The Milan Motorcycle Show gives manufacturers the chance to not only present their latest wares, but also premier their products of the future. In the world of crash helmets, the introduction of modern technology along with new designs was the big news this year.
As someone who regularly entrusts his safety in a Shoei crash helmet, I was curious to try on the latest sports touring QV-Pro helmet from rival Japanese manufacturer Arai. The multi fibre shell means it is light in weight and comfortably snug in fit, the only feature I wasn’t so sure on was the external sun visor. As you can see, this is located outside of the main visor, and while it is vented to allow the air to flow through when raised, I’m not convinced this still won’t add to noise and a little buffeting, especially when you turn your head to the side. Arai say that this doubles as a peak and this option means the shell remains strong without the need for an internal sun visor.
Far more up my street was the Chaser-X, their third helmet that makes use of their new VAS (Variable Axis System) technology that offers “a significant larger and smoother shell area above the SNELL test line, greatly improving the important helmet glancing off performance.” It also features a replaceable interior, a fixed, non-retractable mini chin cover and a Formula One developed visor lock system.
Speaking of Shoei, their forthcoming offering is their RYD a, “street sport full face helmet,” with, “aggressive and sharp design.” The streamlined shell is produced in AIM – organic fibre and multi-composite fibre in various layers –and again with models there to try I was able to discover how much lighter than my current Shoei NXR it feels. Produced with four different sizes of outer shell and finished with a detachable and washable inner, the SRP is to be £349.99 when launched in the spring of 2017.
Bell crash helmets announced in Milan their new Pro Fit, from which their Race Star pictured here benefits. They offer no less than five shell sizes and six impact-liner sizes between the six sizes of XS to XXL (XL and XXL share the same outer shell), offering an almost custom fit with an off-the-shelf helmet.
For those wondering, the idea of different sizes of outer shell is to split them between the range of sizes, so that someone who wear a size XS doesn’t have to wear a helmet with an external shell the same as those who wear an XXL. This is generally something found at the top end of the helmet market, making for a lighter, quieter, more comfortable helmet for all as it reduces the profile, along with unnecessary weight.
I currently use both an intercom and action camera by technology company, Sena. Their next venture into the world of motorcycling however is to be a crash helmet; specifically their Intelligent Noise Control (INC) helmet. The INC helmet was announced last year and is a streamlined, lightweight helmet, the Intelligent Noise Control system, Sena claim, “to keep you calm, alert and focused, under any condition.” The INC helmet offers the control of noise-cancelling headphones, while allowing you to hear vital things like sirens, traffic, and your engine. “The INC module analyses sound information from an array of networked microphones and adjusts in real time to phase out harmful noise.
The helmet also features an Ambient Mode that can easily be switched on with a convenient button on the helmet’s exterior, allowing you to hear clearly without removing your helmet.” Having tried this out at the show, I can confirm it does work and really needs to be experienced.
A built-in Bluetooth module allows you to make phone calls, listen to your music, or talk to riding companions at the touch of a button, like you would with a regular Sena intercom system, although as the manufacturers claim, in theory the INC should allow you to listen at volumes lower and safer than before. The INC helmet will be available early 2017, with an estimated retail price of $799/€869.
HJC displayed a concept helmet on their stand this year, the SmartOn, which boasts two built in cameras. At the front is a 2.0 megapixel/ 60fps Full High Definition (FHD) camera and at the rear is a 1.3 megapixel/30fps High Definition (HD) camera. At the rear is also a protected bank of switches and plugs for a mini-usb and power, as well as a slot for a Micro SD card, so it has a potential capacity of 32GB.
As with many things these days, you connect your smartphone to your helmet with an App so as to activate it and work the functions. One rather clever feature is a Blind Spot Detection system. This warns the rider of a potential hazard coming up behind them – and on which side – via subtle LED indicators that are built into the brow of the helmet. Very trick indeed…
Visitors to Eicma also had the chance to test the concept Nolan N-Com ARX crash helmet, which according to the company; “N-Com ARX is a technologically innovative project developed by Nolan Group in collaboration with Sony, based on the concept of augmented reality, allowing motorcyclists to experience a new and absorbing travel experience. They continue, “The interaction between the N-Com communication system integrated into the helmet with Sony’s optical module and the tailor-made Smartphone App allows the projection, via a heads-up display, of a hologram in the rider’s field of vision, thus supplying support information for safety and riding comfort”.
The viewing of a range of useful and essential information on a see-through display, combined with audio indications, allows the rider to concentrate on driving.” This prototype helmet created in collaboration with Sony is just a concept at the moment, but apparently is part of a development project for the N-Com brand for the near future. Whether this is the future of motorcycle safety helmets of course, still remains to be seen.
Finally, Italy’s Premier brand, premiered some new designs in Milan. The new Caberg Ghost is a helmet that can be used in four configurations depending on what combination you want of visor, mask and foam profile covering your face. It can also be equipped with the Caberg Bluetooth communication system Just Speak.