The Specialized Airnet is a traditional road helmet, with heavy ventilation. With loads of features normally found on premium road helmets and a competitive price, it is the clear winner of our Best Buy Award. Specialized makes a range of helmets, and the Airnet sits somewhere in the mid range as far as cost, but performs way above its price point.
Specialized Airnet MIPS Review
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Airnet MIPS has loads of vents, and Specialized makes no claims of aerodynamic benefit. While you won't likely see the Airnet on the heads of World Tour Pros, it is a great performing helmet and certainly does not look out of place in the race scene. There are many reasons for its status as our Best Buy Award winner, but amazing ventilation is the first thing we think of when it comes to singing the praises of the Airnet. Our testers rated the Airnet higher than any other helmet for ventilation. In addition, its good looks and excellent comfort elevate it above other affordable options we tested.
The Airnet scores an 8/10 for comfort, putting it amongst the best scoring helmets we tested. The circumferential adjustment is fixed at the temples, but awesome padding helps to prevent pressure points. The most comfortable helmet we tested is the Giro Synthe, which has a circumferential adjustment system that is not anchored and wraps completely around the head. The DriRelease Merino pads on the Airnet are amongst the best pads of any helmet we tested. They absorb a good amount of sweat, yet never seem to feel clammy or cold on the head.
Two sets of pads are included, one of which has an integrated visor, but both sets of pads offer the same level of comfort. The 4x DryLite webbing straps are extremely supple and feel good against the face. Other affordable helmets we tested, such as the Giro Savant, have much thicker webbing straps that are not nearly as comfortable. Overall, we feel that the Airnet offers a very high level of comfort and is competitive with helmets that are much more expensive.
Bell Gage MIPS has a floating rear webbing attachment point which allows for the chinstrap to be centered. Specialized calls its Y-buckles Tri-Fix. The Tri-Fix buckles are like the name suggests: fixed.
Giro Synthe MIPS, have adjustable Y-buckles. Despite not having an adjustable Y-buckle, we found the Airnet to have an uncanny ability to fit a very wide range of our testers, maintaining a relatively even tension on the straps. The Airnet also has 3cm of fore and aft adjustment in 5 increments, which also aids in achieving a proper fit.
The Airnet is one of the heavier helmets we tested. With a weight of 317g, it is heavier than other mid- to low-priced helmets we reviewed, such as the Giro Savant that weighs in at 265g. However, it is only 3g heavier than the Bell Overdrive MIPS, a better comparison as both helmets are MIPS equipped. MIPS liners add 20-30g to the weight of a helmet.
The Airnet, unlike other lower-priced helmets we tested, has a full-wrap polycarbonate shell that also tacks on some weight. Despite the weight, our testers never felt like the helmet was particularly heavy on the head. There is always some drawback to even the best helmet, and we feel that the increased weight of the Airnet is more than made up for by its other attributes.
The Airnet is one of the best looking helmets we tested. It has a classic aesthetic that looks at home on both the racer and commuter. The optional integrated visor is one of our favorite features. The visor gives all of the sun-deflecting benefits of a traditional fabric cycling cap, without the extra heat build up. The visor also does a good job of keep light rain from coming down the inside of your glasses.
In addition, the Airnet has rubber sunglass grippers in both the front and rear vents, for secure convenient sunglass storage. Rubber grippers are found on other helmets we tested, like the Synthe, but not on any other helmets in the price range of the Airnet. The Airnet is also MIPS equipped, which can provide an extra level of protection as compared to non-MIPS models. The Airnet is a sharp looking helmet, with innovative design features that elevate it above the competition.
This contender is the only helmet we tested that scores a perfect 10 for ventilation. As the name suggests, the sensation of air moving over and around the head is unparalleled. Regardless of speed, the Airnet maintains a superb level of ventilation. The Lazer Z-1 comes close, but is still slightly warmer than the Airnet.
Even more impressive is that the Airnet only has 22 vents, compared to the 31 vents found on the Lazer Z-1. The Bell Gage is also a high scoring helmet, but falls short of the Airnet, despite having 26 vents. If ventilation is important to you, then the Airnet should be on your shortlist.
With a full-wrap polycarbonate shell that extends around the base of the helmet, the Airnet is a very durable helmet. None of the other helmets in its price range have a full wrap shell. The Airnet does have exposed EPS on the upper portion of the helmet around and in the vents, which keeps its score just shy of the Smith Overtake, which earned a perfect 10 for durability.
The webbing straps on the Airnet are very thin and supple, but showed no signs of abrasion during testing. The adjustment dial proved to be trouble-free, and we had no problems with the chinstrap buckle. We also have to mention the padding, which shows no sign of deterioration or compaction, despite lots of use from the test team. The Airnet is a step above many helmets when it comes to durability, particularly amongst the low- to mid-priced helmet options we tested.
The Airnet is one of the most versatile helmets we tested. It could easily do double duty as a commuting helmet during the week and race helmet on the weekend. It does not claim to have any aerodynamic benefit, but it is well ventilated and comfortable.
It retails for $170 as tested. It is $70 more expensive than competitors like the Bell Overdrive MIPS, but we feel it is a much better buy. Its durability alone makes it worth the extra money, but when you add in the sunglass grippers and optional visor, it is hard to argue with the value of the Airnet. We feel the Airnet provides the best performance-to-value ratio of any helmet we have tested.
The Airnet is an affordable helmet that performs well above its price point. It is MIPS-equipped and boasts some innovative features like sunglass grippers and an optional soft visor that are not found on any other helmet in its price range. Its performance-to-value ratio is unmatched, and it is the clear winner of our Best Buy Award.
- No MIPS Liner
— Curtis Smith