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The Specialized Women's Sierra helmet meets all safety standards, fits really well, and doesn't make you look like a mushroom. While doing all of this, its price tag significantly undercuts the vast majority of the leading specialist manufacturers for entry-level helmets.
The Sierra is the most basic women's helmet that Specialized offers, but that doesn't show in its looks or quality. Specialized offers the Sierra in three different colour options too: White/Silver Arc, Gloss Acid Pink Arc and Matt Mint Arc. It's a real plus to have choices.
Naturally, the helmet meets expected safety standards. Specialized has also added three wide reflective strips on the rear of the helmet that are ideally placed for visibility.
The helmet comes in just one size, 50-58cm. Yes, it's supposed to fit all women regardless of head size. I would say that I have a slightly smaller than average head, and it fitted me perfectly. The marginal play was eliminated by tightening the micro-adjustable dial at the rear to create a really secure fit. Specialized has used data from Retul to conclude that the differences in female head sizes are small enough that one size will indeed fit all.
The helmet straps are the simplest I have ever come across. The same Tri-Fix web splitter system is used on the race-specific S-Works Prevail that Tass reviewed last year, and the £30 Align that Stu tested more recently. There is no way of modifying the length or position of the two straps that come down from the body of the helmet, all adjustment is done with the chin strap. Thankfully, for most anyway, it just works.
Adjustment is very simple: a single pull and it tightens effortlessly. The straps are really soft and sit snuggly against the cheeks, with reflective threads neatly woven into them which is a neat idea if probably not overly visible to other road users in reality. The straps are also quite soft so possibly prone to snagging, though I haven't had any issues during the test period.
The micro-adjustment dial forms part of Specialized's 'Ponytail-ready HairPort SX fit system'; a fancy way of describing a small gap between the body of the helmet and the adjusting dial/cradle. The gap isn't overly generous and it can't be made bigger, and getting your hair through it is a bit of a faff. It works fine once you've figured out the best way of getting your hair threaded through the gap, and then helps the helmet to sit in a decent position on the head, not too far forward or too far back.
At 314g it is heavier than most entry-level helmets (Lazer's entry-level Amy is 241g; Limar's 555 is 283g; Oxford's Raven 255g). Stu found the Align's 338g noticeable, but it was less of an issue for me: it's hardly going to make your neck ache.
The Sierrra has 21 vents, which should be sufficient to prevent overheating though it's not something I've really been able to test in mid-winter. Like most basic helmets there is no mesh shielding or perforated padding over these vents, so warm weather insects may be an issue. Another noticeable omission from Specialized was spare padding; if you do remove the inserts for washing regularly, the small Velcro attachment pads are likely to need replacing at some point.
The helmet comes with a detachable visor, with just one point of contact which I was a bit sceptical about but was proven wrong. It's sturdy enough to hold the visor firmly in place while still being easy to take it on and off. (Whether you choose to attach it or not is up to you.)
Price-wise, you can't really complain at £30 for the quality on offer. Yes, you can probably still get cheaper, but it's great value and looks good to boot.
Overall, I'd say the Sierra helmet is perfect for commuters and newcomers to the sport, as well as more experienced riders who value a quality brand without breaking the bank for an all-singing, all-dancing, feather-light lid.
Great quality lid from a leading manufacturer; not the lightest, but very comfortable and you'll struggle to beat the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Sierra Women's Helmet
Size tested: 50-58cm
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says, "The Sierra offers serious protection at a tremendous value. Its feature-rich design maximizes comfort and protection, while the HairPort SX dial fit system provides a simple, more secure setup for women."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*One-size system based on women's head sizing, designed for easy and accurate fit.
*Ponytail-ready HairPort SX fit system with micro-adjustable dial for an easy, accurate fit.
*4th Dimension Cooling System optimizes ventilation.
*In-molded 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.
Actual helmet is solid, straps are soft and flexible with user-friendly adjustment. Clip-on visor only has one attachment point, see main review for comments.
Fits snuggly and doesn't flop around. Passes all safety standards as would be expected.
Glossy finish may be prone to looking 'worn' but matt options are also available. Straps soft enough to be snagged. No spare insert pads provided. All of this is just material and doesn't affect performance.
Fits snuggly and doesn't flop around. Dial provides excellent micro-adjustment. I found it just as comfortable as my lighter, much more expensive Lazer helmet.
Quality from Specialized at a very competitive price when comparing with leading helmet manufacturers. Still beaten by many stores on the high street though.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Spot on. No overheating and very snug fit without the 'mushroom head' of so many commuter helmets.
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? Definitely
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's an excellent purchase for any budget-conscious cyclist kitting themselves out, wanting to stick with big brand equipment. It's a shame that spare inserts weren't included, and the one-size-fits-all could be limiting, but other than that, it provides protection to the standards required, looks good, and comes without an extortionate price tag.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…