About Larry

I live in Bandon on the southern Oregon coast and I've been riding for a long, long time, years, decades. We won't go there kiddies but believe me, it's been awhile. During that time I've done most of my riding on the road with occasional off-road forays, most of which were intentional. Some weren't. Until just a couple of years ago I'd never ridden a hack - that's sidecar to those who aren't familiar with the lingo. I figure riding a hack up Alaska's infamous Haul road all the way to Deadhorse should top off my torture tank for quite awhile.

About Mac

Mac hails from Robins, Iowa and has been riding bikes longer than most people have been around. He managed to torture his old BMW past the 100,000 mile mark and presently rides a Yamaha FJR. His newest ride, a 2008 Ural Patrol is waiting on the dealer's highest shelf until the flood waters recede after which they'll assemble it and turn it over to him. The fact that he's heading to Alaska for his first journey on a new rig should tell you all you need to know about him...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Larry's quest for the perfect helmet

Among the many things I've been looking for to outfit this trip is a new helmet. My old tried and true Shoei Syncrotec "flip-up" has become rather long in tooth so I've been searching for a replacement. 

The Shoei is going to be difficult to match; it's been one of the best selling flip-ups for years due to it's high quality. I have no real complaints about it other than it's a bit noisy and when it rains really hard water finds it's way through the vents. Not much but enough to annoy. 

Aside from those design issues it's showing quite a number of scars and dings from being dropped and hit with flying objects, all of which can weaken a helmet's structural integrity. Of course Shoei offers a replacement model, their new Multitec, toted by some as being the best flip-up available. This comes with a matching price so I decided to see what else might be out there.

Several weeks back I located an Airoh TR-1 on the Seattle Craig's List. This is an Italian helmet not available in the US and one I'd read several reviews on. It sounded pretty neat as it has a built-in sun screen that slides up into the top of the helmet, no need to keep swapping sunglasses on and off, just lower the screen. It also has a super wide eye port that expands your peripheral vision quite a bit, something that's really important when making lane changes. All of this is great stuff, plus, if you really want to be cool the front chin bar is removable and you have an open face jet-style helmet. That's the good part. 

On the negative side there are no controls for the front air vents, they're open all the time and that would be a very bad thing when the temperature drops or during heavy rain. After wearing it on rides of a couple hundred miles I decided this would be an OK helmet for summer but not what I'd take to Alaska. The hunt continues...

Next on my list was HJC's Sy-Max II, their latest release of a flip-up style helmet. The decision to try this one was made solely on reviews I'd read, all of which gave high marks to it. The price was half of the Shoei so I ordered one through New Enough, a Texas firm. I've done lots of business with them mainly because of their prompt service and their no questions asked return policy; they're very good people to deal with. The helmet arrived promptly and within ten minutes I knew this wasn't the one for me either. The fit along the lower side of my face was so tight there was no way I could accept it. To make matters worse the sun shield caused wavy distortion along the lower edge, a definite deal breaker. So, off it went, back to New Enough without ever having gone for a ride with it. Bummer...

At this point I've read so many helmet reviews my eyes are bugged out, it seems the only satisfactory replacement for my Syncrotec would be a new Multitec. Given what I've read about it I'm not sure if I'd gain that much so I'm thinking I may just keep my old one a while longer. Could it be I'm also having an attack of frugality?

BTW, the photo is my old bucket taken on my first trip to Alaska. I took the pic to show how many bugs could accumulate in 15 minutes... It gets pretty gnarly up there.