The Alpina Valparola RC is the German brand's top-end road racing helmet, aimed at 'ambitious cyclists' and a wide variety of riding, from 'gentle Sunday rides' to 'high-level competition'. I'd say for recreational riding it's a good option, if pricey, but for faster speeds and racing there are better lids for the money.
Fit-wise, the medium was spot on for my head and felt very comfortable, though it had a bit of a 'mushroom' look, sitting quite far out from the sides of my head (it's not me in the photos). The adjustment system and strap aren't as sophisticated as other helmets in this price range, either.
It comes in small (51-56cm), medium (55-59cm) and large (58-63cm), and with a little crossover of each size, finding one that fits you well shouldn't be an issue. I have a slightly wide head, and would say the Valparola has more of a round shape than my Lazer Helium.
It's well proportioned and I was able to move the retention system down to cradle the back of my head nicely. The movement isn't as extensive as others, and there are set positions that make it awkward to reposition, though it does mean that once you get your fit sorted, it'll remain there.
The dial provides positive clicks and I've had no issues with de-tensioning. It also has small rubber sections, which makes use with big gloves very easy.
The plastic cradle is moulded within the shell, making the finish look very neat. In fact, the Valparola is well finished internally. There's nothing special inside, but the padding is comfortable and soft.
The straps are a bit basic for a helmet of this price, and because of their thickness they quickly become saturated from sweat. I'd prefer a thinner material or a mesh construction for hotter weather.
It's not helped by the integrated fly net, which sits against the forehead, creating quite a bit of sweat. To be honest, this was one feature that left me scratching my head – not from any insect bites, it's not that it doesn't work! – it's more that I'm not convinced it's something an 'ambitious cyclist' would necessarily want. Even during gentle rides I was wishing for more airflow at the front.
According to Alpina, the Valparola RC has a 'ceramic shell', which appears to be a traditional plastic shell – all Alpina's 'helmet technology' page says is: 'Ceramic is the name for the outer shell of all Alpina helmets featuring Inmould manufacturing technology.' (It's plastic; I asked.) It certainly wipes clean very easily, a must with all that white. (Other colours are available.)
It also features Alpina's 'Edge Protect' system – essentially, the shell extends over the edges of the softer polystyrene inner, protecting the helmet from chips and scratches.
Alpina also claims that the Valparola is "a masterpiece of aerodynamics", although there's no data to support this.
The helmet comes in at 252g, which is slightly heavier than I'd expect. Compare this to the likes of Kask's Mojito at 220g or eKoi's Corsa Light at 216g and it's not great – especially when both of these helmets can be found slightly cheaper online.
Alpina markets the Valparola RC to a wide variety of cyclists and riding situations. I'd suggest it's a comfortable helmet that will suit leisure riding, but for £100 there are better options out there for faster riders. As it is, I think the Valparola RC is overpriced when compared with lighter and more refined helmets such as the Mojito and Corsa Light. It's a good fit, which counts for a lot, but needs a few improvements here and there and a slightly lower price to warrant a higher score.
Fits well, but airflow, weight and strap could be improved, and the price is too high
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Alpina Road Helmet Valparola RC
Size tested: Size 55-59/ Black/White/Red
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?
Alpina says: "Its distinctive design is more than just a visual highlight it's also a masterpiece of aerodynamics. The lightweight Inmold construction and wide range of adjustment options such as Run System Ergo Pro and Custom Fit make it the perfect racing helmet for ambitious cyclists who enjoy mountain passes and flat stages, gentle Sunday rides and high-level competition in equal measure."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Air Vents 27
Sizing System Run System Ergo Pro
Pads Sealed Antibacterial
Additional Conforms EN1078 safety standard
Cover Technology In Mould
Adjustment system lets down a good retention dial.
It's fine for leisure rides, with the insect net keeping bugs away, but it gets a little warm when the effort goes up.
The edge protection has prevented dings from general use.
It doesn't do well against rivals at this price point.
The proportions are spot on. The padding is a little basic but comfortable, and the straps get sweaty quickly.
There are too many things that need improving, aesthetically and functionally, before I'd consider spending £100 on it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On leisurely rides, it was fine. As soon as I had to push on, the venting became less effective.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The basic fit suited me.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Subjective I know, but I didn't like the overall look, and I'd lose the insect net.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes and no. It was comfy, but the venting wasn't great for harder riding.
Would you consider buying the product? Not at this price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
The basic fit of the helmet is good, which counts for a lot, but the poor airflow, basic straps and an awkward adjustment system aren't great on a £100 helmet. Use it for leisure and it's good but overpriced; compare it with performance helmets of the same price and it fits well but comes up short on weight and features.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.