You don’t see many Davida helmets around, not this side of the pond anyway. When I got the word I’d be off to ride the all-new Triumph Street Twin, first of the new Bonnevilles, it felt like the right time to sample one. Davida has been at it for more than 30 years on the Wirral (Peninsula) in the U.K., cranking out helmets the old-fashioned way.
Really not so much old-fashioned anymore: They’re keeping up with the times, using computer-aided design and modelling to produce the Jet in three different shells and three liner sizes for helmets from XS to XXL. Jet shells are made of fiberglass, lined with actual cow and satin, and hand-sprayed with actual paint that is as nice or nicer than anything I can remember seeing on any off-the-shelf helmet. Matter of fact, they’ll custom paint anything you want for a few dollars more, if none of the 100 or so standard designs work for you. This one’s the “Complex Cream UJ (Union Jack) sides.”
I’m normally an L in most helmets, but Jet’s online sizing chart had my 61cm-circumference skull just on the lower end of the XL scale. Even so, after a preliminary hour of break-in around the house in the XL, I still gave it the baseball treatment above my horn roots, compressing the liner maybe one millimeter (out of about 25mm) just above my eyes, and now it fits perfectly snugly, and leaves me pain-free after long rides.
Compared to “long-oval” Arai and Shoei helmets, the Jet seems a bit more on the round side, but still fits snug and wobble-free; in fact you sort of have to pull the ears apart more than most open-face lids to get this one on, and for that slight extra effort you’re rewarded with a helmet that nicely hugs your head without squeezing it. With my usual drug-store foam earplugs in, the Jet’s, I think, quieter than any full-face on my shelf. All according to Davida plan:
“The unique shape of the Jet’s fibreglass shell and liner has been designed to follow the natural shape of the head; narrower at the jaw than at the crown … As well as completely eliminating ‘lift’, this ergonomic design hugs the head reassuringly and makes for a pleasantly quiet ride.”
All true. That snuggish fit around your face means the Jet’s a no-go if you want to wear big sunglasses with bulky frames, though it’s easy enough to slide thinner wire earpieces in there, like Ray Ban Aviators. To do it right as long as we were doing it, and for enhanced eyeball security, Davida also hooked us up with the goggles it helped design specifically for the Jet – Jeantet Aviator Pilot T1s (which come in a variety of styles with various replacement lenses). Jeantet has been producing goggles in France since 1929.
These fit just right in the Jet’s face opening, and there’s a Velcro loop on back of the helmet to keep their strap in place. I generally pop in a set of contact lenses if I’m going to be riding all day in goggles, but Jeantet also makes the T2, the same deal but with cut-outs for eyeglass earpieces. The lenses are polycarbonate, the trim is goat. Tres chic…
At this point, Mike Hailwood’s got nothing on me. It’s true, open-face helmets aren’t as safe as full-face ones, but on some bikes, especially ones that aren’t all about speed, there’s no substitute for actually feeling the wind in your (facial) hair and the bugs in your teeth – also being able to easily talk to your fellow man at stoplights and gas stations. Smerk a tab. Ladies and little kids are more likely to smile and wave when you’re not Darth Vader, and the overall experience on a “classic” bike like a new Triumph Bonneville feels somehow enhanced by period garb.
Vintage though it might appear, this is solid gear for sure, in the finest old-world way. The Jet is approved to Europe’s EC-ER22-05 standard. The price seemed quite reasonable until I realized we were talking British Pounds and not US dollars: £298 today is $446.82 for the Jet, and £91.56 for the goggles works out to $137.29. Still not bad in the current economic climate, especially for handmade quality like this. In addition to the Jet, Davida offers several other old-school designs, including the pudding bowl – also gloves, jackets, jeans, etc.
According to the website below, Davida’s only got five dealers in the colonies, but that shouldn’t be a problem in today’s www world if you want one, should it?