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Specialized's S-Works Prevail II With ANGi helmet is a lightweight and well-ventilated option that comes with a MIPS safety system and a crash detection sensor which, when linked to a smartphone, can tell your emergency contacts that you're in need of help.
"But road.cc, you've reviewed the Specialized Prevail II helmet before," we hear you cry. So why would we do it again?
Ah yes, dear reader, but this one has added MIPS safety technology and an ANGi crash sensor. Let's deal with those features first.
Specialized announced ANGi (Angular and G-Force Indicator) towards the end of 2018, and it features on several helmets in the range, including the Propero III helmet that we reviewed last year.
In Specialized's own words, "ANGi is a patented, helmet-mounted sensor that measures the forces transmitted to your helmet during a crash, as well as the harmful rotational forces that occur during crashes when your helmet doesn't actually impact the ground."
ANGi works alongside Specialized's Ride app on your smartphone (iPhone iOS 10 or later, Android 7 or later; the ANGi unit has a lifetime subscription to the app), communicating via Bluetooth; the Ride app has to be open for ANGi to work.
If ANGi detects a crash during a ride, the Ride app gives you an incident countdown alert on your phone and an alarm sounds. You have between 15 and 90 seconds to cancel, depending on your app settings, before ANGI alerts your emergency contacts via text and/or email, sending them your most recently uploaded GPS position.
What if you're out of range of a mobile phone signal? You can set a 'ride alert time' before you set off, and if you haven't stopped recording your ride before the specified time is up, text and email alerts are sent to your contacts.
You can also set ANGi to alert your contacts automatically by email when you go out on a ride and when you return.
ANGi can communicate with a Wahoo Elemnt GPS bike computer, so you can start and finish a ride using buttons on the head unit, for example, or cancel an emergency alert as long as the Ride app is running in your phone's background. It doesn't communicate with Garmin Edge or other GPS computers, though.
Specialized has a cool little vid that explains it all in under 90 seconds.
An ANGi sensor can also be bought separately for £40. It adds about 10g, including the 2032 coin cell battery.
I set myself up as my own emergency contact just to test out ANGi, and I've been receiving all the start/finish ride alerts, while a 'test mode' function on the Ride app allows you to check that the device is detecting the various directional forces when you give it a shake. It's a neat system that offers some peace of mind.
You probably already know a little about MIPS, but if not, or if you could do with a refresher, go to our feature covering all the details. Essentially, MIPS is a low friction layer within a helmet. It allows 10-15mm of relative motion between the helmet and the head in all directions, the idea being to reduce rotational motion transferred to the brain in the event of an impact. That's the concise explanation.
The S-Works Prevail features new MIPS SL tech, exclusive to Specialized, which is integrated within the helmet padding. Rather than the large yellow liner made of plastic that you see inside many helmets, MIPS SL is almost invisible. If it wasn't for a couple of MIPS logos tipping you off, you might miss it entirely. Look carefully, though, and you'll see that the padding is a little unusual.
The pads have a smooth plastic backing and are held in place by tiny 'watchbands', hooked discs on the bottom of each attaching to the helmet's EPS (expanded polystyrene) liner. The idea is that in the event of a crash, the bulk of the helmet can move relative to the pads, reducing the possibility of certain brain injuries.
Specialized says that MIPS SL is the lightest, best-ventilated MIPS available, and that it "offers the same brain protection benefits as other versions of MIPS, while also ushering in a new level of comfort and weight savings".
You can't really argue in terms of comfort. The Prevail II features large vents – including a 'Mega Mouthport' across the front – along with deep internal channels and sizeable exhaust ports at the rear. The whole system does an excellent job of moving air across your head to keep you feeling cool and (at least relatively) sweat-free. This is one of the best-vented helmets out there, and the incorporation of MIPS makes no difference to that.
The 'Gutter Action brow pad' extends right across your forehead, sized slightly smaller than the EPS liner and fixed firmly in place only at the temples. This means that while the pad touches your forehead, the EPS is held slightly further away so there's no pressure there. The small gap between the pad and the EPS also allows air to circulate, allowing sweat to evaporate more quickly than it otherwise would.
It's not unique to Specialized, other brands do something similar, but it's a clever design that does a decent job of stopping sweat from dripping down into your eyes. I did get the occasional splash on my glasses when working hard on a long climb, but nothing major. It's definitely a step up from most other helmets in this respect.
Speaking of glasses, stashing them in the vents when you take them off is relatively easy. I tried a whole bunch of makes and models and found a secure enough fit for all of them – some the right way up, some flipped upside down, and some round the back of the helmet.
Replacement pads for a Prevail II MIPS helmet will cost you £15 – a little more than the £12 price of a padset for a non-MIPS Prevail II. Specialized says that this MIPS padset isn't compatible with older non-MIPS Prevail II helmets, so you can't upgrade on the sly.
Despite the addition of ANGi and MIPS, the S-Works Prevail is seriously light. I'm no weight weenie but this is one of the first things I noticed about this lid. We've reviewed lighter helmets – the Abus AirBreaker helmet I tested last year was 214g, for example – but this is the lightest MIPS-equipped lid we've reviewed.
Saving a few grams will have a negligible effect on your speed but it might make a difference to your comfort. Some people are more fussy about this than others. I know it's a tired old cliché but at times it barely feels like you're wearing a helmet at all. If light weight is a major factor for you, the S-Works Prevail is certainly worth checking out.
Rather than mushrooming out, the Prevail II is fairly low profile. Specialized says that it is able to make it in this way thanks to an aramid-reinforced skeleton (aramids are high-strength synthetic fibres) embedded within the EPS, and the use of multi-density foam. Whatever the tech, it's a compact option.
The 4X DryLite straps are thin and light too, and I really like the Tri-Fix strap design that Specialized has been using for years. A piece of plastic under each ear holds three pieces of webbing together – the section of strap that goes to the rear of the helmet, the section that goes to the temple, and the section that goes under your chin. You can't adjust the position of the Tri-Fix but I've never known that to be an issue for anyone. It's comfortable and it saves you faffing about with adjustable dividers. You just set the strap length under your chin and you're good to go.
The Prevail II features Specialized's Mindset HairPort II fit system which offers loads of adjustment. You get the choice of five different height settings across a range of about 2.5cm to control how far the harness reaches down the back of your head, and you can alter the circumference by as much as 8cm via a micro-dial at the back. It's easy enough to fine-tune the fit on the fly, even with gloved hands.
The Specialized S-Works Prevail II With ANGi is one of the more expensive helmets out there, but bear in mind that MIPS usually adds about £20 to a helmet and the ANGi crash detector, if bought separately, is £40. The version without MIPS or ANGi was priced £175.
When you consider that the Abus AirBreaker is £230 and the Giro Aether MIPS is £260, this is a good price for a top-end helmet.
The Specialized S-Works Prevail II W/ ANGi is low profile, light and very well ventilated. Add in an ANGi crash detector and MIPS protection and this is an excellent helmet.
Light and superbly well-ventilated helmet that comes with MIPS and a crash detection system
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized S-Works Prevail II ANGI helmet
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 realised that there were a few aspects of the original Prevail II that needed to be changed, with the biggest request being for a lower-sitting design.
"Our new ANGi Crash Sensor gives you and your loved ones peace of mind like never before. When combined with our iOS or Android app, the sensor will detect a crash and send a text message to specified contacts in your phone. It also syncs with our app and Strava to provide GPS-based activity tracking.
"We've teamed up with MIPS researchers to introduce MIPS SL - a new, ultra-light, and supremely comfortable version of MIPS that's available exclusively on Specialized helmets. With MIPS SL, we've essentially integrated MIPS technology within the helmet padding itself. MIPS SL's minimalist "watchband" attachment system provides 10 to 15 millimeters of rotation in every direction and offers the same brain protection benefits as other versions of MIPS, while also ushering in a new level of comfort and weight savings.
"We thought to ourselves, "thinking big shouldn't result in bigger helmets," so with the Prevail, 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 entire 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?
This is one of the few helmets to be recommended by Swedish insurance company Folksam following recent testing. https://road.cc/content/news/only-five-helmets-available-uk-pass-new-saf...
Specialized lists these features:
* Integrated ANGi crash sensor.
* Includes a lifetime subscription to the Specialized Ride app.
* New MIPS SL is the lightest, most ventilated MIPS protection to date and is exclusively available on Specialized helmets.
* 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.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's light and comfortable, and the MIPS and ANGi features are both good additions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The lightness, the level of ventilation, and the ability to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, although the price won't be for everyone.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Specialized S-Works Prevail II without ANGi or MIPS was £175. MIPS usually adds about £20 to a helmet and the ANGi crash detector, if bought separately, is £40.
When you consider that the Abus AirBreaker is £230 and the Giro Aether MIPS is £260, this is a good price for a top-end helmet.
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
It's light, low profile, and very well ventilated. Add in an ANGi crash detector and MIPS protection and this is an excellent helmet at a good price.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.