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From old-school cool to Bluetooth, here are seven general motorcycle helmet reviews from the editors of Motorcycle Classics:
1. Arai says that its RX-Q motorcycle helmet is purpose-built to be the ultimate street helmet and the benchmark for quietness and good ventilation. Recognizing that not all noggins are shaped the same, Arai is unique in offering different interior-fit packages to address the variety of head shapes and sizes. The RX-Q is a version of Arai’s popular Intermediate-Oval (IO) interior shape. Features include a fully removable liner and neck roll, with removable/replaceable cheek pads with washable covers for easier, more thorough cleaning, and a smaller, more aerodynamic hand-formed shell shape that aids in stability. Editor Backus has been wearing an RX-Q Flag Series Italy off and on since last spring, and has been impressed. Build quality is excellent, and it fits like the proverbial glove. A wide eye port gives excellent peripheral view, and it’s extremely well ventilated; it’s one of the few helmets Backus says never gets hot. Our RX-Q has the optional Pinlock visor, virtually eliminating fog and available in a range of tint options. The RX-Q is available in a variety of colors and graphics. Snell 2010 and DOT approved. Price: Starting at $539.95.
2. Although they’ve been making riding gear for years, we’d yet to try a Joe Rocket helmet. Cold weather has kept us from logging many miles with the RKT201 full face helmet we received, but we’ve been impressed so far by its comfortable interior, cozy fit and reasonable quietness. Fit and finish are excellent (sometimes a let down with mid-priced helmets), and it ventilates nicely. We like its large breath deflector, which effectively minimized fogging on the cool days we got to wear it. Peripheral vision is good, and visor operation very smooth. The RKT201 features a lightweight composite weave shell, a removable chin curtain, and a removable and washable moisture-wicking SilverCool anti-bacterial and odor-free interior. Shown here in the Anthracite solid finish, but available in several colors and graphics. Snell 2010 and DOT approved. Price: Starting at $244.99.
3. The Arai Vector-2 is the latest version of Arai’s less-is-more Vector model. The Vector-2 was specifically crafted for the rider who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of the company’s higher-end models. The Vector-2 features a new chin vent design, a rubber breath guard and an extremely wide peripheral view, just like the RX-Q. The Vector-2 also shares the RX-Q’s 5mm peel-away cheek pad layer and 5mm peel-away temple pads. This gives the wearer the option of thinner cheek pads and thinner temple pads for a custom micro-fit, without having to purchase optional pads, a feature that takes micro-fitting to a higher level. Like the RX-Q, the Vector-2 also features a fully-removable liner with removable/replaceable cheek pads with washable covers for easier, more thorough cleaning. It’s a good looking helmet with famed Arai quality at a lower entry price. Snell 2010 and DOT approved. Price: Starting at $479.95.
4. Another great retro-looking lid is the Bell Custom 500. In 1954, Bell founder Roy Richter made his first fiberglass helmet, the 500, named in tribute to the epic Indianapolis car race. The 500 marked the beginning of the modern motorsports helmet. Bell’s new Custom 500 marries Richter’s original style with modern technology, resulting in a light, strong, DOT-approved retro motorcycle helmet. Available in a variety of graphics and a couple solid colors, we ordered ours in Orange Flake and we love the deep paint and chrome trim. It features a comfortable quilted liner and has snaps on the front for a snap-on visor or old-school bubble shield. We’ve only put a few miles on ours so far, but we’re impressed with its close fit and comfort. This has got to be the lowest profile DOT helmet we’ve worn. It fits so close that without a visor, you can’t see any of the helmet in your peripheral vision or at the top of your field of vision, giving you a completely clear view. It’s not as quiet as the Fulmer V2 around town, but with a set of earplugs (which we always wear on the road) it’s quiet and comfortable. Price: $119.50.
5. Editor Backus has logged many miles with a Fulmer D4, and he’s found it to be a surprisingly comfortable, quiet lid, especially considering its entry-level price point. The Fulmer D5 featured here is pretty much the same helmet, but with a few differences. Like the D4, the D5 features a removable, washable interior, a breath deflector and an adjustable chin vent. A pair of top vents snap open (the D4 has a single, slide-adjustable vent), and an extra rear exhaust vent (three instead of the D4’s two) aids efficient ventilation. The quick-release shield system is a little flimsy, but that’s not a huge gripe. You can’t build an inexpensive helmet without cutting some corners, and we think Fulmer does a good job deciding just what corners to cut. Fit and finish are quite good, and we don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t hold up as well as our D4 has. DOT approved. Price: Starting at $109.95.
6. Editor Hall has been wearing the Fulmer V2 Easy Rider we picked up for testing a few years ago, and has logged more than 15,000 miles wearing it. And it’s still one of his favorite open-face helmets, thanks to the V2’s light weight, comfortable fit and quiet interior. DOT approved, it has a cool retro design, a plush fixed interior with perforated leather trim, a padded D-ring retention system, three-snap visor, and UV protective clear coated paint and graphics. The V2 is available in a wide variety of retro colors and graphics — 18 at last count and growing — and we’ve just put our hands on the latest version: the V2 Apparition. The Apparition’s coolest new feature (and the reason for its name) is the Flamethrower paint job, which Fulmer says is a “retroreflective” finish similar to that of a highway sign. The paint contains thousands of tiny glass beads that direct light back to its source, so when headlights shine on you, your helmet shines back to the driver. According to the folks at Fulmer, it’s extremely difficult to paint, but the results are something you have to see in person to believe. Other than the paint, it’s a standard V2. Price: Starting at $99.95.
7. Highly regarded in European riding circles, Schuberth helmets are renowned for their light weight, low noise and high quality. Although unavailable here for some years, Schuberth has recently re-entered the U.S. market with its latest flip-up helmet, the Schuberth C3, and an optional, fully integrated Bluetooth communication system, the SRC-System.
No larger than an average full-face, the C3 is without doubt the most compact flip-up helmet we’ve seen. Weighing in at a shade over 3.5 pounds, it’s also one of the lightest, and an integrated acoustic collar and removable chin wind deflector also make it quiet; Schuberth claims 84 decibels at 62mph, about on par with medium-sized truck traffic. Helping keep things cool, Schuberth says the C3’s venting system will move two gallons of air per second at 62mph. Other features include a Pinlock visor for a double lens to all but eliminate fogging. An integrated slide-action sun visor — one of the best we’ve used — is another nice touch. Schuberth’s ratcheting chin strap fastener works beautifully, and the flip-up face is easy to open and locks smoothly into place; like many modulars it can take a little nudge to locate on its locking pins. A separate model specifically for women, the C3W, is also available. DOT and Snell ECE 22.05 approved. $699
Equally notable is Schuberth’s new SRC Bluetooth communication system. Designed in concert with Cardo Systems (we tested Cardo’s Scala Rider 2 in 2008 and came away impressed), the SRC replaces the C3’s standard acoustic collar. The speakers fit into specially molded pockets in the helmet, and installing the control collar is a snap. Our test phone paired up in moments, and in our limited testing to date it’s worked perfectly. Controls for everything including intercom, mobile phone, GPS, MP3/iPod plus FM radio fall easily to the rider’s left hand, and while we haven’t tried it with heavy gloves our initial trial suggests it’ll be easy to use out in the real world.
Read more motorcycle helmet reviews:
• Eight Road-Tested Motorcycle Helmet Reviews
• Seven Motorcycle Helmet Reviews for Touring
• Six Retro Motorcycle Helmet Reviews
• A Closer Look at Full-Face Motorcycle Helmets