The most affordable of the Specialized helmets does not compromise on safety by integrating like the superior models the Mips protection technology. The Align II does not neglect the other characteristics of a good helmet either.
Launched at 65 € in many colors, the Align II from Specialized intends to seduce a large number of cyclists looking for a versatile and affordable helmet, despite everything the most reassuring possible. This helmet is thus equipped with a Mips layer supposed to provide better protection during oblique impacts which occur in the majority of bicycle accidents.
The Specialized Align II is available in three sizes: S/M (52 to 56 cm), M/L (56 to 60 cm) and XL (59 to 62 cm).
The Specialized Align II may be at the top of the Specialized range – which corresponds more to the mid-range for many other brands – but it benefits just as much as the higher models from modern technologies, in the first place a in-mold type manufacturing. The outer shell is thus fused with the inner expanded polystyrene shell, which gives the helmet a better appearance, limits the thickness of the shell and also makes it lighter. We weighed the complete helmet at 360 g and, for once, this is 10 g less than announced by the manufacturer. It is also much more than a road helmet designed for performance, but this is not the vocation of the Align II which is positioned more as a versatile helmet, therefore quite light, all the more so for a product with Mips technology that adds a layer of protection of a few grams.
The finishes are of a good standard, and although in-mold helmets are often more sensitive to small impacts due to their thinner outer shell, the Align II seems quite resistant and quite rigid.
Our test copy in matte black finish is quite discreet, the only touch of color coming from its internal Mips layer and its characteristic yellow that can be seen through the ventilation holes.
It is also on this Mips layer that the foam strips are held by Velcro to ensure the comfort of our head. Strips that can therefore be removed for occasional washing.
Due to its shape, the helmet rests on the head more than it encompasses it – like all road-type helmets – in order to ensure the most lightness and the best possible ventilation. It nevertheless comes to fit precisely around the skull thanks to the occipital tightening with wheel which has the good taste not to trap the hair. A free space between the hull and the knob allows you to slide long hair if necessary.
On the other hand, the possibilities of adjustment stop there since Specialized uses a Trifix system without adjustment to ensure passage of the chin strap on each side of the ears. However, it is suitable for most body types.
All that remains is to lock the helmet with a very classic clip buckle, which we would have liked to see protected by a strip of fabric for more comfort against the skin.
The Align II is one of the well-ventilated helmets with its five large front openings plus three openings on the top. These serve to ventilate the top of the head, with air passing between the Mips layer and the inner shell and exiting through five other vents at the rear of the helmet. There are also three smaller openings at the front to ensure ventilation of the forehead and avoid excess sweat that the front foam strip cannot fully absorb.
Regarding lighting, nothing is unfortunately planned on this helmet.
Designed to absorb rotational forces during oblique impacts, the Mips protection technology used in the Specialized Align II serves its purpose very well. The tests carried out in the laboratory following the Certimoov protocol result in very good marks: 4/5 in frontal oblique impact (inducing forward rotation of the head), 4.5/5 in oblique lateral impact 1 (lateral rotation of the head) and 3.5/5 in oblique side impact 2 (rotation of the head along the axis of the neck).
The helmet also scores a very good 4.5/5 on the rear impact test. Regarding the other front and side linear shocks, the results are much worse with only 2.5/5 and 2/5 respectively. Not to mention counter-performance — especially since the most frequent shocks during a bicycle accident are of an oblique nature — there is still significant room for improvement for these two types of shocks.
Overall, the Align II is doing well, earning a final score of 3.5/5.
Mips protection technology.
No rear lighting system.
How does grading work?
Simple, but easy to put on and relatively light, the Specialized Align II helmet offers good versatility, suitable for both daily commutes and fun outings. A lighting system, even optional, would however have made it more interesting for a more utilitarian and safer use.