Aerodynamics with style
The shape of the Airnet is low but rounded. The design of the Airnet pays homage to vintage hairnet helmets with its vented lines.
The Airnet offers a similar aerodynamic shape to Specialized’s Evade helmet but that’s where the likeness ends. The Airnet is a more practical helmet with serious consideration given to cooling. It has 23 vents forming channels for air to flow over the head and out the exhaust ports at the rear, which work well to keep the head cool in hot conditions. The aerodynamic benefits of the helmet are a bit harder for us to ascertain.
The Airnet features an optional cap which is attached to the inner padding. I found the cap very practical for keeping out the early morning sun and protection from bad weather. The cap flips up out of sight should you wish to look a bit more stylish. For purists who wish to go visorless or have their own caps, the Airnet also arrives with a full set of inner pads without the cap attached.
The practicality of the Airnet compared to the dedicated aero helmets further up the Specialized hierarchy (and price range) comes with a slight weight penalty. The Airnet retails for R2,160 weighing 308 grams in size medium with the cap fitted (claimed weight without it is 283 grams) while the aerodynamic SWorks Evade weighs around 270 grams but costs R3,760.
Comfort and fit
We’ve yet to test an uncomfortable Specialized helmet, and the Airnet continues this trend. The retention system is simple to use with a familiar dial to tighten. The ‘Mindset’ 5 point height adjustment goes a long way to improving the overall comfort but adjustment can be a bit sticky requiring some delicacy to get the right setting. As an overall package, the retention system does well at providing a sturdy and comfortable fit.
The merino wool padding is sufficient and stays reasonably dry when things get sweaty. I experienced no pressure points and quickly forgot about the helmet once it was placed it on my head.
Specialized have used their fixed Tri-Fix splitting system on the straps. I find that it keeps the strapping clear of my ears and I enjoy not having to fuss with setting the height of the Y-joint but with it being unadjustable, it might be worth checking that you are not an outlier on the fit curve.
The general build quality and finishing of the Airnet are excellent. Added touches include grips in the front and rear of the side air vents for storing sunglasses and reflective strips on the rear for added visibility.
The Specialized Airnet is a solid package, offering some aerodynamic advantage while still keeping the head cool. It might be a bit heavier than some helmets but with many practical features, you will find this easy to forgive.