The Alpina Vector ia an in-mould construction, CE1078 compliant, adjustable llid and could easily be dismissed as just another universally competent entry level road helmet. But look a little closer and the detailing beats some other mid range offerings, with anecdotal evidence suggesting it's particularly accommodating of unusual head shapes.
Modest ventilation and average weight shout winter/training but our anthracite/black sample was the proverbial chameleon, blending with all sections of the cycling wardrobe from bog standard Lycra to street inspired technical attire while tourists will welcome some of the finer touches too. My one minor niggle was the shell's tendency to channel rain into my eyes but wearing the classic clubman's cap underneath sorts this.
Standards of workmanship are surprisingly high and share similarities with other German marques. In-mould construction means the shell and EPS liner are formed together seamlessly, maximising quality and strength and I'm pleased to report the finish is flawless-unlike many in the sub £50 price bracket.
Most commu-tour lids boast twenty odd vents so eighteen seems a bit Spartan by modern standards, although this might be very welcome come the depths of December. Flat woven straps coupled with a tactile chinstrap sleeve feel gentle against the skin and the quick release thumb catch means easy clunk-click every trip.
To my surprise ventilation is refreshingly good, even through muggy midsummer I could feel a gentle swoosh through my hair. Insect netting is a real boon and oft neglected, barring entry to kamikaze bumble bees, wasps and a particularly unwelcome hornet. Nocturnal descending at forty-odd mph didn't induce painful 'ice cream' headaches but while the stealth livery works very well in most settings, it's less visible at night and in dull, overcast conditions. However, using a reflective headband and rear LED in addition to the bike's lights made all the difference.
Versatile entry level road design that would be ideal as a second/winter training lid.
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Make and model: Alpina Vector Helmet
Size tested: Anthracite/Black - 58-63cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"A road helmet with top-end features and styling handmade in Alpina's own German production facilty. The Price for all this top-end performance? Less than you would think". Statements I generally agree with and the polycarbonate outer shell is a nice touch too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
HI-EPS stands for High Expanded Polystyrene'. The inner shells of all IN-MOLD helmets are made of HI-EPS. It absorbs the forces resulting from an impact to provide the wearer with the greatest possible degree of protection. HI-EPS is a material with particularly small pores. It consists of innumerable, microscopic air pockets. It is these air pockets which provide the protective effect. In addition, HI-EPS is not water (read sweat) absorbent.
EDGE PROTECT is applied to the lower edges of the helmet by the IN-MOLD method. This is a crucial safety feature in the case of a sideways crash and is effective protection against damage to the HI-EPS in daily use.
This ALPINA adjustment system has by now become a classic, but one which is continually being optimized. Using the comfort adjustment knob, the helmet can be optimally adjusted to fit any head size in a matter of seconds, using only one hand. Quick adjustment to take hairstyle, headgear or children's' growth spurts into account.
Swing Fit System
The tried and tested RUN system for size adjustment has developed into a complete SWING-FIT system. It permits the inclination to be adjusted into three positions and hence enables perfect adaptation to the shape of the back of the wearer's head.
The Y-CLIP brings the two straps together and fixes them comfortably under the ear. Easy opening and closing makes adjustment to personal requirements child's play.
Well finished with excellent attention to detail.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Vector is a very well made lid with high standards of detailing. Helmets have, with some notable exceptions become universally competent and this is very much the case here, although the design is more accomodating of unusual head shapes. Ventilation is surprisingly good despite a modest eighteen vents and the insect netting is a welcome touch. However, in my view and colour aside, these features lend it best to winter/training duties.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great detailing and easy set-up.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Ventilation could be improved and a lack of reflective detailing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? As a winter/training lid, yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? In the above context, yes.
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)