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The S-Works Prevail 3 gives a great balance of aerodynamics and venting, combined with an excellent fit and plenty of adjustability. The MIPS technology is a decent addition to the amount of protection the Prevail gives too, although the overall price is high.
As you can probably guess from its name, this is the third version of S-Works' Prevail. You could describe it as Specialized's semi-aero lid, with more vents than the Evade but, thanks to the closed side sections, it still retains sleek looks.
Sitting alongside the standard Prevail 2 model there was a Prevail 2 Vent edition, but that doesn't seem to have happened with this latest version.
That said, the Prevail 3 does allow a lot of air through it thanks to the vents that are there. There's always a trade-off to a helmet's structural integrity when you're removing material to allow airflow, which is why many helmets use 'ribs' of EPS – expanded polystyrene – or carbon fibre sections to bridge the gaps between vents, in order to increase strength.
The Prevail uses woven aramid 'cables' that cross the helmet in five places, and which are anchored either side to the carbon fibre sections. Specialized calls this the AirCage, and its design is said to work like a suspension bridge under impact, distributing localised forces throughout the helmet.
The aramid sections are mere millimetres thick, which means the three main vents are barely unbroken from front to back. This gives you a consistently good airflow, even on long, hot climbs.
Specialized says this design increases the surface area of ventilation by 24.5% compared with the Prevail 2 Vent. You also get four decent-sized rear vents and two more either side of the front's main vents.
The Prevail also features MIPS Air Node technology. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection and is a rotational management system designed to reduce rotational energies in the event of an impact, energies that would otherwise be transferred to your head.
MIPS has been appearing in some helmets for years, and now features in hundreds of lids, but this latest design is much smaller and less noticeable.
Adding to its safety credentials, the Prevail 3 is also compatible with Specialized's ANGi Crash Sensor (£45). This sensor, which fits to the rear of the cradle, detects a crash and notifies a contact through an app.
I like the overall look of the Prevail too. It's available in seven colours, and while I approve of this white version, its matt finish does mark easily from fingerprints and road spray, and I didn't always find it easy to wipe clean either.
Keep it clean though, and it looks every inch the high-end helmet it is, bolstered by its aluminium finishing strips.
There is no exposed EPS around the bottom face of the helmet either, with all of it enclosed underneath the tough polycarbonate cover. It not only looks smart, it also protects the helmet from knocks and drops on the floor.
Helmet fit is necessarily very personal – but I found the Prevail's fit one of the best I've ever known. The cradle runs all the way around the helmet, rather than just the rear half, which is the case on some cheaper helmets. This means you can dial-in the fit to the shape of your head without creating any pressure points.
A single rear wheel makes the Prevail simple to adjust, and you can also tweak the angle of how the helmet sits on your head, which helps to avoid clashes with glasses.
I had the Prevail sitting quite low on my head, which is how I like it, with barely a gap between the bottom of the helmet and the top of my glasses – so no wind could get through.
For a £275 helmet the Prevail is light, and while not the lightest we've tested, I never felt any neck-strain from its 273g weight.
Shaun was equally positive about the Kask Protone Icon helmet, which also weighed in at 223g. It's a fair amount cheaper at £245, but it doesn't come with MIPS, which may or may not be a deal-breaker for you.
The Prevail 3 is pricey and not the lightest, but the comfort and fit certainly make up for that. The airflow is very impressive too
Great airflow, comfort and aesthetics although it's not cheap
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road.cc test report
Make and model: S-Works Prevail 3 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: "The S-Works Prevail 3 helmet is perfect for riders who value the comfort and thermoregulation benefits that superior ventilation delivers. It is the ultimate all-around helmet that excels in hot conditions, strenuous climbs, and mountainous stages."
The Prevail is a helmet with aero looks, but the airflow of a climber's lid.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
AirCage innovation increases airflow.
Precision, full-wrap polycarbonate shell for increased durability and premium finish.
MIPS Air Node technology is MIPS' most ventilation-focused solution.
Adjustable Tri-Fix web splitter boosts comfort through personalised fit.
Occipital Base Adjustment optimises comfort and compatibility with glasses.
ANGi-ready Mindset fit system for improved grip and reaction for easy on-the-go fit.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable to wear with great airflow.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great amount of adjustment for a comfortable fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The white finish can get grubby quickly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a similar sort of price to many helmets that are destined for the pro peloton although some, like the couple I mention in the review, are not only lighter but the Kask is noticeably cheaper too.
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
As far as being a helmet goes, the Prevail delivers everything you'd expect from a premium product. It boasts up-to-date safety technology and a high-end build quality, while offering some of the best airflow for this type of helmet design. But the premium product comes at a premium price.
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!