Here’s the problem: when you wear a modern full-face helmet you are warmer, safer, better protected from windblast and debris and can ride longer and farther, but nobody can see you or your beard.
Rell Helmets has the solution with its new-for-2014 Pioneer. This DOT– and Svell-rated lid offers the traditional look and fit of an open-face helmet with the safety and comfort benefits of a full-face race model. The shell is made from hand-layered fiberglass, and the EPS impact-absorbing layer uses the radical new honeycomb structure developed for the Latvian air force.
The key feature is Rell’s patented Beard-Tek© system. The false beard uses a complex weave of Aramid, Kevlar and hemp, reinforced by flexible polymers designed to look and feel like beard wax while providing a rigid structure that absorbs energy (as well as beer foam and soup), making an extra crumple zone in front of your face. Testing in the European Union C.E. safety labs has yielded the German Übersafteymenschenyaistgutt award, the highest honor possible from that country’s stringent TUV automotive safety agency. Other helmet features include a pre-weathered leather-look chinstrap, snaps for a visor, a hand-made, pre-distressed leather carrying bag and a DVD of Two-Lane Blacktop.
In actual use, the Pioneer seems like a good value. As I have to spend a lot of time photographing and posing next to my cafe racer, I don’t really have much time to ride it, but the three times I did ride it in the 19 months I spent with my pre-production Pioneer (proving I was into open-face helmets and cafe racers before they were cool) made me think that maybe a full-face helmet is better. Having that extra wind protection and feeling of safety made every one of the combined 71 miles better. This was a shocking revelation which makes me think all these videos of guys and hot chicks on cafe racers may be staged and don’t really portray real life. I did find the artificial beard a bit itchy and would spend several minutes after each ride spitting stray Kevlar threads out of my mouth. A small price to pay for an authentic look and added safety, no?
Paint colors include Orange Candy, Green Candy, gold Candy, matte black and the pre-weathered McQueen replica (specify ISDE, On Any Sunday or Reclusive Era). Pioneer prices start at $379.99 (matte black with Galifinakis warm-weather beard) and go up to $889.99 (McQueen replica with chest-covering cold-weather Hammurabi), but the 1000 best Instagram photos will get the wearers $150 rebates from Rell. The Pioneer will be in dealers in early May or late June, depending on skinny-jean availability for the product-launch party.