With the Echelon II MIPS Helmet, Specialized managed to package great fit, ventilation, safety and more into a sub $100 offering that offers great appeal to sport and intermediate road enthusiasts. The sleek look and compact profile alone stand out from many helmet at that price. You get all the necessary features: EPS foam and molded polycarbonate shell, vents, an adjustment system, etc., but in most cases these are advanced versions, augmented by major additions.
Specialized long ago developed an internal matrix reinforcement set-up to allow for larger and more effectively shaped vents. The composite matrix also served to hold a damaged foam structure together, as the engineering team was cognizant that unfortunate crash events may result in sliding or multiple impacts. While foam and shell may have been damaged, the rider still has some protection. By adding the MIPS layer to the Echelon II, the helmet shell is allowed to move independently from the skull at impact, reducing the rotational and shearing forces of the impact, dissipating energy without transferring it directly to the skull, which concurrently reduces the rebound damage and rotational movement of the brain within the skull- both of which are substantial causes of brain injury. MIPS works, and while it simply adds to helmet safety, it offers a distinctly different protection than a hard shell-EPS helmet alone.
With more freedom to place and size vents, the design team has built the very effective 4th Dimension Cooling System that allows air to quietly come in, travel under the foam, around the head and escape out the rear ports- taking heat and excess moisture with it. The brow entry hole is a signature feature from Specialized and does a great job of reducing the amount of perspiration that can travel down the forehead. Of course comfort also comes from the padding and retention systems, which are typically excellent. We especially like the Easy-adjust Headset SL II fit system, which features six height positions options (to set the shell angle and coverage properly) and the micro-adjustable dial that allows for simple and easy changes to the retention system with one hand while you ride. Chin strap systems can sometimes trip up an otherwise great helmet, but with the Tri-Fix web splitter Specialized has you covered with improved comfort and ease of strap adjustments.
Rounding out the Echelon II are two safety features. The first is optional, as the fit system comes with the integrated mount for their ANGi crash sensor (not included) which can be used to trigger emergency assistance in the event of an accident, as well as track and act as a beacon when connected to the Specialized Ride app and your smartphone. So you can always add ANGi to your Echelon. The second feature is the application of reflective decals to make you more visible to motorists in low-light conditions, which many helmets lack for some reason. As mentioned, based on features, safety and price- the Echelon II is tough to top.