- A light weight fitness helmet with smooth integrated red 4-LED light on the rear, reflective webbing, stickers and high visibility color options
- One size fits most with SX Fit micro-adjust dial (54 to 62 cm), comfortable Tri-Fix web splitter straps and buckle, SnelL Approved safety rating
- Removable black visor, adjustable padding, 4th Dimension cooling system vents with lock-compatible rear vent hole (for use with cable lock or u-lock)
- Non-rechargeable, uses a replaceable CR2032 coin battery, the light isn't super bright and takes up some vent space in the back, no front light, no MIPS option
I’m a big helmet fan… having been knocked out two times on my snowboard (while wearing one) and taking some major chin and cheek damage on bikes over the years, it’s something I always wear. As a commuter who frequently rides an electric bike, I make it to work efficiently and don’t worry so much about wind or hills but this means I’m taking on blustery or rainy days too and tend to ride further and at higher average speeds. I stumbled across several LED helmets while visiting shops and connecting with friends but wasn’t sure about the designs and added weight most of them had. Eventually I was won over by the concept and decided on the Specialized Centro LED because it closely resembled my comfortable and light weight Specialized Echelon II helmet. The vents are great, the circular crown-tightener clicker on the back has worked well for years and matches my head shape, the straps haven’t frayed or become disconnected and I like the reflective stickers it came with… they’re not over the top or busy but do increase my visual footprint so cars can see me easier.
The Centro LED Helmet seemed to keep most of the features I liked about the Echelon and since it was available through Specialized dealers to try with free shipping, I figured I would have one sent. It made me feel good that there was no obligation to buy but I wouldn’t be stuck with an uncomfortable $60 purchase if things didn’t work out (as is the case with some blind online orders). This is where the biggest decision came up, the Centro LED helmet comes in four amazing colors… I was very interested in the white and fluorescent yellow because they seemed the brightest and might offer enhanced safety. The high vis pink would probably work well too but that just wasn’t my style as a guy with no other pink accessories. While the yellow screams “safety nut” I’ve been pushed around and even hit by cars enough while riding to shout back “I want to live!!” and go with the yellow.
Within a week the helmet had arrived and I dashed down to check it out. Because the Specialized Centro LED only comes in one “fits most” sizing option, I was a little concerned. But with a bit of adjustment, it fit perfectly for me and even worked for several of my friends and my Mom! Our heads are all different but the flexible plastic crown inside the solid fom adjusts smoothly for a comfortable fit. Note that with my Eshelon I wear a size medium and am still able to put a cap under to absorb sweat and add a small visor closer to my eyes. In many ways, the Centro LED helmet is just like the Echelon and that’s exactly what I was hoping for. It weighs just 264 grams vs. 262 which is crazy considering it has a light and battery. The straps don’t bother my ears and the exterior surface is smooth and sleek. I love that the light module doesn’t protrude much and that it’s super easy to activate (just push inward and the whole thing clicks to on or blinking). Even though the helmet is not available with a MIPS plastic slider, the outside is hard and slick so rotational forces should be limited… and of course the price is kept much lower.
There are a few trade-offs with this helmet including a slight decrease on ventilation. While the Echelon and other helmets have ports at the back, this area is taken up by the LED light module. Inside this module are four LEDs that should last many years but the battery powering them won’t and it’s not rechargeable. You can replace it with a bit of tinkering or if the light fails altogether Specialized sells a replacement unit for just $10 MSRP which is amazing. Comparing this to some of the other bike lights with super bright LED’s and strobe modes leaves something to be desired. The four red LEDs are just sort of average, enough to be seen from behind mostly, a bit from the sides and up higher than a seat or bag mounted option. Unlike the Torch helmets and some others, the ventilation here is much better and the weight is lower but you don’t get a front light or as much head coverage. I applaud Specialized for their offering here, it’s a big step above some of the lower-end offerings that look similar (if only because you can try it on and choose from more colors and a nicer overall aesthetic). They didn’t make a skateboarding helmet here, it’s not this big clunky thing… more of a normal helmet with a splash of light. I’ve had moments where I wondered if it was worth doing at all vs. a normal reflective helmet but given the low weight, normal look and relatively low price I sort of feel like “why not”. Perhaps future models will offer recharging and go for a brighter light setup. I’m excited for the day when turn signals are built in and love that they made their visor system removable. I used the Centro LED successfully with my standard brimmed biking cap from Pearl Izumi and was also able to attach a Da Brim oversized visor for my Mom (who now uses the helmet frequently).
I hope this overview sheds some light on the product and I’ll chime in to answer any questions. This helmet doesn’t seem to be immediately available in most shops and isn’t the sexiest thing on the block but it’s also not ugly. I struggled to find info myself but am very satisfied with the purchase and happy to pass the info along, adding to the safety and fun of cycling for other commuters. I welcome additional comments and input on anything I missed or got wrong. The video above compares the Centro LED with some stand alone bike lights at night so you can see it in action. Here’s one more video with a Specialized rep who talks about proper fit on helmets. There’s a good conversation happening over on the bike forums here about the product as well :)
- Specialized has a wide network of dealers in the US and you can have this helmet ordered and shipped for free to try it on… with only one size I was concerned but it fit perfectly (for me and my Mom who has a smaller head), it was very comfortable once adjusted and stayed put, I used a size Medium Echelon II helmet before this
- I was amazed to discover that the Specialized Centro LED helmet weighs about the same as my Echelon II helmet (also from Specialized), I don’t like added weight on my head because it stresses my neck and back when traveling at higher speeds (frequent on an ebike) and going over bumps
- The light is easy to turn on, just press in on the plastic lens and the entire light sort of clicks as it activates
- I love that the chin strap and side webbing have a reflective pattern woven in, the plastic crown has reflective stickers and even the helmet has reflectors in addition to the rear light, the black helmet has reflective black so it looks less busy and tacky during the day
- If at some point the light unit fails, you can order a replacement through your local Specialized dealer for just $10 MSRP
- Two light options including a solid and blink mode… you’ll save more energy with blink and the LED lights themselves should last for years and seem well protected from water in the light housing
- Even though this helmet isn’t available with MIPS (the slider technology to reduce rotational forces on impact), the outer shell is very smooth including the light, it would probably perform better in a crash than a traditional helmet with add-on light
- Available in four great colors, the white and black are professional but neon yellow and fluorescent pink stand out best in the widest range of conditions
- With more companies offering lighted helmets, this one stands out as having a smaller light and not being rechargeable with mini or micro USB, the CR2032 coin battery just isn’t as bright and would require a separate rechargeable battery replacement and charger like this (and just wouldn’t be super convenient to charge)
- It’s great that the helmet is SNELL Approved and it’s likely enough for neighborhood riding (hence the Fitness categorization vs. Performance) but I’d love to see an option with MIPS
- You lose some rear venting space due to the light unit but the helmet is still very cool overall, way cooler and lighter than some of the large BMX looking helmets from Torch and others in my opinion
- The visor isn’t super long so it doesn’t add a lot of value, it isn’t attached super securely so I read about some people taking it off and replacing with products like the Da Brim (I actually did this for my Mom and it worked well once the plastic visor was removed)
- Official Site: https://www.specialized.com/us/en/helmets/rec-commute/centro-led/107204
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/iZkJZafkbDitbnqc6