Thunderhill raceway park, Laguna Seca Raceway
Northern California, all types from city to urban to countryside.
I normally wear a medium Bell or in previous years a medium Arai. The fit has been perfect each time. Recently I acquired a Bell that was a custom fit. You certainly notice the difference especially when you get the right size pads in place inside the shell. The NiTek I tested was a large and that felt just a tad too small in regards to the shell, not the inner pads. So if you want to try one of these, go up 1-2 sizes as an FYI when choosing one for a test fit.
The box the helmet comes in is really well put together to ensure the actual helmet doesn’t get smashed around during shipping. That’s a really nice feature that I appreciated when opening the box. The helmet bag is thin and does the job when the helmet is out of the box, but a proper helmet carrier would be a good investment. The care kit box is very ingenious indeed as to the structure and fit inside the box and there is a lot in there:
- Cleaning brush and cloth
- Deodorant spray
- Vent cleaning swabs
- Shield cleaning spray
- Sticker kit and ear plugs
You also get the Pinlock anti fog kit
The helmet itself is very light in your hands by feel. The overall shape is quite different too when you look at it from the side profile. There has been a lot of aerodynamic work done to shape the profile and that is immediately obvious.
The visor has 6 positions one of which is slightly cracked for those cloudy, foggy days to make sure you don’t have a visor that you cannot see out out. The other 5 positions are on a very slight but positively engaging ratchet so you can easily feel each setting. The vent on the chin bar opens and closes easily, as does the vent on the top of the helmet. The vents above each eye are easy to locate and only open or close. To have each vent open or closed is great in my opinion as I either want a lot of air flow or none at all. For those who want to precisely tune the amount of air in the helmet, you can only do that via the eye vents. The visor “Pinlock” mechanism will also keep the visor cracked open, but to a greater gap. The handle is very easy to reach, feel and intuitive to use. Experiment with the mechanism by hand prior to using on the road. That way you know which way to go with the mechanism! The one thing that you might have an issue with is the rubber seal on the top of the chin bar protrudes to the shield so as you use the lip (there are 2 of them, one on each side to cater to left or right handed people!) you will snag that rubber seal. I took an Exacto modelling blade to mine and shaped the seal to eliminate the issue.
When putting the helmet on for the first time you will need to pull the shell apart using the straps against the very thick neck pads at the base /sides of the helmet. Don’t be shy about that and get after it so the shell flexes enough to ease the helmet onto you head. If it is too much of an effort, move up to the next size. The same is true of taking the helmet off – perhaps even more so as you are somewhat tired after a session and don’t have as much instant hand strength.
Once the helmet is on you will feel how well the padding fits your face (provided you have the right head shape, mine is round). My head feels comfortable while locked in place inside the shell. It is a great compromise in terms of fitment.
The test day at Thunderhill was cold in the morning, in the high 50F range and stayed cold for quite some time due to rain and clouds. For me, cold air is a great test of venting and flow rate, so I chose this testing regimen to assess helmet ventilation.
Ride # 1, all vents closed.
- Good air flow into the helmet from the chin area at 30-60mph
- Over 90mph the air flow in the helmet “stopped” which I liked
- Over 120mph, air flow returned at the same rate as 30-60mph
- Helmet visor immediately fogged up with normal breathing while stationary
Ride number 2, top vent open
- Slightly noticeable change in flow over my face at 30-60mph
- Good stability at 90mph with the helmet locking in when looking through the corner
- No instability over 120mph
- Increased airflow very noticeable over 100mph
Ride #3, top vent open, eye vents open
- At 30-60mph, much more air flow over my face
- At 90mph, not much change in that flow
- At 120mph no additional flow distracting me
Ride #4 all vents open.
- Immediately noticed an increase in flow rates at all speeds
- Flow much faster and distracting at 90mph or more (not tucked)
- Excellent stability at all speeds
- At normal speeds of 80mph or less, the helmet was very stable indeed in the air when in the normal riding position (no tucking whatsoever). The helmet didn’t move on my head in terms of sliding down and taking away upper vision. That criteria is always critical for me as I need to know I can rely on the same field of vision at all times.
- At speeds from 80-120mph excellent stability and with the chin vent closed, calm air around my face, something that I really enjoyed
- At speeds over 120mph with the chin vent open there is a lot of air flow over your face at all times. On a hot day where temperatures are over 85F you might need more air flow so the chin vent would be open. Outside of that (for me), it would stay closed.