Thursday, 22 May 2008

Test - Open Face Helmets

One of the best motorbike magazines that I ever stumbled upon is Moto Magazine, also called Motomag. It is a French publication, which every month – among other things – publishes very clear and very accurate tests of different motorcycling products. I find these tests to be particularly refreshing, because if a product – a helmet, a jacket, anything – is rubbish, they say it clearly. They also invite the producers to comment on their findings, which is also very instructive.

In Motomag’s test, each product gets a mark, both on the basis of the price/quality ratio, and of the pure technical quality. So you normally have two “best products”: a best price/quality ratio product, and a best technical product. Sometimes a single product wins both titles, but more often than not this does not happen. You also have “the worst product”.

I am going to write summaries of some of the tests published in French on Motomag. Given that the Summer is approaching, I have chosen to start with the test results of a comparison among Jet (open face) Helmets, which was originally published in July 2007. I hope you will find it useful.

Comparison among nine Jet Helmets published on Motomag in July 2007

The objective of Motomag was to test a number of open face helmets which are fit to be used on long journeys as well, for tourism purposes. Three of the chosen helmets are the top available on the market (Shoei, Schuberth and Arai), with a price tag well above 350 Euros. The other helmets tested are middle range, and cost between 135 and 240 Euros.

The helmets tested are:
- Schuberth J1 - Shoei J-Wing - Arai SZ/F - Nolan N42 - HJC AC-3
- AGV Placet Stripes - Caberg Downtown - Roof Rover - Premier JT2

The helmets have been tested with regards to their noise levels, the presence of practical aspects (detachable interiors, sun visor, steam resistance etc.), comfort, price, etc. For each of the different aspects the helmets receive from one to five stars. The helmets then get rated on two aspects: price qualità ratio and technical quality. So what were the results?


  • The Schubert J1 was rated the best of the pack, scoring 8/10. I am very happy about this because this is one of my helmets…
  • The Nolan N42 was the winner from a price/quality ratio (7/10)
  • All helmets are very noisy, and some of them make you almost deaf (especially the Nolan). The tests were made on a naked bike.
I have summarized below the results for the most common helmets.

Schuberth J1

  • Tehnical vote: 8/10
  • Price/quality ratio: 6/10
  • Price: 499 Euro
  • 5 stars for: practicality, wind protection, ventilation, highway confort
  • According to Motomag, the J1 is clearly the top of the pack. The chin metal bar which you can insert seems to have resisted to all crash impact tests. Obviously it is not a full face helmet, but the level of protection that the J1 can provide is a lot more than what any other open face helmet can offer.
  • It is signaled as the only open face helmet which can realistically replace a modular or full face helmet for tourism purposes (For what it is worth, I can confirm this: last summer I went for a long 2000Km tour in Tuscany and I was very happy to have chosen to bring the Schuberth.)
  • Pricewise, it is very epxensive. I bught it after carfeul consideration, but I don’t regret it. I never wanted to buy a Jet helmet, because if you fall on your chin you destroy your face…but the J1 gives me a lot more protection than a normal jet, thanks to the chin bar. It is a good compromise, if you are willing to compromise.
Nolan N42 – Winner price/quality ratio

  • Technical vote: 7/10
  • Price/quality ratio: 7/10
  • Price: 189 Euro
  • 5 stars for various practical aspects (see the table below).
  • Very low rating for the noise levels and for the scarce ventilation
  • In spite of the few problems, Motomag claims this is the helmet that offers the best price quality ratio.
Shoei J-Wing

  • Technical mark: 7/10
  • Price/quality ratio: 7/10
  • Price: 369 Euro
  • 5 stars for the quality of the interiors
  • Accordino to Motomag, the major advantage of the Shoei compared to the Schubert and the Arai is the price/quality ratio and the very low noise levels.
Arai SZ/F

  • Technical rating: 7/10
  • Price/quality ratio: 6/10
  • Price: 429 Euro
  • 5 stars for the comfort
  • Motomag thinks that this is a good helmet, but the price tag is not justified: the interiors cannot be detached, there is no sun visor…
Caberg Downtown
  • Technical rating: 5/10
  • Price/quality ratio: 7/10
  • Price: 169 Euro
  • Very bad in terms of ventilation, sun visor too short to protect well, and very annoying for those who wear prescriptive glasses (I can confirm this: the sun visor would not go above my glasses…).
Noise levels
All of the helmets tested were considered far too noisy. Each of them was well above the threshold of 85db at 90 km/h. According to Motomag, 85 db is the threshold above which you start suffering because of the noise, and as of 92 db earplugs are considered necessary to protect your ears. NB: for each increase of 3db, the noise level perceived by the human ear DOUBLE!!!!)
Helmet 90km/h 130km/h 160km/h
AGV 88 98 102
Arai 88 97 100
Caberg 88 98 102
HJC 90 100 102
Nolan 92 101 105 The noisiest
Premier 90 98 101
Roof 89 98 101
Schuberth 88 98 100
Shoei 88 95 100 The best perfomance

Summary Table
This is the summary table with all the results. To make it bigger, just click on it.

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