by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Summary: Quiet, comfortable, excellent value, good quality for the price.
Craft Helmets are becoming popular in Europe, and they are now being distributed in the U.S.A. through SMF Cycles.
One of the interesting features of all Craft Helmets is that they are U.S. DOT FMVSS 218.
Also, they also meet both the ECE 22.05 standard and the British ACU Gold Standard.
Motorcycle helmets do not often meet all three of these safety standards, so Craft must have some pretty crafty engineers!
See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on motorcycle helmet safety standards.
The UK's Auto Cycle Union (ACU) is the governing body of motorcycle sport throughout Britain.
They set the rules for motorcycle racing and safety standards, and they have developed some motorcycle helmet safety standards of their own (although I can't find reference to the standards on their website).
It's my understanding that ACU standards are similar to BSI standards. I've been told that most BS 6658 Type A helmets can also become certified to the ACU Gold standard.
ACU Gold-approved motorcycle helmets are also permissible for track day use by many organizations throughout the world.
SMF Cycles, the U.S. distributor for Craft Helmets, warned me that the internal shape of the R2 might have a "difficult fit".
Whenever a retailer or distributor raises an issue with the product before it's even delivered, warning bells go off.
But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that both of the Craft products are two of the best fitting motorcycle helmets that I've ever tried.
That said, remember that I have an "earth" shaped head (see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for a discussion on head shapes), so motorcyclists with the more common "long oval" head shape may indeed find the Craft helmets fit to be "difficult".
Most helmets seem to be biased towards the neutral or long oval head shape, so whenever a true round-head design comes along, it's time for rejoicing, as far as I'm concerned!
It's our opinion that both the R2 Aerospeed and the RX6 Evolution fit just slightly larger than expected; that is, the R2 and RX6 size large fits like an XL, and the XL fits like an XXL.
Many of you have asked us to compare head shapes with other helmets that we've reviewed.
We think that the Craft R2 Aerospeed and the RX6 Evolution have an internal head shape similar to the Arai Quantum II, which is molded to Arai's "Round Oval" shape, with the caveat that a size large Craft is similar to the extra-large Quantum.
Shoei owners may find that the internal head shape of the Craft R2 and RX6 is similar to the RF-1000, with the same sizing caveat. Where some round-head helmet shapes seem to have extra room at the top, the Craft fit is closer to a perfectly round radial shape.
The padding in the Craft liner seems slightly thinner and firmer than both the Shark and the Arai. The combination of a nice round shape and comfortable liner are perfectly suited for my head.
There's a correlation between helmets that fit and low noise levels, mostly because a snug fit helps the liner to mitigate ambient sound. The R2 Aerospeed, even with its multiple air vents, is one of the quieter helmets that we've tried, in our opinion.
This is partly due to a close fit around the base of the helmet, which helps to seal out the buffeting that is the primary cause of low frequency "booming" noises transmitted to the rider, especially when riding a motorcycle with a fairing.
One difference in the Craft RX6 'race" shape is that the bottom of the helmet shell tapers closer to the rider's head than either the R2 or other helmets of the same type.
This makes it slightly more difficult to put the RX6 on and to take it off, but the shape does provide a closer fit around the rider's neck area, which also helps decrease noise levels.
Considering the tapered shape of the RX6 and the fact that it only has chin air vents, we weren't surprised that it also had very low noise levels.
But it was a surprise to find that the R2 is so quiet, especially considering its multiple air vents, which can serve to increase noise from the rush of air flowing in and around the openings.
The external shape of the R2 doesn't appear to be radically different than other race-style helmets, but somehow the Craft engineers have figured out how to reduce noise levels.
The low noise level is apparent when riding both with and without a fairing, with the difference between them hardly noticeable. This is very unusual.
Also, don't forget that we always wear correctly fitted earplugs and a helmet liner when riding. Motorcycle helmet noise is relative; that is, a "quiet" helmet may still transmit enough noise to be dangerous.
Please see the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
The Craft R2 Aerospeed is Craft's top-of-the-line motorcycle racing helmet. It has a chin vent with a vertical sliding door that opens and closes to allow air to flow on to the back of the face shield and on to the rider's face.
A brow vent also has a vertical open/close and directs air to the rider's forehead and along the top of the helmet.
The R2 also has a large additional spoiler on top of the helmet that includes parallel channels that are designed to create negative pressure in the back of the helmet to assist air flow.
The channels have a switch on top, but it's not clear whether this switch opens and closes the air flow through the channels or opens and closes a vent opening in the top of the helmet.
However it works, the R2 Aerospeed seems to flow a good quantity of air, although it's been hard to tell because the ambient temperatures at the time this article is being written, and cold air coming up from under the helmet makes it hard to gauge the efficiency of the venting system.
The RX6 has no brow or top vents, but the "Darth Vader" chin vent can be opened or closed via a sliding switch inside the helmet in back of the chin bar.
The back of the chin bar in the RX6 has two large slits that allow the air to flow directly on to the rider's face.
In addition to the tapered lower shell mentioned above, the absence of top vents and the resulting smooth outer shell also help to make the RX6 a quiet helmet.
The face shield on the R2 covers the outside of the rotating mechanism on the sides of the helmet, smoothing the air flow. The face shield fits close to the eye opening, which also has a full-length rubber gasket that seals well.
The face shield has 5 detents and it will stay open at the first notch to allow venting. It has a quick release mechanism similar to the Shoei RF-1000 and many other full-face helmets.
The eye port opening on the R2 seems larger than normal; I measured the dimensions as 3" (76 mm) high by 9" wide (229 mm) to the outer edge of the shell.
The sides of the helmet are barely noticeable even when I turn my eyes as far as possible to the right or left, and the opening is wide enough to provide good forward visibility on a sportbike such as the Suzuki TL1000.
This is important for racers and track day participants.
Our size large R2 Aerospeed weighs 3 lbs., 10-1/2 oz. (1669 grams). This puts it in about the upper 25 percentile of the size large helmets we've reviewed and it's about at the midpoint of size XL helmet weights.
1669 grams is actually fairly light weight for a motorcycle helmet.
But I was surprised that it didn't weigh less, because I handled and wore it for a week or so prior to putting it on the scale and I assumed it would turn out to be one of the lightest helmets we've tried. It's well balanced and feels more like 1500 grams on the head.
Our size large RX6 is very light, weighing in at 3 lbs., 1-7/8 oz., or 1558 grams. This puts it in some pretty competitive territory and makes it the third lightest size large helmet we've tried.
See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart comparing the weights of every helmet we've ever reviewed.
I was attracted to the R2 Aerospeed Series Star Racing helmet's vibrant graphics, but Craft offers the R2 in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
The colors are bright but the finish is slightly thin; it could use another coat or two of clearcoat.
There are a couple of aberrations where dust settled under the paint, and the plastic aero vent assembly has a slightly wider gap than normal where it attaches to the helmet, but otherwise I'm pleased with the finish.
I'm not sure where the helmet is manufactured, because I can find no country of origin label anywhere on the helmet, the face shield or the box.
I find this to be a disturbing trend, and I'm very surprised that with all the rules and regulations that have been forthcoming from the European Union that there isn't a law mandating this type of label.
Our RX6 is black, so it's hard to comment on the paint, other than it could probably also use an extra layer of clearcoat.
Both the R2 and the RX6 use a "quick release" buckle, rather than a D-ring. Normally, this would be a negative in my opinion, but I must say that the buckles on these helmets work more smoothly than others I've tried.
It is very easy to adjust the length of the strap, which is usually done once when the helmet is first worn. The straps include a snap to retain the extra length.
A good fit goes a long way towards making a helmet a favorite; a cool color scheme doesn't hurt either. The R2 has both, with the added exclusivity factor that comes from owning a helmet that's new and different.
The clincher is the price; the R2 Aerospeed is Crafts's top-of-the-line helmet in the U.S.A. and is priced at only $245.00. The more I think about it, the more I consider the R2 to be one of the helmet bargains of the year.
The RX6 Evolution is priced at $200.00 in the U.S.A., and it's also available in chrome. I've seen one and it looks great. It definitely has a streetfighter look and it's a good and less expensive alternative to the Simpson Bandit.
|wBW Product Review: Craft Helmets|
|Available From: Craft Helmets||List Price (2005): R2: $245.00; RX6: $200.00|
|Colors: R2: Red, Blue, Green, Silver, Yellow and Star patterns. RX6: Silver, Black, Chrome.||Made In: Unknown|
|Review Date: December 2005|
From "B.C." (7/10): "Regarding your reviews...I was so impressed with the write up you did on the (2007 helmet of the year) GMAX GM68S I ran out and purchased the "Wizard" ...Great helmet.
I later stumbled across the Craft Aerospeed R2 and I just had a quick question for you as I just picked one up new in a size extra large for $99.00.
In your review process...Did you not find that the cheek pads were a little undersized?
The skull area of the helmet fits me perfectly at a size 62 but i have back and forth sway by about an inch in the front. I do not feel confident wear this helmet while riding and I do not have the option of returning it.
I've tried everything to get a set of cheek pads from a smaller R2 helmet and literally no one on the planet has contacted me with available parts. There is inventory on this particular helmet that will never sell as Craft support is the worst I have ever seen.
At the same time no one feels compelled to take a set of cheek pads out of a small for to remove the void in a size extra large. Custom creating a cheek pad is kind of out of the question as no tailor wants to touch this one.
Maybe you know a resolve to this situation?
Editor's Reply: The R2 review was published in 2005, so it's possible that the helmet is no longer in production or parts for the early models are difficult to find. I don't remember any issues with the cheek pads, but that was a long time ago!