OGK FF-3 Motorcycle Helmet Review
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
The OGK FF-3 has modern styling and excellent ventilation.
It meets the EC 22.05 and BS6658 Type A ACU approval standards.
The FF-3 was also listed on the Snell 2000 Approved Helmets List
The helmet is very comfortable but the sizing appears to run slightly on the large side. All that air flow makes it slightly noisy and a slightly short front-to-back dimension means the nose guard touches.
OGK helmets re not widely known, but many World Superbike and Supersport riders swear by them.
The webBikeWorld team have been admirers of the OGK brand since we first tried them.
We're definitely of the anti-snob persuasion, and it's nice
to find a somewhat obscure helmet brand that really works. OGK helmets are
definitely contemporaries of the best in the business.
So curiosity finally got the better of us, and who better to supply a sample for review than the OGK Shop? They (used to) distribute OGK helmets and other products worldwide, they're motorcycle riders and racers, and they're probably the leading champions of the OGK brand.
A short discussion resulted in an email on a Thursday afternoon that said the helmet was in the mail that day.
I get occasional packages from overseas, so I figured on a couple of weeks before I'd see the box. But early the very next Monday morning, the rural route postal carrier drove up and handed me a box.
I wasn't even thinking it was the helmet; first off, it was too soon, and second, the box was too light! But sure enough, there it was -- it went through customs at JFK and BWI and was hand delivered to me in under 5 days -- and one of those days was a Sunday! That's faster delivery than I get from just about anywhere in the U.S.!
Anyway, I pulled the helmet out of its box and admired this beauty. Its fiberglass and Kevlar construction means it's incredibly light (I weighed it at 1623 grams), and it has what I think is a great shape -- racy and modern. It really turns heads when you're tooling down the road.
I slipped it on and immediately noticed something different -- this helmet fits like no other I've ever tried -- and I've tried a lot of helmets in 30+ years of riding. I now see what a combination of light weight and a perfect fit does for you -- it really makes the helmet feel like it totally disappears on your head.
But the proof is in the riding, shall we say. We've been having a hellish summer here in the Washington D.C. area -- I can't remember the last time it dropped under 90F, and it's incredibly humid every day, but we never seem to get any rain. Awful conditions for any helmet (and rider!), but good for testing airflow.
One of the neat things about modern helmet designs is all the air vents and air flow technology that have come into play. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of advancement that needs to be made in this area, as many (most?) helmets don't live up to expectations for air flow.
So I was definitely skeptical about how well all the air vents and holes
on the FF-3 would work. By time I got suited up, the thermometer was indicating
93 degrees F. The only thing to do when it's that hot is to keep moving,
and fast! And surprise of surprises, the air venting system in the
FF-3 really works!
I felt more air flow through this helmet than most of the helmets I've tried. A nice rush of air through the filters in the chin vent. Another bit of nice cooling breeze is felt across the forehead and top of the helmet. I'm assuming the 4 vents in the rear of the helmet do their job of pulling the air through and out the back, because the system seems to work as designed.
I can honestly say that my head was as comfortable as could be, considering the conditions; more comfortable, in fact, in the 93 degree weather than other helmets are when it's cooler. I don't know how they get all that air to flow through the liner, but it does.
Not to say you can't shut the flow off if desired. It's easy to shut the chin or forehead vents with a gloved hand, and they stop the flow when closed. There are pull tabs on the back of the helmet (red arrows, left) that, when pulled towards the rear, open the vents that live in the channels across the top of the helmet.
There are also two small holes (yellow arrows, left) that help vent the air from the chin. The system of vents, exhaust and the helmet shape really seem to work as a system that you can tailor to get exactly the flow you need.
And I think that's the real key to this helmet's success; it's been designed as a total system, not just a collection of the latest fad technical features.
Because riding with this helmet also brings another revelation; somebody really did their homework in the wind tunnel, as this is the most stable helmet I've ever tried.
No amount of buffeting or side winds seem to affect it. Between the light
weight, the air flow and the stability of the design, you just don't notice
that the helmet is there at all.
The liner (photo left) looks pretty conventional, although it's as comfortable as the best top-line helmets and goes them one more by allowing the air to flow through.
The liner is removable, washable and the cheek pads are "bespoke",
i.e., they can be custom tailored for fit with different sizes.
The FF-3 is fairly quiet, especially considering the amount of air that gets through. The compromise with race-style helmets is that they can be a bit noisy. But other than a single toned wind noise that was coming from the upper vent, this helmet is still quieter than, for example, the Lazer Century.
I always wear earplugs anyway, so what little noise got through wasn't a problem. If you don't wear earplugs, any helmet will probably be noisy.
I do notice that depending upon the angle of your head fore-and-aft, the noise can increase or decrease.
It seems to be quieter in a more upright position than in a head down position; this may be due to the design of the air vents on top, as most of the noise seems to come from the forehead vents.(For more information on earplugs and their correct fitment, see the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page).
One thing I did notice is that no matter what I did, the breath guard seems to just touch the tip of my nose. It makes the end of my nose tickle, and I haven't been able to determine if this can be adjusted. It's a bit annoying having a ticklish nose when riding!
The FF-3 meets the tough Euro EC22/055 and BS6658 British Standard and is ACU approved for competition at the highest level in the U.K. U.S. DOT approval is currently being investigated.
(Note: The FF-3 is now Snell 2000 approved). They also come in some of what we think are the coolest color schemes produced by any helmet manufacturer. It would be really hard to choose a favorite -- there are so many that are so nice! But being a fan of Big Dave, I'm partial to his replica.
More facts and features about the FF-3 include: each helmet comes with 3 tinted tear-offs; the standard visor has the tear-off pegs. You also get a nice protective helmet bag with your purchase. It's got a hefty double "D" ring strap attachment and a snap fastener to hold the loose end of the helmet strap. It's also got a quick-change visor system; press the buttons on either side and give a tug on the visor and it pops right out.
I finally got around to trying the FF-3 on the BMW K75 with its buffeting windscreen. It's generally agreed that this OEM windscreen can create some of the worst buffeting known to all motorcycledom! (See the wBW article "BMW K75 Windscreen Buffeting Fix").
The design of this 'screen is such that the air coming off the lip hits the helmet right around ear level; with some helmets, the noise is almost unbearable, even with earplugs. With a side wind and with certain helmet designs, the buffeting can pummel you around the head and shoulders and toss the helmet around, which makes for a very tiring and very noisy ride. The Lazer Century, for example, does not take to this windscreen at all!
I am pleased to report that our initial findings with the OGK FF-3 are confirmed; the FF-3 is as steady as can be, even on this "windscreen of death". I guess this is to be expected; after all, the helmet was designed for racing, and the BMW windscreen buffeting is nothing compared to a 175 mph blast down the straight at Brainerd ... or is it?!
It's actually a bit weird that the helmet just doesn't seem to care about
how much wind is pouring on it or which direction it's coming from. I'll
wait until the very windy Mid-Atlantic winter to see if this still holds
true, but I expect it will.
Regarding the noise level, which is also usually much elevated for anything behind this windscreen, the FF-3 is noticeably noisier than when using it on a motorcycle with no 'screen, where your head is in clear air. But it's not the really annoying low frequency pounding noise that sometimes is the case on this bike; the only thing that's different is that you do hear more of the higher frequency rushing noise coming from the helmet's upper air vents.
Again, I always wear earplugs, so this noise wasn't that annoying, and seems to be a consequence of this unusually bad windscreen design. When I tucked down a bit under the air bubble created by the windscreen, the FF-3 remains very quiet, and my guess is that it would be a good helmet for touring bikes also -- airflow through a helmet is almost more important behind a big fairing, because it can actually get pretty hot back there in the "bubble".
|wBW Review: OGK FF-3 Helmet|
|Manufacturer: OGK Kabuto||List Price (2003?): Helmet no longer in production.|
|Colors: Various colors, patterns, replicas and solids.||Made In: Japan|
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
From "G.P.": "First of all, I would like to say that webBikeWorld is one of the most informative sites I have ever come across on the WWW. Secondly I want to comment about my OGK FF3-GP that I have owned for almost 2 years. When I got back into motorcycles and kart racing a couple of years ago, I started looking for a good quality helmet that could be used for both my motorcycling and karting activities.
I heard about the OGK helmets from instructors at the California Superbike schools who had come from the England school to teach at Willow Springs. The instructors had nothing but good things to say about them so I checked for reviews of the helmet and came across webBikeWorld’s review of the FF3. I was impressed with what I read about the helmet features and certifications so I decided to purchase it.
The helmet is very comfortable even though I don’t think I have an earth shaped head. The air flow is better than any helmet I have ever tried and it is very light (extremely important for kart racing because of the G forces that can be generated) so I was planning to continue using it for kart racing next season.
The only concern I have ever had with the helmet is from recent news that the kart racing regulations will require Snell 2000 certification on all helmets used next season. I started to panic a little because I did not see any Snell decals on or in the helmet, but I saw the note on webBikeWorld about the FF3 being on the Snell list of MA2000 approved helmets. I checked the Snell website and to my relief, the FF3 is in fact listed as a MA2000 helmet as your website states.
I am feeling better, but my question is how do I convince the officials at tech inspection that the helmet is Snell 2000 approved without the decal? I can’t expect the officials will know every helmet listed on Snell’s website so is one of the existing certification labels (Euro EC22/055, BS6658 British Standard and ACU ) on the helmet considered equivalent to Snell 2000?
If you can help me with answering this and more importantly being able to continue to use my beloved helmet, I would appreciate it very much. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work on the site."
Editor's Response: This is an interesting problem. It's my understanding that every motorcycle racing organization in the U.S. will honor the BSI certification. Nevertheless, the Snell website is the official source of information for Snell approved helmets, not the sticker on the helmet.
There have been many instances of forged Snell stickers, and I've seen helmets for sale that claim Snell approval but are not listed on the Snell site...First check to make sure the Snell sticker isn't hidden under the liner; sometimes they are glued to the inside of the shell, as on the early KBC VR-1 helmets. Otherwise, maybe write a letter and direct the Karting officials to the Snell website?
R.G. Comments One Year Later: "After reading your article on the OGK FF-3 last year, and seeing as how they had already passed the English ACU Gold Standard, (not to mention the number of BSB racers who were starting to use the OGK) I decided to buy one. At first I wasn't very impressed with the helmet. There was a gap between the outer shell of the helmet and the removable liner.
Also, on the "FF-3" graphics on the back of the helmet, there
was a crack running through the graphic as though the sticker had split
but was put on anyway. So, I complained to you Rick. You got me 'tha hook-up'
(fo' shizzle) with the OGK shop and they replied immediately. We reached
an agreement that was very agreeable and I kept the helmet.
Am I ever glad I did! I have now had the helmet for almost a year and I couldn't be happier. The light weight has made my rides much more pleasant as I am not hampered by the "dead neck" at the end of my ride. I ride quite hard and the forces generated in hard cornering force the weight on my neck to multiply. The once tight cheek pads have bedded in nicely and the helmet now fits as though it is custom made.
The air flow through the helmet keeps my head cooler than my Bell M-4 helmet or my AGV Demon top vent. I also have an older AGV R1 helmet wich doesn't come close to comparing to the OGK. Come to think of it, neither does the Bell nor AGV. The tinted tear-offs that came with the helmet have proven invaluable. If the visor becomes covered in bugs, I just make use of the handy tear-offs.
The neatest use so far is when I ride all day and into the night. No need to change visors, just remove the tear-off and save it for later. Thanks for introducing me to the OGK FF-3. It has been a good year."
From "T.B.": "Hi Rick, I said I would write and
tell you how I like the OGK. Well, lets put it this way, shall we -- I have
worn an Arai for 10 years and like the helmet. In the same breath, I have
never seen or felt any thing like the OGK. Riders need to know about this
helmet. It is truly a present from the helmet gods. My suggestion to any
one that doesn't have one of these is to pray....."
UPDATE: Check this out -- T.B. recently "crash tested" his FF-3!
From "R.T.": "(Got my helmet) yesterday,
from the USPS. The service from OGK-Shop is amazing! My helmet was
delivered from the U.K. in less time than I can get a package from California.
I ordered the helmet on Friday, and according the the USPS website, it arrived at JFK airport on Saturday....then 3 working days to me, here in West Virginia. Preliminary results on the Black/Gunmetal/Silver FF3 GP3: I LOVE IT!! The lid is soooo light, if it weren't for the bug strewn shield, I wouldn't notice I had it on. Graphics and design are right on, fit is flawless, and again....it's sooooo light. I'm truly satisfied with my purchase!! So satisfied, that I'll be ordering the Yellow/Black/Silver one by the end of the month.
Before reading your review of the FF3 I was undecided as to whether or not I should invest in an OGK lid.....suffice it to say, your article convinced me to go ahead and order it. There is one minor difference in the GP3's and the standard FF3's: The two small holes you made reference to with the yellow arrows are not used on the GP3, for whatever reason. No problem though, because it vents really well without them. Thanks for the heads up review, it was of great help to me."
From "D.G.": "I have to say that now that I've had the helmet for close to a month, I've come to appreciate it more. I definitely love the light weight. I've also realized that the vents are working wonderfully. If my hair gets wet from sweat and then I put the helmet on and ride, I feel the air going over my scalp. It is very nice even at low speeds. So, in the end, I give the OGK FF3 a thumbs up."
From "Jesse": "I also just purchased an OGK Gunmetal helmet. I must say that it was the fastest shipping that I would have ever expected. Venting works great and the lid fits superb. If anyone wants to ask any question from an actual owner, I will be glad to answer any questions about the helmet. Again, an excellent purchase for someone that is tired of Arai, Shoei, KBC, HJC, and so on. The price was a little shaky at first until I tried it on and rode with it. Thanks again for the informative article you helped my decision immensely."
From "M.L.": "When
I first saw and heard about the OGK FF-3, I was a little skeptical when
every one was saying that the quality of the helmet rivaled the Arai RX-7's.
I had an Arai signet and a Shoei RF 900 series helmet but was still looking
for something to match my new leather's so I became intrigued by the OGK's
colors and style of the helmet. After reading your review and reading what
others had to say I believed that maybe it was worth the effort to try to
acquire one. I figured that good things that other riders were saying would
justify the expense of this helmet, so I went and purchased one.
After receiving my FF-3 GP helmet, I noticed that the front top vent door was defective, (wouldn't stay open) and that the interior didn't feel plush whatsoever. The comfort and feel of the interior was that of a cheap 100.00 dollar helmet and the interior was way too soft to properly support the helmet while riding near triple digit speeds (this is supposed to be a racer's helmet).
The padding is so soft that the visor actually touches my face at high speeds. There is definitely not enough padding thickness inside the helmet. And the noise at high speeds is deafening. I truly believe this helmet is way over rated and way over priced. This helmet shouldn't retail for more the 150.00 dollars at best. And as far as even comparing this helmet to an Arai or a top of the line Shoei is a down right CRIME!"
Editor's Response: I'm sorry to hear that you don't like your FF-3 helmet. I can't really comment about the shell of the helmet in comparison to an Arai, but my feeling is that the liner is very comfortable.
The FF-3 runs big, as we mentioned in the review. I'm wondering if perhaps your helmet isn't fitting correctly, thus causing the problem of the padding compressing? Because the FF-3 meets the toughest standards for helmets in the world, with its Euro EC22/055 and BS6658 British Standard certification. It is also ACU approved for competition at the highest level in the U.K., and the FF-3 is now Snell 2000 approved. So I don't think there's a problem with the quantity of the lining. As we mentioned in the review, the FF-3 definitely fits the round head shape best, not the more common "long oval" head shape.
Regarding noise, as we always state in all of our helmet reviews, unless earplugs are worn, most or all helmets will be noisy. There's a tradeoff between venting and noise. If the helmet moves a lot of air, which the FF-3 does (having been designed for racing where good venting in hot weather is essential), then there will also usually be a lot of noise, due to the air moving through the vents.
I find the FF-3 very comfortable, especially in the hot and humid weather we get here in the Mid-Atlantic in the summertime, and I think the excellent airflow is a good tradeoff for the amount of noise I hear through my earplugs.
But, I understand your feelings completely. There are so many different helmets and they come in so many different shapes, sometimes there are only one or two where everything comes together and works for you. Unfortunately, it sounds like the FF-3 isn't doing it for you......