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Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 MIPS Review

The best ventilation of any helmet we tested with exceptional padding, but with fit concerns for those with tall heads, and a very high price tag
specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review
Credit: Specialized
Price:  $300 List
Manufacturer:   Specialized
By Luke Hollomon ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2022
81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 16
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Ventilation - 25% 10.0
  • Adjustability - 20% 8.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.0
  • Style - 7.5% 8.0
  • Durability - 7.5% 8.0

Our Verdict

If ventilation is number one for you, the Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 is the helmet of choice. Our testers agree that it's better ventilated than any of the top-rated road bike helmets we've ever tested. With an inventive design that uses woven aramid fibers to create an internal skeleton, the Prevail 3 allows for massive amounts of airflow. This is teamed up with well-designed MIPS Air Node padding, combining safety and comfort. That is, if your head isn't tall like some of ours. With a low crown and narrow temples, the helmet's shape isn't for everyone. The high price tag is not for all either. Still, if it works for your head and airflow is your top concern, this is a great choice.
REASONS TO BUY
Top-in-class ventilation
Exceedingly comfortable padding
ANGI sensor-ready
REASONS TO AVOID
Bad fit for tall heads
Expensive

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Top-in-class ventilation, exceedingly comfortable padding, ANGI sensor-readyLightweight, comfortable, well-ventilated, easy to adjust, high visibility color optionsVentilates well, comfortable, unique style, sunglass garageGreat ventilation, comfortable, durableVery comfortable, great style, good for all disciplines
Cons Bad fit for tall heads, expensiveExpensive, high-volume shapeExpensiveHeavy, bulkyLess adjustable than some, middling ventilation, narrow at the temple
Bottom Line The best ventilation of any helmet we tested with exceptional padding, but with fit concerns for those with tall heads, and a very high price tagAn extremely comfortable, well-ventilated, and lightweight helmet with minimal wind roar for all-day riding and steep climbingThis uniquely designed helmet offers excellent airflow and performance that warrant its high costA comfortable and very well-ventilated helmet that is a bit heavy and bulkyThis stylish, well-built helmet packs in comfort and features at a lower price point than most
Rating Categories Specialized S-Works... Bontrager Velocis MIPS POC Ventral Air MIPS Specialized Airnet... Smith Persist MIPS
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Ventilation (25%)
10.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
Adjustability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
7.0
Style (7.5%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Durability (7.5%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Specialized S-Works... Bontrager Velocis MIPS POC Ventral Air MIPS Specialized Airnet... Smith Persist MIPS
Measured Weight 320 g (Size L) 300 g (size L) 295 g (Size L) 364 g (size L) 326 g (Size L)
Size Range 55-59 cm (size L) 58-63 cm (size L) 56-61 cm (size L) 59-63 cm (size L) 59-62 cm (size L)
Number of Vents 24 12 15 22 21
MIPS Yes Yes No, SPIN Yes Yes
Sizes S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L S, M , L, XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 brings top-notch ventilation, better than any we've tested, to make it our Top Pick Award-winner for those who need ventilation over anything else. If you live in a hot climate, overheat easily, or often find yourself slogging up long, slow climbs, this helmet will keep you cool unlike any other. Using a unique skeleton made from aramid fibers (the same material used to make body armor and parts of jet engines), this helmet does away with the foam bridges found on other helmets, letting air flow freely through to your skull. It is light, well-padded, and well-made, overall, a fantastic helmet. It came up just short of our Editor's Choice pick due to its quirky fit that's too narrow and low in the crown for many, and its high price tag. If it fits you and you can live with the price, this brilliantly ventilated lid will keep you cool all summer long.

Performance Comparison


specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review - specialized created a real winner in many categories with the...
Specialized created a real winner in many categories with the Prevail 3, ventilation top-most among them.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Comfort


Comfort is relative, we all know that. And the Prevail 3 is likely the most persnickety helmet when it comes to head shape. On a tall, domed noggin, the Prevail's fit is poor. They just don't get along. But find someone with a flatter crown to their head and narrower temples and this helmet slips on perfectly. If it is good for your head shape, the MIPS Air Node padding is exceedingly comfortable and absorbent and the Mindset micro-dial head retention system grips evenly and gently.


When our testers first popped on the Prevail 3, they were surprised and concerned with the lack of padding, but they soon found out they needn't be. There isn't much to it, but it's placed just right and does its job very well. The straps are also soft and gentle on the skin, made from a very nice, lightweight webbing that exudes quality. All the details are well done, it's just the peculiar, divisive shape that keeps it from scoring better in this category.

Ventilation


This is where the Prevail 3 really shines. With its unique skeleton made from woven aerospace fibers, a material related to the carbon fiber gracing many bike frames, this helmet gets rid of the big foam bridges that usually block the wind, allowing air to pour through to your scalp. Our testers loved the airflow in the heat and on climbs, as it keeps you cool like no other. The sculpted, dimpled MIPS Air Node padding inside creates channels that allow the air to reach many areas of our heads, ventilating just about every inch of our skulls.


If you're about ventilation above all else, this is the one for you. Our testers from warmer climates were very impressed by its performance. It solves the ventilation problem in an interesting, creative way that really pushes this area of helmet development forward and we won't be surprised to see other brands with similar designs in the future.

specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review - with airflow galore, the prevail 3 isn't the best choice for a...
With airflow galore, the Prevail 3 isn't the best choice for a chilly fall day in the mountains, but it's what we'd always use in the summer.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Adjustability


This metric certainly ties in with the last and is another area where the Prevail 3 is good, but not perfect. The Mindset micro-dial is micro indeed. It makes tiny adjustments brilliantly, letting us dial in this helmet exactly as we wanted to every time. The strap webbing is a great length and has a retainer that's up to snuff, never letting the excess flap. It also has the fairly unique setup of a single strap running through the buckle, rather than the standard double, making it easier to get the chinstrap just right with the excess tucked away. It's the simple things.


Speaking of simple things, the single strap at the buckle, rather than double as standard, comes at a cost. The height of the Y-buckles isn't adjustable, making it a real challenge for those with larger ears or who just don't like where the strap splitter hits them. And we'll talk divisiveness one more time, the Prevail 3 just doesn't adjust properly for some heads. If your head is more narrow at the temple and lower at the crown (think Dwayne Johnson) like some of our testers, you'll be able to get the helmet just right and love it. If your crown is taller and your head rounder (think Patrick Stewart), the Prevail 3 isn't adjustable enough to get the fit right.

specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review - the prevail 3 doesn't settle properly on the head of testers like...
The Prevail 3 doesn't settle properly on the head of testers like this one, those with higher crowns, making it uncomfortable for them.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Weight


The weight on the Prevail 3 is good, not great, with this helmet clocking in at 320 grams. It's in the range of other top-level helmets but beaten out by the very lightest that we've tested. Specialized is intentional with the weight distribution, doing a good job to cover all the EPS foam on the outside with polycarbonate plastic and adding some plush padding to the forehead area of the helmet to help with sweat management.


Looking at the details on this helmet, our testers found a couple of places where we think Specialized could have saved grams, specifically on with the strap splitters up by the ears. Still, we have to presume that the engineers know best and this helmet is far from heavy, it's just not the lightest one out there.

specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review - the 320 grams of the prevail 3 definitely doesn't hold one back when...
The 320 grams of the Prevail 3 definitely doesn't hold one back when climbing steep, even cobbled climbs like Libby Hill.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Style


Style-wise, the Prevail 3 is clear that it's all about ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. This helmet is wide open so you can show off your tufts just like Tadej Pogacar if that's your jam.


It's an attractive helmet, especially from the side, where the flowing foam really gives the impression of speed. If Specialized made it in more colors, it may have gone top in this category, but it still does very well. And if it comes in your favorite color, you've got no concerns in that area.

The swooping curves of the Prevail 3 really work in the side view...
The swooping curves of the Prevail 3 really work in the side view. You'll look great in the breakaway in this lid.
From quartering on, the huge vents are very visible and the Vivid...
From quartering on, the huge vents are very visible and the Vivid Red color really pops.
The rear view features big channels, letting the air get out and...
The rear view features big channels, letting the air get out and through, leaving a cool head behind.

Durability


The polycarbonate shell on the Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 is a full wrap, protecting the delicate EPS foam throughout. And, due to the fiber skeleton, there's less foam to damage than on most helmets. The high-quality straps are a great touch that showed no degradation over our dozens of hours of riding in this lid and all the stitching is finished well.


We've carted the helmet around in gear bags, in the trunks of our cars, and swinging off our handlebars with no apparent nicks appearing throughout. It still looks as good as new.

specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review - the side view of the helmet shows just how much plastic protects the...
The side view of the helmet shows just how much plastic protects the delicate foam on this helmet, wrapping it completely and making it more durable than many.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

Should You Buy The Specialized S-Works Prevail 3?


The Prevail 3 is a top-notch helmet. It's well-finished, excellently ventilated, stylish, and comfortable (if it fits your head). All that comes at a steep price, and this helmet is one of the most expensive we've tested. Still, if it's ventilation you're after, you can't beat it and some of our testers have found themselves sorely tempted by it, even at this price. The ANGi crash sensor integration is another valuable feature, though purchasing the sensor is an extra cost on top of the helmet itself. The ANGi sensor pairs with an app to notify emergency contacts in case of a crash and the helmet has a special spot to mount it near the dial at the back. Overall, if it fits you well and you need airflow on your sweaty head, this is an attractive lid.

specialized s-works prevail 3 mips road bike helmet review - the integrated mounting point for the angi sensor lies at the back...
The integrated mounting point for the ANGi sensor lies at the back of the helmet, ready to detect a crash.
Credit: Emily Hollomon

What Other Road Bike Helmets Should You Consider?


The Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 is a comfortable, cool helmet that's our Top Pick for those seeking ventilation in hot weather. A favorite among testers who live in hotter climates, it fell just short of being our best helmet overall, held back by its controversial shape and fit. We think the Bontrager Velocis brings better overall features and value and earns our Editors' Choice award as our favorite overall helmet. If you're looking for an all-around solid helmet that won't break the bank, the Smith Persist is a standout performer when it comes to value.

Luke Hollomon
 
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