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BMW SportIntegral Carbon Fiber Helmet

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Special Report by Kevin T. for webBikeWorld

The BMW SportIntegral Carbon Fiber helmet is claimed to be the lightest production motorcycle helmet made at 1,000 grams, or about 2.2 lbs.

Take a look at the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, where we have been tracking the weights of all of the helmets we've reviewed. A 1kg helmet is about 50% lighter in weight than any other helmet we've tried in either size large or extra-large.

It's even about 10% lighter in weight than the Bell Shorty we reviewed last year, which is a minimalist helmet if ever there was one.

BMW claims that the decrease in mass makes for a safer helmet, because centrifugal forces would be decreased in a crash. We can't validate that claim, but it sounds logical.

We have found that light weight helmets reduce fatigue and sometimes allow easier side-to-side motions, which can help a rider doing an over-the-shoulder "head check" and when searching for cars on both sides of a stop sign.

The BMW SportIntegral Carbon helmet is made from a composite material composed of carbon fiber and Aramid, which is very light but also extremely rigid.

BMW claims that the helmet shell is made by hand, and that it takes "up to twenty times longer to produce than other serial production helmets".

Kevin purchased the example shown here in Germany during a visit, and although it's not certified for use on his local roads in Australia, he's been wearing it anyway. Following is Kevin's report:

Helmet Fit
I have an egg-shaped head, and this helmet fits me particularly well (see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on head shapes).

The shape of my head means I have to apply a little more pressure to get my head through the entry cavity, after which the helmet sits snug and comfortable.

I have no idea how many shell sizes these things are manufactured in, but it fits. For comparison, the feel of my SportIntegral Carbon in a size 61 was about par with an extra-large AGV TiTech.

Paint and Finish
A specially developed clearcoat allows the material fibers to show through and a month of day-to-day use also hints at the "paint" being pretty scratch resistant.

Finish and overall quality is exceptional, although that should be expected of any helmet in this price range.

Visibility
This helmet is black and therefore it appears black. There are no 3M safety reflective materials in play here.

Weight
What weight?  The main selling point of the SportIntegral Carbon is its weight, or lack of. Size dependent, this helmet weighs between 900 to 999 grams, supposedly the lightest weight production motorcycle helmet in the world for a full-face (integral) helmet.

I plunked mine on a kitchen scale and it did seem spot on at a kilogram. I estimate the weight distribution to be about 45/55 front/rear, unlike those front-heavy flip-up helmets.

Lining and Comfort
The SportIntegral Carbon comes lined with DuPont Coolmax; padding is thin and very minimalist, but with a surprisingly plush feel.

Keeping in mind the helmet's low weight, the complete package makes for a very comfortable wear that lends itself greatly towards reduced rider fatigue; as such, I use this helmet for touring too.

Fastening - Chin Strap
BMW uses a good ol’ double D-ring with a pull-tab for easy loosening, and a push-snap button to secure any extra length of strap. An optional neckband can be attached for extra security if wanted.

Visor
The helmet comes stock with a clear 2 mm visor, although a thicker 3 mm version is available. Tinted visors are also available in both thicknesses. Clarity is good with no perceivable optical distortion. The visors are screwed on (which means swapping visors on a bright sunny day will require a flathead screwdriver) and there are no click-stop indents although the mounting is tight enough to hold the visor in whatever position it is left at (most of the time anyway).

For high-speed riding, the visor locks shut via a simple but effective button on the left side of the helmet. The "button" for the visor is simply a steel stud that the visor lip snaps on to. Lastly, there are also two attachment pins for tear-off films.

Noise Levels
I didn’t find anything particularly fantastic about this one although I'm not really bothered by noise levels in a helmet anyway.

I must, however, comment on the sharp whistling noise that is emitted when riding at over 50 km/h with the visor more than two-thirds open.

See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs, which are highly recommended for use at all times when riding motorcycles.

Directional Stability
Up to about 90 km/h, you can turn to check your blind spot without too much turbulence. BMW also says that the helmet has “extreme resistance to aerodynamic lift”. This claim I validated at about 170 km/h on a private road. (Note that the screen on my Beemer directs the windblast at about my armpit height.)

Venting
Aside from the chin vent, which can be open and closed, there are eight permanently-open ventilation ports (they probably saved a few grams from here). Six intake holes in a central scoop are linked to the two exhausts in the rear via longitudinal grooves running along the ceiling of the interior. All this facilitates a healthy draft of air that makes the SportIntegral Carbon perfect for summer use.

As can be expected of a BMW helmet, it's very easy to slide glasses on. But unlike some other helmets whose visors can be handily left open to prevent spectacles from fogging in wet weather, you should close the visor completely when riding in rain with this one or water may spray right up into your eyes.

I believe this likely to be due to the high efficiency of this helmet's low-pressure ventilation system.

Miscellaneous
The removable neckband - which I don't use - provides ample coverage such that it cups my chin with the edge of the band sitting flush against my neck. The optional breath deflector slots rather clumsily into slot behind the chin vents - the top of the deflector sits close enough to my face without actually touching - but nevertheless does a decent job.

I haven't yet done any proper evaluation of its effectiveness although the snugness of neckband makes me wonder where my breath would get deflected to should I do decide to use both. The helmet is made in Italy.

I had half expected to see a Schuberth label on the inside, but this one appears to be genuine BMW production.

Conclusion
I doubt that few can dispute the sheer brilliance of BMW engineers in creating a helmet with full-face protection while weighing not much more than a brain bucket. The minimalist design approach obviously means that the helmet may lack certain “refinements” although it is quite simply outstanding in the fulfillment of its esoteric purpose.


Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2013. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld® Site Info page. NOTE: Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

Product Review:  BMW SportIntegral Carbon Helmet
Available From:  BMW Motorrad Suggested Retail Price:  €1,250 (About US$1,500 or A$2,000)
Colors: Black carbon fiber. Made In: Italy
Product Comments:  Certification: ECE 22.05


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