Biltwell Gringo Helmet Review

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So, I’ve received a lot of flak for my sardonically caustic “Top 10 Hipster Motorcycles” post, and I admit that I’m deserving of the heaps of scorn that have been tossed in my direction. Was it dated? Likely. Was it loathsome? Probably. Was it mean-spirited? Hell no! Just making fun of all my friends who wear trendy clothes and ride trendy machines. Heck, I’m one of ‘em – or, the closest to one the Motorcycle.com staff can boast, anyway. I love vintage motorcycles, and anything vintage, really (particularly shirts). Moreover, I’m from Brooklyn and own, like, two pairs of skinny-ish pants.

So it was in that spirit that I had to have Biltwell’s new Gringo helmet. Now, being the Cruiser Guy around here I generally detest full-face helmets – might as well be in a car, as far as I’m concerned – but when I saw the Gringo I knew I had to have it. Sure, it’s retro-cool, and looks like something Richard Petty or Don “The Snake” Prudhomme might’ve worn. But for me, its appeal struck deeper than that.

Jon Langston in Orange Helmet

Not only is it throwback-cool, with no vents or “extreme” graphics, but my new orange Gringo is eerily reminiscent of the lid I used to wear as a kid out at El Mirage in the 70s.

The drawback of truly vintage gear is that it doesn’t offer the same protection as contemporary gear. That’s why Biltwell gear is such a solid purchase. Despite the old-school aesthetic, Biltwell designs and manufactures modern products for today’s rider. This helmet, for example, features a seamless, injection-molded ABS outer shell, a shock-absorbing EPS inner shell and a removable, washable hand-stitched liner with open-cell foam and brushed Lycra construction.

The chinstrap features brushed Lycra on its touch points, as well as a D-ring fastener with a nifty adjustable snap retainer. To match the ventilated polyester panels inside the liner, the BioFoam padding inside the chin bar rocks a sweet, stitched diamond pattern with orange thread.

The Gringo is DOT-approved, of course, but it aesthetically eschews trendy vents and high-tech gizmos to conjure the spirit of a golden era of powersports, when names like Mert Lawwill and Kenny Roberts ruled the track. For example, check out the black rubber edging on the shell bottom and around the eye port. And those five snaps around the eye port? They’re ideal for an open-faced goggle experience or, better, a Biltwell bubble shield or flat flex screen, both of which are sold separately in an array of shades.

Biltwell Gringo Helmets

In addition to my pumpkinhead Orange version, the Gringo is available in gloss antique white, gloss black, flat black and matte titanium, in sizes extra small through double-XL.

I’ve been wearing the Gringo a lot, for both short jaunts and all-day runs, and couldn’t be more pleased with its comfort and performance, let alone its nostalgic and cool appearance. With an MSRP of $149.95, the Gringo is the perfect full-face helmet for the image- (and price-) conscious rider. Skinny jeans not included.

The Biltwell Gringo full-face helmet is available at better motorcycle retailers worldwide, or online at www.BiltwellInc.com.

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  • ‘Mike Smith

    Sorry, as a full-face helmet wearer, this has zero appeal to me. I might have it as a spare if someone gave it to me, but that’s about it.

  • Mattin11225

    How about more review info? How’s the ventilation? Riding around Brooklyn in the summer is mostly a stop and go affair. Does it get overly hot? Got any pictures of it next to other helmets for size and shape comparisons? How about with a bubble sheild, or even better a flat shield, as there don’t appear to be any pictures online anywhere.

    • Doc

      Ha ha since it doesn’t have vents, I’m guessing the ventilation is primarily from the big face-hole in the front!

  • MOEditorial

    I hear you, Mattin – we generally try to keep these reviews real short, but since you asked:

    I know about riding in Brooklyn, and the heat/sweat factor, particularly in sweltering summers. As Doc mentioned, most of the ventilation does come from the big eyeport – that is, in fact, why you see me wearing it sans shield and with just glasses underneath. I had the bubble shield on in the a.m., but eventually removed it for more ventilation. (At review time, Biltwell didn’t have a flat shield ready for the Gringo – probably why you couldn’t find any pics of it. They say it’s coming, and the multiple snaps all around certainly support that. I’d contact Biltwell directly via their website to see if those are available yet.)

    Conveniently, tho, the bottom opening seems unusually large in diameter — it fits snugly, but is a cinch to put on/take off) and short down the neck, allowing a lot of air to travel under the helmet up to your ears.

    Also, the padding on the chinbar is there, but minimal and thin, so a lot of that air that comes up from underneath goes onto your face.

    Bottom line: for just tooling round Kings County, I’d stick w/ an open face. But if you’re gonna hit the highway and want full-face protection, well… Look, I’ve tried a ton of full-face helmets and found, for the most part, those tiny vents on the top don’t do much good at all, esp when it’s super hot/humid and sweat’s running into my eyes.
    For me, the Gringo sure works as well as any of them. Plus, it’s way more comfortable — and for my money looks FAR better.

    Let me know if you have any other questions! This format is ideal for them, no?? JL

    • Mattin11225

      Awesome follow up. Thanks!! As soon as they are available in Md from Zilla or locally, I’m making the purchase based on that review.

  • highdesertslim

    I DON’T GET THE REVIEWER’S ADORATION. NO VENTILATION. SO, EITHER YOU’LL BE PERPETUALLY “HOT UNDER THE HELMET”, OR WHATEVER EYE COVERING YOU WEAR WILL BE FOGGIER THAN SAN FRANCISCO IN WINTER. OF COURSE, I KNOW THE MARKET FOR OLD SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY: HARLEY RIDERS. OF COURSE, A FULL-FACE ‘LID’ DOESN’T FIT THEIR “SAFETY’S FOR PUSSIES” MANTRA. AND YOU CAN GET PLENTY OF CLOSE-OUT LIDS (INCLUDING VEMARS MADE IN ITALY, NOT CHINA OR KOREA) FOR HALF AS MUCH. MY ONLY QUESTION RE.: PURCHASING A BILTWELL: “WHY”?

    • BorrowedSuits

      WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT US?!

    • MOEditorial

      What’s not to get?! For me, round and plain is far more attractive than loud graphics and swooping molds. Plus, the helmet is super-comfortable and the price is right. That’s all the “why” I need.
      And as I said to the other guy below, Slim – those tiny vents on the tops of a lot full-faces have never done me a damn bit of good, especially when humidity’s high — something, perhaps, a man from the “High Desert” can’t relate to ;) – JL

  • Courtney Hate

    I have the gringo – it’s 90 degrees in NYC and I do not feel too hot in it. The face hole is very wide and there’s no obstructed view. With the cheek padding removed as some people seem to do with these, the helmet still feels very solidly held in place and feels just as cool and even more windy compared to my old three-quarter helmet.