Aero product marketing has a tendency to focus on savings, as in, you’ll save X watts. In theory, it makes sense. In actual practice, the only people I know who save energy are those with number pinned on who expect to do something when the sprint goes down. In short, not a lot of people.
My real-world experience is that a bike or a set of wheels that can impart a difference of 40 watts will not see me go the same speed with more energy held in reserve. Nope. Not how I play. I’m not one of the fast kids anymore, so a 40 watt improvement means I will spend that pocket change at the counter. I’m not taking home coin in my pockets.
I go 40 watts faster. And why wouldn’t I? So much of the thrill of cycling is the enjoyment of speed itself, watching the world whoosh by. And for the record, we are more apt to enter a flow state when our sense are overwhelmed by an input of data, such as when the world is whipping by so quickly we must focus on only what is absolutely key to our survival.
The Specialized S-Works Evade helmet takes on what is a challenged territory: the aero helmet. Pop culture’s favorite icon to illustrate the geekosity of a cyclist is the TT helmet. Nothing in a cyclist’s arsenal looks more ridiculous away from a race course. Admit it. Attempts to split that difference have resulted in helmets that aren’t actually aero or ones that aren’t actually pleasing to the (cyclist’s) eye.
That’s not to say that the look of the Evade is universally successful. I’ve noticed that the large size looks a bit, um, H.R. Giger. My size small is long, but not so long as a comet’s tail. And even though it has limited venting, that really didn’t concern me because so little of my riding occurs at temperatures above 80 degrees. I had to wait months to encounter a few days where temps rose above 90 in order to see if this thing would cause me to go Three Mile Island. It didn’t.
Specialized used the same lightweight 4X Drylite Webbing in the straps that is found in the Prevail and I found that the straps sat closer to my head on the Evade, more readily against my skin than they do with the Prevail. Honestly, it’s as comfortable a helmet as I’ve worn, thanks in part to the Mindset micro-dial adjustment system in the rear.
At $250, the Evade is holds no surprise in pricing. This is pretty typical for top-of-the-line helmets. And while this is frequently called a “heavy” helmet, my small weighed in at only 277 grams.
I’d have to lie to tell you that I can tell a difference, speed-wise, between this helmet and something like the Giro Aeon, which some testing has shown to be significantly slower. But when I add together this helmet, an aero frame (say the Cervelo S3) and aero wheels (perhaps the Firecrest 404s), I can tell you that in aggregate, I’m distinctly faster. What might otherwise have been a good day becomes a day where I turn heads. And we’re not talking my good looks.
Pithy marketing tag lines are easy to argue with, of course, if you’re the sort to argue with a page in a magazine. Not saying that I am. “Aero is everything” is just such a line. However, that overly simplified line does get at a truth that I keep hearing from smart people at competing companies. Aerodynamics is where all the real gains will be made with respect to equipment and speed. The S-Works Evade is a helpful step—not as expensive as a new frame or a set of wheels, but more effective than shoe covers or shaved arms.