Retention strap adjusts in both height and tension
Quiet and aerodynamic at high speeds
Spare set of pads included
Ear straps don’t offer a customized fit
Some riders might prefer more coverage
The Specialized S-Works Prevail is the helmet for helmet-haters. Its trim profile and ultralight weight make it unobtrusive in all conditions, from hot summer hammerfests to high-speed descents.
Though minimalist in construction, the Prevail is comfortable enough for long rides. The thin pads (one large piece on the forehead and two separate strips on top of the head) are perforated to better handle sweat. In testing, the surface felt dry to the touch, even when the pads had soaked up sweat, and I never experienced a “rainshower” of sweat releasing out of them.
The Prevail devotes more real estate to vents than armor. On the front, two rows of airholes direct wind across the forehead and scalp and help dry out the liner pads. In testing, this was where the helmet’s ventilation felt most obvious: the vents across the crown and back of the head dissipated heat, but didn’t feel flooded with wind.
The Prevail offers more impact protection than you’d think. Aramid reinforcements and dual-density EPS foam (a patent-pending technology that Specialized pioneered) help deflect forces to the head. A spare set of liner pads lets you switch out funky fabric for fresh stuff. The women’s version (Chickadees) lets you slide a ponytail between the shell and the retention strap.
Despite its minimalist bent, the Prevail lets riders adjust the height of the retention strap with five settings by pulling two plastic arms farther out of the shell, lowering the retention bar. The ear straps are fixed, not adjustable; fortunately the factory setting suited most testers.
There are a few ounce-trimming features on the Prevail that help make it extremily light: the head coverage extends to about an inch above the ears, the retention strap is exceptionally thin, and the side straps don’t adjust. If the straps fit you (as they did me), you’ll love how light and wispy they feel compared to standard adjustable options.
It’s expensive, but the Prevail is worth the hefty investment with weight savings, heat reduction, appealing comfort, and protective construction.