Friday, 16 December 2011

Review of Specialized S-Works Prevail 2011 Helmet

The wind is blowing and winter has set in – considering I commute daily on my bike in London, even someone who hates helmets as much as me has had to resign themselves to the fact that they needed a new helmet. I had bought a new helmet last winter – but the helmet and I just didn’t get on (once the temperature went above 5c) and so I set out to buy a new one this year.

I have a real issue with helmets - I am not a fan of how I look in one and above and beyond everything else, I have what I can only assume is a very hot head. My head gets so hot when I ride that unless the temperature is below freezing I sweat like mad.

Eleven months ago I bought what I thought was a good helmet (name not important) – it looked good but I found myself unable to wear it due to heat build-up unless it was -5 c. In anything above 0c I was not enjoying the experience. I bought the last helmet during the cold snap last year but as soon as the temperature went above +5c I found myself unable to wear it for any length of time. I found myself tilting it backwards to get more air to my forehead, and as we all know, that makes the wearing of a helmet even more pointless. By March this year I had totally given up on wearing it and passed it on to my son who is not as hot headed as me – well at least not when cycling.

Fast forward to December this year and the cold and wet are starting to close in and I know I need a new helmet for my daily commute. So I investigated the situation and decided on this helmet the Specialized S-Works Prevail 2011 Helmet. I have used it in + 10c in hard rides and although I still sweat a little it is nowhere to the level I used to get. This is so far, the only helmet in my experience that gives me enough ventilation.

The weight of this helmet has to be felt to be believed – hold it in your hand and then hold another £100 helmet and you can easily feel how much lighter it is – this makes a real difference when you are riding for more than 20 minutes. It is so light, that if you support the weight of the chin strap in your other hand it makes a noticeable difference to the overall helmet weight - so small are the margins. Also I have noticed that it suffers less in crosswinds the other helmets I have used – with some you can feel the extra force on your neck.

Most importantly, if you are going to buy a helmet you are buying it to protect your head (duh obvious) – so take a little time to look at the safety approval of helmets on the market – this helmet has the Snell safety approval, a higher level than the required EN1078 European safety level. Why if you are going to look like a Mario brothers mushroom cycling down the road don’t you a least make worth your while in extra safety?

Apparently because the more expensive helmets are better built and lighter construction they have less of a profile – I have no idea about this and I am not going to go and take a tape measure to the LBS to find out – but it makes sense and I do “feel” this helmet is slightly less mushroom like.

As for comfort, this helmet is a doddle to adjust – after first setting up the chin strap and helmet height you just turn the dial at the back to tighten or loosen it. As for overall comfort – the padding is adequate but as everyone has different sized heads whether this helmet offers you enough comfort you can only tell when you put it on, I went to the LBS and was very impressed by its overall comfort but that’s just me.

Final thing is style (for a MAMBO the most important thing) - I went for the Ion Yellow (as per the main picture) – mostly because that extra bit of bright colour helps to get you get noticed on the road and also because it stands out against other helmets – let’s be honest if you are going to spend this large an amount of cash on a helmet, you might as well stand out and let all the other cyclists know what a flash git you are. The only downside is that I soon discovered that Ion Yellow is the same colour scheme as my bike and now I feel a bit nerdy-overly colour co-ordinated (all in all I have made worse fashion faux pas in my life).

MAMBO Score: 9/10 – why can these things be cheaper!

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