Road helmets are the latest front in the aerodynamics war, and Specialized has fired a new salvo with the new S-Works Evade. We find its looks to be a little less polarizing than many of its competitors and we've discovered that it's also well ventilated in most situations. If you believe Specialized's aero claims – it's supposed on par with the company's full-blown TT2 model – it all adds up to a pretty compelling lid.
- Pros: Much better ventilation than expected (as long as you're moving at a steady clip), excellent fit, reasonable weight, only moderately weird looking
- Cons: So-so heat dissipation at lower speeds, moderately weird-looking
Despite appearances, we found the Evade to be remarkably airy with excellent flow-through ventilation even during late afternoon rides on blazing hot Colorado midsummer days with little wind and temperatures well above 32°C (90°F) – not exactly prime conditions for a helmet whose main draw is that it goes faster through the air, not that it keeps you cool.
The rear exhaust vents are larger than the intake ports on the Evade. Specialized claim this creates enough of a pressure differential to pull air through the deep internal channeling more effectively than with conventional shaping.
Whether or not that's the root cause, there's undoubtedly much more air moving quickly across the top and out the back than we anticipated, and you can feel the sweat evaporating from the top of your head.
The vented profile doesn't suggest an aero lid
In fact, we felt cool enough for most of the ride that we might say the Evade could outperform some companies' standard road helmets in terms of ventilation at speed.
However, the airflow does fall off substantially when your rate of travel dips below 20kmh (12mph) or so – which, unfortunately, tends to be during hard efforts on steep climbs, when you want that airflow the most. Then, we wanted a more conventional helmet with more openings for passive heat dissipation.
We'll have to take Specialized's aerodynamic claims at face value for the time being, as it was impossible to tell on the road whether the Evade is any faster than a standard road helmet.
Interestingly, though, we did notice much less wind noise than usual, to the point where we were looking at nearby flags checking for a tailwind (there wasn't one). We can't say whether that's indicative of lower drag but we enjoyed the increased awareness of approaching traffic nonetheless.
Potential buyers might have a hard time getting over the Evade's unusual aesthetics, with its droopy and slightly elongated tail. That said, the helmet is quite handsome from other angles, and is particularly impressive head-on, with its very compact profile and tapered edges.
The retention system is easy to tweak with one hand
Weight is reasonable considering the longer tail and relative lack of vents, with our small-sized, CPSC-approved sample weighing 278g – just 40g more than the Propero II.
The Evade is also comfortable, with its slim webbing and ample padding. Plus, the fit is as secure as with other Specialized road helmets. Headform is similar as well, so if you've got more of an oval head than a round one you'll likely do pretty well here.
The Evade's so-so ventilation at lower speeds prevents us recommending it as your sole everyday helmet – it's simply too hot in certain situations. Otherwise, though, its purported aero benefits come with virtually no other sacrifices, so if you're in search of a few extra seconds this would be a good way to go.
Specialized UK have priced the Evade at £160, which keeps it the same as the super light S-Works Prevail so you can choose between lightness and aerodynamics.