BEST SCOOTER HELMETS
Shark EvoOne Flip-up Helmet
As this writer prefers scooters to motorbikes and rarely travels beyond London’s M25 motorway, I much prefer helmets of the open-faced variety. However, I am mindful of the dangers when riding with an unprotected face. In most instances I would like to think my reactions will cause me to get the face out of the way on any impacts. However, given that one of the most common accident causes is rear ending (easy to do when a car suddenly brakes while you’re performing a sideways ‘life saver’ glance), I set out to seek the perfect two-way solution – a converting flip-front helmet – and I’ve found it in this superb modular model from Shark.
Let’s look at the sizing first. Now, I’m a skinny little fella with a pretty small and narrow head (around 56cm) so I first figured the Small would do the trick. However, the lovely marketing lady at Shark suggested a Medium instead. The helmet arrived promptly (I ordered the simple white model for extra visibility) and I’m thrilled to say it fits perfectly. Indeed, next to the excellent Hedon and Shark Skwal reviewed below, it’s one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever tested. Granted, it’s easier to put on and take off when in open-face mode (the head portal is really small) but once on it’s really cosy and snug fitting, with plenty of space around the ears for fitting Shark’s exceptional Sharktooth Bluetooth communications system.
It has to said that the deep cheek padding does push against cheeks, creating a sort of permanent pout. This is an excellent safety feature but those with rounder faces may find the padding a little too uncomfortable for longer rides. Another reviewer also pointed this out and his solution was to remove the cheek padding altogether; inadvisable in my humble opinion.
Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. When unlatched, the chin guard on the vast majority of flip front helmets sits above the forehead. This not only looks ugly and cumbersome but it’s also an aerodynamic disaster. You might not notice it at speeds less than 20mph but once you hit 30mph and above you can really feel the helmet pulling back on the chin strap. By contrast, the EvoOne’s chin guard unclips and folds all the way back to nestle perfectly against the rear of the helmet. Out of sight, out of mind and out of the wind.
It’s an ingenious design in all respects. To articulate the chin guard you undo the thumb latch, pull the guard out a few centimetres and flip it all the way back. Closing it is a bit more fiddly and involves wedging a finger under the guard, pulling outwards and flipping it over before firmly locking it into place. I wouldn’t advise doing this while riding, mind, since it takes two hands to do it efficiently. However, once mastered, the helmet changes from full face to open face and back again in seconds.
The EvoOne comes with two visors: a clear outer one that blocks out the elements completely in full-face mode and an internal flip-down sun visor that’s activated by a sliding lever situated on top of the helmet. Rather ingeniously, both visors can be used whether the helmet’s open or closed. Shark also provides a free Pinlock anti-mist insert for inclement weather and winter riding.
The EvoOne is E22/05 rated for European use and available in seventeen different colour schemes so chances are you’ll easily find one to suit your style. I personally like the simple white model as reviewed here though the black mat one looks pretty damn cool, too. If you’re in the market for a practical two-way solution that looks amazing, fits like the proverbial glove and doesn’t feel heavy on the head, then make this model your first port of call. It’s a stunner whichever way you look at it.
While arranging a review sample of the Shark EvoOne, I was advised to take a look at the new Skwal model as well. Glad I did. Although this helmet is of the full-face variety it’s got one especially tantalising safety facet that any gadget fan will jump at: LED lighting! When riding at night you want to be as visible as possible. Obviously high-visibility clothing is a priority in this respect but you’d do well to ramp up the safety by also sticking this gorgeous helmet on your bonce. Why no other manufacturer has thought of equipping their helmets with LED lighting is a complete mystery.
The Skwal comes with four lime green LED strips, two on the front (one on top the other at nose height) and two side-by-side strips on the top rear. To activate static lights simply press once on the button beneath the neck of the helmet and to make the LEDs blink, press the button twice. You might think these LEDs aren’t especially bright when looked at in daylight but they really do shine brightly when darkness descends. They’re certainly very noticeable by other road users. The battery that powers these LEDs is tucked away in the neck area and is rechargeable via micro USB. Expect around 15 hours of light up time on a single charge.
Fit wise, this helmet is exactly the same as the EvoOne – perfect, in other words. The cheek pads press a little less firmly than the EvoOne but you will need to pull the neck straps outwards to get your head into the small opening. Once on, it’s comfort all the way. The exterior visor cuts out all wind and, again, a Pinlock anti-mist insert is provided free of charge. The integral sun visor, meanwhile, slides down to cover the entire area above the nose.
The Skwal is available in 27 different colour schemes. We chose the imposing mat black version partly to illustrate the LEDs for our forthcoming video review. The helmet market is saturated with full-face models but for our money this stylish, well-specced model offers excellent value. It’s exceedingly comfy, very well made and meets all European safety standards. But those LEDs are the real clincher. Highly recommended.
If you’re looking for a flip-up helmet but can’t afford the all-conquering Shark EvoOne then perhaps consider this keenly-priced model from bike accessory specialist Held. The Travel-Champ is of conventional flip-up design so the chin guard when open rests above the forehead. The same applies to the main visor which unfortunately can’t be used when the helmet’s in open mode. Thankfully, you don’t really notice the clumpy looking chin section hovering above the eye line while wearing it but, well, let’s just say that it’s best not to look in the mirror.
The Travel-Champ also comes with a flip down sun visor which can at least be used whether the helmet’s open or closed. However, it does take a while to locate the spring-loaded activating tab. One major plus with this helmet is that you can very easily change it from open to closed and vice versa with one hand while riding. This makes the helmet very practical for popping into shops etc.
As you’ve doubtless gathered, we’re not big fans of flip-up helmets like this but we can certainly see their appeal for urban use. This particular model is very comfortable, built to European standards and is perfectly practical for post code crossing. But for our money the Shark EvoOne is de rigueur for a helmet of this nature.
Our hunt for the perfect open face scooter and cruiser helmet stops right here. Hedon is a London-based helmet company that specialises in the design and manufacture of trendsetting open faced helmets that scream style and quality. The beguiling teal-coloured Epicurist model on test is an absolute stunner in every respect. Impeccable attention to detail is evident throughout, even down to the packaging. The shell itself is handcrafted from composite fiberglass and carbon fibre and sized according to the actual helmet size so you don’t get a shell that looks too big and bulbous for your body size; other manufacturers simply take one of just a small handful of differently sized pre-cast shells and pad out the interior to fit the individual’s head dimensions. The shell is then hand polished to an immaculate sheen, painted in a multitude of gorgeous colours (17 in all) and finished with top-quality brass hardware. Seriously, we can’t overemphasise just how amazing the finish is on these helmets. There is nothing else like them on the market.
Inside it’s an equally striking scene of impeccable craftsmanship: a combination of supple calf leather and Merlin anti-bacterial fabric that feels amazingly soft and supremely comfortable against the skin and around the head. This helmet really does fit like the proverbial glove. Just be sure your head circumference has been measured correctly (we’d advise getting someone else to do it for you or you might under/overestimate your dimensions). The Epicurist is also one of the quietest helmets we’ve ever worn. Not dangerously so (you can still hear traffic around you) but so much quieter than the majority of other open face brands. It’s extremely light, too.
Don’t for a minute think this helmet is all form over function. Far from it. All Hedon helmets are ECE 22.05 certified for safety so rest assured your bonce will be well protected in the event of a mishap. The Epicurist comes with a swivelled visor that is easy to raise and lower on the move. It’s quite a breezy visor, mind, so winter riding could be a bit chilly on the face. However, come summer you’ll appreciate that extra ventilation.
Hedon helmets are designed with the classic biker or scooterist in mind. Understandably, it will almost certainly look out of place on a blinged-up Kawasaki Ninja. But straddle your Harley or Vespa with this on your melon and you’ll feel like you’ve arrived before you’ve even fired up the cylinders. Hedon motorcycle helmets come in five different sizes (XS to XL) and two distinct designs: The Hedonist, which is reminiscent of the classic studded Bell helmet; and the Epicurist on review here. We admit, we’re indisputably smitten.
At a smidge under £100, the peculiarly-named but undeniably stylish Demi-Jet El’Mettin represents great value for money. Reassuringly, it’s ECE 22.05 approved for use in Europe and the UK. Made from polycarbonate and washable eco leather and polyester lining and available in five different sizes (from XS to XXL), the shell itself comes to just above the ears, which means it’ll fit any shape of head. It also comes with two visors – a clear, scratch-resistant full-face visor for general use and a handy pull-down, half-visor for bright sunshine – and a comfy chin strap with micrometric clasp for effortless unfastening. The El’Mettin is available in four colours (red, white, teal and grey) and ticks all the boxes for the urban scooterist on a tight budget.
Tucano Urbano Matt Demi-Jet Helmet El’Mettin
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Make like a fighter pilot and stick this angular shell on your bonce. The Givi 12.3 Stratos is made from tough thermosplastic materials and comes with a clear, full-face, anti-scratch visor and an internal, tinted flip-down sun visor that is activated and deactivated via a plastic lever on the side of the helmet. Other cool features include a quick release micrometric strap clasp, a removable and washable hypo-allergenic interior and twin air vents for keeping cool during the summer months.
The Stratos is perhaps best suited to those with a more rounded skull since skinny-headed riders may find there’s a finger width’s free space between one’s cheeks and the helmet’s sides. Those who use Bluetooth communication systems, on the other, hand will benefit from the extra space between the ears and the helmet’s interior. The Stratos feels comfortable on the head though it does make the rider look a bit like a Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger. Still, there’s no denying the practicality of having an instant sun visor at your fingertips – wahey, no more stopping to slip on a pair of shades. The 12.3 Stratos is available in six sizes from XS to 2XL and five colours, including gun metal matt.
Givi 12.3 Stratos
The Scorpion’s classic half-cut design and faux leather ear cups are reminiscent of the 1970s ‘CHiPs’ TV show. Indeed this is arguably the most genuine looking LA cop-style helmet currently on the market, and especially in the colour cream. The Exo-100 comes with a pull-down retractable sun shield and a micrometric strap buckle for prompt fastening and unfastening. ECE 22.05 certified and made from advanced polycarbonate, the Exo-100 Padova is a very decent helmet for scooters and bad ass cruisers though its almost perfect roundness looks better on someone with a more rotund head. It’s cheap, too.