Specialized’s Align II helmet is a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS)-assisted lid at a £45 price point.
It’s a major upgrade on the previous Align that very few brands come close to matching at the price.
The construction quality is also worthy of praise, but the 374g overall weight (M/L) could be a deal breaker for some.
Specialized Align II details and specifications
While the weight is high, so is the quality, on paper at least, for a £45 helmet.
The split straps are designed to ensure finding the right fit is easy, while Specialized’s Headset SX dial-fit rear retention system is swift to secure on the move.
The internal padding is plentiful and plump, while ventilation is provided by the 16 channels of the US brand’s ‘4th Dimension Cooling System’.
Specialized Align II performance
The addition of MIPS is a major upgrade on the previous Align. Until the release of this helmet, and the Giant Relay MIPS, the Abus Macator MIPS at £69.99 was the closest competition I could find at a similar price point.
While the effectiveness of MIPS still isn’t unequivocal, helmets with the protection system have scored very highly in the influential and independent Virginia Tech’s recent helmet safety tests. The Align II was awarded a five-star rating and a top-10 position.
The downside to MIPS at this price is it adds weight to a helmet, usually in the region of 25 to 45g.
The Align II weighs in at a chunky 374g for a size M/L on test, which is some 82g heavier than my usual Giro Agilis MIPS (292g, but with a £90 price tag).
I deliberately didn’t weigh the Align II before riding, wanting to first feel how the helmet performed before setting any unfair expectations.
However, the weight was apparent instantly and seemed to intensify throughout the duration of my rides on the long UK summer days that 2022 has brought. This was especially noticeable when I was struggling up climbs.
That said, riders who haven’t become accustomed to or spoilt by wearing lighter-weight lids won’t be so conscious of that extra bulk. Although I prefer my road bike helmets to sit below the 300g mark, the Giant Relay MIPS feels markedly lighter (more on that later).
While the weight is high, so is the quality for a lid at this entry-level price point.
The split straps ensure finding the right fit is easy, the rear retention courtesy of Specialized’s Headset SX dial fit system is swift to secure on the move, and the plush internal padding is comfortable.
Ventilation is adequate thanks to the 16 ventilation holes and utilisation of Specialized’s 4th Dimension Cooling System, which has been filtered down from helmets higher in the range.
The polycarbonate outer shell could be merged a little more cleanly with the exposed EPS foam, but that’s nit-picking on a helmet that provides top-class usability and safety potential for the relatively meagre outlay.
How does the Specialized Align II compare to the Giant Relay MIPS?
In terms of its weight, price and performance, the Specialized Align II is rivalled by the Giant Relay MIPS (also £45 and, as the name suggests, boasting MIPS).
Having tested both, performance is similar, but the Relay MIPS wins the weight battle by 26g, which is noticeable.
Flip the coin, and the Align II wins out for aesthetics (although that’s a subjective call), thanks mainly to the 12 largely striking colour options available.
Specialized Align II bottom line
For £45, the Specialized Align II really is a great helmet from the American bike giants.
The price, inclusion of MIPS and Specialized’s well-earned reputation for quality products should attract plenty of budget-conscious riders and commuters, but more hardened cyclists might find issue with the overall weight.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $80.00EUR €60.00GBP £45.00USD $55.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 374g (M/L), Array, g|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Specialized|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Sizes: S/M; M/L; XL
Colours: Satin Clay/Satin Cast Umber, Gloss Cast Blue Metallic/Black Reflective, Satin White (tested), HYPRVIZ/Black Reflective, Black/Black Reflective, Matte CA White Sage, Gloss Sand, Gloss Flo Red/Matte Black, Matte Vivid Coral Wild, Purple Orchid Fade, Dark Moss Green, Dove Grey
|MIPS||br_MIPS, 11, 0, MIPS, Yes|
|Helmet type||br_helmetType, 11, 0, Helmet type, Road|