by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
webBikeWorld logs have consistently demonstrated that motorcycle helmet related pages are the most popular topic for webBikeWorld visitors.
Our email also indicates that motorcyclists are keenly interested in information about unique or unusual motorcycle helmets.
Manufacturers should take note -- build a unique-looking helmet and the customers will be there. My guess is that it has something to do with the image of motorcycling and the desire to stand out from the crowd.
Well, it doesn't get much different than this: the Draxtar P-104 "Military Pilot" motorcycle helmet.
You guessed it -- this helmet was originally designed for the Chinese military and has been converted and approved for motorcycle use in Europe with an ECE 22-05 seal.
It also meets the very tough German TÜV Rheinland standards for motorcycle helmet safety.
As soon as I saw the photos of the P-104, I had to have one. Maybe something like this will become as popular as the silly-looking (and useless) "brain buckets" that many cruiser riders wear?
Surely it has to offer better protection, while looking much cooler.
The outer shell of the Draxtar is made from fiberglass, and it feels very solid. I'm not sure how different the shell is when compared to a "normal" motorcycle helmet, but something about it makes it feel tough.
The P-104 comes in Silver, Matte Black and Army Green, and I just had to get the green version.
The inner shell is patterned as closely as possible on the Chinese military version, but is made from EPS (like many "normal" motorcycle helmets) and is structured to meet the applicable motorcycle safety standards.
The helmet comes with two visors: a clear pull-down visor and a dark tinted visor.
The visor is very easy to change -- there are two push buttons on the external part of the shell, just above the visor. Push down on the buttons and pull out the visor; push down on the buttons again to insert the new visor.
The visor slides up into the helmet, between the liner and the shell, and it's infinitely adjustable, which is a nice feature. It has enough friction in the mechanism to maintain its position.
I have to keep it pushed up just a notch to keep it off my nose, and it stays in place with no problems.
The liner looks much like I'd expect from a military pilot or tank helmet. The size XL has a slightly different type of fit, with a snug band around my temples and plenty of room around my ears.
Our opinion is that it will fit neutral or long oval shaped heads best (See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information). This one will probably fit either a L or smaller XL sized head.
One of the nice features of the P-104 is the design of the internal ear cups. They are attached with three metal snaps and they can be easily removed. The cups fit into the protrusions seen on each side of the helmet.
Surely, there's got to be a set of speakers that will fit this helmet, probably available in a military surplus store somewhere. I think it would be very easy to fit this helmet with speakers and a microphone, although I haven't yet tried it.
The P-104 is actually pretty comfortable. It takes some very slight fiddling to get my ears into the ear cups when I put on the helmet, and the helmet feels nice and is well balanced. Although we're not big fans of "quick release" chin strap systems, this one works well and is perfectly suited to the helmet's design.
It's one of those new-fangled ratchet release mechanisms, where a plastic or nylon strap with teeth slides into a ratcheting mechanism. A lever is ratcheted back and forth to tighten up the strap.
The strap has a piece of fabric coming from each side that meets in the middle and acts as a cushion, and a small piece of "hook and loop" fastener keeps the fabric in place.
The Draxtar P-104 weighs 1341 grams, or 2 lbs., 15-1/4 oz. Although it's somewhat like comparing apples to oranges, this is a very light helmet when compared to most full-face lids.
See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on fitting motorcycle helmets and for a chart that compares the weights of every helmet we've reviewed.
On the road, the Draxtar is surprisingly quiet. It's certainly not as quiet as some of the better full-face helmets, but many full-face helmets have unique noise problems, typically heard as a low frequency, "booming" noise generated by buffeting around the neck area.
The Draxtar has a bit of whistling noise, but the ear cups work rather well to isolate the noise, and the low frequency noises caused by buffeting are not apparent, due to the open face design.
Venting really isn't an issue because of the open face design of the helmet.
The Draxtar P-104 is manufactured by in Germany. The quality is first-rate, everything seems very well made, and I have no problem believing that this helmet meets military specifications.
And the price is reasonable at £149.00, or roughly $260.00 at current exchange rates.
UPDATE: From "O.S." (June 2008): "Pittgens Motorsport have resumed production of the P-104 (detailed information is available at www.pittgens.de).
It is available at 99 EUR in matt black. I am not sure if it is identical to the previous P-104 (since the price is much lower) but it looks like it is. Thanks for your useful site."
This is definitely a helmet that will stand out from the crowd. Our unscientific opinion is that it surely must provide more protection than the non-DOT FMVSS 218 "brain bucket" novelty "helmets", and it definitely looks better.
The Draxtar P-104 is not a novelty helmet -- it is a very well made, ECE 22-05 and TÜV Rheinland approved motorcycle helmet that looks great on cruisers or adventure touring bikes.