Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Baffling Dual Sport Helmet Part 2

I've already taken a run at the design of dual sport helmets, but I've since seen a couple of other things that make me wonder why people cling to the MX derived big-bill look.  That giant visor seems intent on injuring you in an off, and I'm not willing to have my head pulled off just to look like an MX racer.

Online you quickly find a lot of conflicting advice about dual sport helmets along with some good insight:  

"All the street comfort in the world won't please you when you get to a dusty trail, you're hot, and your lid is a cramped, dust-filled mess and you're breathing hard and hot into your chin bar."

Ventilation seems to be at the heart of the big-chin bar in dual sport helmets, but you pay a price in aerodynamics.  The chin-bar I get, but I'm still baffled by the visor.

Arai recently came out with a new version of their street helmet and they go to great pains explaining how a smoother shell is less likely to catch on obstructions if you come off at speed.  Of course, there are a hell of a lot more obstructions if you come off at speed off road, but that doesn't seem to factor into dual sport helmet thinking.

Sure, visors keep the sun out of your eyes, but
 a good pair of goggles does a better job, so why
risk safety for mediocre sun protection?  You can
remove the visor and make your dual sport helmet
safe, though you won't look like a motocross star.
What do massive visors do?  They create a huge projection aimed in the direction you're going that begs to pull your head off in a crash at anything over walking speeds.

Back in the day when goggles didn't have the benefit of modern reactive lenses and toughness perhaps a giant bill was all you had to keep the sun out of your eyes, but this was, at best, a partial measure.  It resulted in you experiencing huge swings in brightness from sun in your eyes to shade over and over again.

We're well into the 21st Century now and lens technology has come a long way.  You hardly need a giant beak to keep the sun from blinding you any more, and a reactive lens offers you the benefit of less eye strain between shadows and blinding sunlight.

I got a free pair of cool looking steam-punk goggles with a helmet this year and was virtually blind in them when trying to ride in the sun, they were a disaster.  A careful shopping trip later I had a pair of goggles that allow me to ride in direct sunlight with zero distortion, no squint and excellent viewing in the shade as well, they even work well at night.  When wearing these goggles a bill is only a dangerous projection, it serves no function.

I was watching the Dakar Rally this year when this happened:

You have to wonder what it felt like when his face bounced off the road and tore that visor half off.  Arai's logic with their new R75 makes a lot of sense after seeing that, yet everyone on a dual sport or adventure bike wants to look like Charlie & Ewan, and so big billed dual sport helmets keep happening.

I'd love to see a leading helmet company like Arai offer the same kind of minimal projection/safety and aerodynamic benefit they talk about in the R75 in a well ventilated, dual sport ready lid, but form seems to come before function in the image conscious world of adventure motorcycling.

Duckbills everywhere...