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angusgreene 15 Nov 2012 05:56

Helmet Choices
Hi All,
This is my first post on here, so bear with me! My father and I are doing a trip from Melbourne to South Africa via Asia and Europe next year, and we're just starting to get around to beginning the long road of purchasing.
My background is in dirtbikes and I rode them while growing up, so I've only ever really worn motocross helmets before.
I'm just seeking advice in terms of helmet choice. In particular, I'm curious as to what style of helmet would be most appropriate. We'll be riding through a lot of different environments and climates, and will probably be incorporating a com system. I can see that it's pretty much a choice between the 'Enduro Style' and the traditional full-face style of helmet.
I was wondering if someone could provide some insight as to what would be the more suitable of the two styles for this type of trip, or whether it just comes down to personal preference?
Thanks in advance,

*Touring Ted* 15 Nov 2012 08:06

The Arai Tour-X4 is probably up there as one of the best travel helmets.

I ain't cheap though. If that's too expensive look for something similar.

A peak is really nice to have on sunny days (you'll have a lot of those)
A pinlock visor is great when it rains all day (You'll have a lot of those)
You want a lightweight lid on a long trip. Helps to reduce fatigue.
Removable washable liner (You're gonna stink)
Reputable brand..

The tour-x4 ticks all these boxes. I have the original X1 and used it in all continents over the last 8 years.... It's battered now but still holding up.. I dream of replacing it with an X4

You can get the X-3 model cheaper now the X4 is out and it is still an incredibly good helmet.

brclarke 15 Nov 2012 18:40


Originally Posted by angusgreene
My father and I are doing a trip from Melbourne to South Africa via Asia and Europe next year ... I'm just seeking advice in terms of helmet choice.

When Ted Simon rode his first trip around the world in the mid-1970s, he wore an open face 3/4 helmet so that when he rode into some obscure village, people would immediately see his face and treat him like a human being rather than an unknown stranger. I believe that when he did his second trip a few years ago, he had changed his mind and wore a full-face for better weather protection.

I would say just go to the local moto shop and try on a wide variety of helmets. See what works best for you; helmets are a very personal fit, and what one person likes another might hate.

Helmets vary from about $150 for a budget no-name full-face to well over $1000 for a top-of-the-line Arai. My opinion is that as long as it meets safety standards, one full-face helmet is going to do as good a job in a crash as another. The extra money goes for more comfortable materials for the liner, better venting, higher quality optical plastic for the visor, etc.

If you are going to be riding several hours per day for months, you probably want to spend a bit more and get a helmet you will really be happy with. On the other hand, helmets can be and do get stolen, so I wouldn't recommend breaking the bank to get one either.

Fantastic Mister Fox 15 Nov 2012 20:26

With many things in the adventure world it's up to the individual rider, the most important thing is fit then it's up to personal preference.

For our trip next year we chose the Nolan N43 Air (or Trilogy depending on where you live). Because it offers the protection of a full face for main roads and big cities but in the back o beyond we can put the chin bar in our luggage and where it like a traditional trials helmet.

oldbmw 15 Nov 2012 23:40

For me a peak is essential. I like to have a visor also. and I wear spectacles. Never yet found a helmet with all of those features but still looking. I do have a full screen fitted to the bike that really helps.

dash 16 Nov 2012 09:50

I've probably done over 10,000 miles in my enduro/MX lid and goggles. Not ideal for doing motorway speeds in the rain (although a Buff/scarf/etc over your face helps), but you can get used to it. Much nicer than a normal full face if you're anywhere warm because you don't have to compromise eye protection to get ventilation.

I've never been a fan of the adventure/dualsport type halfway-house lids because they strike me as 'worst of both worlds'. Peak to pull your head off at high speed, and a visor you have to open if it's hot or you're breathing heavily on difficult ground.

(I've also inadvertently caused someone to crash while trail riding because he was riding with the visor up when I overtook him through a rather large puddle. I had goggles on, and forgot he didn't)

There's also the fact that I've been racing the last few years, so had to buy a proper off-road lid anyway - a DS lid would have been an extra, rather than a substitute.

That said, I've not entirely ruled getting one for my US trip next year. The problem there is it's a trip of two halves - the first being the full length of the TAT, the second being a more tarmac based sightseeing jaunt where a visor might be nice.

Can anyone recommend a dualsport type lid which you can wear with goggles for extended off-tarmac sections?

I'm actually also seriously considering a Roof Boxer. They have a reputation for being well vented to the point of draughtiness, so might be fine for gravel roads with the visor down, then use as an open face through the really slow sweaty bits. The latest one is apparently actually tested as a full-face, and you get the benefits of an open face for talking to people, using cameras, etc.

chris 16 Nov 2012 10:35


Originally Posted by dash (Post 400623)
Can anyone recommend a dualsport type lid which you can wear with goggles for extended off-tarmac sections?

You can wear googles with all helmets. Just remove the visor. I've seen people with TourX (Arai) and Hornet (Shoei) helmets do this.

You can store it in your tankbag. FWIW, when touring I keep a spare visor in my tankbag inside a sock.

dash 16 Nov 2012 10:41

I should have added "without removing the visor, just lifting it up".

Not necessarily ruling out doing it your way, but seems like a bit of a PITA (and I don't use a tankbag ;))

Just as well the NEC bike show is coming up. I'll be trying on a lot of helmets.

Genghis9021 16 Nov 2012 11:05

I think Ted Simon was on to something
I used recently an HJC open visor. It lacked the desirable peak and obviously has no chin bar but . . . the ability for locals to see your face is quite a positive.

The Arai XD mentioned previously is a fantastic helmet.

Bigfoot 2 16 Nov 2012 13:08

Someone said, fairly recently - with reference to trailbike-riders, I think in RiDE magazine - that trailbikers are afforded a connection with their environment, using wide-view helmets and goggles, that the rest of us [visored road-helmet-users] can only dream of. Something along those lines, anyway.

Personally, I've always preferred a motocross helmet and goggles for both longer and shorter range jaunts. If, however, there's the threat of rain, I would certainly be using a visored helmet. Obviously, you can be quite confident (or not) of a non-rainy few days on the bike, but traversing long distances and multiple climates as you are planning, you can't accurately forcast the conditions for the whole trip, so play it safe.

It may come across as a bit namby-pamby, but I do not like to have rain beating my bare chops at 70mph - no, sir! Strangely, drizzle seems to feel even worse than the bigger stuff and gets uncomfortable very quickly, like tiny pin-pricks over the exposed parts of your face. As for sleet... Well, I'm sure you already know. Goggles are also nastier than a visor in rain or sleet.

The aforementioned Arai Tour-X would be a good purchase, from my own experience. Once you get used to the buttons and levers they are fairly flexible and quite well vented (for a closed-face helmet), and I believe the Tour-X4 has a visor-vent as well (although they're still expensive).

Ensure you get a Pinlock insert for your visor. I could not believe how effective this was as an anti-mist device, presuming it to give probably a 75%(-ish) reduction: so far, it has been total/100%. My Tour-X3 came with one of these, but I don't think previous Tour-X model did. The original Tour-X definitely did not but the Tour-X3 Pinlock-ready visors fit the original model (and, thus, presumably the Tour-X2 as well).

Of course, all this Arai recommendation is useless if the helmet does not fit the shape of your head - or your dad's, of course (I don't know how exact a 'chip off the old block' you are). Mine obviously is, because the Tour-X fits nicely, whereas the X-Lite (Nolan), AGV and Shoei equivalents just don't seem to work, on my bonce.

Some would recommend a flip-face helmet, but I have no experience of these at all, so cannot compare. I do know that they are heavy, though - heavier than a 'dual-sport' (DS) type, and would generally give a smaller field of vision than a DS helmet when closed (much like a full-face road helmet, of course).

DS helmet pros: weather protection (visor and [usually] closeable venting), peak shields against low sun, large field of vision, convertible from visor to goggles (but not whilst riding), reasonable space between nose/mouth and chinbar, less availability of models (although quite a few cropping up).
DS helmet cons: a little heavier than normal closed-face helmet, peak on some designs can drag in wind, converting to/from goggles is a PITA!

Of course, I'm not sure what speeds you're intending to do on what bikes on what terrain - it doesn't sound like you'll be doing mainly high-speed on Kwak 1400s or something, but DS lids probably wouldn't be the way to go for that.

Best of luck, whatever you decide - hope to hear more from you both before you set off.

duibhceK 16 Nov 2012 13:29


Originally Posted by dash (Post 400632)
I should have added "without removing the visor, just lifting it up".

It works on an Airoh S4. And I have seen people with Arai Tour X use goggles without removing the visor, but have no experience with that helmet myself.
I X-Lite 551 might also work with goggles.

Most of the time I just wear well-fitting safety specs and prefer them to goggles. On long distances or when colder I can still close the visor.

I am now considering a Shubert J1 open face helmet with chin protection and sun Visor.

angusgreene 16 Nov 2012 21:10

Thankyou everybody for the breadth of responses! This is a fantastic forum.
Given the nature of the trip that we'll be doing (being on the bike most days for the best part of a year), it's going to be important to get something that has a comfortable fit. The Arai definitely sounds very well regarded, so I will endeavour to try one on during the selection process. I have heard that noise becomes a bit of a factor in this helmet, but I'm assuming that this is something that can be helped with a good set of earplugs/in-ear canal headphones?
Don't worry, you'll be hearing plenty more from us in the next few months, leading up to departure (and possibly post-departure!).

Alexlebrit 16 Nov 2012 23:29

There seem to be more and more dual-sport helmets on the market a I'm see you'll find one that fits your head. I've been using a Marushin X-Moto fit the last 18 months and love it for its versatility, and I can confirm that you can wear googles with the visor still attached. You can also take the peak off and have a slightly odd looking full-face.

I'm now considering swapping for an Acerbis Active/Duchinni D311/Wulfsport (they all appear to be the same lid even though they're priced very differently) because they have all the normal dual-sport features plus a drop-down inner sun-visor.

Threewheelbonnie 17 Nov 2012 11:09


Originally Posted by dash (Post 400623)
I'm actually also seriously considering a Roof Boxer. ....

I had one for 2 years and would say to avoid. It's just an open face scooter helmet with a poorly fitting lump of cosmetic plastic nailed on the front. The bendy plastic and poppers used to retain the chin piece dropped off in no time so in a crash they'd do the same. No more protection than any open face.

I like my open face and aircraft goggles for summer road rides, have used a MX lid when riding more than 20% off road and now have a Fly Trekker that I am getting on well with. The visor on this is cut back so goggle straps don't foul. No need muck about with screws before you switch to goggles, but it is as noisy as a MX lid.


Bigfoot 2 17 Nov 2012 13:26

Sorry, Angus - forgot to mention the noise. I only tend to wear dual-sport or mx/enduro helmets so, in my mind, the Arai dual-sport is actually 'the quieter one'.

Dual-sport helmets are certainly noisier than the quieter road helmets, and the Arai Tour-X seems to be one of the noisier dual-sport helmets. Noise is, however, dependent upon the fit of the helmet around your head and ears, and the characteristics of your hearing spectrum, so one man's quieter helmet model can be another's noisier helmet. Obviously, some helmets are 'just noisier' (for most), though, and I've used the Motard version of the original Tour-X (the best-ventilated but probably the noisier variation of the noisiest version of Tour-X) and the Tour-X3 and, whilst the '3' is reputed to be significantly quieter than the original, I have found them both to be about as noisy, but with the noisy frequencies differently-spread. I've briefly tried the Wulfsport Prima Speed and I think it might be a little quieter and with definitely less peak-lift (for me, anyway - a no-screen rider). Despite being a fantastic lid for the £50 I paid, it's not nearly as good a helmet as the Tour-X (original or 'X3).

You should always use decent earplugs, I'd say 'out of town' (i.e. over 30mph or so) anyway. I would wear them even for 'urban' riding, but some would regard that as 'excessive'. You might have to consider options for attenuating wind-noise whilst allowing for comms between you and your dad ("will probably be incorporating a com system"). I've never used such a product, but others here will surely be able to advise. Look for existing material on the HUBB and/or post a specific question when the time's right - NOT in (ahem!) "Camping Equipment", though.


Originally Posted by angusgreene (Post 400698)
The Arai definitely sounds very well regarded, so I will endeavour to try one on during the selection process. I have heard that noise becomes a bit of a factor in this helmet, but I'm assuming that this is something that can be helped with a good set of earplugs/in-ear canal headphones?

P.S. Correct parlance for Arai's Tour-X is "tour-cross", not "tour-ex". (Just so the dealer doesn't take the Mick - as I heard at a bike show).

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