Whether it was jamming my head between the twin speakers of the family Dansette record-player to better hear the newest Beatles album or years of motorcycle-riding, the fact is… I have tinnitus. Luckily it does not affect my hearing, but I don’t want the constant high-pitched screech to get any worse.
First and foremost, the object of any motorcycle helmet is to save your skull. All else is a matter of choice. I’ve been riding for a good many years and never once has an assistant suggested measuring my head or determining head-shape, but fit is important, really important. As I read on one website, “the difference between a well-fitting helmet and an improperly-fitting helmet is the difference between a headache and a feeding tube”.
Short of trying dozens of different brands, styles and sizes within a wind-tunnel, it seems that choosing a helmet is a matter of trial and error. How are you supposed to gauge which are the quieter ones? The helmet that eliminates wind-noise for one person, may not work for another and even then, a screen or turn of the head alters the air-flow. You have a very short time to decide on a decent fit with all the design features in a colour you like. Like buying shoes. They may be comfy in the shop but once outside, they may pinch and rub but by then it’s too late.
It’s the same with a helmet. The internet has lots of good advice about how it should feel… really snug around the crown and cheeks. Does it move when you shake your head? If the fit is good with the features you need at a price you feel reasonable that’s it. But for someone like me, it’s no indication that it’s going to be a quiet helmet.
I reasoned that a pointy one might slip through the air better than my current goldfish-bowl shaped one which is distressingly noisy even when I’m wearing ear-plugs. At the Motorcycle Live bike show at the NEC in Birmingham last year, I chose the Italian-made Caberg Tourmax helmet which costs £199.99. Caberg were the first manufacturers to design and make a flip-up adventure-style helmet complete with peak, and have been producing them since 2014.
It was available in an extra small size which was tight but not uncomfortable. It didn’t move when I shook my head; I could feel the padding all round my head and cheeks. The Tourmax has a reassuring LG Chem HI High impact ABS plastic shell, which also keeps the weight down. I went for ‘Metal White’ colour so that I could more easily be seen, and perhaps stay cooler next time the sun is really blazing. Looking at Caberg’s website afterwards, I found a measurement chart to help select the correct size from the size chart. It seems that different manufacturers cater for different shaped heads, too. Just like heads, helmets come in different shapes. I hadn’t done my research!
However, the Caberg Tourmax did fit well and it’s a very clever helmet. When the chin guard is lifted for an open-face feature, the detachable peak automatically nears the visor to reduce wind-resistance. If you want to use the helmet in its modular open-face configuration, there is a locking device to ensure the flip up does not flip down during use.
It has all the features I like. Flip-front and integral anti-scratch sun-visor which is easily operated from the top of the helmet even with clumsy two-finger winter gloves on. The side-vision is good for a full-face when the front is closed. The outer visor is anti-scratch and is pin-lock anti-fog system ready. I haven’t yet fitted one so still needed to lift the flip front when at a halt, even with the front vents open.
Despite the cosy fit, when I lifted the visor, the helmet moved back with it, which is annoying in city traffic with constant stops and accompanying fog-ups, but as soon as I get round to fitting the pin-lock that shouldn’t be an issue. In the meantime as everything on the helmet is detachable for replacing parts or for cleaning, it was easy to undo the side screws on the visor a little which loosened it.
I feel very safe in this Caberg. The chin bar is made to withstand impact without that force transferring to the face. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time but I had initial difficulty lifting the flip/up feature as the release button is quite small and I still fumble about for it in winter gloves.
The great news is that this helmet is homologated for riding use in either open or closed positions, so when the heat of summer strikes, I’ll be ready!
The helmet can be equipped with the Caberg Just Speak S universal Bluetooth kit which enables mobile phone, pillion, MP3 and GPS communication. Despite the lining providing a tight fit, I had no ‘helmet pain’ as I have had before. The deodorised, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal padding makes it very comfy.
Disappointingly, the wind noise was only a little better than my previous helmet but is hugely dependant on whether the vents are open or closed. Under the chin-guard is a removable wind-stop that on this occasion kept the rain out as well as the wind. When I used my earplugs too, I smiled because at last I couldn’t hear the wind rushing past. Bliss!
For more information visit Caberg.
Sharp rated 5stars
Price: £199 for plain colours to £239 for graphics
Colours: White, Black, Matt Black, all available with coloured graphics.