Review: Specialized Centro helmet

I am at odds with the company that calls itself Specialized. In my opinion, it makes some of the most overpriced bicycles, yet also makes some of the best value accessories, such as shoes, helmets and tires. And let’s not get started on its reputation as a huge patent troll and legal bully.

Specialized’s helmet lineup is quite extensive, and also quite expensive. The local Specialized concept store tends to favor stocking the blue-chip brain buckets for road cyclists, such as the Propero II and Evade. Once in a while though, they sell affordable gems.

 

Today we’ll see if the Centro helmet is one such gem.

FEATURES

  • Designed for bike commuting and urban riding
  • Certified to EN 1078:2012
  • Reflective decals and straps
  • “Headset” adjustable retention mechanism
  • “Trifix” strap buckles
  • 17 vents for ventilation
  • Removable visor

IMPRESSIONS

My initial complaint with the Centro was that it didn’t come in yellow – my color of choice for increased visibility for bike commuters. Alas, this lid only comes in white.

Rear, lights off.

Rear, lights on.

I need not have despaired though. The Centro makes up for it with a few neat visibility-boosting tricks. The rear of the helmet in particular has four large reflective stickers, a pair each for the helmet itself and for the cradle of the retention mechanism, flanking the Headset adjustment dial. Not content with those, Specialized also incorporated the same decals on the visor, and reflective threads into the centers of the straps. Even with my sweat output, the straps are still remarkably reflective.

Straps, lights off.

Straps, lights on.

Speaking of those straps, they have non-adjustable Trifix buckles that take care of the intersection that happens around your ears. They may be fixed in position, but they’re sensibly put there. I didn’t see the need to fettle with them; they just worked.

Spez even thoughtfully provides a little rubber band to secure any excess in the chin strap.

 

The small black visor easily snaps on and off the front of the helmet by hooking onto the brow vent and a little depression in the front middle vent. For urban riding this small size is about right – it will provide just a touch of cover for your eyes.

 

Push it off the front, and you get a convincing look-alike of a road cycling helmet.

 

Venting is quite generous. Long Sunday morning rides in the increasing heat of the summer sun are made more comfortable by the airy feel of the helmet, whether you’re in the middle of a slow climb or sprinting at speed.

 

The Headset retention mechanism is one made up of a plastic basket of straps, similar to what many modern helmets have today. You can tighten or loosen the fit of the Centro around your head’s crown using the ratcheted dial at the back, with 10 detents. The Headset’s brow strap serves as an anchor to the thin brow pad, while the rest of the pads run longitudinally along the top of the helmet.

Perhaps the best thing about the Centro is the price. Given everything it packs, especially the reflective decals and straps, it’s a bargain at PhP2,100.

VERDICT

The Centro is one of the best value helmets you’ll find in 2015, offering a feature set tailored toward the needs of bike commuters. Recommended.

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