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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









REVIEW: Harley-Davidson Skyline Helmet

The first one made specifically for women

By Pamela Collins and Genevieve Schmitt
8/6/2008

Though long hair cascading out of a motorcycle helmet, blowing in the breeze, looks sexy and free, the wearers of the mane can tell you it's often downright painful as the wind whips their locks and pummels their face. But what's a girl to do? Most motorcycle helmets "if they fit well" don't offer the extra space in which to stuff all that hair.
Pam wearing the Skyline. The side view shows the curvy, swooping lines on the side of the helmet which give this simple black helmet some flair and dimension.
Pam wearing the Skyline. The side view shows the curvy, swooping lines on the side of the helmet which give this simple black helmet some flair and dimension.

That's just one of the solutions offered up by Harley-Davidson's new Skyline Helmet, the first helmet designed specifically for women. According to Harley, while meeting with women around the country company reps heard a lot of similar complaints regarding helmets. According to Matt Thompson, Harley-Davidson Category Manager of Riding Gear, Leathers and Outerwear, "Women told us they often have to fit the helmet over more hair than a man which can leave the helmet sitting too high on the head resulting in a poor fit. We determined that a woman's helmet needs to be more adjustable both front-to-back and side-to-side." So Harley developed the Skyline Helmet to solve many of those issues. Does it? WRN Editor Genevieve Schmitt and I each reviewed the Skyline with her comments in quotes.

Let's start with the helmet's finer points - the features that set it apart from the rest. The shell and liner are 10 mm deeper than standard helmet dimensions, so it's supposed to fit more comfortably on a women's forehead and back of her head. Genevieve says, "I didn't really notice any difference compared to other helmets, although the helmet is comfortable. The deeper shell may satisfy those women who complain that helmets often sit too high on their head making them look like an alien or what I call, a Q-Tip head. You can see by the photos that the helmet is sitting on each of our heads where it's supposed to -- and I don't think we look like Q-Tip heads - so in that respect, the deeper shell may be the reason. The shell is smaller than the other 3/4 helmets I wear, namely my favorite, the Arai SZ/Ram III. It was nice to not feel like I'm wearing this big bowling ball on my head. The Skyline shell size feels more like a child's size helmet, I think."

Genevieve tested the Skyline on her way to and from Sturgis riding 1000 miles.
Genevieve tested the Skyline on her way to and from Sturgis riding 1000 miles.

The Skyline Helmet offers interchangeable inner liner side panels to keep the helmet from being too loose on the sides. Sold separately from the helmet, they slide and snap into the liner in place of the side panels that come with the helmet. Also sold separately are extra pieces of foam to further customize the helmet's fit. Genevieve says, "I ordered a size small, the size I normally wear, and it fit me fine. I wouldn't need the extra foam pieces, but it's nice to know they're available."

A new anti-static liner helps control fly-away hair while a "ponytail notch" cut-out in the back of the helmet allows extra room for that extra gathering of hair. Genevieve says, "I wore the helmet for five straight riding days and never once experienced static fly-away hair and I was riding in the dry western climate. Did I experience helmet hair? Sure I did -- not too many ways around that, but it wasn't sticking straight out from static when I removed the helmet."

You can see the ponytail notch at the back of the inside of the helmet.
You can see the ponytail notch at the back of the inside of the helmet.

The Skyline helmet was introduced several months ago in half and 3/4 helmet styles. Just out on the market is a full face version of the Skyline with interchangeable faceshield -- in case you want to replace the clear one with a tinted one. It features the same deeper shell and features as the other two helmets. The full face also has chin and forehead vents. It retails for $210.

The half-shell version.
The half-shell version.

Three-quarter-length style. Styling is simple -- just the Harley logo appears on the front.
Three-quarter-length style. Styling is simple -- just the Harley logo appears on the front.

Genevieve and I opted to test the 3/4-length style with a clear face shield (with excellent optical quality). This helmet does fit more snugly than other size small helmets I've used. I have short hair at the moment so I can't attest to the ease of piling hair underneath or the comfort afforded by the ponytail notch, but Genevieve tested the ponytail notch and says, "I didn't have to push the ponytail holder down from the nape of my neck to avoid that annoying bump in the back like I normally do when wearing a 3/4 helmet, because the "notch" allows for the extra bulk the ponytail holder creates -- so in that respect, the notch is helpful."

WRN Editor Genevieve Schmitt demonstrates wearing the Skyline with her ponytail. A notch in the padding allows for that extra clump of hair.
WRN Editor Genevieve Schmitt demonstrates wearing the Skyline with her ponytail. A notch in the padding allows for that extra clump of hair.

The Skyline is available in just one color -- gloss black. Genevieve concludes, "This is a no-frills helmet made privately for Harley by helmet manufacturer KBC. There are no vents on the 3/4 or half shell and styling is simple. I think Harley is testing the concept of a women-only helmet this year and if women buy into it, we'll see more color options in the future. For now there is the 3/4 Bling Skyline (that's what it's called) featuring a crystal-laden Harley-Davidson bar and shield logo on the front."

Both helmets come in a wide range of sizes -- 2XS to 2XL -- another plus for women with very small heads. The half helmet retails for $175 while the three-quarter length sells for $195. Stop by your local Harley dealer or visit Harley-Davidson.com.

One last thought from Genevieve: "Unlike some of Harley's other helmets which are Snell approved (the highest crash test rating a helmet can have), the Skyline does not bear the Snell rating. To that end, I think these helmets are a bit pricey. I've worn and tested many helmets. I would put the Skyline's quality in the budget category - easy to wear and comfortable without a lot of bells and whistles. The higher price must be because it has features that make this a women's helmet, the deeper shell, anti-static liner, etc."

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