BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — The viral spread of aero-themed road helmets claimed yet more victims on Sunday, as Specialized debuted what appears to be a small-vented, muscularly curved, low-drag lid at Milano-Sanremo.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish and other Specialized-sponsored riders, including Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Matti Breschel (Saxo-Tinkoff), were spotted wearing the new helmet, which was always painted in the same dark matte regardless of team.
Specialized marketing director Sean Estes was coy about the model, stating only that Specialized “can’t comment specifically, but in general can say we are always testing products with athletes as S-Works is ‘made in racing.’”
However, in a conversation with VeloNews last year, Specialized aerodynamicist Mark Cote provided one small hint regarding the company’s design objectives for a new aero helmet model. The company’s goal, he said at the time, is to “create a road helmet that’s very aero and versatile, not have a single aero helmet in addition to the Prevail.”
This helmet appears to be just that. Specialized already has developed a cover for the Prevail, the same model used by Cavendish during his win at the 2011 world championships in Copenhagen, which can be used in competition today provided that the cover is glued on permanently. The company has no need for another sprint-style helmet of the same ilk as the Air Attack, but a comfortable road-going model that still provides a bit of aerodynamic benefit will likely find a large market waiting for it.
The top of the new helmet is not predominantly solid, unlike Giro’s Air Attack, or Lazer’s Helium with its available cover. Specialized’s version looks a bit like its own Prevail model, but with about half the vents filled in. But, more than anything, it brings to mind the illustrious Briko Twinner, brought to fame by Mario Cipollini and his Saeco train more than a decade ago.
Rather than fill the front of the helmet with a multitude of small vent holes, the new helmet utilizes three large channels, slightly narrower than the old Twinner, a Prevail-like slit across the forehead, much like the Air Attack, and four air scoops towards the rear of the helmet.
Two scoops dot the back and two sit the sides, all on the back half of the helmet, while deep, curved channels look to send air around the head. The top of the helmet features a large, unobstructed surface to smooth airflow, while few smaller vents pepper the back, likely acting as exit ports for air coming in off the top and side scoops.
With fewer, larger vents, the unobstructed surface area of the helmet increases, which likely improves aerodynamics. But the large vent holes should maintain a moderate amount of cooling.
Keep an eye out for more details as we get them.
Logan VonBokel contributed to this report.