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Dainese Ergon Helmet
If The Devil Wore Leathers - He'd Buy This Helmet
Most people would acknowledge that Arai and Shoei are top dogs in the motorcycle helmet market. With lids that set the standard for comfort, durability, quality of finish and style, you have to ask yourself: Is there room in the rarefied atmosphere of 400 dollar helmets for another manufacturer? Well, now there's a new kid on the block muscling in on the act. So confident they are of their product that you won't find their name anywhere on the helmet. Graced by perhaps the most instantly recognized logo in motorcycle racing, no letters are needed to identify this helmet as belonging to the Dainese stable of motorcycle clothing.
Dainese has been in the racing business for more than 20 years, although you'd be hard pressed to know it looking at the GP photos of the '70s. There was some fairly inconspicuous lettering along the legs of a few sponsored riders, but nothing that really caught the eye. Suddenly in 1983, a young American began winning GPs, and he carried this giant devil's head logo the width of the back of his leathers. Freddie Spencer and Dainese had made their mark. Since then Dainese has combined unique style and strength into their leather suits, making great progress in the application of body armor to provide protection against crash injury.
Well, now there's a new kid on the block muscling in on the act.
Having since added boots and gloves to their clothing line, Dainese is now moving into helmets with the Ergon series. There are three noteworthy characteristics of the new model: weight, noise and styling. Lack of the first two, plenty of the third.
A critical component of the comfort and safety of a helmet lies in its weight. The application of new composite materials in the last few years has resulted in a significant reduction in helmet mass in comparison to traditional fiberglass and polycarbonate shells. The Ergon uses carbon/kevlar composite fibers in the woven shell of the helmet that is laminated outside of the mold. This unique process is claimed to increase strength and reduce weight, the best of both worlds in helmet design. At 1,230 grams, this is one of the lightest helmets on the market. Construction is carried out for Dainese by a company in Taiwan that also supplies the aerospace industry, so their process has a pedigree. The velvet lining, cheek pads and visor system are manufactured and assembled in Italy.
Some clever design has gone into the helmet, intended to improve both aerodynamics and reduction of wind noise. A unique venturi system, used to ventilate the helmet, operates via small plastic flaps on the visor pivot plates that slide open to reveal holes leading into the helmet's core. Wind passing over these open flaps will produce a venturi effect that sucks cool air through the helmet.
The Ergon can be worn for long journeys without earplugs, something that could not be done with the Arai.
A couple months of mouth puckering are required before the Ergon's snug cheek pads mold to the contours of the face, but provide an excellent fit once broken in. A separate nose shield is supplied to direct breath away from the visor and is essential equipment, as the helmet tends to fog very easily. There is a two-position clip on the lower jaw of the helmet that can prop open the visor for some fresh air, but it is not totally effective and is difficult to find with a gloved hand. This seems to be the single flaw with an otherwise excellent design.
The Ergon's graphics are simply stunning, as can be expected when coming from Drudi, king of the airbrush. Drudi has been designing graphics for top world riders for the last five years. He was commissioned by Dainese to create the Belzebu line found on the helmet and other Dainese clothes. With the coils of a barbed, forked tail switching back and forth, the slightly sinister image of Dainese's devil logo is reinforced to create an air of mild menace. Worn with a black visor, you find automobile drivers pulling over as soon as you fill the rear view mirror. Magic.
The Ergon Belzebu is available in Black, Yellow and White. Those looking for less attention can choose out of a range of plain and metallic solid colors. There is also a more abstract graphic design called Rock, which emblazons Dainese's name over the crown of the helmet.
Dainese has created a helmet that combines innovative design with the latest technology and finishes the package off with head-turning graphics. How can they fail, even if the helmet does cost 400 dollars?
Motorcycle Online Rating: ****
The Dainese Ergon Helmet is currently available only in Europe, Australia and Canada.