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In its latest iteration, the S-Works Evade 3 helmet is said to breathe better than earlier models, while Specialized claims that it is the most aero helmet in the peloton. My thinking is, it's an impressively cool feeling helmet for one with such a small number of vents and it is impressively comfortable too. It's one of the best cycling helmets in terms of performance, but that combination of comfort, venting and aerodynamics doesn't come cheap.
Originally the preserve of the time triallist and triathlete, aero helmets now appeal just as much to those looking for marginal gains on the Sunday club run. (Should you buy an aero road helmet? Our feature will help you decide.)
Even among the best aero helmets the compromises have always been airflow, or lack of it, and weight. Neither of which the Evade 3 suffers from.
Back in 2018 we reviewed the S-Works Evade II and were impressed. According to David it was better ventilated and lighter than the original model.
Specialized's designers haven't rested on their laurels, though; there has been no kicking back and getting lost in a rabbit hole of YouTube videos on company time here. They've brought us, yes – wait for it – a cooler, lighter, stiffer, more... No, wait. It just breathes better. It's actually put on a bit of weight, and there are no bold aero claims.
I'm just kidding.
Aero claims are hard to quantify in the real world, anyway. My Garmin certainly wasn't showing a noticeable increase in speed compared to when I was wearing the Prevail, the Evade's vented cousin. If Specialized says that the Evade 3 is the most aero road helmet in the peloton I have no evidence to dispute that.
Weight-wise, a medium Evade II weighed in at 254g on our scales; the same sized 3 tipped the scales at 271g.
Comfort is key on the bike, though, and the Evade 3 is definitely a comfortable helmet, not just in the way it fits, but the amount of air that passes through it.
The side vents of the earlier model have gone, there's now more focus on the front of the helmet with two small vents at the bottom and the three larger ones scooping in plenty of air.
The biggest change is at the rear with the design of a new 'diffuser' which, through extensive wind tunnel testing, according to Specialized, has been shown to minimise drag by allowing the air to be released more easily, and increases ventilation by drawing 10 per cent more air through at a given speed.
On all but the hottest days or steepest of climbs, the Evade 3 kept me cool. As the autumn temperatures have kicked in, I could feel the air entering at the front and passing over my head before exiting out of the rear.
Inside, the cradle is minimal and when adjusted to fit your head it doesn't apply any unwanted pressure points. There is plenty of movement to adjust the fit of the helmet so it doesn't clash with your favourite sunglasses.
The back of the cradle is also ready to accept Specialized's ANGi alert system, a sensor that detects a crash and notifies a contact through an app (and costs £45).
The Evade also gets Mips Air Node technology built in. The Mips system, as you might already know (if you don't, we have a handy feature explaining all you need to know about Mips), is designed to reduce rotational energies otherwise transferred to the head during an impact. Compared to the original Mips design the Air Node is much less bulky, looking no different to a standard set of pads inside the helmet.
Construction-wise it doesn't have any of the fancy aramid sections found on Specialized's S-Works Prevail 3, which costs the same amount of money. Here, the Evade uses a standard EPS (polystyrene) inner with a polycarbonate shell over the top.
The bottom part of the helmet is also covered by a polycarbonate shell, which prevents damage to the EPS during storage or from accidental drops when not on the bike.
For this model Specialized has dropped the magnetic clasp and returned to a simple click shut clamp below the jaw. It's attached to a comfortable webbing design which is also thin and unobtrusive.
Bearing the S-Works branding (Specialized's top-level kit), the Evade 3 was never going to be cheap.
Even looking at comparable pricey options, it's £30 more than Lazer's 290g Vento KinetiCore, which has dropped a tenner to £249.99 since George tested it in the summer, and £40 more than Giro's Eclipse Spherical helmet, which isn't as aero, with quite a few more vents in place, but is a similar weight as well as cheaper. And Nick was impressed with its performance and cooling when he reviewed it in August.
If you want an aero helmet that you can wear for all kinds of riding, the Evade 3 is a top option. For such a minimal number of vents it really does keep you surprisingly cool and the comfort of the fit is very impressive.
Impressive airflow for an aero helmet, and an excellent fit, if you can stomach the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: S-Works Evade 3 helmet
Size tested: One Size
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, "Through extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics and Win Tunnel testing, we created a rear 'diffuser' that helps minimize drag and improve ventilation. The diffuser helps optimize aero performance by allowing air to release easier and improves ventilation by drawing 10% more air through the helmet at a given speed."
Specialized has designed an aero helmet with impressive airflow.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Enlarged front vents help increase ventilation.
Rear Diffuser for aero and ventilation benefits.
MIPS Air Node is MIPS' most ventilation-focused solution.
Adjustable Tri-Fix web splitter boosts comfort through personalized fit.
Precision, full-wrap polycarbonate shell for increased durability and premium finish.
Dual-density optimized EPS foam.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Impressive airflow for an aero helmet.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A big investment.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's pricey; not exactly extortionate when compared to the opposition, such as the Giro and Lazer I mention in the review, but still quite a few quid more.
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 overall score
For an EPS helmet with a polycarbonate shell it's a fair chunk of money. The investment in R&D has been worthwhile, though, as it performs very well in a huge range of cycling disciplines. If you can afford it, it's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!