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Gear Review: Airoh TR1 Helmet

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I've been a fan of the 'jet" or "helicopter" helmet since I first saw the Vespa version many years ago. While I'm usually a full-face kind of guy, I can appreciate the reported benefits of a smaller, lighter and less restrictive helmet. Years later, I encountered the magnificent Roof Boxer helmet. It's a European helmet that really has a look, if you know what I mean. Due to it's price and limited availability, it was never a realistic choice for me, but I kept on looking. I recently saw what looked like a good deal on a similar European helmet on the Modern Vespa forum, and soon it was mine.

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The Airoh TR1 was an Italian-made, lightweight helmet intended for the European scooter market. It's apparently been replaced by the J-106 Shot. The TR1 was certified to the European P1 standard (protective) as an open face 3/4 helmet, but looks the part of a full face, albeit with some significant limitations. I picked up my nearly new TR1 helmet at less than half price (Euro list calculates to $249 with shipping extra).

First Impressions:

The helmet sure has the looks, with the same striking, bug-eyed look that the Roof Boxer offers. It offers two different configurations with it's removable chin piece (an "accessory" in the small manual that comes with the helmet.) It's not Snell or DOT-rated, so is technically illegal for U.S. roads. There currently isn't a mandatory helmet law here in Michigan, so I think that wearing an European rated safety helmet is better than no helmet at all.

Sizing:

The key to getting a good fit in a helmet is getting one that fits. Based on my regular helmet (a Shoei RX-1000) and a measurement (59cms around the head above the ears) I was either a large (Shoei) or an XL (Airoh). As it turns out, the Airoh XL is almost a perfect match for my round oblong head. It's a bit more round than the Shoei, but is an OK fit. It's an OK fit because my head barely fits through the opening.

Fit and finish:

The Airoh is a quality-built helmet. It's compound curve visor is crystal clear and offers a wide view. The small, built-in sun visor is just big enough to shield you eyes, and small enough so that it doesn't hit your nose and the control to move it (located at the left rear), is a light touch. The liner is thin, but relatively comfortable. The helmet is extremely light weight. On my scale it's a scant two pounds, six ounces. Part of that weight loss is the helmet being the absolute minimum as far as size and fit. For example, as a glasses wearer, I'm used to taking the glasses off, putting the helmet on, and putting my glasses back on. With the Airoh, I have to put the helmet halfway on, thread the ear pieces of my glasses carefully over my ears, and put the helmet back on. Unlike the Shoei, there are no channels built into the side of the Airoh, so my glasses are pressed into my head. Not bad for a short run, but slowly painful after about 40 minutes. Taking the helmet off in the same procedure in reverse, but seems worse as my head just barely fits through the same hole that it went in to wear the helmet. Perhaps my head expands?

Use:

The Airoh has a removable lower chin "cover." It's not a modular helmet, and it's only rated as an open face helmet (not rated at all for US DOT or Snell, by the way). I prefer a full-face helmet, but the Airoh offers that extreme light weight and outstanding "bug-eyed" visibility, so there is a trade off. The same cleverly removable chin piece also tends to make noise as it rubs up against the other materials in the helmet, so there is a feeling of the whole thing being cobbled together. Various squeaks and clicks emanate from around your head while wearing this helmet. It's also not quiet as far as wind flow, either, with multiple non-closable vents in the lower front, but I wear earplugs so it's not a problem for me. The strap has a ratcheting mechanism and is easy inserted and adjustable, so strapping the helmet on (once you get it on over your big noggin), is fast and comfortable. The giant visor moves very smoothly through it's range and will hold any position that you care to leave it in. That comes in handy because this helmet fogs very easily. Even with an anti fogging treatment, the lower half of the shield immediately fogs up with your breath until you are moving when air beginning to flow through the helmet. I crack the visor just a bit (1/4 inch) and the fogging at rest is minimized.

Conclusion:

The Airoh TR1 helmet is a bit of an enigma. On one hand, it's a stunning helmet - totally unique (well, the Roof Boxer is similar) and is a flexible, extremely lightweight helmet. On the other hand, it's a bit of a tight fit (even one size up), and isn't a great "full-face" helmet at all (although it's a good 3/4). I like if for the light weight, looks, finish and flexibility. Add that to the fact that the Airoh, an "almost a full-face helmet" fits perfectly in the small helmet storage space in the Aprilia SR50 and it gets four stars.

What's next: Genuine Scooter Company's Chicago Family Ride

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