We got you up to speed on the new Specialized S-Works 7 Shoe here. Now it's time to dive into the details of their latest wind cheating road helmet, the new S-Works Evade, which sells for $250 and is available starting today. Press play for the Specialized take on their new brain bucket.
Like any new helmet design project, the goal with the second generation Evade was to alleviate the classic conundrum of picking between low weight, ventilation, and aerodynamics. "Our goal coming in was to take the original Evade and make it faster, but without forcing the rider to make a compromise if they decide to wear this helmet on a particular day," explained Specialized's Chris Yu (see video above), adding that in the end it's the fastest road helmet they have produced to date. "We basically spent half our time in the wind tunnel concentrating on ventilation with the goal of that no longer being an issue, and the rest of the time focusing on speed."
There are actually fewer vents than in the previous version, but Specialized says it still cools better.
Yu claims the new Evade is 6 seconds faster over 40km compared to the outgoing Evade. For reference, he says the difference between a bald head and TT helmet is about 12-15 seconds, so the new Evade nets half the jump to full on TT helmet, while still working for the majority of riding conditions.
Yu calls the outside shape of the latest Evade an evolutionary advancement compared to version No. 1, but it's the "inside is where the magic happened on this helmet," added Yu. That started with some slight modifications around the drip line at the ear, as well as trimming about 10mm from the overall helmet length.
The inside features what the Big Red S calls its 4th Dimension Cooling System where deep internal channels, large vents, and aligned exhaust ports conspire to improve aerodynamic and ventilation performance. It also utilizes a patented "Energy Optimized Multi-Density EPS" construction to help to manage impact energy. Finally, the new Evade has a patented aramid-reinforced skeleton that's designed to provide internal EPS support to help further handle the consequences of a crash. And in case you were wondering, there are no MIPS options.
Cooler than Cool
The path to the new internal channeling design came by way of a new in-house testing tool, said Yu. "It's basically a head form with 12 different climate zones each with embedded pads that allow for local heating and then co-located on each pad is a thermal sensor," he explained. "That meant more information resolution, and allowed for modular testing. So by using that tool with modular puzzle pieces, we were able to track changes and adjust the design accordingly."
What they learned, added Yu, is that vents are useless if there is no place for air to go. Thus the focus was on the design of the exhaust ports. "We needed more exit volume than intake volume," added Yu. "So the key was figuring out how to draw that balance, design channels to connect front to the rear."
Ironically, when all was said and done, vent count actually went down from 17 on the original Evade to 13 on the latest iteration. But the new layout is hallmarked by larger vents and channeling on the helmet's interior, and that more than makes up for the difference, said Yu.
Distributed PR material hints at other colors coming on-line, but for now there are just three choices.
Size, Weight, Color Options
For $250 you can choose between small, medium, and large in three colors: black, white, and hyper green/acid lava (which matches the current palate of the new S-Works 7 Shoe). Claimed weights are small - 270 grams; medium - 285 grams; large 320 grams. Our size medium test model registered 281g on our garage shop scale.
Other notable features include an ultra-light Mindset HairPort II micro-dial fit system with height adjustability, Gutter Action brow pad design for increased comfort and sweat management., and thin, soft, and lightweight 4X DryLite webbing that won't stretch out when wet. A Tri-Fix web splitter improves comfort and eases strap adjustment, while a magnetic buckle keeps the chin strap in place.
So are all these claims true? Honestly, I have no idea. It's winter here in Colorado, making it virtually impossible to test ventilation effectiveness. And we obviously don't own a wind tunnel either. What I can say is that the new Evade looks a tad more "normal" than its alien'esque predecessor, and it's just as comfortable and easy to dial fit.
The real question is whether or not you could actually wear this helmet on an all-day ride that included high-speed flats (where it would definitely perform well), but also slow-speed climbing, where the old Evade was often too poorly vented to justify whatever small speed gains it netted. Thus the bottom line for now is that if you are looking to buy a new aero helmet tomorrow, then the new Evade is certainly worth a look. But I wouldn't necessarily throw out your old aero road helmet just yet. At least not until some of these cooling claims can be verified more thoroughly.
To learn more about Specialized's latest wind cheating lid, head over to www.specialized.com.