There are few things that MOrons love more than a good debate about helmets, and while I am firmly in the "everybody should and nobody should have to" camp when it comes to laws governing my noggin, there are less emotionally charged issues we can all chat about when it comes to headgear. For instance, if you really do have a $100 brain, is it a waste of money to splurge the extra $24.95 to get a Fulmer AFS 7? Does the M2R MR1 half-shell make me look more like The Great Kazoo, or Charley Chaplin? And lastly, given his propensity for falling off of everything from Segways, to bicycles, to Barcaloungers, should G Dubya invest in a Suomy Spec-1R Poggiali replica before we all end up calling Dick Cheney, "Mr. President"? Read along and then debate and discuss amongst yourselves.
Vemar VSX Sport Touring helmet
Italian-based Vemar has been producing helmets since 1986 but only recently is gaining a toe hold stateside. The VSX is designed with long distance comfort as its focus, and I can attest to its success in that area. It really is a cushy cap. Its lightweight Tricom Fiber shell construction keeps the helmet's weight down to 3.2 lbs in size Medium. The shell is aerodynamically designed to stabilize the rider's head and minimize buffeting and high-speed lift and I encountered no such problems, even sitting in the V-Rod's upright riding position. The Comfort System EPS energy absorption padding utilizes dual-density inserts and is snug yet comfortable. The helmet's inner liner and cheek pads are removable for cleaning should you begin to get that "not so fresh" feeling. The lining material has a wonderfully soft, fleece-like texture and even covers the Race-spec double D-ring strap for total crown to chin comfort. The strap features a quick-release pull-tab and a leather hoop to retain the loose end. Vemar's Sport Airflow System includes 3 aerator vents, 2 depressor vents and a rear venturi extractor vent all of which did an admirable job of keeping me cool in hot L.A. traffic. The VSX's scratch resistant, Savimex anti-fog shield utilizes a tool-less quick-release system which was easy to get the hang of, although I did not prefer the flip-up tab's placement in the middle of the visor. Overall, it's an excellent blend of performance and comfort. U.S. DOT and ECE-22.05 Certified.
CMS GP5 F helmet
If you haven't heard of them, CMS is a family owned, privately held company founded in 1988 in Portugal. The GP5 F is made of a lightweight Carbon/Kevlar fiber shell and represents their top of the line offering. The interior features double density SFP polystyrene padding. The anti-allergenic, anti-perspiration liner is adequate, but not as plush as Vemar or Suomy's. Double-D ring straps are padded for comfort and include a pull tab but no retaining system for the strap end, which always bugs me. Nothing a small rubber band can't cure, but c'mon now. The visor features anti-scratch, anti-fog coatings and utilizes a quick change tool-less system to swap out. Ventilation is serviced by a chin vent, a "Shark-style" central induction vent, and a rear extractor housed within an anti-backdraft spoiler. Air management is where the GP5 F really shines. The highly effective breath-deflecting nosepiece keeps the visor from fogging even at long stoplights. Even more significantly, the chin flap does a remarkable job of keeping cold air out, and for that reason alone, the CMS became my hat of choice this past winter. This helmet is very competitive at its price point. ECE 22.05 and DOT certified.
Fulmer AFS 7 helmet
Fulmer provides so little information about their helmets that it's hard to know what exactly I'm wearing. I do know that it looks forking cool though, what with the iridium base-coat paint, matching visor, and dragon graphic. The folks at one event's helmet-check stand didn't want to give it back to me! The cheek pads and interior lining are removable for washing (does anyone actually do this?). The D-ring retention system is lightly padded and offers an actual rubber band for strap retention. Hey, at least they didn't make me go out and buy one myself! The matching iridium visor disengages with the QR1 quick release system so you can opt for clear night vision. A chin vent and top vent/diffuser combine with neck-level rear exhaust vents to cool your cranium but don't really do all that great a job. UV clear coating protects the swank paint and graphics, which are clearly the star of the show. Bottom line is that for a little over $100 bucks you've got an ultra-glam looking lid that'll keep you reasonably safe and sound. You could do worse for the price point. Snell 2000 and DOT approved.
Fulmer AFM Modus flip-up helmet
I had been looking into one of these flip-up lids for awhile. When it comes to group rides, you pretty much have two choices, scream into your chin guard trying to be heard at a stoplight over the din of all the bikes, or get a flip-up and allow yourself to communicate at something approaching a normal speaking tone. But there was just something vaguely dorky, vaguely nerdy, vaguely... Bavarian about the way the sport touring crowd would use the flip-up chin guard as an excuse to never take their helmets off. They don't take them off when they go inside a store. They don't take them off when they eat. I don't even want to think about the other things they don't take them off for! But when I saw Fulmer's new AFM Modus, my inner poseur told me that I had finally found a flip-up that I could proudly wear to any social occasion. The UV protected clear-coated paint job is just so Big Daddy Roth! The Rat Fink would be dang proud, or possibly PO'd that he isn't getting any royalties. Either way, it ain't really my concern. As for the helmet itself, the primary liner is in there for the duration, but the Modus features removable/washable cheek pads so you can at least clean off those nasty mustard stains from the Bratwurst. One-handed chin bar operation means you never have to put down your stein of hefeweizen. The padded D-ring retention system comes with its very own rubber band for the end of the strap. The QR1 quick release shield system will pop the over-the-top-even-for-EBass iridium visor out so you can substitute a clear one. The chin and top vent don't have a rear exhaust so things tend to get a little stuffy on hot days. There was some noticeable whistling in certain aerodynamic positions and much less in others. The helmet did seem to run a bit large for a Medium, so try before you buy. DOT approved.