Alternatives For Your Noggin | Between The Lines

Neither Full Face Nor Half Helment


**Full-face lids occupy one side of the helmet spectrum, and open-face helmets reside at the other. But what if you want something in between? A style of lid that’s all the rage in Europe and Asia is slowly making its way Stateside. They’re smaller and lighter than a traditional flip-up, yet more complex than simple jet helmets. Their modular nature means they can be worn in most conditions. An optional chin guard in some cases earns them dual homologation as both a jet and a full-face.

While they can’t compare with the protection a full-face helmet affords, their design can offer a wider field of view and lighter weight. Here are a few of our favorites.**

Vemar CKQI $200

We can’t pronounce it either, but Vemar’s nifty little CKQI lid is all about comfort, versatility and can’t-miss styling. The lightweight helmet (a medium weighs just 2.8 lbs.) features a mid-oval shell shape for a more generous fit front to back (if a bit snug ear to ear). We’ve only worn ours a few times, but have yet to experience any pressure points. DOT and EC-standard compliant, the CKQI’s Italian-engineered aerodynamic shell is constructed of light thermoplastic material. An anti-fog, non-scratch, quick-release, tinted outer shield comes standard, and you can drop down a “smoke” tint interior shield by flipping a lever on the left side of the shell. The CKQI’s double-density inner shell and removable/washable cheek pads are made from a fiber that wicks moisture away and offers anti-bacterial properties to boot.

The CKQI’s Vemar Klima adjustable full ventilation system is easily manipulated and does a good job of shunting fresh breezes to the helmet’s interior. Ours also came with an optional chin bar, that’s easily installed (but felt a bit flimsy). A five year warranty is the clincher.

Nolan N-43 Trilogy $299.95

Nolan says the N-43 Trilogy is the only helmet on the market that offers a 6-in-1 design. This crossover lid includes several quick-change accessories that allow for customized looks and functions; the included clear shield, integrated sun shield, peak and removable chin bar can all be easily configured in a number of combinations without tools.

With 5 separate air intakes, along with the VPS (Vision Protection System), a short dark sunshield mounted inside (you can opt for amber, light blue and light smoke colors) the Trilogy is feature-rich. The VPS features a scratch- and fog-resistant treatment as well as the protective chin guard, which passes homologation tests for full-face helmets. The simple fastening system transforms the open-face helmet into a full-face one in a snap. (For 2011, there’s a removable/washable “Clima Comfort” inner padding; our model is from last year.)

For all-weather riders looking for just one do-it-all helmet, the N-43 delivers good comfort while open; when closed, it’s a step closer to the security of a full-face (with the chin guard on however, we found chin space a bit limited).

Arai XC RAM $499-599
The Ram is closer to a jet-style lid, but it offers more facial coverage, extending over an inch forward in the lower jaw area. But what really distinguishes it from the others is its Snell certification. We've always been fans of that legendarily plush Arai comfort inner liner, and with a new vented neck roll (said to move air from around the neck area), as well as a removable Dry-cool liner, comfort really is King on the new XC. A new fixed "airwing' on the back is also said to reduce lifting as well as adding stability at speed. The upper vent system comes directly from Arai's full-face Corsair model, so it's a refined and effective air conductor. Not cheap, not low-profile and not that light, the XC is nevertheless a comfortable and functional option to a full face.

Nexx X-60 Ice $289

This is a straight-up jet style lid, but we included it because it’s uber-comfortable, high-quality gear for round town. Portuguese helmet manufacturers Nexx have introduced innovative designs of late, and the X60 is a modern spin on the classic jet. With a neutral, round shape up top, and narrow sides, the thermo-resin-shelled X60 meets both DOT and ECE 22.05 approval. It’s fairly snug on the sides, but the upper interior padding is plush, and the Ice has a removable liner as well. The X60 also sports a tinted, rotating Lexan exterior visor which conveniently flips up above the brow of the shell. Optional darker or lighter visors are available. Though our top-of the-line Ice model is a bit pricy, the X60 comes in 12 other colors and graphics, starting at $99 for a super-plain-Jane model. What’s impressive is the attention to detail, with hand-stitching and various materials and textures used throughout. The unique design and modern finishes should satisfy anyone looking for a cool commuting lid.