Undoubtedly the first thing you’ll notice about the Über Baja is the price. At £51.49 it’s by far the cheapest helmet in this review and with that low price, some preconceptions about the quality of the helmet begin to form, as lets be honest, for this amount of money it would be unfair to expect a top-quality helmet.
With that said, if you can’t afford to splash out on an Arai or an X-Lite, you won’t be too disappointed with the Über Baja. The Baja bears an ECE22.05 safety mark and has an ACU Gold recommendation, highlighting the value for money of this helmet; despite being so cheap it still complies with the relevant safety standards and if the design looks familiar that’s because it uses a common Chinese made shell.
The chin pads and the inner lining are removable and washable so you can take them out and wash them when they get dirty and sweaty. In terms of cushioning provided, again, the cheek pads seem to provide the majority of cushioning with the rest of the helmet having minimal padding.
The chin strap fastener is a double D-ring style and while the metal components feel adequate and nice and smooth, the actual strap has rough edges which can be quite abrasive against the skin (my advice would be to wear a neck scarf with the Baja to prevent rubbing).
The visor has a smooth opening and closing movement, though it’s one fluid motion with no detents, making it difficult to set it in a half-open/closed position. The opening tab is large enough to be used easily with one gloved hand however.
While not the best out of the helmets on test, the field of vision provided is good and while it’s a tight fit you’ll be able to use goggles if required. The peak has minimal adjustment but it provides a decent amount of sun protection in all positions.
There’s also a secondary tinted visor for added protection from bright light – though this doesn’t seem to come down far enough and finishes annoyingly in the middle of your eyesight. Ventilation is minimal with a single, fairly small chin vent and two tiny vents on the crown with two exhaust vents on the back. While they allow for some airflow we would have preferred more effective vents to help deal with visor mist and stuffy days.
In a line: At this price, you can’t really expect more.
Ventilation: 5/10 Padding: 6/10 Peak: 7/10 Value for money: 8/10
ABR Rating: 6/10
Dirt cheap but passes
relevant safety standards
Sun-visor stops in the
middle of your line of sight
Stealth is a relative newcomer into the motorcycle industry, but a quick look through the company’s range shows that they have a nice-looking selection of on and off-road lids. Their submission to this review is the Stealth HD 009, a helmet that embodies the term ‘adventure affordable £84.99 for a plain colour scheme or £89.99 for a more colourful design.
The helmet complies to the ECE22.05 standards and has been given the ACU Gold approval. The shell is a thermoplastic construction with a dual-density EPS inner to help spread the force of any impact.
The comfort liner is fully removable (though it can be a bit fiddly), as are the chin pads, so you can wash them if needs be and, as they’re Coolmax, the material has good moisture-wicking properties so should help keep your head cool when riding in warm conditions. There’s a nice amount of padding, however, the chin pads feel almost too big for the helmet and made that area a little too squashed – though they’ll compress a bit after extended use.
The chin strap is a D-ring style and both the strap and the metal components feel well made with the strap not having any abrasive edges. The visor is of sturdy construction, featuring an anti-scratch coating, whilst the ratchet opening system has three detents to allow a nice range of openings, with the visor staying in place once set. The opening tab is a little on the small side and can be a bit fiddly to access, especially if wearing thick winter gloves.
There’s a good field of view, though it’s restricted slightly by the raised area of the chin bar. The peak is non-adjustable, though it can be removed if you have access to a Phillips screwdriver. The helmet will accommodate goggles if the need arises and there’s a nice amount of ventilation, with a large, closable vent on the front of the chin bar, two further vents on the chin bar, two just above the visor, a further two, closable vents on the crown and four exhaust vents on the rear. All of these vents combine to make the helmet ideal for warm conditions.
In a line: Superb value for money, but make sure the chin guards fit your face.
Ventilation: 9/10 Padding: 7/10 Peak: 6/10 Value for money: 9/10
Spada has come to be known as a brand that offers decent kit at affordable prices and in a previous issue of ABR we reviewed the Spada Sting helmet, giving it a rating of 7/10. For this issue, we have the Intrepid Adventure, the successor to the Sting helmet featuring a number of changes to the overall design, but are they for the better?
The helmet has a thermoplastic moulded shell that’s bonded to an EPS inner and this has passed the relevant European safety standards. Despite the low price of the Spada Intrepid Adventure it feels well made and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was worth more than it actually is.
The cheek pads and the inner lining are both removable and washable. They’re lovely and soft against the skin making the Intrepid Adventure comfortable all day long. The fastening strap is of the ratchet variety and there’s plenty of adjustment to fit all face/neck/chin sizes. The strap causes no abrasion problems.
While the Intrepid Adventure has a peak on it we felt that it was more of a gesture than an actually useful feature. It’s adjustable and removable but when it’s in place it provides minimal protection from sunlight, even when set at it’s lowest position (thankfully the helmet comes with a built-in sun-visor). The peak also gets caught in the wind all too easily, pushing your head back at speeds above 60mph as it lacks effective venting (not true of the Sting).
The visor allows for a huge field of vision and while it’s a bit of a squeeze you’ll be able to wear goggles if need be (Pinlock mounts come installed). A previous criticism we had was that the opening tabs on the visor were a little too small and Spada has remedied this by including a larger, easier to use opening tab at the front, though in use the visor is incredibly stiff to open and close, though it should loosen with use.
Ventilation is provided by a large vent on the chin guard (though it’s hard to tell whether it’s open or closed) and there are two small vents above the visor. Two small exhaust vents on the rear are present to help draw out warm air and keep the fresh air circulating. Better than the outgoing Sting? We’re not sure it is.
In a line: Comfort at a nice price, just a shame about the stiff visor and poor peak.
Ventilation: 7/10 Padding: 7/10 Peak: 5/10 Value for money: 8/10
ABR Rating: 7/10
Hard to gauge if the vent
is open or closed
Peak is easily removable
but screws are of poor quality
The Givi X.01 Tourer is a bit different to the other helmets in this review in the fact that the chin bar is removable, meaning you can convert the helmet into an open-faced jet style if you’re riding in warm weather. It’s an interesting concept, that’s for sure, and it’s a design that will be a bit like Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it. Personally, I was in favour of it, even though for the most part I kept the chin piece in place.
Our test helmet came in the luminous yellow (as seen in the images), a style that has just been introduced to the X.01 range by Givi, and after some initial cynicism, the colour really began to grow on me, not only on an aesthetic level, but on a sensible, safety-minded level, with the helmet really standing out on the road, especially when riding in poor lighting.
The X.01 has a hard-wearing polycarbonate shell and while the inner is comfortable against the skin it feels as though it’s lacking any substantial cushioning to make it that bit more comfortable. That said, while it’s not incredibly comfortable, I took the X.01 on a recent tour of Europe and it manages to maintain a moderate level of comfort throughout the day, never really feeling like a burden on the head.
While the X.01 passes EU safety standards in both full-face and open-face (with the chin bar unclipped) versions I would have to question the effectiveness of the chin bar in the case of an off. I accidentally dropped the helmet while loading my bike and upon impact with the ground, the chin bar popped out of its housing and separated from the helmet.
I also found the field of vision provided is slightly small, with the peak and the chin bar creating a letterbox view and while it didn’t really affect me when riding through nondescript scenery I really noticed the limiting effects when I wanted to admire the views in the Alps. On a more positive note, the visor provided is coated with anti-scratch and anti-fog treatments. You also get an internal sun visor for especially bright days, which works well.
In all, despite the problems, I found with the X.01 Tourer I really liked it. I loved the look and while it wasn’t spectacularly comfortable it was comfortable enough and I never overheated thanks to the copious ventilation options.
In a line: Perfect helmet for warm weather riding.
Ventilation: 8/10 Padding: 7/10 Peak: 6/10 Value for money: 8/10
The Caberg Tourmax helmet is unique when compared to the others in this review in the fact that it’s the world’s first enduro flip front helmet. At least that’s what Caberg say and while we can’t definitely verify it we’d have to agree with their claim as we’ve yet to come across any others.
As a helmet, the Tourmax will no doubt appeal to those seeking the versatility that a flip-front offers, while still maintaining the usefulness of a peak, and at £214.99 it sits itself nicely in the middle of the price range; a nice surprise for such a unique design that’s probably never been implemented before.
The execution of the design, however, is a bit questionable and instead of the Tourmax being a serious off-roader with a peak and a flip-front it ends up looking and performing just like a normal flip-front helmet with a peak bolted on top. You don’t get the extended chin bar that you’d enjoy on an enduro styled helmet and on the Caberg it feels quite restrictive, with my chin almost touching it, and my chin isn’t that big!
The helmet has a polycarbonate shell and it’s easy to spot the overall quality of the helmet throughout. Despite the somewhat restrictive chin bar everything feels well made and thought out, the flip-front is easily operable with one hand and the peak moves with the flip front to accommodate the movement.
The inner lining is removable and washable and it has the added benefit of being made from a hypoallergenic material. There’s a large field of vision provided by the visor, but it won’t be compatible with a pair of goggles. The chin strap is soft against the skin and uses a ratchet strap with plenty of adjustment to tighten and loosen easily.
In terms of ventilation, you get three small vents on the chin guard and a small vent above the visor/below the peak which is closable. The Tourmax, however, lacks any exhaust vents to get a good circulation of air so chances are you’ll be riding with the face open in warm weather. The graphics on this one are obviously a matter of taste.
In a line: Quality helmet with a unique combination of flip-front and adventure styles.
Ventilation: 6/10 Padding: 7/10 Peak: 8/10 Value for money: 8/10
ABR Rating: 7/10
Flip-front can be locked into place
The peak makes way to accommodate
the flip-front movement
AGV has a rich heritage in manufacturing motorcycle helmets, having made them since 1947, with the company’s knowledge and experience certainly shining through on the AX-8 Dual Evo. The massive visor is undoubtedly the main focus of this helmet, offering a superb field of vision when riding.
The shell is a strong and impact-resistant mix of Carbon, Aramid and Fibreglass to make, what AGV calls, the SSL shell. SSL stands for super-super light and we can’t argue with that name as at 1.3kg for a size L it’s one of the lightest helmets in this review.
On the inside an EPS liner is bonded to the shell, helping to spread the force of any impact, with the helmet secured by a D-ring fastener. The padding inside the helmet is made from Dri-Lex, a breathable fabric that wicks moisture effectively and is incredibly comfortable against the skin. As we’d expect from a helmet of this price the liner and chin guards are fully removable and washable should they start to pong a bit.
There are numerous vents throughout the helmet; a large, closable chin vent, and closable brow and head vents as well as a further eight (yes eight) exhaust vents to keep the air flowing. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the visor on the AX-8 Dual Evo is impressive, offering a huge field of vision (by far the biggest of the helmets in this review) with it coming treated with anti- cratch and anti-fog treatment, while also providing a claimed 100% protection from UV rays; an excellent touch.
While the visor works well in the dry we found that in wet weather the vision through the visor distorts, possibly due to some of the water running down the inside of the visor. This is exacerbated in nighttime riding. The opening tab is also fiddly if wearing gloves and there aren’t enough ratchet stops in the visor either.
The peak is nonadjustable but can be removed if need be. Possibly due to a lack of a central buttress, we found that the peak can produce quite a lot of turbulence at high speeds so if you’re going to be riding on motorways consider taking it off for the ride – not ideal. And not something common on other helmets at this price point. That said, despite its faults. this is one of our favourite helmets of the test. Plus it looks good.
In a line: A very well made helmet with an excellent field of vision, is lightweight and incredibly comfortable to wear.
Ventilation: 9/10 Padding: 8/10 Peak: 7/10 Value for money: 8/10
ABR Rating: 8/10
Small opening tab
– tricky to use with gloved up hands
For the last 25 years, French manufacturer Shark has been establishing itself in the helmet market as a brand that offers exceptional quality for mid-level prices. At £299.99 the Explore-R sits itself nicely in the middle of this review’s price range and is based on the shell of the Vision-R, a helmet we reviewed back in Issue 14 of ABR and one that we liked; giving good hope to this Explore-R as well.
Certainly, if you’re after a versatile helmet that offers multiple different set-ups for various riding conditions then this is the helmet for you. As standard, you get a pair of goggles with Carl Zeiss lenses, a removable peak, an anti-scratch and anti-fog treated visor and an integral sun visor.
You can’t use all of them at the same time but you can mix and match the components to give the best set-up for your next ride. In principle, it’s a great idea and we like that the goggles are included and are of good quality, however, there’s no provision for using the visor and the peak together, which is a bit of a letdown in our opinion (this is because the visor and the peak both clip into the same locating mechanism and there’s only room for one).
Another criticism is that the locating tabs for the goggles are fiddly to find and engage when wearing gloves. A simple one-piece strap would have worked better (you could use your own goggles). As for the rest of the helmet, the shell is constructed from carbon aramid fibre and multiaxial glass fibre, so it’ll be stronger than your standard thermoplastic lids.
While it’s not the lightest helmet in this review, at 1.6kg it’s not exactly, neck breakingly heavy and this, combined with the soft and comfortable internal lining and cushioning, makes the Explore-R comfortable to wear, providing it fits your head, of course. An interesting touch is the addition of a windshield/neck scarf that can be zipped away into the inside of the helmet. It’s a thoughtful touch that adds to the rugged look of the Explore-R.
Ventilation options include a closable chin vent, two brow vents and a larger exhaust vent behind the spoiler and this is okay if you’re not going to be using the visor, but we’d have preferred more effective ventilation for this purpose. While our Explore-R came in the standard white it’s also available in Carbon Silver Black colour, which is a real treat on the eyes for an extra £20.
In a line: A versatile adventure helmet that makes you look like the Crazy Frog.
Ventilation: 7/10 Padding: 8/10 Peak: 8/10 Value for money: 7/10
ABR Rating: 8/10
All components included
The included wind-proof
neck scarf packs away tidily
When you think of adventure motorcycling it’s hard not to think of the BMW GS. While there are various options out there the German machine has become synonymous with the style and so it makes sense that BMW has a range of equipment to complement their ever-popular bike (it’s actually a Schuberth). The Enduro is their entry into this review and, as you might expect, it’s one of the most expensive coming in at £330.
And as you would also expect, it’s a quality piece of kit. The helmet’s shell is a fibre reinforced plastic with carbon and Kevlar mesh reinforcements to make a lid that’s not only hardwearing and impact-resistant but a helmet that’s lightweight (1.3kg) as well. A 5-part EPS inner shell adds to the strength and helps absorb any impacts. The liner of the helmet is made using a mixture of DuPont Coolmax and Alcantara material.
The result is an inner that has high moisture wicking properties – great for sweaty days – and is soft against the skin, plus it’s removable and machine washable. The fastener is a D-ring style and it works well with there being no irritation against the skin. The visor is injection-moulded three-dimensionally formed with anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings, which if you follow BMW’s cleaning guidelines these properties should last for a long time.
The visor can also be easily removed to allow for the use of goggles. The unpainted peak offers good protection from the sun and has minimal vibrations at higher road speeds, though it does feel a little low-rent in terms of material quality compared to the other high-end brands. Ventilation is provided via two fixed chin vents, two closable vents on the top of the helmets and exhaust outlets located behind a small spoiler. They allow a good circulation of air and the vents on the chin bar work well at assisting with visor misting.
The helmet is available in two colour schemes with the more colourful pattern design (shown here) costing an extra £20. All in all the BMW Enduro is a good, solid helmet. You might want to try it before you buy it though; one wearer from the magazine experienced discomfort around the front of the head after 20 minutes of riding.
In a line: A helmet that will compliment your GS nicely.
Ventilation: 7/10 Padding: 8/10 Peak: 8/10 Value for money: 6/10
The X-551 Adventure is the offering to this review from X-Lite, an Italian company that’s part of the Nolan group. For £379.99 you expect quality and from the off, it’s clear to see that this has been made by people who know their stuff and use only the best components. In terms of visual appeal as well, it’s up there with the best, with it compatible for use with the Nolan N-Com Bluetooth intercom system.
The shell is made from a hard-wearing composite fibre that is bonded to an EPS inner to help with shock absorption. The lightweight construction along with the luxurious inner combine to make this one heck of a comfortable helmet to wear providing it fits your head shape. The inner is, as you would expect, fully removable, as are the cheek pads, and these are made using unitherm light racing material, which is a comfortable, highly breathable fabric that works exceptionally well in warm, sweaty conditions.
The fabric is, of course, washable as well. The visor on the X-551 is both scratch-resistant and covered by an anti-fog coating but it’s ready to be fitted with a Pinlock insert (included with the helmet) to further avoid the interior fogging up. It has four detents on the ratchet providing a wide variety of open positions and once in place, it stays there.
A large opening tap ensures that there’s no frustration when trying to open the visor with a gloved up hand and the integral sun visor works very well when needed. The visor also has a wide field of vision (though less than Arai and AGV) and if you’re so inclined the helmet will accommodate a pair of goggles, though it is a tight fit.
There’s plenty of ventilation on the X-551 making it ideal for warm weather riding; you get some very effective chin bar vents, two closable brow inlets and further two closable crown vents as well as exhaust vents behind the rear spoiler to allow a great circulation of fresh air. The peak is sturdy and well designed, the vents meaning it doesn’t catch air when poking your head above the screen.
The X-Lite isn’t quite as snug as the Arai, but there’s no doubt the X-Lite X-551 is a quality helmet. It’s well made, the lining and cushioning is incredibly comfortable and it looks stylish as well. We’ve been using X-551s’ for a long while in the ABR office and we’ll continue to do so.
In a line: Quality, good looks, comfort and exceptional performance. What more could you want?
Ventilation: 9/10 Padding: 9/10 Peak: 9/10 Value for money: 8/10
ABR Rating: 9/10
Effective ventilation on
the chin bar and large opening tab
You’d be forgiven for wincing when looking at the price tag on the Arai Tour X4. At £499.99 it’s the most expensive helmet in this review by a long shot (and probably the most expensive adventure-style helmet on the market), but in the same way that if you had the money you wouldn’t mind splashing out for a Ferrari if you have the money you can’t go wrong with the Arai Tour X4.
The Tour X4 is essentially an updated version of Arai’s popular and trend-setting Tour-Cross helmet that set the benchmark for adventure-style helmets when the movement towards the same style bikes began a few years back. Changes to the ventilation, padding and overall improvements to the quality of the helmet have been made to make the Tour X4 a worthy successor to the old model. If you compare a helmet of this standard to those at the lower end of the price range then you begin to understand and appreciate why you pay such a premium price.
The quality of components, the feel of the helmet in your hands and on your head, the luxurious lining against your skin, the attractive design features… it all comes together to create a helmet that feels head and shoulders above the rest; a work of art in its own right. The shell is made from a Super Fibre Construction that is highly impact-resistant, with a triple density inner shell to further help prevent your body’s most vital organ from impact in the event of an off. The helmet is fastened using a D-ring and this is of exceptional quality.
The Dry Cool lining can, of course, be removed should the need to wash it arise with it incredibly comfortable against the skin for long periods of time. There’s also a 5mm layer of foam on the cheek pads and temple pads that can be removed for an enhanced fit, which works well at preventing pressure points if the helmet doesn’t exactly fit the shape of your head.
There’s ventilation aplenty making the Tour X4 ideal for warm weather riding and the visor will accommodate a Pinlock insert to prevent any misting up (and an excellent touch is the inclusion of a Pinlock visor in the box). There’s no denying that the Arai Tour X4 is an excellent helmet. If you have the money then you can’t go wrong, it’s lovely to look at, a dream to wear and while (fortunately) I can’t speak from experience, if there’s one helmet that I’d be happy to rely on in the case of an off – this is it.
In a line: If you’ve got the money, buy one.
Ventilation: 9/10 Padding: 10/10 Peak: 9/10 Value for money: 8/10
ABR Rating: 9/10
Arai’s brilliant visor ventilation
Very effective chin bar ventilation
Pinlock insert included
Summing up our overall impressions o of the helmets we’ve tested…
In this issue’s review we’ve rated each helmet across four different categories; ventilation, padding, the standard of the peak and the value for money on offer. What was surprising in the review is how well the lower-priced helmets performed and while you definitely do get what you pay for there are some pretty good budget options out there.
The Stealth HD 009 stood out as a very good option for those who are looking to spend less than £100, likewise the Spada Intrepid Adventure was very well received amongst our testers.
The Givi X.01 Tourer and the Caberg Tourmax both offered something different and if you’re looking for a versatile adventure helmet it’ll be worth checking them out. As we moved up the price scale the AGV AX-8 Dual Evo impressed with its nice looks and huge visor and the Shark Explore-R was a brilliant helmet – I just can’t understand why you can’t use the visor and the peak together.
GS riders will be pleased with the BMW Enduro helmet but ultimately you can find better value for money elsewhere. There was very little in it when it came to the X-Lite X-551 Adventure and the Arai Tour X4 – both helmets are superb but the Arai came out as the eventual Best In Test by 1 point thanks to the excellent quality of the interior padding.