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Thread: Specialized Prevail helmet crash test

  1. #1
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    Default Specialized Prevail helmet crash test

    A couple of weeks ago, my helmet was hanging off my handlebar and the bike fell over on to the pavement. Imagine my shock when I saw how much damage the helmet sustained from a low impact, largely non-weight bearing incident. I say "largely non-weight bearing" because the straps did get caught in the handlebars so some of the bike weight did fall on the helmet; no one was sitting on the bike at the time. The rear mindset fit system broke and the front of the helmet cracked rather badly for such a small fall IMHO.

    My helmet is a Specialized non-MIPS Prevail (I or II?) that I paid $250 for about 5-6 years ago. It is supposed to be reinforced with Kevlar. I'm not at all impressed with it's noggin protecting properties after this incident; I don't want to think about what would have happened if I'd ever gone over the handlebars.

    I went to Spokes over the weekend and bought a new helmet, a Bontranger wavecell in lime green. Hopefully the hype surrounding the new technology is accurate though I worry about poor airflow making me sweat even more this summer. It supposedly reduces the chance of concussion more than just about any other helmet out there so the trade off should be worth it though.

    Any experience with either helmet in real life crash situations? While I have experienced broken bones from biking accidents, I have never hit my head. Knock on wood. I'm familiar with the VA Tech rankings.



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  2. #2
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    Not sure about your specific case (and I am glad you were not *in* the helmet at the time of the "crash"!), but helmets are designed to absorb energy to protect the wearer, and sometimes that means the helmet deforms (breaks) as a result. It gives its life to save yours, so to speak. I have had a couple of would-be noggin busters where the helmet was the worse for wear (and my noggin faired ok, more or less). Those helmets were toast!

    OTOH, some plastics sometimes don't do well with repeated exposures to sunshine. Sweat does not help, either, so perhaps the plastic simply aged earlier than expected.

    You could follow up with Specialized to see what they say - maybe there's some amount of warranty coverage still in play. But regardless, you have bumped up your visibility quotient considerably now!

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    I have the same Specialized Prevail helmet, men version. It broke like yours, but because I put my U-Lock through one of the large holes on top of the helmet, and the bike, which was locked to a wave rack; leaned and squeezed the helmet, breaking it just like yours. The back harness broke later perhaps. I tried Foam-Tac, which worked for days, but broke again. You can't use Super Glue and the like because it gets hot when dries, enough to melt foam. I am not sure about gluing the back harness. Super glue might work, but there are glues specializes in plastic. I don't know what glue I tried on the harness, but it didn't last for more than few days. I bought a cheap $20 Uvex helmet from REI as a replacement, it's a bit heavier, less cool, but it works.
    Last edited by n18; 05-17-2020 at 12:19 PM.

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    Note, the CPSC and Snell recommend replacing helmets after 5 years: https://thewirecutter.com/blog/when-...r-bike-helmet/

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    Yeah, I'm gonna throw the Prevail helmet out after I've notified Specialized in case they track these things. My noggin is too important to use a repaired helmet and to worry about $$. I'm just shocked such a small bump could cause it to break so easily. Doesn't inspire confidence but maybe it was due to UV light exposure breaking down the foam/plastic. Also, I think the mouthport on the Prevail takes a lot of structural integrity away from the front of the helmet. Kinda glad the "accident" happened; it was obviously time for a new helmet!
    Last edited by KLizotte; 05-11-2020 at 10:44 PM.

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    The plus is you get to try that wavecell thing. I was tempted, but I had just recently purchased a MIPS helmet, and also, I think the wave cell would get in the way of the straps I use for the light in the winter, so it would just be a summer helmet, and yes, it does seem like it might be hot. I'd be interested to see an update on it after the warm weather finally arrives.

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    You seem to forget that the purpose of the helmet is to spread the impact. The impact is a higher pressure on a smaller area where the impact occurs on the helmet. The pressure on the head is spread out over the larger area where the helmet touches the head. In this impact the pressure had to be absorbed by a few areas with a much smaller surface area. This actually increases the pressure at these points. I am not sure I am getting the idea across properly, but the fact that the helmet was not on the head had a lot to do with it breaking. It is not designed to absorb the stresses that occurred in this instance.

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    I was able to secure my Exposure light to the helmet without any difficulties but your mileage may vary. I have 30 days to try the helmet out but of course the weather has been so friggin' cold I haven't been able to gauge it's airflow.

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    I hear what you are saying except that in the real world, we often hit our heads on curbs, rocks, tree roots, etc. so we can't assume the load will be evenly distributed. Plus, in this incident, there was almost no weight inside the helmet which is far different than 100+ lbs hurtling towards the ground. I think the thin walls around the mouthport are to blame.

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    I am not sure what you are calling a mouth port. I also was not present when the bike fell, so I am basing these comments on the pictures provided in the first post. If I am incorrect in interpreting the pictures, I apologize. It appears to me that the damage was caused by a force directed from the bottom of the helmet towards the top. This would be perpendicular to the force that the helmet would be designed to protect. This is evidenced by the thickness being much larger in the front to back direction than the top to bottom. l am not a helmet designer and am making assumptions on what goes into helmet design, but am describing what I would expect to be primary considerations. It appears to me that what happened is not what would be wanted, but would not fall within the expected parameters of what a helmet is designed to accomplish.

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