TESTED: Specialized S-Works Evade II
Sometimes getting a product right is about balance. When Specialized introduced the original Evade helmet and the S-Works 6 shoe in 2015 in conjunction with the new Venge ViAS frame, the emphasis was all about making riders faster. Updates to the shoe and helmet, announced today, are an attempt to balance raw performance metrics of aerodynamics and efficient power transfer against something just as important but more subjective: comfort.
These replacements aim to improve all-around functionality, with an important caveat: improving, or at least not losing, any of those performance attributes. Did it work? We have to offer a grade of incomplete at the moment, but it looks promising.
The goal of the Evade redesign, says Chris Yu, director of integrated technologies for Specialized, was “to remove the choice of fast versus cool in hot weather.” Yu acknowledged that the Evade was too warm in some situations; in summer, it was rare to see the helmet worn by Specialized-sponsored WorldTour pro racers on anything more than a flat sprint stage.
To fix that, Specialized went back to its in-house wind tunnel for testing. That tunnel – across the street from Specialized’s HQ – is a handy tool to have; it gives Specialized the luxury of testing any number of different iterations without accounting for the cost of renting tunnel time.
There, engineers set to work testing helmet shapes with an unusual three-part plastic prototype, swapping sections with different shapes and internal channeling profiles to test airflow for aerodynamics and cooling. The top of the prototype even had a modular section to try different top vent designs.
The result: a helmet that’s slightly more aerodynamic than the original Evade, but that Specialized claims cools almost as well as its conventional road helmet, the Prevail. There’s an important caveat: that’s at speeds above the mid to high teens, said Yu. “Our main test speed for convective cooling is about 30km/h,” he said. So the Prevail II still cools better in all conditions, but particularly in slower-speed situations like climbs.
Much of the other features are the same as on the Prevail II, like multi-density EPS foam and an Aramid-reinforced internal skeleton. There is no MIPS option. My limited early testing has been positive; the rear adjustment dial spins easily with one hand, the pads are soft and comfortable, and airflow seems adequate. I haven’t crash-tested it (yet) thankfully. But I also haven’t ridden it on long rides on hot days yet. Given the caveat about cooling as well at a certain speed, I suspect that the Evade II has an expanded range, but might not replace my trusty POC Octal for those big climbing days in summer.
Weight: 269g (size small tested)
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: White, black, avid lava/acid purple, rocket red/candy red, hyper green/acid lava
Fit system: Mindset Hairport II dial-adjust