The Specialized Airnet is a comfortable, well-ventilated and lightweight helmet that is a good candidate if you have a £100 budget.
It has the appearance of an aero helmet, and that's because the shape is based on the company's Evade aero lid, but critically it boasts more vents for superior ventilation. In the wind tunnel, Specialized claims that while the Airnet isn't as slippery as the Evade that it's loosely based on, it's less draggy than the long-running Prevail. (I reviewed the S-Works Prevail back in 2012 – you can read that test here.)
The low-profile shape of the Airnet is also evocative of the old leather hairnet hats that cyclists used to wear before polystyrene helmets really took off and became mandatory in the professional peloton. If you're wondering what one of those looked like, here's a photo or two...
On the head, the Airnet is very comfortable and feels very similar to the Prevail. It's heavier, but the weight difference is easily overlooked when you look at the £60 price gap between the two. There's the same turn-dial retention system found in Specialized's more expensive helmets, and it does an excellent job of gripping your head without any excessive pressure.
Merino pads provide good moisture management but it's the 23 vents that ensure the helmet deals well with hot weather. In fact, it's one of the best-ventilated helmets I've tested and certainly competes well against similarly priced rivals, and even helmets costing much more.
Hands up if you like to park your shades in the helmet from time to time... Me too, and the Airnet accommodates shades very well, with gripper material to ensure they stay put, handy when grovelling up climbs.
My only criticism is the lack of adjustable straps. The plastic Y junction that brings the straps together, fortunately, sits comfortably below my ears, but it would be nice to be able to adjust them to suit.
Comfortable and well-ventilated helmet
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Airnet 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: "Clean and simple, the Airnet helmet is the ideal blend of functionality and performance for riders seeking both adventure and style."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Specialized lists these features:
Ultra-light Mindset micro-dial fit system with height adjustability for the perfect fit.
4th Dimension Cooling System with deep internal channels, large vents, and aligned exhaust ports.
Composite matrix internal reinforcement allows larger vents for enhanced cooling.
Vent grippers are integrated at the front and rear for secure eyewear storage.
drirelease® Merino wool pads for increased comfort and sweat/ temperature management.
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.
Reflective decals for increased visibility in low-light conditions.
Really comfortable, just slightly let down by lack of adjustable straps.
Not the lightest, but it's not exactly heavy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provides good comfort and fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really good ventilation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of adjustable straps.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably
Use this box to explain your score
The Airnet is a really good helmet for the money but it loses a mark for the lack of adjustable straps.
About the tester
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, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com 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.