The Flip Side

Versatile and tour-friendly, the flip-front helmet has a lot to offer ABRs. Paul Jennison checks out the best flip-lids around

Back in the day when helmets were being made compulsory, the only real option was an open-face or ‘pudding-basin’ lid. As helmets developed we found ourselves adding visors and chin guards. Then full-face helmets came on the scene and we all disappeared from view.

There’s no doubt that the best safety feature for the head when riding a bike is to encase it in a protective surround, but that doesn’t stop problems arising when, say, you want to ask for directions. In a full-face helmet, there’s a good chance the friendly passer-by won’t be able to understand a word you’re saying, let alone direct you to the “mumble, mumble”. So, enter the flip-front helmet. With a simple operation the front of the helmet can be lifted up out of the way allowing everyone to hear you and bask in your stunning good looks.

For me, a flip-front helmet is a must-have addition to my adventure biking wardrobe. The flexibility it affords makes it indispensable on a long trip or tour. The choice of flip-fronts on the market is truly staggering; virtually every manufacturer is offering at least one, some several. So do your homework. Think about the features you’ll need: integral sun shields, Bluetooth intercom compatibility, double homologation allowing full-face or jet-style configurations? If you can imagine it there’s a flip-front out there to suit you. Budget, of course, is another consideration!

Features we like…

Anti-misting visor

Whether it’s an anti-fog coating applied at the manufacturing stage, or a ‘pinlock’ insert which double glazes the visor, the absence of a misted visor in cold or wet conditions is a blessing

Adjustable vents

Cool air circulating around your head on a hot summer’s ride is heaven sent. But if it’s still there blasting down the M25 on a wet and cold winter’s day, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on the road to hell. Adjustable vents which you can open and close at will are the answer

Washable liner

Being able to whip out the liner and give it a quick launder not only restores the plush lining but also avoids the problem of having to put your head into something that smells like a wrestler’s armpit

Chin-cuffs

The chin-bar design on some flip-front lids gives great ventilation, but you won’t want that in the cold weather. Insert the chin cuff and cosy up inside

Integral sun shield

A lot of helmets now come with this feature. In our view it’s a bonus not having to insert sun glasses on a bright day, then cursing the fading light because you have to stop to stow them away again. A small lever will activate or deactivate the shield

Communication integration

A lot of flip-front helmets on the market are manufactured ready to take a Bluetooth device. Each manufacturer has its own brand and price. The beauty of Bluetooth technology is that you can connect to other devices wirelessly such as phones, GPSs or other bikers. As these helmets already have recesses for the ear speakers, they’re also compatible other wired communication headsets

Caring for your helmet

  • The helmet outer is open to all elements from sun and rain to flying objects, insects, and grit. The outer should be cleaned with warm water and a neutral detergent. Let the water loosen the grime before wiping it over with a non-abrasive cloth to remove the dirt. Then dry it with a clean, dry lint-free cloth. If it becomes soaked, allow to dry at room temperature away from any direct source of heat
  • The liners, if removable, should be cleaned regularly. Not just for hygiene, but because the bacteria build-up will degrade the lining material, padding and the inner shell. There are some proprietary helmet sanitizers on the market, which will freshen the linings up, but won’t make up for a good wash in the machine. Place your lining inside a pillowcase and put it through on a gentle wash with a little detergent
  • Clean the visor as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. If it has any anti-scratch or fog properties be extra vigilant. Always use clean water, soak the worst o. and then wipe with a lint-free cloth or tissue. Don’t use abrasives!

When should I replace a helmet?

The recommended lifespan of a helmet varies between manufacturers. Some reckon that they should be replaced anywhere between two and four years, but the general rule of thumb is five years, based on average use. Most of you will know when it’s time to trade in your lid, but the following may help you decide:

  • If it shows any signs of damage it should be replaced immediately. It’s not always possible to see minor damage and underlying structural faults with the naked eye, so some manufacturers o. er an inspection service, which will check the integrity of the helmet. This is definitely worth checking out before shelling out for a replacement
  • The properties which make up the helmet construction can degrade over time, from resins and glue to liners and padding. When a helmet shows signs of wear, or becomes looser when worn, it should be replaced
  • Regular cleaning of the helmet and liners will increase longevity

Internal sun shields

Riding down a tree-lined road or a series of tunnels in the Alps where conditions vary from light to dark in milliseconds is potentially very dangerous. It’s no good riding partially blind and just hoping for the best, but how annoying is it having to stop to remove and replace your sunglasses, or even change the whole visor?

Then some bright spark thought, ‘I know, let’s incorporate a sun shield within the helmet.’ I’d like to buy that person a drink. The convenience of being able to simply flip the sun shield up and down to suit conditions is revolutionary. We reckon the invention of the internal sun shield is up there with the proverbial sliced bread incident.

A word on visors

Over time and use, the visor will become worn and scratched. When this occurs, it will need replacing. A scratched visor will impair your vision, especially at night, when it will cause headlight glare to be distorted.

Any visor (or goggles) sold for motorcycle use must have been tested to BSI or its European equivalent standards. Look for visors marked BS 4110 or ECE 22-05. Visors must be able to transmit at least 50 percent light. Deeply tinted visors, which will not have a mark of approval, are illegal in the UK.

I would only ever replace my visor with OE (original equipment). Sure, buying official manufacturer’s part can be expensive, but think about how a visor operates. After market ones do a job, but not as well. They rarely . t or fasten down properly because they’re made from cheaper materials and can’t follow the original visor’s design exactly because of copyright laws. A Shoei replacement visor is in the region of £50. A pattern one can be obtained for around £30, but you will certainly notice the difference in fit and quality.

Safety First

All helmets sold in the UK must comply with British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark. Those that don’t must comply with UNECE Regulation 22.05 or comply with any standard accepted by a member of the European Economic Area, which offers a level of safety and protection equivalent to BS 6658:1985 and carries a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.

The flip-front is much the same as any full-face helmet with regards to safety testing, with the added complication that the front hinge must also meet standards to ensure it stays locked in the event of an accident. Consequently, only a small number of flip-fronts are homologated either open or closed and unless you have one of these it’s illegal to ride with the front raised.

For added safety, look for a lid which also has an ACU (Auto Cycle Union) gold sticker on it. This means the helmet has been subject to super rigorous testing and been certified as good enough for racing on metalled surfaces.

Government helmet safety scheme SHARP has lots of helpful information on its website about helmet safety performance (www.direct.gov.uk/sharp). If a helmet suffers an impact, the damage can be unseen; a damaged helmet is next to worthless if it’s called upon to do its job in a spill, so it’s recommended that it be replaced. On the same note, don’t buy second hand. A second-hand helmet may look perfect and seem like a good deal, but there’s no guaranteeing its integrity

G-Mac Axis

£59.99

www.gmacrider.com

The GMAC Axis is from the Nitro Racing stable and is aimed at the adventurer on a shoestring. These guys have the budget bikers nailed, as you get a reasonable product at a damn good price. There aren’t many bells and whistles on the Axis, well, none in fact, but at this end of the market something has to give. Minimalist is what we’ll call it. The shell is polycarbonate with a little bit of styling. This is bonded to an expanded polystyrene (EPS) inner, which helps absorb and distribute the force of any impacts.

The lining is removable and can be cleaned, but only by hand, with a mild detergent, and then air dried. The chin-strap is fastened by a micro-ratchet system which has plenty of adjustment. When fastened it’s very secure, but as with all straps it must be regularly inspected for signs of wear or damage.

The front chin-bar vent has three segments all operated with one lift tab, so they’re either open or shut as one. The crown has two vents on either side which are opened by sliding back their individual covers. This gives a nice cool air flow over the head, aided by the two exhaust ports at the rear, which help pull the air through the helmet.

The flip front is opened by a centrally located release catch and the raising and lowering action is slightly notchy, but not harsh. Once closed the locks are firm and precise. There is no chin-cuff, so expect a fair amount of wind blast to enter under your chin. This could be remedied with a Buff or similar.

The visor is sturdy and fits the aperture seal well. It has six detents on the opening ratchet to help it stay in place. It has an anti-scratch surface and a Pinlock anti-fog insert can be fitted to the inner face relatively easily.

With such a low retail price, it’s unsurprising that this helmet doesn’t come with an integral sun shield, so it’s out with the shades for this one.

In a line: Compares well with more expensive helmets on test

ABR RATING 6 out of 10

Nitro F341-VN DVS Flip

£99.99

www.nitrorider.com

Nitro Racing’s offering for the flipfront helmet market is the F341- VN with DVS (dual visor system). If you’re familiar with OGK helmets, think Nitro as that’s what they’re now called. The brand’s very popular in the UK, and for the budget-minded biker its helmets are spot on.

The shell is an aerodynamically designed polycarbonate bonded to a dual density EPS inner, which helps dissipate energy in the event of an impact.

The Coolmax by DuPont lining material has anti-bacterial properties and can be fully removed for cleaning. Don’t stuff it in the washing machine with your smalls if you want it to fit back into the helmet again though! The cheek-pads are replaceable and if you’re worried about helmet sizing, different densities are available for a better fit.

The chin-strap is the micro-ratchet style with plenty of adjustment and gives a secure fastening, although like all chinstraps, it should be regularly inspected for signs of wear. It also has a smooth curtain attached to it to help prevent chaffing.

The chin bar has three vents which are operated by a single slide toggle. These assist air flow onto the visor and reduce misting. There are also two brow vents on the crown to help circulate cool air with the added assistance of exhaust ports which pull the air through the helmet. The flip-front release catch is situated in the centre of the chin-bar and can be operated single-handedly with ease. The raising and lowering actions are smooth and the lock down is firm and concise.

The visor is sturdy and fits well into the aperture with a good seal. The outer surface is anti-scratch and a Pinlock anti-fog insert can be obtained to fit. The removal mechanism is simple to use, so a quick clean or change can be done in seconds.

The DVS mentioned earlier refers to the integral sun shield which has a bold and easy-to-use switch on the left-hand side of the helmet. The visor itself has two positions for the rider’s comfort.

In a line: This Nitro won’t blow the budget

ABR RATING 7 out of 10

Givi HPS X modular

£148.90

www.givi.co.uk

The name Givi is synonymous with motorcycle luggage systems, however the Italian manufacturer has ventured further into the accessories market and produced the HPS X Modular flip-front helmet, among others. From the off, it’s clear to see that the same design quality and innovation Givi puts into its luggage has been put to good use in the construction of this lid.

It weighs in at 1.78kg so is lighter than some of the competition. The shell construction features Givi’s advanced plastic technology, which is bonded to an EPS inner. Combined these features give good strength and impact absorption. The painted finish is also of a high quality.

The lining is fully removable and washable and features antiallergenic material. There’s also plenty of padding on offer and the feel and fit of the inside is quite luxurious.

The chin-strap has the micrometric ratchet system with plenty of adjustment and has a simple but sturdy operation. Vents are situated on the chin-bar and brow; however the chin-vent has a flimsy feel to it and doesn’t allow sufficient air through to demist the visor. I had to crack the visor open to the first detent to demist it completely.

The flip-front chin-bar is operated via a centrally located button and it has a smooth action. Once raised, the bar locks into place and the Modular boasts double homologation for a jet or full-face option, but you can feel the wind drag when riding with it in the raised position. There is a removable chin-cuff, which reduces wind noise and helps keep out the cold.

The anti-scratch visor is sturdy and seals well. It has several detents on the opening mechanism and stays in place at whichever one you choose. It doesn’t have any anti-misting treatment but an adhesive anti-fog lens is an optional extra; it’s also lacking Pinlock inserts. It does, however, have an effective integral sun shield which is operated by a lever on the left-hand side of the helmet. It’s spring-loaded and retracts with the slightest touch. It also allows plenty of room behind the shield if you need to wear spectacles.

In a line: Givi: from top boxes to top helmets

ABR RATING 8 out of 10

HJC IS-Max BT

£149.99

www.oxprod.com

HJC is fast becoming one of the biggest helmet producers in the world, spitting out new helmet models quicker than you can draw breath!

The IS-Max BT (BT means it can be fitted with a Bluetooth communication headset) is another flip-front lid from this huge producer, but mass production doesn’t have to mean poor quality, and neither does the attractively low price.

The shell is made from advanced polycarbonate composite bonded to an EPS inner, which gives this helmet a high level of strength and helps absorb and distribute the force of an impact.

The lining is made from SilverCool material which has moisture-wicking properties with anti-bacterial treatment to help keep it odour free. The crown lining and cheek-pads are removable and washable. The lining and padding is relatively plush and gives the wearer a snug comfortable fit.

The chin-strap is the micro-ratchet style which is quick and easy to use and has a curtain pad to minimise chaffing. The ACS (advanced channelling ventilation system) vents are situated on the chin-bar and on the crown, and, HJC claims, will give full front-to-back airflow which will flush heat and humidity up and out of the lid.

The flip front is operated via a centrally located release catch which is large enough to be activated with thick gloves on. The action is smooth. The locking mechanism is positive and strong and should perform well over a prolonged period of use. It also has a padded chin-cuff, which will keep draughts out and minimise wind noise.

The visor is sturdy and has good optical qualities. It has a quick-release system, which is one of the best on test, an anti-scratch surface and an anti-fog coating, but no provision for a proprietary insert to be fitted.

The integral sun shield is operated by a spring-loaded switch and has two settings. With the shield in the lowest position I found that it came into contact with my nose, which I didn’t like. It has a one-touch release button next to the operating lever.

In a line: For the money this will take some beating!

ABR RATING 7 out of 10

Caberg Justissimo GT

£189.99

www.feridax.com

Italian manufacturer Caberg will be a name that many ABRs are familiar with and the company is well known for offering good-quality products with many features that belie their price. The Justissimo GT is in the mid-range for flip-front helmets, but what you get for that is remarkable.

The shell is moulded polycarbonate with a hard-coated paint finish that gives it an expensive sheen. The shell is bonded to an EPS inner, which helps to absorb and distribute an impact.

The liner is made from Sanitized material, which has anti-bacterial and fungicidal treatments to keep the liner fresh and hygienic. It can be fully removed and cleaned following the manufacturer’s guidelines. The padding and lining have a luxury feel to them and give a snug and comfortable fit.

The padded lining extends to give the chin-strap a curtain which will stop the strap from cha. ng the wearer’s neck. The fastening on the strap is the micro-ratchet style which has an easy operation. The vents in the chin-bar and crown are easy to operate and effective.

The flip front is released via a simple catch situated in the middle of the chin bar just below the vent. The action is somewhat stiff, but will no doubt loosen with use or you’ll get used to it. The closing latches are made from magnesium, so will not wear and are unlikely break easily. There is a removable chin-cuff which will reduce wind noise and draughts. The visor is sturdy and has antiscratch/ fog properties. The removal process will need to be practised to ensure that it can be done without the risk of losing the mounting fixings. The side pods have to be removed to allow you to do this.

The integral sun shield is operated by a lever on the left side of the helmet; it also has a nice depth to so it won’t be in the rider’s eye-line when in use. An extra feature of this helmet is that the front can be completely removed, thus converting the lid into an open-face helmet with a visor.

In a line: A good helmet with good features for a reasonable amount of money

ABR RATING 7 out of 10

Nolan 104 Classic N-Com 3

£269.99

www.phoenixnw.co.uk

The latest flip-front helmet from the Italian company Nolan is hot o the production line. The N104 replaces the N103 and when it arrived at the ABR offices for this review I swear it was so new the paint was still wet!

The N104 is lighter than its predecessor by up to 200g, weighing in at around 1.77kg, so lighter than most others on test.

The shell is constructed from composite fibres which are bonded to an EPS inner giving the lid great strength and helping it to absorb and distribute any impact shock in the event of a spill. The lining is fully removable and washable and is manufactured from breathable Clima Comfort fabric, which is designed to keep the head comfortable regardless of temperatures.

The chin-strap fastener is the Microlock2 ratchet system, which has the usual thermoplastic opening lever and a secondary aluminium holding lever, giving a generous amount of adjustment with better securing qualities. The venting on the N104 works well having the usual chin-vent for visor demisting as well as a crown-vent to circulate air around the head with exhaust vents at the rear which will pull cool air through the helmet.

The chin-bar is operated with a centrally located dual-action lock which prevents unintentional opening, but can be easily operated with one gloved hand. The elliptical movement of the chin bar keeps it close to the outer shell thus reducing the sail-like effect of riding with it open. The P/J locking system on the N104 means that the chin-bar can be locked into the open position, and is homologated in either position – a fairly unique feature for this style of flip-front.

The visor is deeper and physically bigger with a much wider field of vision than other helmets tested here. It also comes with a Pinlock insert which covers a much larger surface area and is barely visible when worn so misting will be minimal. The VPS (vision protection system) integral sun shield is operated via a sliding lever on the helmet’s lower left edge. It has a spring-operated release mechanism and is below the rider’s eye line.

In a line: Sure to be a hit with Nolan fans and quite a few others too

ABR RATING 9 out of 10

Suomy D20 SRP

£279.99

www.tranam.co.uk

Suomy became very popular a few years ago with its full-face graphic designs and focus on race helmets, but to be honest I hadn’t seen them on the shelves for a while.

Then enter the D20. The company’s first ever flip-front helmet design, looking every bit as good as its full-face counterparts (without the choice of graphics), but is it any different from all the other flip-front helmets out there? Well, ‘no’ is the simple answer. It’s good, but then so are a lot of the other lids on test here. The shell is made from thermoplastic composite resins and bonded to an EPS inner for strength and to help it absorb and distribute any impact it might sustain in the event of a spill.

The liner is made from anallergic material treated with an anti-bacterial agent. The liner is fully removable for cleaning and replacement cheek-pads can be obtained.

The chin-strap fastener is the micro-ratchet system and offers plenty of adjustment for the right fit, but the strap curtain is rather thin.

Ventilation is good with the standard closable chin and crown inlets and a rear spoiler which can be opened or closed for the exhaust vent; gimmicky but effective.

The chin-bar is opened by operating the centrally located release button and the action is smooth. Once lifted fully the chin-bar locks into place in the open position but is not homologated to be used this way and the release button has to be used to lower it again. When in the closed position I found that my chin came into contact with the chin-bar and was reminiscent of many full face helmets.

The visor is sturdy and fits well, although I found it a bit narrow. Taking a quick glance at the dials while riding meant I had to dip my head forward slightly, which is a small inconvenience. The Pinlock insert worked well once I’d repositioned the seating lugs.

The integral sun shield is operated via a switch on the top of the helmet and when in the down position there’s still enough room for spectacles behind it.

In a line: Not bad for a first effort

ABR RATING 7 out of 10

Shark Evoline S2

£299.99

www.nevism.com

The Shark Evoline was one of the first flip-front helmets to be homologated with the chinbar in the open or closed position. This made it versatile enough to be used by riders of all manner of bikes, from sports to adventure touring; it also came with a five-year warranty, so we’re already o  to a good start.

The Evoline 2 has had minor adjustments made to it to improve the design following feedback from owners; these include a better seal between the eye port and the visor, nine detents on the ratchet opening for the visor and a thicker neck roll for reduced wind noise.

The shell is made from composite glass fibres bonded to an inner EPS for great strength and impact-absorbing protection. The liner and padding have a sumptuous feel and are very comfortable. The inside of the helmet can be removed for cleaning, and should be hand-washed using mild detergents.

The chin-strap is a micro-ratchet fastener which is length adjustable and has a padded cushion for comfort.

As with most flip-front helmets there are two vents, one on the chin-bar and one on the top. These provide adequate ventilation although a rear exhaust would improve air flow. The chin-bar is released by a central catch and can be folded away to the rear of the helmet where it locks into place.

It conforms to the aerodynamic shape of the lid so you get a fully open-face helmet without any drag effects. The visor needs to be in the open position to facilitate the opening or closing of the chin-bar.

The visor is sturdy with good optical properties and anti-scratch and anti-fog treatments, although it rattles when riding with it open due to the opening mechanism only holding the bottom of the mounting point. The opening tab is at the top of the visor and takes some time to get used to.

The integral sun shield is deeper than some and is operated by a lever on the crown of the helmet.

In a line: Two quality helmets in one!

ABR RATING 9 out of 10

X-Lite X-1002 Elegance

£299

www.phoenixnw.co.uk

The evolution of flip-front helmets has come about through manufacturers listening to customers over ways to improve features and designs. The Nolan-owned X-Lite brand is no exception to this. The main feature most riders want is the integral sun shield, so X-Lite has listened and complied, but not entirely, as its designers have chosen to put the sun shield on the outside of the helmet. Why is unclear, but we’ll look at this in more detail later.

As the name suggests, X-Lite has made its helmets as light as possible and the X-1002 weighs in at around 1.69kg, making it one of the lighter lids on test. The shell is constructed from composite fibres and bonded to an EPS inner which combine to help absorb and distribute any impact shock.

The lining has a silk-like sheen making it smooth to put on or take off. Although reasonably comfortable, the padding is on the thin side. The lining and cheekpads are removable for cleaning, but machine washing is not recommended. The chin-strap fastening is of the micro-ratchet type and has plenty of adjustment. The operation of the strap is simple, and once in use, the system appears very secure and comfortable.

The vents on the X-1002 work well and are situated like others on the chinbar for demisting the visor and on the crown for allowing cool air to circulate around the rider’s head.

The chin-bar is as solid as the rest of the helmet and has two release catches either side. The left one, however, operates both, so I’m not too sure why X-Lite has bothered with both catches.

The visor is sturdy and it comes with a Pinlock insert for anti-misting qualities. The external sun shield works and is easily removed. When fully down, the edge is just below the wearer’s eye-line. If the visor or the front of the helmet is lifted then the sun shield retracts. On the test ride at motorway speeds on a blustery day, the sun shield kept coming down across the visor, which I didn’t want, and when it was down the wind noise increased quite significantly, but at normal road speeds it was fine.

In a line: Light and reasonably quiet, but that sun shield needs to be inside, please!

ABR RATING 7 out of 10

Lazer Monaco SRP

£324.95

www.lazerhelmets.com

Belgian company Lazer has recently released the Monaco flip-front helmet which comes in Pure Carbon or Pure Glass. The Monaco has a double homologation so can be worn as a full-face or jet-style helmet with the chin-bar fully retracted over the back of the head. As if that wasn’t enough to pique our interest, Lazer is also the first manufacturer (that I’m aware of ) to offer a full photochromic visor fitted as standard. The Monaco also comes fully wired to take the Lazer Bluetooth system.

We were fortunate to test the pure carbon version, so naturally, the first thing you notice is the weight, and at just 1.35kg it’s uber light.

Full high-tech carbon fibres compose the shell of the lid, making it very strong. This is then bonded to an EPS inner which absorbs and distributes any impact forces in the event of a spill.

The liner is made from Dri-Lex with antimicrobial treatment and is designed to be extra comfortable. The lining and ergonomic 3D cheek-pads are fully removable and washable; I certainly found this lid snug and quiet.

The chin-strap is a micrometricratchet style with a pull tab so the buckle can be released using one hand and has plenty of adjustment. The strap curtain isn’t too bulky but covers the whole mechanism, which prevents cha. ng. The chin-and brow-vents work well and allow a good volume of cooling air to enter; three exhaust vents also help to pull that air through the helmet to help keep you cool.

The chin-bar section doesn’t have the carbon fibre finish that the main shell bears and I suspect it’s made from a different material, but it appears strong and well made. The central release button is easy to operate and the opening mechanism is smooth. One drawback is that when the chin-bar is retracted into the jet-style it doesn’t lock into place. You will certainly notice the extra weight on your neck.

The Lumino photochromic visor is sturdy and seals well. It also incorporates a Pinlock anti-misting insert to complete the deal. The reaction time is 20-30 seconds and the tint is dark, but still legal.

In a line: Light and quiet with a photochromic visor, what else do you need?

ABR RATING 8 out of 10

BMW System 6 ECE

From £395

www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk

The first time I used a BMW System helmet was quite a few years ago. It was a System 2 and I didn’t like it. I found it heavy and uncomfortable,(I still have it in the loft somewhere!) but helmet development has come a long, long way since then. How times have changed! The latest System 6 is a different beast altogether.

It’s a lot lighter at around 1.7kg and a very snug fit, just two of the many improvements I noted straight away.

The shell is made from several layers of glass-fibre reinforced plastic (GRP) with reinforced layers in specific stress areas such as around the sun visor. The shell is bonded to an EPS and EPP (expanded polypropylene) inner with different densities for optimum impact shock absorption. The lining is completely removable and made from moisture-transporting material, so any perspiration should be wicked away. When required, the lining can be washed as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

The chin-strap is a fully adjustable micro-ratchet fastener with a thin chin curtain, which stops any chaffing if used without a neck tube.

The air vents are situated on the chin-bar and on the crown, and are very effective and quick to operate.

The flip-front section is easily operated by the centrally located release catch and has a smooth action to raise and lower it. When securing the chin-bar, the lock catches have a very positive feel to them and connect well. It comes with a removable chin-cuff to reduce draughts and wind noise.

The visor is sturdy, has six detents on the mechanism and is easily removed for changing or cleaning. There are opening tabs on either side which can be found and used even with winter gloves on. It also comes with a Pinlock system for mist-free riding.

The integral sun visor is good and easily removable. Its operating lever is on the lower left edge of the helmet. Years of constant development have made this lid far and away a better package than its predecessor lurking in my attic. Consider me a convert.

In a line: Not just for BMW owners, but used by many!

ABR RATING 8 out of 10

Schuberth C3 SRP From

£469.99

www.tranam.co.uk

German helmet manufacturer Schuberth rates the C3 as one of the lightest and quietest flip-front helmets on the market today. I can concur that it’s certainly quiet (more on that later) and at around 1.7kg it ‘s indeed one of the lightest.

The outer shell consists of a special glass fibre reinforced duroplastic matrix which has been developed by Schuberth. This gives a high level of strength and is bonded to an inner shell made up of complex multi-segment foam padding which helps absorb and distribute the force of an impact.

The removable lining is very plush and makes the helmet very comfortable indeed. The lining is predominately made from a Coolmax material which has antibacterial as well as moisture-transferring properties, but should only be cleaned by hand with a mild detergent and lukewarm water, so if heavily soiled it will need to be replaced.

The chin-strap has a chunky padded cushion and is quite bulky, especially when worn with a winter jacket and neck warmer. The strap buckle is the micro-ratchet system which has a quick and easy operation.

The chin-and head-vents are quick to operate and are very effective. The flip-front section is opened by the centrally situated release catch and is accessible even with a gloved hand. To close and secure, the front needs a firm push. This may need both hands and should only be done when stationary!

The visor is sturdy and fits well with several detents on the ratchet. The ‘city’ opening is very useful as it allows the visor to be cracked open a couple of millimetres to aid ventilation. It does need to be closed firmly once on the move though otherwise the noise level is a lot higher. The visor’s optical properties are excellent and it also comes with its own Pinlock system for mist-free riding. The integral sun shield, which is operated via a lever on the lower left edge of the helmet, has a smooth action and is deep enough not to be in the rider’s eye line when it’s down.

In a line: It’s very quiet, it’s comfortable, everything works efficiently, but the Schuberth C3 is expensive

ABR RATING 8 out of 10

Shoei Neotec

£470

www.feridax.com

Eagerly awaited by Shoei fans the world over, the Neotec has finally landed. Having listened to its customers who wanted an integral sun shield added to the Multi-tech, Shoei went one step further and built a completely new helmet which incorporates the sun shield without compromising on safety. A lot of research and development has gone into the Neotec, and there are a few other new features added as well.

The shell is constructed from five-ply AIM multi-composite fibres which ensure high strength with a light weight of under 1.7kg. This is bonded to a full-density EPS inner which hasn’t been reduced at the front to house the sun shield because the shell has been reshaped, so no weaknesses there!

The very sumptuously padded lining is covered by a quick-drying wicking material. The centre pad and cheek-pads are removable and washable.

The chin-strap fastening is of the micro-ratchet style, and all the components are made from 100 percent stainless steel, which is a first in my book! It has plenty of adjustment and is very easy to operate, too.

Shoei has redesigned the ventilation system and claims its new ‘vortex generators’ offer 276 percent improved ventilation. They certainly do power the air through the helmet and give ample cooling; however I found the chin/visor vent to be particularly noisy when open.

The chin-bar is operated by a central release catch with the action being smooth and the locking mechanism is very positive. It has a removable chin-cuff and breath deflector.

The visor is moulded well to the shape of the helmet and offers good peripheral vision. It seals well around the aperture, so well in fact you can feel the vacuum seal when closing it on the move when the vents are closed. It does come with a Pinlock insert.

The new anti-scratch and anti-fog integral sun shield is nice and deep with enough room to allow for spectacles. It’s operated by a small slide lever on the left-hand side of the helmet but, as you’d expect, it can be done with gloves on.

In a line: Well done Shoei, no doubt this will be another bestseller

ABR RATING 9 out of 10