Wednesday 2 May 2018

A product review? But I don’t do product reviews!

BMW Helmets GS Carbon, Dual Sport Helmet

Well no I normally don’t do product reviews on my blog but decided this was a bit different, as I didn’t have to lay out any hard earned cash for this particular product…

It started with an email from BMW Financial Services asking me for a telephone number. Thinking naturally it was some sort of scam or a sales pitch, I ignored it as you might expect. A short while later I received a follow up email telling me they needed my number because I’d won a crash helmet for completing a survey.

Well for a start I didn’t remember the survey but thought it might just be real. So I googled the sender and sure enough established he worked at BMW, so I responded.

And yes it was true! Ben from BMW informed me I had won a BMW System 7 Carbon helmet after my name had been pulled out of the hat from participants in a survey I had completed last year (I still didn’t remember the survey but who cares).

But hang on a second… so why isn’t this a review of the System 7 Carbon?

Because the first thing I did was hot foot it down to my local BMW dealer to try one on as Ben had said I could pick another helmet if I didn’t like it or it didn’t fit…. and yes you guessed, it didn’t fit, I seemed to fall between two sizes. 

But also I have a fairly new Schuberth E1 helmet which is a very similar flip front style and to be honest didn’t need another, very similar helmet. But having recently retired my Shoei DS Hornet (DS standing for Dual Sport) I did want one of those, so tried on the GS Carbon instead and it fitted perfectly! 

So one was ordered and I was presented with it at the London Bike Show.

So what’s it like? First impressions when you take it out of the box are how light it is, at 1400 grams it doesn’t sound much lighter than my Schuberth at 1800 grams but it is in reality. The next thing you notice is the very luxurious paint finish and very plush lining but I guess you’d expect that from a helmet normally costing £475, all good so far. The shape also shows it is designed to work with a neck brace so appears to have genuine off road credentials.

When you put it on, that feeling of luxury is confirmed although I did find when trying the helmet on, that the 56/57cm (the size I always wear in crash helmets) was too small and had to go up a size to 58/59cm. I had been advised by the salesman that they came up small and this was obviously true.

The visor mechanism is nice and positive, shutting with a reassuringly solid “clunk” and does an excellent job of keeping both wind and rain. The double D ring strap is nice and long. Out of the box the helmet is fitted with a substantial wind guard under the chin piece which has to be struggled past to put it on but it is worth it. A thinner wind guard is also included, presumably for warmer weather. The front plastic guard opens slightly for ventilation or can be removed altogether for maximum venting i.e. if used off road.

On the road the first impression is how quiet it is especially for this style of helmet, I deliberately didn’t use ear plugs on the first ride to assess this and it was very good. With earplugs in you get a really nice calmness with no excessive wind noise. Indeed the aerodynamics are good, with virtually no buffeting caused by the peak and the peak itself is reassuringly solid, staying very still even at speed.

The ventilation is good, using the helmet for the first time on a cold day, I could feel a gentle breeze around my forehead and temples but it never felt cold. There is a vent on top of the helmet that can be closed but I found that leaving it open was fine. The wind guard makes it very cosy (and no doubt assists the low noise level).  Despite this these was no misting, the visor is fitted with a pinlock insert that is almost as large as the visor itself. On previous helmets, I’ve found myself looking over the top of the insert but no such problems with the GS Carbon. 

Another nice feature re the two large tags on either side of the visor for opening, these are really easy to use even in thick gloves and having two is an advantage. Often visors only have one on the left, fine when you’re riding and need to keep your right hand on the throttle but not so good if you’re stopped in gear holding the clutch in with your left hand. On this helmet you can easily use either hand with no problems.

Your field of vision is absolutely huge; in fact I can’t really see the edges of the aperture even looking as far as you can to the side. The visor itself is optically clear and gives a perfect view despite a pronounced curve to it. Another advantage is that wearing the helmet in heavy rain, none leaks down the back of the visor, a particular bugbear with my Schuberth.

So what’s not so good? Very little to be honest, the D-Rings on the strap seem a little small and are actually rectangular rather than D shaped so threading the strap through is a bit fiddly but to be honest that’s it. I’ve used the helmet for a couple of months now and it’s quickly become one of the favourite helmets I’ve ever owned… can’t say better than that!

I was given the choice of what colour scheme I wanted and this took a bit of thinking about. When I tried it on in the shop, I quickly rejected the plain colours as the "Light White" just made the shell look overly large and I don't do black helmets (also available in Matt Black).

The “GS Trophy” was nice but had “BMW” in large letters across the helmet… 

After all I don't own a BMW but two KTMs! The "One World" scheme was OK but I wasn’t convinced and "Xplore" was just boring grey so in the end I went for the “Comp” a white base with red and blue graphics (i.e. BMWs Motorsport colours) it features the GS logo but I decided this was subtle enough, also the red fades into a bright orange, just perfect for a KTM owner!

So all in all, a fantastic helmet and even better as it was free!