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Specialized Prevail II helmet



Superb ventilation, sweat management, comfort all wrapped up in lower profile shell makes the Prevail II a top pick

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Specialized Prevail helmet has long been a popular helmet with performance-focused cyclists because it's comfortable, well ventilated and seriously lightweight. This new new version retains everything that was good about original but has a much lower profile. It not only looks better but offers better ventilation and sweat management as well as reducing the wind noise of the original.

I tested the original Prevail S-Works helmet way back in 2012 and found it one of the most comfortable and well-ventilated helmets I had ever tested. That still holds true; I still frequently wear a Prevail helmet to this day. And at 190g it's still one of the lightest helmets on the market

Specialized Prevail II - front.jpg

The only criticism it was possible to level at the original Prevail was its very wide profile that looked a bit bulbous on many heads, mine included. That has been addressed with the new Prevail II. It's a much sleeker and lower profile helmet, sits lower on the head and doesn't protrude at the sides as much as before. Good job, Specialized.

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That reduction in bulk hasn't reduced the weight, as you might expect. The new Prevail II weighs 201g on my scales, compared to 190g for the original Prevail, both in a size medium. Still, it's one of the lightest helmets on the market. You might think there's little point in a lightweight helmet. And then you try one and it's hard to go back to a heavier helmet. Specialized also says the lower profile offers a small aerodynamic improvement as well.

Specialized Prevail II - back.jpg

More noticeably, the narrower profile means the straps sit closer to the face, which is not only more comfortable but has led to a reduction of wind noise that sometimes plagued the original as the straps fluttered in the airflow. As before, the straps are non-adjustable with the Tri-Fix plastic bracket securing the webbing straps in place, but I found the straps fitted perfectly, sitting a nice distance below the ear. A simple buckle fastens under the chin.

Ventilation was always a trump card of the original Prevail, and that's still the case with the new version, but marginally improved. Specialized has refined the shape and position of the 35 vents with recessed channels across the top, and a 'Mega Mouthport' at the front. There appears to be a small improvement in how well the vents scoop in cooling air when the going gets sweaty. For a hot or mountainous ride, the Prevail II is the helmet I'd go for.

Specialized Prevail II - inside.jpg

Inside is the familiar Mindset II retention system. A small rotary dial easily adjusts the fit, and you can make changes on the move. There's a good range of vertical adjustment with number markers to get the fit just right. Carefully placed pads amp up the comfort and there's a new 'Gutter Action brow pad design' that cushions the retention webbing system away from the front of the helmet and really contributes to a reduction in sweat pouring out from under the helmet and into your eyes. I tend to sweat a lot even in mild weather and especially on the climbs, and I really appreciated how the new Prevail was able to minimise the amount of sweat getting into my eyes.

Despite the lower profile design, the helmet still meets the same safety standards, and as before has an 'Aramid-Reinforced Skeleton' within the EPS (polystyrene) core. (Aramids are high-strength synthetic fibres of which Kevlar is the best-known.) Obviously, I'm not going to test the safety of the helmet by nutting the road, so we'll have to assume it's up to the task of looking after you in the unfortunate event of a crash.

Specialized Prevail II - tension system.jpg

A sleeker design has dramatically improved the appearance of the helmet, venting and sweat management has been enhanced and all the good things of the original have been retained, making this one of the lightest, best fitting and most comfortable helmets in the high-end helmet market. It's not cheap and mid-range helmets have got so much better in recent years, but if you want the best helmet that isn't an aero optimised one, the new Prevail II is worth a closer look.

Read more: The best high-performance helmets

It's not normally our job to comment on colour, we leave that to you, but I've got to say I'm loving this faded yellow design, and I've had a lot of good comments. "A splash of colour without being overly bright and in yer face," was one positive comment. There are another four colours to choose from including plain black and white.


Superb ventilation, sweat management, comfort all wrapped up in lower profile shell makes the Prevail II a top pick

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Make and model: Specialized Prevail II

Size tested: medium

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Specialized says:

When we set out to improve the original S-Works Prevail, we knew that we had our work cut out for us. How could we improve on the industry benchmark for fit, ventilation, and comfort? By listening to our riders''that's how. Through this, we realized that there were a few aspects of the original Prevail that needed to be changed, with the biggest request being for a lower-sitting design.

We thought to ourselves, "thinking big shouldn't result in bigger helmets," so with the Prevail II, we set out to prove that big ideas can come in smaller packages. It all starts with our patented EPS construction that relies on multi-density foam that's paired with a robotically woven, Aramid-reinforced skeleton. This comes with a reduction in the overall size, creating a smaller profile that fits lower down on the head for a better fit and safety.

It also has deep internal channels that are aligned from front-to-rear, so the air intake and exhaust are optimized for unparalleled cooling over the entyre head. And in the Win Tunnel, we found these new designs amounted to six seconds saved over 40km when compared to a "standard" road helmet. Another standout feature of the S-Works Prevail II is the Gutter Action System that manages the flow of sweat, keeping it away from your eyes and dripping it off of the pads over your temple.

In the end, the S-Works Prevail II is the most complete lightweight race helmet we've ever made''perfect for hot, mountainous rides and flat, windy sections alike.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Patented Energy Optimized Multi-Density EPS construction helps to manage impact energy.

Patented aramid-reinforced skeleton provides internal EPS support.

Ultra-light Mindset HairPort II micro-dial fit system with height adjustability for the perfect fit.

Mega Mouthport optimizes cooling and sweat evaporation.

Aerodynamic design.

4th Dimension Cooling System with deep internal channels, large vents, and aligned exhaust ports.

Thin, soft, and lightweight 4X DryLite webbing won't stretch out with sweat or water.

Tri-Fix web splitter for improved comfort and ease of strap adjustments.

Instrap webbing system for ultra-light construction and security.

Gutter Action brow pad design for increased comfort and sweat management.

Reflective decals for increased visibility to motorists in low-light conditions.

Patented clip-on visor included.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

Unless you really want the lightest and best ventilated, it's hard to justify such an outlay on a top-end helmet in the face of such improved mid-range helmets

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The level of ventilation and sweat management makes this helmet superb in the heat or if you just sweat a lot

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Really comfortable and easy to fit and adjust helmet, with great ventilation and now, finally, it looks good too

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

You can't adjust the side straps but luckily wasn't an issue

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

By taking everything that was good about the original and reducing the bulk and improving the ventilation and sweat management, the Prevail II is one of the best non-aero road helmets money can buy

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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