There are a handful of things that should be non-negotiable for a ride: a bike, shoes, Lycra and, of course, a helmet. Lately, helmet companies have been focusing on producing versatile aero helmets that work beyond just the time-trial bike. A long-time leader in the helmet market, Specialized sought to combine the best of both aero and ventilation with their new Airnet helmet. The Airnet is not only a creative take on the “hairnet” helmets of old, but it also sought to mimic the look of the simple helmets from back in the day.
Specialized offers a range of helmet designs—from the lightweight well-vented Prevail to the ultra-aero Evade. The Airnet has the shape of the $225 Evade with the breathability and lightweight feel of the $200 Prevail. The Airnet uses deep internal channels, large vents and generous exhaust ports to help pull air through the shell. Merino wool pads line the inside of the helmet for added comfort, and an optional soft visor is included that replaces the front pads. Specialized offers the Airnet in a standard shell for $150, and an extra $20 will get you the MIPS- equipped version.
Out of the box the weight of the Airnet felt fairly average for this price level and style at 283 grams. One of the biggest pluses that we noticed right away was the broad range of adjustments to dial in the fit. The retention system has five different height adjustments in order to cover the back of the head, and it will go from 54 to 60cm in diameter. The Merino wool pads felt soft and comfortable, which added to the superb fit. The shell of the helmet has fairly generous coverage, coming down on the sides just above the ears with tapered edges that give the Airnet a sleeker look.
When the tires hit the pavement, we immediately noticed the vent pattern and just how well the Airnet breathes. The vents are laid out just above the forehead and pull the air through the top of the shell and out the back, which felt efficient, and didn’t have us feeling too cold on chilly morning rides. When we hit longer climbs or were just generally tired of having our sunglasses on, we took advantage of the built-in port on the side vents. Specialized put two grippers in on either side to secure the glasses in place. We tried these ports with several different brands of sunglasses and were pleased to find that all fit well, although we did notice that glasses with longer arms poked into our heads a bit.
Overall, we were hard-pressed to find aspects of the Airnet that we didn’t like or found frustrating. One refinement we could have done with is being able to adjust the ear straps. When the chin strap is tightened, the ear straps move up but are still fairly loose. This didn’t take away from the comfort of the helmet, but could make it more streamlined.
• Versatile design
• Great ventilation
• Excellent fit and price
Weight: 283 grams
Sizes: Small, medium (tested), large