Specialized's Align helmet may look cheap in price but it's far from it in performance. The fit is absolutely spot on, with simple adjustment, and it looks way more expensive than it is. The only thing standing in the way of a higher score is that it is quite weighty.
- Pros: Great fit, loads of reflective detailing, simple to adjust
- Cons: Noticeably heavy
The Align is part of Specialized's Urban lineup, which makes it ideal for all types of riding from pootling to the shops, to a bit of off-road work or fitness-level road cycling.
The reason I say fitness level is because the Align isn't that airy, even with all of those vents (22 in all if you count that front scoop as one rather than three). If you ride hard with this helmet on you will find it warm: great for this time of the year but not so much on a humid summer's day. It just doesn't feel like the breeze gets dragged through.
It's a good looking helmet, though, and very comfortable to wear. I know how well a helmet fits is very user-specific, but while I wear loads without issue there are only a few that really fit like a glove and the Align is one of them. The cradle touches all of the way round with no pressure points and the simple adjustment wheel gets everything sitting just right.
The pads are a decent thickness for comfort and sweat-soaking abilities, plus they are removable for washing, as you'd expect.
The Tri-Fix web splitter deserves a special mention. Where most helmets have a simple clamp that sits below the ear to swap from two straps to one, this design of Specialized's is really comfortable as it feels like it removes any pressure points and adjustment is really easy.
A good thing to see is how many reflective details have been added to the Align, suiting its urban designation. You get a couple on the cradle and three strips on the rear which are black until hit by light. There is even reflective stitching running through the straps.
Included in the package is a clip-on visor, which is great for more upright/urban riding and off-road use. It's simple to fit and remove by way of a small pip just in front of the central front vent. It's a secure attachment, and no matter how rough the terrain, it stays in place.
The Align is a bit of a tubster, though, at 338g, and that extra 100g or so is actually quite noticeable compared to, say, the Oxford Raven helmet.
For cruising around the streets it's probably not a massive issue, but the Oxford Raven shows what you can achieve in terms of weight and ventilation for just a tenner more than the Align's £30 rrp.
At the end of the day, though, if you want a comfortable helmet that'll do the job if something unfortunate happens (it's EN-1078 certified) then the Align is a really good deal.
Comfortable helmet for fitness riding which offers a great fit, if a little heavy
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Align Red Fade helmet
Size tested: 54-62cm
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says, "If certified protection at an amazing value isn't reason enough, this feature-rich Align helmet also includes the Headset SX dial fit system for easy fit adjustment and our 4th Dimension Cooling System for incredible ventilation."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
One-size system, designed for easy and accurate fit to a wide range of head sizes.
Headset SX fit system with micro-adjustable dial for easy, secure, and accurate fit
4th Dimension Cooling System optimizes ventilation.
In-moulded shell improves strength and reduces weight.
Tri-Fix web splitter for improved comfort and ease of strap adjustments.
Reflective webbing and decals for increased visibility in low-light conditions.
Patented clip-on visor included.
Light and easy to use U-Turn strap adjusters
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A good all-rounder for general riding and fitness.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Align is a smart looking lid that looks much more expensive than it actually is. Ventilation is okay, and it fits very well.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.