Specialized Airnet helmet review

Mid-tier priced helmet delivers top-tier performance

Helmets
Specialized says the Airnet is more aero than its more expensive Prevail model.

Specialized says the Airnet is more aero than its more expensive Prevail model (click to enlarge).

Lowdown: Specialized Airnet Helmet

You can spend a lot of money on a bike helmet. Current cost of top-of-the-line offerings from Giro, Kask, Specialized and others push to $200 and above. The return on investment, depending on maker and model, is some combination of safety, ventilation, aero efficiency, good looks, and low weight. The question then is what do you sacrifice if you’re not willing (or able) to part with a pair of Ben Franklins in the name of brain protection? The answer, based on our time in Specialized’s recently released (and mid-tier priced) Airnet helmet, is not that much. Find out more in our full review below.

Stat Box
Padding: Dry-release merino wool Colors: Five options, including white, light blue/red
Adjustment: Micro-dial + 5 height positions Weight: 292 grams (size medium)
Vents: 23 (three exhaust ports) MSRP: $150 (currently marked down to $130)
Sizes: S, M, L Rating: 4 Stars 4 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Price
  • Sticky vertical adjustment
  • Adjustability
  • Not super light
  • Slim, aero profile
  • Non-adjustable Y-straps
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Small adjustment dial
  • Sunglasses grippers
  • Comfortable padding
  • Odor resistant padding
  • Reflective accents
  • Removable visor
  • Multiple color options

Review: Specialized Airnet Helmet

The best reason to buy the mid-level Specialized Airnet helmet is that for roughly $70 less than you’d spend on a higher-tier lid based on current sale prices, you’ll get nearly all of the same performance benefits. Yes, you’ll pay a small weight penalty, carrying around an extra 77 grams compared to the Specialized Prevail. But that’s a negligible amount for most riders. Beyond that sacrifice is minimal.

The Airnet weighs 292 grams (size medium), which is 50-75 grams more than top offerings from Giro, Kask, and Specialized.

The Airnet weighs 292 grams (size medium), which is 50-75 grams more than top offerings from Giro, Kask, and Specialized (click to enlarge).

The Airnet has ample ventilation thanks to 23 vents that open to deep internal channels which funnel to three oversized exhaust ports. Inside is a generous amount of dry-release merino wool padding, which is both soft on the scalp and odor resistant. A micro-dial plus five-step height adjustment allows for a fine tuned fit. There are also dual sets of vent grippers to enhance sunglasses storage in the front or rear. And the slim profile actually yields better aerodynamic efficiency than the Prevail, according to Specialized.

The micro-adjust dial is a little on the small side, but otherwise does its job well.

The micro-adjust dial is a little on the small side, but otherwise does its job well. Exhaust ports are large (click to enlarge).

Aesthetically, the Airnet is supposed to hearken back to hairnet helmets of yore. But it actually reminds us a lot of the Giro Synthe, though we actually prefer the former’s slimmer, longer shape. And forget about cost. MSRP of Giro’s marquee lid is $250.

The Airnet gets solid marks in the looks department.

The Airnet gets solid marks in the looks department (click to enlarge).

Our only real complaint with the Airnet is the lack of Y-strap adjustability. It actually wasn’t a problem for our head shape and ear location, but others will have issues for sure. We’d also like a slightly larger adjuster dial. The current version can be hard to manipulate with gloves on. But those small gripes don’t come close to outweighing cost savings. We’ll keep our $70 (or more) thank you very much.

For more info visit www.specialized.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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  • D.Eldon says:

    You’ve got to be kidding!!! “Airnet”. What a stupid name!!! What were they thinking—that “hairnet” would be a cool name to play off of? “Wait up guys, I’ve got to put my airnet on before I can start.” Sheesh!

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