Old & New Helmets

Discussion on riding gear for women

Old & New Helmets

Postby LadyAramis » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:21 am

I just got myself a new helmet, and thought I would share my thoughts on both my old one and the new one with everyone. Apologies in advance for the long post. :D

Old
My original helmet is a GMax 68S full face. It is in the lower price range (I believe I paid around $120 for it). Well ventilated (4 vents on the top and the chin vent), and integrated LED's on the back with three modes (solid, slow flash and fast flash). It also came with a red or smoked LED cover (even with my blue & white graphics, I chose the smoked). GMax also usually includes a smoked face shield with all of their helmets.

This was my very first helmet. Going by their size chart, I was going to need a small, but the store that helped me really recommended the XS, so I went with that. I really love the LED feature, especially since part of my commute is at night. But, looking at their newer helmets, it looks as if GMax might have stopped doing this.

Changing out the face shield, while not difficult, was sometimes tricky. It seemed as soon as I got one side set, it would come undone while getting the other side in. Since so much of my riding was at night, I rarely changed out the shield to the tinted one, so part if it could be I just never quite got the knack for it.

There was quite a bit of wind noise from the venting, but it seemed a lot less than what I would get in a car with the window down, and unless I was on the Interstate, it didn't really bother me. Despite the venting, the face shield tends to fog at stops, especially when the humidity is high and in the winter.

Image
GMax 68S Oddyssey in Blue (the pattern I have)

Image
The back of the helmet showing the LED with the red lens.

New
The new helmet is a Torc TB-10. I had to research Torc at first. I found that the parent company has actually been around for about 20 years making helmets for other companies, and Torc is their own label that they released around 2011, and they are in the lower price range. This is actually one of their first models. I found it on Motorcycle Closeouts for $90 (including the shipping) and had to snatch it up (partly because it was a closeout and didn't know how long it would be in stock).

While researching, I had found a professional review that was nothing but positive, and that, combined with the closeout deal, sold me. This helmet had the main feature I was looking for, which was Bluetooth integration. The BT can be paired with a phone, or another helmet or headset. Torc has the BT option on all of their helmets.

This was my first time ordering a helmet online, and I was a bit nervous about the fit. Their size chart indicated a small (almost a medium for my measurements), so I went with that. So, before trying anything else, when I got it out of the box, I popped it on, and it fit perfectly. Honestly, I think it fit better than the GMax XS did. I did feel a bit of extra pressure on the left from the BT, but it was not uncomfortable, and after a little bit, I didn't even notice it anymore.

After letting it charge (the pad in the back pops out for access to the charging port) for about an hour (instructions said it should take 4, but the light went out, indicating it was done), I powered it up and paired it with my phone (LG G3 with Lollipop) with no trouble (I was a little concerned that my phone might be "too new" for the BT 1.2 that is on the helmet). I did have a hiccup getting the voice commands to work at first, but turns out I had picked the wrong app on my phone. As soon as I changed to a different one, it worked beautifully.

In the house, the sound quality was awesome. My husband said he could hear me clearly, which was sometimes a problem on the earpiece I would sometimes use in the car, and I was able to hear him clearly, as well. I attempted to stream some music on my commute tonight, but the BT turned off as soon as I was out of the driveway. Possibly the battery is low from our earlier testing. I'll have to play with that more so I can test the sound quality while riding. But, the sound quality from what I did hear was good. Could have been louder, but I didn't really have a chance to adjust the volume.

This helmet also has 5 vents, but they are laid out differently: 2 on top and 2 on either side of the chin vent. On my first ride, I noticed that the air seemed to flow well, maybe even better than on the GMax because I actually was able to feel the air flow on my face (which could be a problem when it's colder). There is also a rubber piece that fits in the front of the helmet that kind of arcs over the nose and it seems to help cut down on the fogging. At least, I didn't notice the face shield fogging in the house, and wearing any helmet inside like that gets stuffy instantly. I knocked this piece loose somehow and it was stuffed in my pocket during the first ride, but still didn't notice any fogging at stops. But, once at work, I was able to put it back in very easily.

Some of the reviews I had seen on various forums while doing my research said this was a noisy helmet. But, the same thing was also said about the GMax (even by the store I bought mine from, but they also felt it was a quality helmet for the price). That being said, right from the start, I noticed a big difference in the wind noise. It is much quieter than the GMax. I would estimate by about half. Now, on my commute, I tend to take surface streets (interstate drivers are crazy in Phoenix!!) so I don't go over 50mph very often, so at highway speeds it might be more noticeable.

Since I haven't had a chance to make a phone call while riding, I'm only guessing that the sound quality won't be impacted by the wind noise much. But, again, at highway speeds that may be very different as well.

I did have a case of butterfingers while gearing up for my commute and the helmet hit the driveway. Luckily, not scratches on the face shield, one small scratch on one of the corner edges on the top, and chipped paint on the vent slider. I kind of hate myself for that snafu (especially on my first ride!). But, lord knows I dropped the Gmax plenty of times, too. One of the reasons it is being retired (plus I've had it for 4 years, so it's lived its life).

Again, as with the testing in the house, the helmet fits nice and snug, and there was the pressure on the left where the headset sits. Again, it's not uncomfortable feeling, and after a while not really noticeable (unless I was thinking about it). My ride to work is less than 30 minutes, so maybe on a longer ride it might start to get uncomfortable.

This helmet did not come with the tinted shield, and while I was tempted to spend the extra $30 for it, opted not to since I do ride at night so much. I may look into a Transitions insert again, or just wear cheap shades in the daytime.

Their newer models are a little more expensive (I was able to find them on Amazon), but seem to range from about $120 for full face to $220 for modular. They also offer 3/4 and beanie helmets, too.

Image
Torc TB-10 in Absolute Blue (the color I picked (I'm a blue nut!))


Comparison
Both helmets appear to weigh about the same. Even with the BT on the Torc, I don't really notice any difference in weight. Both are light and easy to wear over long periods. I actually wore the GMax for hours while taking my BRC.

The plus for the GMax is the LED on the back. Again, I loved this feature for night riding. The batteries were easily changeable, and I used rechargeable batteries that seemed to last quite long. The only minus for the GMax is the wind noise and the fogging face shield.

The plus for the Torc is the integrated BT. Great if you need to make an emergency phone call, or your spouse texts you for an errand while your riding (well, at least it will tell you that you have a text that you need to check ;) ). Handy for rider-to-rider communication or listening to music, too. I would have liked something like the LED on the GMax, but I am thinking of getting glow-in-the-dark paint or nail polish and putting "cat eyes" on the back.

Conclusion
All in all, these are both really good, inexpensive helmets. Great for the new rider looking for their first gear, or for those who are a little more economically minded (or don't really care about brands). If you're looking for BT, I would really recommend Torc, since (as mentioned above) they offer it for all of their helmets (and they offer a mod kit as well).

Keep in mind that I am writing this as a newer rider (about 4 years and 10k under my belt) and this is my first experience with gear, so these reviews are very much from a n00b perspective. :D
Lady Aramis (aka Jen)
Phoenix, AZ
'07 Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe
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Re: Old & New Helmets

Postby Ametha Elf » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:02 pm

Thanks for the review. Something I will definately read again before buying my next helmet. Its strange how a helmet can be great for one person and not be at all suitable for another. I had that with a Shark once, it fogged terribly and yet all the reviews were raving about how it had great ventilation. I must be a heavy breather lol :lol:
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Re: Old & New Helmets

Postby dbsteffy » Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:42 pm

Well written review, Jen, lots of important information. Thank you.
I like the pattern on the Old and color on the New.

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Re: Old & New Helmets

Postby LadyAramis » Fri Apr 08, 2016 4:44 am

I did get a chance to try out the BT on a call while riding. Still having some hiccups getting the voice commands to work, mostly because I can't hear it (I think I need to adjust the phone volume for this to work better). BUT, doing the double-click to dial the last number, I was able to call the hubby, and he was able to hear me clearly (though I was speaking up a bit because of the traffic/wind noise, and I probably didn't need to), even when I rode under the freeway overpass, and I was able to hear him just fine.

Didn't try the music again tonight, but the BT did stay on all the way to work, and the helmet weathered the rain (started as a light sprinkle, which was OK, but got steadily heavier as I got closer to work) just fine.
Lady Aramis (aka Jen)
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'07 Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe
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