Helmet technology has changed recently to include pump-up cheek padding. This month we are going to take a look at two of the newest off-road helmets featuring the pump action.
One example of this new type of helmet is the LS2 MX456 and the other is Scorpion’s EXO VX-R70. Both carry DOT and ECE certifications, have modern styling, and come in a variety of colors and sizes. The Scorpion helmet sells for $269, which is $90 more than the LS2 product at $179. Having a comfortable, correct-fitting helmet is important. Things as simple as changes in humidity can affect how a helmet fits from one ride to the next. Or, how about buying a new helmet for your kid and in less than one riding season he grows out of it? The new pump system could help solve the issue. Both helmets utilize air to pump fit the cheek pads tighter to the rider’s face. However, each helmet manufacturer goes about the process differently.
SCORPION EVO VX-R70
Scorpion places the pump and air evacuator in the chin bar at the front of the helmet. The round pump itself is about half the size of a golf ball and forces air through a small tube down each side of the helmet. The air gets forced into a rectangular-shaped bladder that is situated under and completely separate from the cheek pads. When the bladders get filled, it forces the foam pads closer to the rider’s face. Like any other helmet, the cheek pads and helmet liner are completely removable and washable. This helmet weighs in at 2 pounds, 14 ounces according to our scales. It has three huge vent intakes above the forehead and four exhaust ports out back.
Although we like the shape and liner feel of this helmet better, it’s not perfect. The pump and front chin bar are too close to our rider’s chin. You can barely put a finger between our rider’s lips and the pump itself. Also, our rider complained that the goggles tend to ride too far up on his face. The only way you can position them correctly is if you put the goggle strap down “goon-style” on the lower portion of the helmet. Even after removing the nose/roost guard, we suffered the same problem. In this test we tried a set of Oakleys and a set of X Brand goggles.
On this helmet the designers put the air bladder within the foam of the two cheek pads. The pump is again about half the size of a golf ball, but in this case, it’s placed at the lower left portion at the back of the helmet. It does not interfere with your face or neck. The cheek pads are still removable, thanks to a small coupling in the air line. About 10 pumps gives you full pressure. When the helmet was new, the cheek pads were very tight even without air. So, it took us a few rides before we even wanted to add air to them.
There are six intake air vents in the helmet, two of which are closable, but only two small exhaust vents are found out back. What was a plus, though, was that this helmet comes with a bolt-on visor extension. This feature gives you an extra inch of sun glare or roost deflection if utilized. Two small Allen-head screws make it easy to install or remove. Goggle placement on this helmet was perfect. No matter how many different-shaped google frames we used, they all fit well. This helmet weighed slightly more at 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Primarily because of the goggle issue on the Scorpion helmet, we would choose the LS2 product first. However, keep in mind your face may sit differently in the Scorpion helmet, so make sure to try on the helmet before you buy or avoid buying one.
Helmet technology will continue to evolve. They will continue to get more comfortable and even safer in the coming years. But more important, there are helmets currently offered today that look good and go with whatever style you’re into. Wear one every time you ride. Both pump systems work well. With each example, we added about five pumps about 30 minutes into the ride, which kept the helmet firmer on our heads. We do wish the technology would evolve to include bladder systems integrated into the rest of the helmet as well. It’s a good addition to helmet comfort.