CMS GP-4 Motorcycle Helmet
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
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motorcycle helmet with European quality but Asian
pricing? Now that would be an interesting
combination that should have lots of potential.
The market for motorcycle
helmets has several tiers: there's the very-low-end and
below, ranging from the non-DOT el Cheapo units
that are of no interest to our sophisticated webBikeWorld audience, up to the brands that can just barely
make DOT certification and sometimes don't.
Then there's a low-to-mid
level segment of DOT-only helmets, manufactured by
companies that you vaguely recognize. These
usually found as loss leaders in the local motorcycle
Next comes the huge mid-market; the
name-brand manufacturers in this segment spend big
marketing bucks and sell mass quantities of helmets that
meet DOT specs and many of them are also Snell approved.
There are a few
manufacturers at the high end, who make high-quality
motorcycle helmets that are almost always Snell, ECE
22.05 or BSI approved. These companies usually compete with each other on
technology and features.
Finally, there's a
handful of what I guess we could call "boutique"
manufacturers of very expensive, race-oriented
motorcycle helmets that have the ultimate coolness
factor. Their helmet designs drive the market to a
certain extent, because the other segments emulate the
designs and features
of these style leaders.
The business strategy
that the manufacturers in this segmented market seem to follow amounts to finding
niche and perfecting a response. But every once and a while, the
players in markets like this get a little too lazy or too comfortable with
the status quo, and some renegade busts it open
with a new paradigm. It happens all the
time, usually in a mature and well-defined marketplace just
like the one we have for motorcycle helmets.
would work to shake up the players? In this case, if you could offer the quality
and style of the high end helmets with the pricing of
the low-to-mid range, you might have something.
All you'd need is name recognition, which is sort of
like saying all you need to be rich is to have lots of
By the way, what if you
could throw in a twist on the equation by offering some
really, really wild factory custom paint schemes (see
below)? Would it be enough to bust up the market?
formula pretty much describes CMS Helmets' business
strategy. The company is a youngster in the world
of motorcycle helmets, having started manufacturing
1988. Perhaps their youth has allowed them to take
a fresh look at potential market segments to see where
they could fit.
stated recipe for success is to have a very sharp
focus on quality while using the most modern helmet
manufacturing equipment available to turn out a good-looking and
complete range of helmets that could be sold worldwide.
That's quite a goal, so let's see how they measure up.
We obtained the CMS GP-4
model shown here from Moto Authentics, the newly
organized CMS Helmets distributor in the U.S.A.
The GP-4 is CMS Helmets' street/sport model, a
thermoplastic resin helmet that meets DOT and ECE 22.05
approval. CMS Helmets makes a variety of
street and dirt models, highlighted by the
top-of-the-line, carbon/Kevlar GP-5.
The first thing that you
notice with the CMS Helmets product line is the
eye-popping colors and interesting patterns on all of
the models. There are no solid colors in this
lineup -- each model has its own interesting selection
of patterns. I'm not sure how they do it, but the
colors and the quality of the UV protected graphic transfer is
first-rate. Based on the single example shown
here, our opinion is that it's some of the best artwork
we've seen on any helmet at any price.
But if you think this
helmet has an interesting design, wait until you've
seen their "Hairbrush" models! Wild, wacky and
outrageous are the words that come to mind. They
should be a big hit with the "Fast and the Furious"
crowd. You can check out a couple of examples via
the two photos at the end of this review (below).
Weight and Fitment
The GP-4 is one of the lightest weight full-face helmet
we've seen, and it is lighter than average for this class at 1495 grams,
or 3lbs. 4-3/4oz. (for size XL), measured on the webBikeWorld scales.
We think the GP-4 will
fit "round" head shapes best. My slightly "Earth"
shaped head (slightly wider in the middle) has a
diameter that's right on the borderline of a size large
and a size extra-large, and depending upon the
manufacturer, I can take either.
The size large
GP-4 was very tight; I'd say it was really the
equivalent of a medium, so we exchanged it for an XL.
The XL fits like a large, and I think I could have even
used an XXL, so our opinion is that these helmets run at
least one full size small. We're not sure if this
also applies to the GP-5 or other models in the CMS
Helmets lineup, so make sure you ask about fit before
The GP-4 also seems
slightly short from top to bottom. Even though the
size XL fit my head shape, it feels like my chin hangs
down lower than the bottom of the helmet by about 10mm
or so, and this may be the cause of some perceived noise
(see below). Your experience may vary, depending
upon your head shape.
CMS Helmets uses a 2.2mm, anti-scratch and anti-fog
coated quick-change visor on the GP-4, and optional
tinted and mirror visors are also available. The
visor is very easy to change; simply raise it to its
uppermost level, pull down the spring-loaded catch
that's now exposed on each side and pop it off.
The procedure for re-installing it is a bit more
complicated, because the spring loaded catches on each
side must be correctly lined up, but after a couple of
practice rounds, it's not a problem.
The visor has a very
positive detent with four "clicks" to open. It
seems like it should open one more click, but the
mechanism doesn't have enough travel to allow that to
happen. So the visor doesn't lift as high as you
think it should compared to other helmets. Not a
problem, but just something to note.
When it's closed, the
visor also seats against what appears to be a plastic
gasket around the opening, and the seal feels tight
enough to stop any errant airflow. A tight-fitting
visor seal is usually a sign of good quality; we're
always surprised at how many helmets don't seal
The GP-4's seal doesn't continue around
the entire opening though, which is strange, so some
noise may emanate from the sides of the visor opening
where the seal is missing. The visor also doesn't
seat quite flush against the outer sides of the helmet
near the visor pivot point, and I'm not sure if this is
also the cause of some noise, but more on that later.
The internal distance
from the back of the GP-4 to the chin bar seems slightly
shorter than normal for a full-face helmet. My
chin presses directly up against the inside of the chin
bar, which caused some discomfort until the helmet was
I've had this problem before with
various helmet brands, and visitors to webBikeWorld
don't seem to have the same trouble with those helmets,
so my conclusion is that it's my head shape that's at
fault. I have also noticed that the GP-4's visor
tends to fog up more often that I'd expect, and I'm
assuming that it's because the short front to back
distance brings the front of the helmet closer to my
and Air Flow
The GP-4's chin bar has a wide, 60mm (about 2-1/4", all
inch measurements approximate) "trap door" that opens
down and lets in a good quantity of air. This air
is directed up through a splitter built into the small
breath guard. Some of the air goes up onto the
rider's face and the rest of it is directed onto the
We were satisfied with
the amount of airflow through the chin bar, and the trap
door works to seal off the air flow when it's closed.
However, it's slightly difficult to open the vent with
gloved hands, because there's not much to grab hold of
to flip it open.
You sort of have to dig at it
with your fingernail, which isn't so easy with thick
leather gloves, and depending upon the circumstances,
you may not be able to open it while riding.
Moving up to the top of
the helmet, the GP-4 has two low-profile non-adjustable
air extractors along each side, and a single central
vent in the middle. We're not sure what happens
underneath the two extractors; let's assume there's an
opening in there somewhere that feeds air into the
inside of the helmet. The central vent has a
simple sliding bar that uncovers a small 8mm (5/16")
hole that directs air down onto the top of the rider's
There's an adequate
volume of air that flows through the top of the helmet
when it's open, but the central vent has a small scoop
on it that catches the air and causes a high frequency
whistling sound as the air flows over it. It's
louder when the vent is open, but still noticeable when
We suggest that you use some caution
when storing the GP-4, because it seems possible that
the central vent could break off fairly easily if the
helmet was dropped and fell top-side down. The
vent attaches to the helmet with a single Phillips head
screw, so if the part was available, it would be a
simple matter to replace it.
The GP-4 also uses an air
extraction system in the rear. There are four
small vents, two on each side, on the outer rear area of
the helmet towards each side, located about midway
between the rider's ear and the back of the helmet.
A mesh vent is also located at the rear of the helmet
liner at the back of the neck. The venting system
on the GP-4 provides a decent amount of air flow, albeit
with a higher level of ambient noise.
I found the GP-4
to be very comfortable right out of the box. There
doesn't seem to be anything particularly unique about
the helmet's liner or padding that should make it more
comfortable than others. It simply looks and feels
like a good quality modern helmet liner, and it's
manufactured and installed with care.
The helmet's round
internal shape is a perfect fit for my head, and I don't
feel any hot spots or pressure points when wearing the
GP-4. As mentioned above, based on our example, we
think the GP-4 runs at least one full size small, and
the front-to-back internal distance seems a bit short,
but other than that, I'm pleased with the overall level
The GP-5 has a removable
liner; the liner in the GP-4 shown here is
non-removable. This isn't really a concern for me,
because I always wear a separate silk or Coolmax helmet
liner anyway, so I've never found the need to remove a
helmet's internal liner for cleaning. Removable
cheek pads might be a nice idea, however, to help owners
custom-tailor the fit when necessary, especially those
with "long oval" or "egg" shaped heads. The GP-4's
liner is also claimed to be breathable and
We always wear correctly fitted earplugs when riding
(see the wBW
Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more
information), and I always wear a helmet liner, which
keeps the inside of my helmets nice and fresh.
Your perception of noise levels may be completely
different than ours, so please take that into
My feeling is that the GP-4 is
noisier than average. As mentioned above, the top
mounted vent causes some high frequency whistling,
whether it's open or closed. But there also seems
to be a lot of noise that emanates from under the
helmet, in the area of the GP-4's neck padding.
found that this region can be the cause of a great deal
of helmet noise on many helmets, and it can be
exacerbated by turbulence caused by a windscreen or
A hand placed up under the neck when
riding can help determine how much noise is generated in
this area, but I couldn't quite figure out where the
noise is coming from on the GP-4.
It seems to be
focused somewhere towards the rear, so it could be a
combination of turbulence at the visor/helmet pivot
location, the rear side vents and the slightly short
top-to-bottom helmet dimensions (see "Weight and
Fitment" section above).
Windjammer helmet wind blocker is an inexpensive
accessory that can be fitted to any full-face helmet,
and almost always serves to decrease the ambient noise
All CMS Helmets will be imported into the U.S.A. with
D-ring helmet straps. This is good news, because
we're not fans of the so-called "quick release"
connectors. The padding on the GP-4's strap is
comfortable, and there's a plastic snap retainer for the
loose strap end.
The GP-4 has a small
fabric "anti back draft" spoiler under the chin bar.
If you remember to pull it down under your chin after
you mount the helmet, it's designed to prevent air from
intruding under the front of the helmet, which can
theoretically help the internal air flow more
Even with its few faults, we like the GP-4. It's a
comfortable helmet with a great choice of colors and
graphics and strong quality. We think the price is
very reasonable, and the pricing model does indeed
follow the CMS Helmets' strategy of offering "European
quality at Asian prices".
The factory seems
motivated to continually improve their products, so
we're confident that the noise issue and other minor
quibbles will be addressed. If CMS Helmets can figure out a way
to get the word out about their products, they should
have no problem selling all they can import. CMS
Helmets' products can be found in 20 countries around the
world, which speaks well for their acceptance in the
By the way, remember the
"Hairbrush" models we discussed earlier? Here's a
peek at the "Indian" and "Ninja" Hairbrush models.
Check out the Moto Authentics website for more photos!
GP-4 Motorcycle Helmet
BUY IT! Use
this link to the Motorcycle Superstore to buy your
and help support webBikeWorld!
Retail Price: $199.95
variety of graphics and colors for each model.
Product Comments: Beautiful graphics, good quality
helmets. Comfortable fit for round shaped heads.
Slightly short front to back internal length. Good air
flow. Quick change visor that works well.
Noisier than average. Available in sizes XXS to XXL.
Meets DOT and ECE 22.05 standards. XL Weight: 1495 grams
(3lbs. 4-3/4oz.). Non-removable liner. D-ring
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