Open Face Helmet and Goggles - more than just dressing up?
Before I begin, I have a confession to make, two in fact. The first is that until relatively recently, I have always associated open face helmets and goggles with old boys and eccentrics on vintage bikes. A bit of unnecessary apparel in today’s world, stylish perhaps but with the invention of the flip-up lid, why bother unless you like dressing up like T E Lawrence? The second is that the only reason I’m able to write this piece is because I entered this year’s DGR and felt compelled to enter into the whole spirit by donning an open face lid and a pair of goggles.
Despite living in a warm sunny climate for twelve years, I very rarely wore an open face helmet and when I did, I put the Raybans on. As a rule, I much preferred the versatility of a good flip-top lid with its three options of open, visor down or full-face. There was also the added convenience of a push-down sun visor. In other words, the best of all worlds, so why bother with that open face helmet and goggles nonsense?
Before I set up Street Icons, I’d wander into various motorcycle dealers to have a look at the latest gear. But In recent years I kept finding myself drawn to the helmet sections where there was an increasing number of retro-style helmets. I was struck by the vibrant colours available and the neat design touches like the ventilation holes masked as visor fastening clips. However, a bit like the baseball mitt and ball I pick up when I’m in a sportswear shop, I‘ve always put them back on the shelf and walked away thinking, “No use to me”. Until now that is ...
For the past month or so I’ve been testing out Hedon’s fabulous looking Hedonist open face helmet and a pair of Leon Jeantet’s, Aviator T2 goggles. This combination has been a revelation in terms of the sheer joy and exhilaration to be had from having your face exposed to the elements. I’ve ridden along quiet country roads in full sunshine and major A roads in heavy rain and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I’m not sure what it would be like in wintry weather though, when I’d probably opt for the relative comfort of a full-face lid.
For some people, crash helmets are simply a necessary evil and something you have to wear by law. Personally, I’d never choose to ride without one. An obvious safety weakness of the open face is the lack of protection for your jaw should you take a tumble. By nature, I think most motorcyclists are risk takers, or at least prepared to make calculated decisions about what’s safe and what’s not.
My current go-to helmet is a Harley FXRG flip top. I bought it as a replacement for my Shark helmet though I’m pretty sure it’s the same helmet with more expensive branding (I couldn’t find a Shark dealer in Cyprus). As with the Shark, the FXRG is a well-constructed, versatile helmet. However, the first thing that struck me when I took delivery of the Hedon, is the difference in weight. The FXRG weighs in at a whopping 4lbs 1 oz, whilst the Hedon Hedonist kisses the scales at just 2lbs 4 oz. If you want to be pedantic you can add the weight of the goggles at a tad under 3 oz. That’s a lot less weight to be wearing in a head wind!
I’ve worn the Hedon and Aviator combination on numerous rides these past few weeks, culminating in the 2019, Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) in Southend-on-Sea. It’s worth pointing out that when my brother and I set off for the DGR it was literally pouring with rain. It was the kind of morning you’d usually leave your bike at home unless you really had to head out. I wasn’t concerned about getting a soaking, but I did wonder how the rain would affect my vision as it pounded my goggles. However, my concerns were unfounded. The high-quality glass used in the Aviators simply let the rain run-off. Neither did they smear or mist up. In fact, I felt more aware and therefore more in control of the situation than I would have done ensconced behind the comfort of my FXRG.
The Hedon is a beautifully constructed, lightweight helmet. The weight issue is really noticeable from the ease with which you can throw life savers at motorway speeds without having to do battle with a head wind as you turn your head back again. Another feature is that as with any open face helmet, it is obviously a lot noisier than a full face – if you’ve got noisy pipes like me, you’re going to hear them!
For me the Hedonist and Aviators are made for each other except for the fact that the official UK distributor for Leon Jeantet is that other British manufacturer of high-end open face lids, Davida. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to try one of Davida’s open face helmets but I’m sure the combination is equally exhilarating.
As for buying, we sell both the T1 and T2 goggles, the difference being that the T2 has an aperture on either side of the mask’s interior to allow for spectacles or thin framed sun glasses. Otherwise, the T1 & T2 are identical with the latter usually retailing for £5 more than the T1s (we don’t apply a price differential). Given that every component part of the Aviators can be replaced, these goggles are clearly built to last you a lifetime and unlike many pretenders, they are exceptionally well made, light, comfortable and stylish. If you are in the market for a pair of goggles, don’t hesitate, they are simply the best available.
With regards to the Hedonist. I can’t find fault with it. The creative design team behind Hedon really have done a fantastic job of creating not only a beautiful looking helmet, but one that will do the job too. Given that you probably already own a crash helmet, you’ll know your size but if not, Hedon produced a great little video that shows you how to measure your head for a comfortable fit. You can view it here: https://vimeo.com/312398020
I followed the instructions before ordering mine and the helmet fits perfectly.
Both products are very much priced at the top-end of the market and given that many riders might only be considering an open face and goggles combination as a secondary or summer wear option, the prices might appear steep. However, it comes down to buying the best you can afford and if you can stretch to both the Hedon and Aviator, they will provide you with years of enjoyment whilst looking pretty damn dapper too!
Leon Jeantet T1 & T2 Aviator Goggles : £125
Hedon Hedonist: £300 to £500 depending on design features (model featured: Stable Black RRP £309).