The action camera market just got a little bit more interesting with Bell Powersports and 360 Fly announcing that they are teaming up to produce helmets together that combine Bell’s expertise in the motorcycle helmet industry with 360 FLY’s next generation action camera. And this isn’t an aspirational announcement either – the helmets will be on sale before the end of the year.
This is exciting for two reasons. Firstly in some jurisdictions such as the states of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, attaching anything to your helmet – including action cameras – has been deemed illegal. There’s nothing the plod can do however about a helmet with an integrated camera – and one with a full 360 degree field of view no less. This will allow riders to prove their innocence in accidents like never before – both in front and from behind.
But it’s also great news for track riders. Many tracks have banned the use of cameras at their facilities due to the potential hazard they can cause (and of course the resulting insurance issues). Yes, action cameras can come off their mounts and a small missile bouncing in front of other riders isn’t really safe. Facilities that do allow cameras almost universally don’t allow them to be attached to a rider’s helmet in any event. But now, that won’t be a problem.
The two helmets that will first receive the 360 Fly integration are the 2016 Bell Star and the Bell Moto-9 Flex. Despite the obvious lump atop the helmet, Bell seem to have done a pretty good job of integrating the 360 Fly into the overall design – it looks a lot better than a GoPro stuck on top of your lid in any event.
“The benefits of integrating digital video and intuitive digital technology into action sports
helmets is a ground-breaking advancement for our sports,” said Terry Lee, Executive Chairman & CEO, BRG Sports. “This “smart helmet” collaboration with 360 Fly is yet another landmark milestone within our 60-year history of helmet innovation and industry leadership.”
“From day one, our focus has extended beyond the baseline benefits of immersive 360-degree VR content, and into the expansive universe of intuitive “smart” technologies that our single lens technology enables,” said Peter Adderton, 360 Fly CEO. “These helmets are merely the first of many unique applications for these technologies enabled by our proprietary 360 Fly 4K platform.”
It gets better, though. The integrated 360 Fly camera is detachable, allowing it to be utilized independent of the helmet by the user in other scenarios. There’s also a number of new features that will be rolled out for the range of helmets including:
AutoPilot action tracking – Allows users to track and follow the main subjects in their
videos, making it easy to create dynamic edits with the rider at the center of it all.
Collision Avoidance Alert – Senses and automatically notifies the rider of potential
oncoming dangers that are outside the rider’s natural field of vision
Live Streaming — For professional, commercial or advanced users looking to live stream 360-degree video, the integrated camera pairs with its Micro-HDMI accessory base and is able to output a real-time full 360-degree HD video stream
Bell has confirmed that the new helmets will be SNELL certified but no word on whether they will meet European or AU/NZ standards as well. They also won’t be cheap. The Bell Star on its own costs around $600 US, while the 360 FLY retails for about $400 US.
It’s the end of the year and that means big savings on all sorts of motorcycle gear and equipment. So if you haven’t already gotten what you need, we’ve searched far and wide for the best deals on the internet. This month’s deals include big savings on tires, Bell helmets and Spidi gloves.
The Bell RS-1 motorcycle helmet sits between their top of the range Bell Star series of helmets and the more budget orientated Vortex. But the RS-1 loses very little in comparison the Star while saving buyers a lot of money. It’s also one of the best helmets we’ve ever used when it comes to its anti-fogging abilities.
Bell is one of the more well known helmet brands, having manufactured lids for motorcyclists since the middle of last century. In our view, they’ve been somewhat stagnant with their offerings until recently – perhaps resting on their brand name rather than truly innovative products. But competition from both new and established brands means that Bell is lifting their game.
The RS-1 is a good looking helmet, although one might say the choice of graphics is pretty conservative. There’s a lot of solid color schemes on offer which we like, but the more ‘racy’ designs are a bit dated already in our view. The likes of Shark and AGV provide much more modern designs in our opinion.
What isn’t dated however is the quality of the RS-1. All the parts, both internal and external feel like a million bucks. There’s very few helmets in this price range that exude as much quality as the RS-1 does.
Bell seems to have put a lot of thought into the little things with this helmet. First is the quick release system for the visor. If you’re the rare type of individual that uses multiple visors, it will take you only a few seconds to change from one to the other. But for those that don’t need to swap visors, it’s a great and easy system to use so that you can give the visor a good clean – much easier than trying to clean both the inside and outside of the visor while still attached to the helmet.
The lever on the side of the visor also allows you to open the visor fractionally to let air through if fogging is an issue (but in our experience it never is). You can also progressively open the helmet in stages to let as much air in as you want.
The RS-1 uses the tried and tested double d-ring system to tighten your helmet to your head, but they’ve made one small innovation to the snap. Bell describes it as their patented Magnefusion strap – instead of the usual plastic snap that needs to be pushed in place, Bell uses magnets – great for when you’re trying to strap it into place with gloves on. Simple and elegant.
The Bell RS-1 has some of the best (if not the best) anti-fogging capabilities we’ve ever experienced in a helmet. No matter the temperature (inside or outside the helmet), the visor just won’t fog up. There’s no use of pinlock visors here (which we don’t like due to their distortion of vision at night) so we can only think there’s some kind of voodoo magic happening. Even intentionally trying to fog the visor up results in failure.
Bell says it uses what is called NutraFog II Anti Fog Coating. This is a proprietary system of Bell’s and other than its name, there’s little I could find out about it. Whatever its composition or design, it works and it’s probably the biggest draw card for this lid. We’ve tested it in both 30°C (86ºF) plus weather with high humidity (and therefore lots of heat coming from our skulls) and temperatures approaching 6°C (42ºF) and it worked flawlessly.
Air flow is okay, without being exceptional. You do notice more air coming in with the vents open, but only just. What is a little bit annoying is that the non-removable chin curtain doesn’t stop enough air coming up between it and your neck. We would have preferred a larger, removable chin curtain that can be used in winter and discarded in summer. Wind noise is also just okay. It’s about in line with most helmets we’ve used which means you should be using earplugs when doing long stints on the bike.
For those wanting to reduce the glare from the sun, keep in mind that the RS-1 doesn’t have an internal sunvisor – nor can you really wear sunglasses with this helmet – there’s just no room between your head and the internal padding to do so. You can however buy a chromatic visor that automatically tints depending on the ambient light.
Overall, we’ve been very impressed with the Bell RS-1 since we’ve been using it for the past few months. It oozes quality, has exceptional anti-fogging capabilities and we love the simple yet modern looks.
Every week we search the interwebs to find the best deals on motorcycle clothing, gear, equipment, accessories and parts. The new month of May brings deals including up to 40% off a selection of Bell helmets, up to 53% off Metzeler tires, 20% off the entire range of Fieldsheer gear and a further 10% off already reduced Two Brothers Racing street exhausts.
Of all the protective gear that you wear, a helmet is by far and away the most important item in order to reduce or even prevent injury. And yet for all the technological advances society has seen over the past few decades, motorcycle helmet technology remains pretty much as it was fifty years ago. But that’s all rapidly changing with a number of new technologies either now for sale or soon available that look set to provide drastic improvement to protecting your brain.
The biggest change coming and one you’ve possibly already heard of is MIPS which stands for Motorcycle Impact Protection System. MIPS is less of a new material and more of an innovation in how a motorcycle helmet should work. In a MIPS equipped helmet, the helmet shell and liner are separated by a low friction layer. When such a helmet is subjected to an angled impact (far more common than a direct impact to the top of the helmet by which most helmets are tested and rated), the low friction layer allows the helmet to slide relative to the head.
The idea behind this system is actually a case of technology imitating what nature already provides. Our brains are surrounded by a low friction cushion of fluid beneath the skull that protects the brain by allowing it to slide around on impact. Thus, MIPS does the same thing by giving the protective layers within a helmet the ability to slide and therefore absorb energy. The video below from One Industries gives a good demonstration of this:
MIPS technology is currently available in these helmets:
Bell, one of the most renowned helmet manufacturers has just released a helmet with very similar technology to MIPS which they call Rotational Energy Management (in fact, it appears so similar to MIPS that we’re wondering if it’s the same product licensed by Bell to use under a different name). But in addition to allowing the inner layers to move independently like MIPS, the Bell Moto-9 Flex has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
The Moto-9 Flex is equipped with three separate layers that are each designed to manage energy from low, mid and high speed impacts. The EPO (expanded polyolefin) layer is designed for low speed impacts, the middle EPP (expanded polypropylene) takes care of impacts at speeds up to 5 metres per second and the outermost layer is made of traditional expanded polystyrene (EPS). EPO is a soft and flexible low-density polymer that when placed between the EPP and EPS layers, dampens low-threshold impacts.
And now for something completely different. The 6D ATR-1 helmet incorporates omni-directional suspension – small dampers that sit in-between layers of traditional expanded polystyrene. It is this array of isolation dampers surrounding the entire liner, combined with the air-gap, that affords the free-motion suspension capability of their omni-directional suspension.
Like MIPS, this split liner system allows the inner and outer shells to shear omni-directionally within itself to provide improved performance against oblique impacts and angular acceleration demands. But in addition to this, the dampers function with specially designed frusto-conical (their words, not ours) ramping chambers within the ODS system to produce a rapidly escalating spring rate under compressive load. In other words, the system can absorb and dissipate energy far better than traditional EPS alone while at the same time, reducing the rotational forces that MIPS does.
The overall effect is probably similar to that of the Bell Moto-9 Flex, but with a different approach. The 6D Helmets are definitely more elaborate whereas Bell approaches the problem by using different materials of differing densities. Both go a long way to reducing injury from low and mid speed impacts which traditional EPO isn’t so great at.
Probably no other company has moved motocross safety forward so much in recent times (perhaps ever) than Leatt and its founder, Dr Chris Leatt. The physician developed what is now known as the Leatt Neck Brace after witnessing a rider die from a neck injury in 2001. Since then, his company has developed advanced body armor, sophisticated knee braces and is now close to releasing what appears to be one of the most advanced helmets ever produced – the GPX 5.5 and 6.5 (the latter is made of carbon while the former uses a composite shell).
Features so far known about the helmet are that the shell is smaller by between 11 and 25 percent than other helmets which reduces impact forces. Leatt states that a 10% smaller shell transfers 22% less torque and rotational energy to the head and brain. The GPX also includes what they call ‘turbines’ which act not only as a damper but allow the inner and outer layers to slide – an approach that looks very similar to 6D Helmets.
Where it really stands out is in the creation of the shell and the energy absorption layers. Where traditional helmets have distinct layers, Leatt has combined them. Looking at a cross section of the helmet, the outer and inner layers are actually combined in a zig-zag pattern. Effectively the shell and the foam is one integrated part.
The Leatt GPX 5.5 and GPX 6.5 are currently available for pre-order from here and at around $360 have a massive price advantage over the competition.
Koroyd isn’t a helmet – it’s a new type of material that has found its way into bicycle and snowboard helmets and hopefully will find its way into motorcycle gear in the near future. Koroyd is made up of tens of thousands of co-polymer extruded tubes, thermally welded together and can be molded into various shapes and sizes.
It’s claimed that Koroyd is far better at energy absorption in comparison to EPS and foams. Upon impact the cores crush in a completely controlled manner, decelerating the energy from the impact and reducing the final trauma levels. Another advantage is that large gaps aren’t needed to create airflow. Because Koroyd is made of thousands of small tubes, airflow comes naturally meaning there’s more total surface area for impact absorption.
How much better is Koroyd? Some are claiming that the technology provides up to 30% more energy absorption than the same helmet with foam – which is a massive difference. The image below is taken from a trade catalog and shows that a Koroyd equipped motorcycle helmet reduces peak G’s in testing by 32% and HIC (the Head Injury Criterion as used by SNELL which is an involved calculation based on the entire time history of the acceleration pulse transmitted to the head) by a massive 58%.
Koroyd is currently in talks with helmet manufacturers and we will hopefully begin to see motorcycle helmets featuring this material in the next few years.
All of the above technologies are great if you’re in the market for a new motocross helmet. But what if you’ve just bought a new lid or want a road helmet? There is one product that may be of interest.
That product is by Unequal Technologies which has found huge support in the American NFL as a way to reduce and prevent head injuries. The padding which is about a quarter of an inch thick can be placed (and trimmed to size) inside a helmet and features three layers:
Acceleron – An elastomer with amazingly durable cushioning qualities. Multiplies shock absorption capabilities dramatically in patented combinations with Kevlar
Kevlar – A patented fiber used in law enforcement and the military that, when woven into a sheet, is 5-times stronger than steel. Delivers virtually unmatched strength and flexibility.
Impactshield – A patented polymer layer added to some Unequal® protective pads to maximize shock suppression and dispersion in a much-desired low profile.
In addition to adoption by American Football players, its found support from a number of other high profile athletes including Winter Olympics and X Games gold medalist Torah Bright. Unequal claims that their product can reduce G-forces generated at impact by up to 25 per cent. While not marketed towards motorcycle riders, there’s no real reason why it can’t be adopted for road helmets – although the legality of ‘modifying’ your helmet by placing an additional layer of padding inside it may vary from country to country and state to state.
It sounds great in theory but at this stage, there’s no real scientific peer-reviewed evidence of the benefit of Unequal’s product. Curiously, Unequal has changed it’s naming of the product over time. Initially the technology was labelled as ‘concussion reduction technology’, then changed to CRT and now is called ART which stands for ‘acceleration reduction technology’. Take out of that what you will…
After decades of stagnation it’s great that we’re finally beginning to see real advances in helmet technology. Until recently, the motorcycle helmet you bought contained simple styrofoam – whether it was a cheap $100 helmet from some unknown brand or a top of the line Shoei that costs ten times as much. Higher end helmets offered no real increase in safety – just better quality, lighter weight and better ventilation. But now new materials and new ways of integrating existing materials into helmets are becoming readily available and will hopefully become mainstream (and therefore affordable) sooner rather than later.
Sales of Motorcycles in USA up by 3.8 per cent in 2014
Motorcycle sales in the United States continue their slow recovery, with motorcycles sold in 2014 totaling 483,526. This is up 3.8 per cent from the previous year. Broken up into the Motorcycle Industry Council’s various categories, sales of street bikes (excluding adventure and dual sport bikes) were up 3 per cent with 334,488 bikes sold, 81,103 dirt bikes were moved for an increase of 10.9 per cent and dual sport bikes rose by 3.6 per cent (34,497).
Since the market bottomed out in 2010, annual sales have now increased by a total of 43,848 per annum. That’s still a staggering 396,384 less motorcycles sold than in 2008 when the market was at its peak and it still shows how badly the industry was hit by the economic downturn in the US.
Bell Expands Custom Helmet Lineup
The first company in the world to commercially offer a custom motorcycle helmet service, Bell, is now offering the service to motocross riders with the availability of the Bell Moto-9. Bell’s customization process works by having your head laser scanned which provides an exact measurement of your skull. This data is then used to produce the inner shell of the helmet to match your noggin exactly.
The Moto-9 has been a fairly well received helmet, though like many of Bell’s offerings isn’t on the cheap side. In addition to the helmet price of $550, the customization service is an additional $350. The Moto-9 joins Bell’s full faced street helmet, the Star Carbon as a custom fitted option.
See Bell’s website for details on the service and locations where you can get scanned.
We all want the best we gear can get for the lowest possible price, and that’s why many bargain hunters end up buying their motorcycle gear from Aliexpress. But is it safe? Are the goods genuine? Are the prices too good to be true? We’ve bought a selection of gloves, jackets and pants over the past 18 months from the online superstore so you don’t have to and our conclusions should help prevent you from wasting your hard earned currency.
For those who haven’t heard of the website before, Aliexpress is the online retail arm of Alibaba, a massive Chinese e-commerce company that acts as a source for thousands of importers from all over the world to buy goods and then sell them locally. Most of the stuff you buy on eBay? It’s sourced from Alibaba at a wholesale level or Aliexpress for smaller players. At it’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, it was valued at $231 billion. Amazon is only valued at $144 billion and in stark contrast, Alibaba is actually profitable.
You can buy motorcycle fairings, rearsets, sliders, decals, replacement parts and clothing, be it gloves, boots, jackets or helmets. But we’re not talking about t-shirts here that you buy for looks. Motorcycle protective clothing is for just that – protection. So are all the Alpinestars gloves and Dainese jackets genuine?
Some of the products you buy are obviously fake. Dodgy looking logos, sizing that’s completely wrong and exotic materials that are clearly not what they’re supposed to be. But some goods are so realistic that if you put them side by side with the same product at a retail store, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Perhaps they are genuine – there is the potential they’ve come from the same factory as the full priced items but I’m basing that judgment at a superficial level. The stitching and dyes which hold everything together may very well be poor (and cheap) imitations which completely changes the structural integrity of the product. Here’s what we found.
We purchased a number of gloves from Aliexpress as follows:
Alpinestars S1 (RRP of $159.95 on Revzilla, $29.95 on Aliexpress)
Dainese Full Metal RS (RRP of $349.95 on Motorcycle Supestore, $80.00 on Aliexpress)
RS Taichi RST369 (Now discontinued, but $39.99 on Aliexpress)
REV’IT Summit H20 (RRP of $134.99 on Bike Bandit, $49.99 on Aliexpress)
As you can see there’s a massive difference in price between what you can get on Aliexpress compared to general retail stores. So is it a case of too good to be true? Pretty much.
The RS Taichi gloves were the best out of the four. We honestly couldn’t tell the difference between them and the genuine article. And out of the four pairs of gloves we purchased, they’re the only ones we crash tested – numerous times. They held up perfectly. I have no doubt the carbon fiber palm sliders and knuckle protectors are just plastic, but nevertheless they did the job.
The next best is the REV’IT Summit H20 gloves. They look genuine, the feel genuine but for some reason they just seem off and I can’t put my finger on why. The Alpinestars S1’s looked genuine until you take a closer look. First of all they’re pleather, not leather. Secondly, you know they’re fake because the logos are in the wrong places and the holes on the wrists aren’t fully perforated.