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The Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 improves on its already quite-good predecessor and joins the leaders in the competitive field of maximally ventilated road bike helmets.

That’s the conclusion my fellow testers and demanding gearheads Nate and Miles emphasized after riding Specialized’s latest Prevail model.


With the S-Works Prevail 3, Specialized widened the three central airflow channels that run from the front to the rear of the helmet. It also replaced the six, roughly 1-inch or 30mm deep cross struts between those channels in the Prevail II with 1/8 inch, 3mm structural slats.

The Prevail’s signature-look rear exhaust area continues on this newest model. If anything, the truncated helmet’s back end starts higher on the Prevail 3, perhaps to enable the air to exit the helmet sooner than with the Prevail II.

And yes, Specialized did switch their numbering system from Roman numerals to alphanumeric ones. Sadly, the Roman’s contract with the NFL for the Super Bowl remains in place.

Design, look, and numerical designation aside, the net effect is more air ventilation. In our experience, the S-Works Prevail 3 excels on hot days doing fast rides, whether on climbs or in crits. While we have also felt good airflow with the Giro Aries Spherical and Trek Velocis, two of Prevail’s closest competitors, the Prevail 3 appears to have more of its shell open to the air than either of those helmets.


Spech has also improved the fit adjustments in the Prevail 3 in several ways.

While you still can’t raise or lower the clip below your ear where the down straps come together, you can now adjust it fore and aft with a bit of effort.

This design appears to be a compromise between the infinitely adjustable and often self-adjusting clip used on many helmets and those that join the straps in place either by sewing them together or with a fixed clip.

Nate prefers a clip that allows height and fore-aft adjustment; I like the simplicity and streamlined feel of sewn straps; Miles likes the Prevail 3 clip’s solution and Nate and I are ok with it.

The down straps themselves now exit the helmet from the shell’s inner edge rather than the center, as with the Prevail II. While the straps don’t lay flat against your temples, the arms of your sunglasses can now comfortably sit over the straps, abiding by Velominati Rule #37. Shamefully, the straps on the Prevail II forced you to violate it.

Under your chin, Specialized uses a standard strap buckle. The straps coming into it lay flat against each other and have the appropriate length to adjust for your neck size and a band to keep any extra length in place. All of this makes for a clean look and feel.

Specialized S-Works Prevail 3

Straps emerge from the inner edges of the shell while the pads are embossed on the MIPS substrate.

The Prevail 3 MIPS also appears even better integrated into the helmet, perhaps as invisible as any MIPS design I’ve seen. Its inner pads are embossed on the slip layer substrate used in the safety system rather than being attached with ties or adhesive.

A highlight of the Prevail helmet continues to be how well it fits your head. The small dial at the back of the helmet allows you to micro-adjust the length of the circumference strap. Tightening it feels uniform, front to back and side to side. And there is enough range to accommodate a thick winter hat or a high-and-tight summer haircut.

You can also easily and securely change the height of the helmet with one of the five detent positions. While I might be reading more into this than what Specialized had in mind, you can also adjust the two height sliders to make more room for one side of your head than the other, depending on whether you are more left or right-brained.


The superior ventilation, comprehensive fit adjustments, and sufficient padding across the brow, temples, and front half of your head make for a very comfortable, secure feeling wearing S-Works Prevail 3.

The helmet feels light and unobtrusive. It doesn’t shift around when you ride over bumps. Instead, it just stays out of the way.

Even sunglasses with large or tall frames don’t interfere with the Prevail 3’s high brow line. There’s also plenty of clearance for sunglass arms around your ears.

In one of the most noticeable and unique updates, the S-Works Prevail 3 adds sunglass docking slots at the helmet’s outer front edges just above your temples. These are not vents that you can stick sunglasses into. Instead, they are purpose-built for sunglass arms, and they fit every pair that Nate, Miles, and I tried, some upside-down, others right-side up.


Among road bike helmets, the Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 stands out as much for its modern style as its cycling performance. It’s an eye-catcher that those riding with both Nate and Miles asked about during their test rides.

The materials and assembly of the functional components and paint and finishes look first-rate. Beyond the standard white, black, and red, the helmet also comes in what I find to be the pleasing pastel colors sage, off-white, light green, and grey, with a bright green rear panel that we tested.

Except for a ride on a cold or wet day where you might want more protection from the elements or one where marginal gains would favor an aero-road helmet, the Prevail 3 is a great choice. It will serve you well and stand out on road, gravel, or MTB ride whether you are a racer or a more casual enthusiast.

Even at its US$300, £250, €320 there’s a lot of value built into the performance, functionality, and styling of this Specialized helmet.

You can order the S-Works Prevail 3 using these links to recommended stores Performance Bicycle, and Sigma Sports.

Compare the Prevail 3 to other top road cycling helmets for road and gravel.

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  • Just ordered mine. All white. It’s in. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Just bought mine yesterday after trying the fit in the store. Amazing fit for me and it looks awesome. I bought the black one which looks really nice. Almost bought the red one. Can’t wait to trial it this weekend during our hot spell here in Utah. I think this helmet looks better than the Trek Velocis which was my other option.

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