I’d not tried any of Alpina’s helmets before this review and have come away impressed. The Alpina Valparola RC has been with me, on and off road for a few months now. During that time the Valparola has tackled cold, muddy Sussex gravel and smooth, sunny Mallorcan tarmac.
Alpina describe the Valparola RC as; “the perfect racing helmet for ambitious cyclists who enjoy mountain passes and flat stages, gentle Sunday rides and high-level competition in equal measure”. And I’d have to agree with them, I took the Valparola RC everywhere except road racing, but that’s only due to most of the test period being over my ‘off-season’.
Constructed using InMold Tec, the Valparola RC has a nice, solid feel to it. The InMold Tec bonds the inner and outer shell together very cleanly, with no gaps. On the sides Alpina have wrapped the shell right under the bottom, creating a hard surface to protect the edges when you put your helmet down. They call this Edge Protect and it helps keep it looking new for longer.
The inside is made from HI-EPS foam, while Alpina call the outer Ceramic. I couldn’t find any exact details as to what these materials are and if they differ from standard helmets, but they produce a helmet that weighs in at 254g for a 55-59cm model.
Talking of looks, the Valparola RC does look a sporty helmet. I got it in a plain white, but other colourways are available. Twenty-six angular vents keep the air flowing on sunny days, while mesh on the front keeps the bigger bugs out.
There’s plenty of adjustment on the straps and the rear uses Alpina’s Run System Ergo Pro. This features two large pads either side of the rear tensioning knob that cradle the back of your head. These pads can be moved up or down so they sit just right and hold the helmet firmly in place. With the straps undone and the back tensioned I could wiggle my head like a crazy bobble head and the helmet stayed put. Not very scientific, but I enjoyed it.
Padding was good, there weren’t any spare pads and I know some of you love to fiddle with fit, but for me it was enough. The pads also have an anti-bacterial treatment to keep them getting too whiffy if you don’t wash them. Saying that, the pads are removable and washable, as are the straps. Removing the straps from the sides requires some force and strong fingernails, but they do come out.
The closure on the straps was new to me, rather than the usual buckle Alpina have come up with their own Ergomatic fastening. This has a ‘tongue’ on one side that you insert into the other. It has indents on the back, so you can adjust how far in you go, holding a button down releases it. It works well, it’s maybe marginally easier to engage than a standard buckle and if you need to you can adjust the tightness.
I didn’t ever need to change the tightness of the strap, but maybe you find this to be an issue when riding, in which case you can do it without having to touch the straps. There’s a small rubber O-ring and padded strap guard to keep the straps looking neat and preventing any chafing.
Overall I was impressed with the Valparola RC, it had all the adjustments I needed and looked good. Hunting around the web it’s currently available for under £80, depending on size an colour.