Cruiser Helmets

Matt Thompson, Harley-Davidson MotorClothes manager, went to 2007 Daytona Bike Week to conduct seminars on how to properly fit a helmet. In between seminars, he helped women try on new helmets and made a discovery. Many women, especially those with a lot of hair, were having trouble fitting into Harley’s traditional line of helmets.

Up until now, it has been believed that a women’s motorcycle helmet does not need to be internally shaped any different than a man’s helmet. “I don’t really think a woman needs a different shape helmet than a man,” says Ed Becker, executive director and chief engineer of the Snell Memorial Foundation, a well-known evaluator of crash helmets. “The size ranges are different, but there is a big overlap. In my personal opinion, the shape of women’s heads is so similar to men’s that the differences are hardly worth discussing.”

Helmet manufacturers have long noted that different people have different head shapes, and different models of helmet are better for certain people. As Eric Anderson of Scorpion Helmets explains, “For example, Arai Signet is for long oval heads. Other Arais are for round heads. It’s not so much about women versus men as it is about offering several shapes for human heads.”

Eric also notes that there are two ways to shape a helmet: first, by making a differently shaped EPS mold (which creates the internal shock absorbing part of the helmet) and secondly, by adjusting padding around in the comfort liner.

Matt Thompson went home to Wisconsin and convinced Harley to develop a helmet for women. The result is the Skyline Helmet. As far as we can tell, the Skyline is the only helmet that is constructed differently than a unisex helmet. Several manufacturers, including O’Neal Racing, HJC, MSR Racing and Scorpion, make women’s helmets, but the main difference between them and men’s helmets seems to be the graphics and the availability of smaller sizes. Under the pink flames, the shape of both the shell and the liner is the same as the men’s helmets in the same model line.

The Harley Skyline helmet is 10 mm deeper than the typical Harley helmet. Matt Thompson learned from different female riders that helmets they tried were sitting too high on their head. “This made it difficult to get the proper fit,” says Thompson. “By making the shell deeper, the helmet will sit properly on a women’s head. It also comes in seven different thicknesses, that when combined with the available interchangeable liners, makes the Skyline helmet’s fit very customizable for a woman rider.”

The fact that the helmet is deeper does not mean that it fits more loosely. As Matt Thompson explains, “A helmet should fit as tightly as you can comfortably wear it, and rest about one inch above your eyebrows. The problem some women were having is that they have more hair than men, and this was causing the helmet to rest too high and not snug enough. With a properly fitting helmet, the skin and scalp should move as the helmet moves. The deeper cavity allows the rider to have more contact with their skin. It also requires the need for interchangeable side liners, so that the customer can customize the fit from side to side.”

Women riders now represent 10% of the motorcycle market, and make up about 12% of Harley-Davidson sales. It makes sense for Harley dealers like you to learn what you need to do to cater to women riders. Although it does not appear that any other helmet companies are coming out with their own version of the Skyline, if sales take off, expect to see something similar in your rep’s new product line. Ready to preview his lineup? See below for a roundup of cruiser lids for every rider that walks in your door.


Meet the FX-43, this touring-friendly helmet has a lightweight composite poly alloy shell with an advanced aerodynamic design. Its clear-coat finish protects the paint and graphics and adds a lustrous look. Removable and washable, plush-brushed, hypoallergenic nylon liner and cheek pads add to the comfort quotient, and an optically correct, compound-curved, scratch-resistant, UV-treated face shield lets riders see clearly. A three-point ventilation system has forehead, back and rear vents. There’s ample ear cavity space for speakers in this DOT- and ECE-2205-certified helmet, which is available in sizes XS to 2XL in black, flat black, silver, wine red, pearl white and pink for $64.95.


AGV’s set out to create a safer more modern open-face helmet hybrid. The Blade gives riders better coverage around the head as well as more functionality. It has a similar two-piece EPS as the race helmets for substantial ventilation. The Blade also has a removable, washable cheek pad and liner system and removable neck curtain. The shield flips up and down and can also be worn without the shield. Riders can also opt to add short or long accessory visors.


Not everyone is looking for the bare minimum when it comes to cruiser helmets, and Arai’s SZ RAM-III is billed as the “ultimate open face helmet.” Starting with the company’s groundbreaking diffuser ventilation system, the RAM-III gets a shell constructed with Arai’s proprietary clc aerospace grade fiberglass composite combined with the industry’s first multiple-density single-piece EPS liner. Fluted exhaust ports at the back of the bands help expel even more hot interior air, and the faceshield easily flips up and down. The SZ RAM-III comes in size solid colors and starts at $447.95.


The CKX TC offers riders an affordable DOT lid with a lightweight fiberglass shell, a soft, brushed nylon liner for better comfort and a padded chin strap. It gets front ventilation and an included peak for $79.99, in sizes XS to 2XL.


With leather trim and a subtle visor, the vintage, open-face design of the V2 gets flashy with the introduction of Bobbers. This new, glitter color scheme is available in gold, red, blue and silver. Like all V2’s, this DOT-approved lid also gets a padded D-ring retention system and a three-snap bubble visor, in sizes XS to 2XL.


The GMAX GM17S DOT cruiser helmet has an industry-leading eight vents engineered for maximum airflow control. Included with this open-face helmet are two shields — one clear and the other smoke — and a sun peak. The interior features a fully removable, adjustable, Coolmax interior fabric that moves moisture away from the rider’s skin, and the cheek pads feature speaker pockets for easy speaker installation. The GM17S is available in 13 different color/graphic combinations and retails for $69.95 to $74.95 depending on color/graphic choice.

Helmets Inc.

Last month Helmets Inc. unveiled its new Vented DOT Pink Lady Rider helmet that has the distinctive design you’ve seen in black, silver, and white, now in powder pink.  The Vented DOT Pink Lady Rider keeps riders up to 20 degrees cooler when the vents are open. It also has a removable visor and is face shield compatible. Ladies are also sure to love the new ponytail accessories that complement the Pink Lady Rider.


HJC utilizes industry-leading CAD 3D modeling programs to design helmets that are lightweight, aerodynamic and extremely comfortable. HJC R&D specialists utilize a state-of-the-art continuous single return atmospheric wind tunnel to fine-tune the aerodynamics of every helmet they make. Designs are constantly being evaluated to reduce noise and turbulence while enhancing airflow through the vents and improving overall comfort. One of the latest lids to make it though the ringer is the HJC CS-2N. It has a thermoplastic alloy shell for light weight, superior fit and comfort. Two forehead vents deliver cool air to the rider. The neck curtain is removable with optional earflaps with speakers. Pricing for this DOT-approved helmet starts at $59.99, in sizes ranging from XS to XL.


The team at Scorpion Sports boasts that the EXO-100 brings features and technology never before seen in an open-face helmet. From its unique SpeedView retractable, internal sun visor to its removable, washable KwikWick liner, the features and construction of the EXO-100 rival much more expensive helmets on the market. The SpeedView sun visor is available in five colors and is easily retracted by a simple push of a button. Removable ear curtains make it extremely easy to adapt this helmet for varying temperatures and also allows for easy installation of various types of communication systems. The EXO-100 is DOT-approved and comes in nine colors retailing at $109.95.


The classically styled VX-4 features a composite thermoplastic shell and a plush, removable washable liner. It has an aerodynamic lip in the back of the shell and a D-ring fastener with a snap to keep the chin strap in place. The Winex VX-4 comes in four graphic colors as well as matte and gloss black. The DOT-approved VX-4 is aailable in sizes XS to 2XL ranging from $38.99 to 43.99.


The crew over at Helmet House sent up the 411 on the RJ Platinum R, Shoei’s next generation  open-face helmet, sporting a smooth, streamlined look and an overhaul of the original RJ-Air features that make this model a top choice for the open road. Sure sellers include a lightweight, AIM+ shell; adjustable top intake and rear exhaust vents; a Semi-Dual EPS liner that allows for smooth passage of air, improving cooling performance; and Shoei’s distinctive GT visor. We can’t forget the soft and comfortable 3D liner, the removable, washable interior or the padded chin strap. The lid is both DOT- and Snell-certified and retails starting at $232.99.


Long-distance haulers will appreciate the built-in Bluetooth features of the V-Can Model 210 Modular helmet. On the tech side, riders are offered interference-free communications with four hours of continuous talk time and 100 hours of standby as well as streaming music, waterproof controls and self-adjusting volume. Getting back to basics, the DOT lid also features one button, one hand flip-up operation; a retractable sun visor; a flow through ventilation system and an ABS thermoplastic shell — all weighing just 4.1 pounds.


Vega’s open-face NT 200 helmet offers the rider superior comfort and functionality all in one stylish lid. An adjustable six-position, optically-correct faceshield, and an interchangeable visor using an easy, quick-release mechanism provide the rider with a clear view of the road ahead. Smoke and Silver Mirror shields are available for extra comfort on sunny days. To stay cool and dry, The NT200 sports a Wick-Dri washable interior fabric and two high-capacity forehead intake vents to channel airflow throughout the interior. A new Easy-Com liner accommodates communication speakers. Available in 12 vibrant solid and metallic colors, the DOT-compliant NT 200 comes in sizes XS to 5XL, ranging from $79.99 to $99.99, depending on color and size.


Rounding our our look at cruiser-friendly lids is the Zamp O-2. It gives riders a composite thermoplastic shell, adjustable scalp ventilation, aerodynamic three-snap visor, a plush interior and a D-ring fastener. Additional snaps make the O-2 compatible with five-snap shields. The $49.95 helmet is available in silver, black, white, red or flat black and meets or exceeds DOT and ECE requirements.

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