A big year for new helmet designs

Publish Date: 
Mar 20, 2013
By Beth Dolgner

EVERY YEAR AT Dealer Expo, at least one helmet company wows everyone (or tries to) with a radical new design or technology.

This year, a number of manufacturers got in on the act with debuts ranging from the rather modest to ingeniously bizarre. Before deciding what helmets have the perks your customers will want, you have to keep track of what everyone has to offer.

No one shook up traditional helmet design like Australia-based Voztec, which introduced the prototype Snakewind. The full-face helmet is hinged from the top, so the back of it swings open. Once the helmet is snapped shut, the rider is ready to go. The innovative design means the neck opening is smaller, and there is no need for a traditional chinstrap since the helmet itself curves under the chin.

Voztec’s design is good news for those who wear glasses when they ride, and getting a helmet off and on with gloves is no problem. But the better news, according to Voztec President Mark Bryant, is that, in the event of a crash or other emergency, the design allows the Snakewind to be removed without disturbing the rider’s neck. Voztec expects to have its helmets on the market by January 2014, with pricing ranging from $300 to $800.

H&H Sports Protection USA had a number of clever design features on its NiTEK helmets. The new Interceptor full-face helmet features a completely flush face shield, prompting the rest of us to ask, “Why didn’t anyone think of that sooner?” The trick is a spring-loaded cam system: Instead of the usual up and down movement of the shield, the spring pops the shield forward to it can be raised, and everything snaps back into place when it’s lowered.

Another NiTEK star at the H&H booth (frankly, the real stars were the cheeky Indy-edition helmets handed out to dealers) was the Diamond. It has the styling and function of a modular helmet; but quick-release buttons on the chin bar turn it into an open-face (see photo, above). Both versions utilize the same face shield and drop-down internal visor. Aerodynamics weren’t forgotten, either: The rear spoiler has exhaust vents that move as speed increases, changing the airflow over the helmet. Solid colors are available for $499 and graphics are $529.

NiTEK wasn’t the only company taking a different approach to half helmets. Bell Powersports — which arguably had some of the best new graphics at Dealer Expo  — was showing off the Rogue, a half-helmet shell with open-face styling. The Rogue is a bold choice designed to offer the cruiser crowd more protection without giving up style. A “comfort shroud” below the fiberglass shell extends the helmet’s coverage, including the EPS liner.

A detachable muzzle on the front, which gives the rider a fighter-pilot look, snaps in place for cold days or for keeping bugs out of teeth. Available colors are dark and mostly in a matte finish. It’s a new take on an old style, and Bell is hoping that riders will want the extra coverage for the $249.95 price tag. (Continued)