Specialized Airnet MIPS ReviewAugust 11, 2017
- Excellent overage
- Lack of adjustability
- Small adjustment dial
The Specialized Airnet MIPS is a lightweight helmet with outstanding rear and side coverage. Although it delivers a secure fit with its factory settings, the Tri-Fix web splitter is a double-edged sword. The side straps will never touch or chafe ears however it offers no adjustability.
What sets the Specialized Airnet MIPS apart from the other helmets in the test is the Drirelease Merino wool padding. Although minimal in thickness, it does an excellent job of absorbing sweat, preventing annoying drips and drying quickly.
However, the minimal padding decreases the depth of the helmet’s air channels, causing a warmer head on moderate-paced rides on hot and humid days.
The helmet’s 4x DryLite webbing straps are lightweight, lay flat, and are comfortable against the cyclist’s face. When drenched with sweat, they dried faster than all the other helmets in the test. Using a single layer of webbing, rather than the usual two, enhances comfort under the chin.
The Tri-Fix web splitter sits well below the ear lobes and spreads the two upper lengths of webbing into a wide U-shape around the ears (instead of a standard V shape). The combination of the Tri-Fix web splitter and the thinner webbing prevents the straps from touching or chafing the ears and allows the straps to lay flat on the side of the face.
However, the Tri-Fix web splitter is not adjustable in any way. As a result our tester was unable to remove the slack in the fore and aft straps and the chin strap can never be comfortably centered. Although this contributes to the helmet’s light weight, it also reduces the ability to accommodate a wide range of skull sizes.
The Specialized Airnet MIPS had twenty-two air vents, which translates to outstanding ventilation. However, the depth of the air channels are minimal due to the thinner padding. Strangely enough, our tester experienced good ventilation at slower speeds than expected.
Placement of padding creates airflow channels that helped push air through the helmet to aid with the cooling process. The padding placement in the helmet was very good and promoted good ventilation on hot and humid days, even while riding at slower speeds. Ventilation was slightly improved with increased speed and the padding did a good job of absorbing sweat.
The Specialized Airnet MIPS measures 17.5 inches from front to back and 15 inches from side to side, this increased surface space translates to the highest amount of coverage of all the helmets in the test.
Additional head protection comes from MIPS, a thin liner that protects against rotational forces by separating the shell from the liner to allow the liner to slide relative to the skull in instances of an angular crash.
Two sets of pads, which are the same level of thickness, are included. One set has an integrated visor.
Pads are both washable and replaceable. Cyclists with long hair will find the Specialized Airnet MIPS to be ponytail friendly.
The Specialized Airnet MIPS Mindset 360 fit system requires only tightening the chin strap and adjusting the rear tension dial. These two points of adjustment allowed for quick, one-handed changes while riding. However, the Tri-Fix web splitter’s factory setting are not adjustable. To compensate for this oversight, our tester had to crank down on the chinstrap and backband dial, which caused slight discomfort under the chin.
Out of the box, with the minor adjustments to the chin strap and backband, the Specialized Airnet MIPS sat centered on our tester’s head. Fit, however, would be improved if the fore and aft straps were adjustable. Straps needed re-tensioning fairly frequently due to the glossy coating of the lightweight material.
The Specialized Airnet MIPS, despite its most generous head coverage, is the second lightest helmet in the test at 270 grams.
Marie Malinowski is a Minneapolis-based mountain biker, bike commuter, backpacker, and trail runner who covers our cycling accessories categories.