Ventilation is probably one of the best places to start, especially considering we did most of our riding with it in 90+ degree heat. The Prevail features an excellent ventilation system, including what Specialized calls a Mega Mouthport at the front to optimize cooling and sweat evaporation. Air flows through the port, over your head, and out through the large exhaust vents at the helmet’s rear. The helmet’s interior padding was also designed for sweat management, which again was essential during our hot South Florida summers. We never once felt the need to remove the helmet to wipe away sweat or simply let off some heat. The Prevail’s ventilation system was excellent.
While we’re on the topic of comfort, one of our multisport editor’s favorite features of the helmet was the Mindset micro-dial HairPort fit system. What makes this system so unique? You can you easily adjust the height by simply pulling on the arms of the cradle inside the helmet, which makes for a much more customized fit for any rider—as well as a larger gap to easily pull a ponytail through. Once we had the adjustments made, this made for a quicker fit and less frustration overall every time we put on the helmet. Sometimes it’s truly the smallest things that can make us big fans of a product, and that’s definitely true in this case.
Another surprise with the Prevail was the strap, which features Specialized’s Tri-Fix web splitter. We immediately noticed how fast we were able to put the helmet on. Put the helmet on, give a quick spin to the micro-dial at the back, and you’re on your way. That ease of fit was all thanks to the Tri-Fix, which eliminates the need to make those tiny adjustments to the straps around your ears. Again, this was a small detail that made a big difference, especially when you’re counting the seconds in T1. The straps were also especially lightweight and never stretched or hardened due to sweat. Specialized utilizes a fabric they call DryLite, which is designed to quickly evaporate sweat so you never feel like you have a cold wet strap against your skin.
While all of these qualities make the Prevail light and comfortable, we can’t forget the most important function of any helmet—protection for your noggin. The Prevail is designed with Energy Optimized Multi-Density Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) construction. This multi-density design helps the helmet better absorb impact at the areas most likely to be struck in a crash, while still remaining lighter in the areas least likely to take a direct hit. Specialized’s also utilizes its patented Aramid-Reinforced Skeleton in the Prevail. That’s a mouthful, but basically this means that there are strands of Aramid that run through the helmet to keep it strong without weighing it down. And in case you’re wondering, Aramid is a specific class of synthetic fibers commonly used in aerospace and military applications, as well as ballistic-rated body armor fabric. In other words, this is strong stuff.
We spent a lot of time with the Prevail. It’s been a trusty companion through many months of hot, long rides, and we can honestly say that it’s never let us down in the cooling department. The helmet’s lightweight qualities (the Prevail weighed in at 228 g) also helped us forget that we were even wearing a helmet at all, which is always a good thing when you’re spending hours in one. At $200, the Prevail is definitely at the higher end of the price scale. But if you’re looking to start the 2016 season with a new lid that’s lightweight, comfortable, and quick to transition with, we highly recommend giving the Prevail a serious look.