Summary: High quality helmet
with an interesting design. Includes a
3-position LED light in the rear. The GMAX GM27S
makes an excellent city or scooter helmet.
The huge popularity of the
the webBikeWorld 2007 Helmet of the Year, prompted us to
take a look at some of the other helmets in the GMAX
lineup, and the GM 27 popped out as something out of
The GM 27 (aka GM27S) is an open face helmet with a
twist -- it's sort of a cross between a typical 3/4 or
open-face helmet and the GM 68S, with its huge intake
and exhaust vents and the LED lights in the rear.
But the GM 27S includes a built-in visor or peak,
similar to an "Enduro" styled helmet like the
Hornet and others.
It's curious that GMAX would create a
design like the GM 27S, using an open-face "chassis", if
you will, rather than using a full-face helmet so they
could end up with an Enduro version.
But, I guess
you could at least say that they now own the market for
unique open-face motorcycle helmet designs...
Actually, the GM 27S looks a lot like a helmet designed
for motorcycle trials, if you've ever seen one of those.
At the risk of stealing my own thunder,
I'll let you in on my two lasting impressions of the
GMAX GM 27S after wearing it for the past few weeks:
first, I think that it makes one of the best low-speed city or
scooter helmets youll find, due to its
comfort, ease of use and, of course, the LED lights in the rear,
which certainly add a safety factor for riding on city
OK, so what's my second impression?
The reason I used the "low speed" qualifier in
the sentence above is
because over about 40 MPH or so, the GM 27S becomes very
noisy when riding behind anything
outside of a full barn-door fairing.
Everyone who has tried the helmet agrees,
yet it's difficult to tell where the
noise is coming from -- but it's there. So keep it
slow and if you're bopping around in the city or suburbs
on your scooter or courier bike, the GMAX GM 27S is
definitely worth a look.
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality GMAX helmets have excellent quality, based on the many examples I've
seen. The GM 27 S is no exception; the paint and graphics and overall
build quality are very good. Everything fits tightly -- as much as can
be expected for an open-face helmet -- with tight gaps around the venting
system and elsewhere.
The real indicator of quality is the
visor on the GM 27 S. It would be too easy to slap
on a cheap visor that doesn't fit, isn't tight and is
fragile as glass. We've seen it
But this one is sturdy and has minimal flex. It's attached to the helmet with four
metal screws, so it should stay put. And the LED
array on the back of the helmet has undergone a tweak or
two since it first appeared on the GM68S.
It feels solid and the switch is
surrounded with a rubber doughnut, which makes it easy
to find and dampens the switch action, giving it a more
positive feel than the comparatively flimsy switch on
the GM68S, which would sometimes engage with a brush of
the hand as the helmet was removed from the box.
The GM 27 S is available in a few
different color patterns; the white and silver shown
here is a good choice for high-visibility city riding.
Score: I'll give the GMAX GM 27 S
an "Excellent" for high quality, paint and graphics. See
the ratings descriptions in the summary table at the end of this page.
Helmet Fit and Comfort and Internal Shape
It's sometimes difficult to characterize the internal
fit of an open-face helmet, because they are generally
more flexible than full-face helmets, which generally allows them
to "mold" to the rider's head.
The GM 27 S has a comfortable round internal shape;
this shape is apparently the typical GMAX fit, similar
to the GM86S. The top feels round, although maybe
not quite as much as the GM68S. This size large is
labeled to fit a 59-60 cm circumference head, which
seems accurate, so I'd say the GM27 runs true to size.
The liner has a head band that can be felt around the
top along the brow. The sides of the helmet feel
snug, but the shell and the liner seem to be getting
looser as the helmet gets broken in.
The shell does feel slightly top heavy, probably due
to the large vent assembly and the LED lights,
controller and power pack inside...and the visor doesn't
help either. The sides of the helmet around
the chin feel a bit short and I with they came down
farther; the cheek pads
sort of press into my lower jaw and I feel like I have
to keep pressing the top of the helmet down to keep it
The liner and the cheek pads are supposed to be
removable, but I haven't tried it. The ear pockets
are very generous, which is a bonus -- they give some
breathing room to my rather large ears. I can
easily slide on a pair of sunglasses also when wearing
The liner material feels similar to that used on the
GM68S; it's not the silkiest I've felt, but it's
For more information on choosing and
fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see the
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head
Score: Overall, I'd give the GM 27 S a "Very
Good" for fit and comfort. I don't often wear an
open-face helmet, so I'm not sure how well it compares
but it feels pretty good to me.
Venting and Air Flow
The GM 27 S uses a top venting system very similar to that found on the
GM68S, with three large front-facing air scoops up top directing are into
and down on to the rider's head. The large rear exhaust vents (and the
LED light panel) are identical to the system used on the GM68S also.
We found the GM68S to have excellent air
flow -- it probably has better venting than any other
full-face helmet we've reviewed. But for some
strange reason, the same system when used on the GM 27 S
doesn't seem as effective. Perhaps it has
something to do with the sun visor affecting the air
flowing into the front vents?
I've been wearing the GM 27 S during our
recent very hot and humid weather, and while the air
coming in under the visor is obviously better than any
full-face helmet could be, the top of my head just
doesn't feel like it's getting anywhere near the venting
I expected. I guess I'd call it average.
The clear visor on the GM 27 S covers
most of my face down to about my lips, but my chin hangs
out the bottom. This provides a lot of air flow
around the bottom of the helmet, but I had a few
surprises when bugs hit my chin at speed. Ouch!
How to those guys (and gals) ride with only a beanie
helmet and sometimes without even wearing sunglasses?
Score: Overall, the GM 27 S has
the air flow you'd expect from an open face helmet.
I'll give it a "Good" but I'm surprised it doesn't have
better air flow up top.
Helmet Weight The size large GM 27 S shown here weighs 1426 grams
(3 lbs., 2-3/8 oz.), which is heavier than most other
open-face helmets we've weighed (admittedly not very
many). The top venting system and LED assembly
probably adds some weight.
But this is still relatively light compared to many
other helmets, and other than the slight top heavy feel
due to the large air venting system, the GM 27 S feels
like a featherweight compared to most full-face helmets.
Motorcycle Helmet Weights chart (we're working on a
new graph for the open-face helmets), which compares the
weights of all
of the open-face, full-face and flip-up helmets we've
Score: I'll give the GM 27 S a "Good"
for its weight, which is heavy for an open-face helmet
but relatively light weight otherwise.
The GM 27 S has a wide and clear visor that obviously
provides nearly unlimited visibility -- a selling point
for many riders who may feel claustrophobic in a full-face
It's quite a revelation to wear a helmet like this,
because the visibility allows you to see everything down
and in front of the bike, including the instruments, in
a way that no full-face could afford.
The visor has detents that hold it open on its way up
or down, but the visor on this helmet will probably be
either in the fully raised or fully lowered
The visor is clear and the detents are firm, adding
to the overall feeling of quality on the helmet.
This would probably be one helmet that would benefit by
an internally rotating sun shade, but that would
probably add more weight.
The top visor does work at keeping the worst of the
glare off the rider's face, and it doesn't seem to
contribute much to helmet lift. It feels sturdy
and it doesn't wobble or twist when riding.
Score: I'll rate the visor clarity, operation and
visibility of the GM 27 S as "Excellent".
of the GMAX GM 27 Motorcycle Helmet
The GM 27 S uses the same LED light assembly in the rear
that GMAX first installed on the GM68S. The LEDs
are arranged horizontally at the back of the large vent
There's not much more I can say about it that wasn't
said in the GM68S review, so I'll repeat some of it
here: A switch in the middle is used to cycle the LED
lights through off, on, blinking and fast blinking.
We tried this feature at night and also during dusk
and dawn commutes and the lights definitely help make the rider more
noticeable. As with the GM68S, I wonder if it's possible that the
blinking lights in the rear skirt the boundaries of the
law, but we'll have to believe that GMAX did their
homework and that the lights are legal.
The switch that turns the LEDs on and off on the GM
27 S feels more solid than the
sensitive switch on the GM68S, so apparently GMAX made
The switch now is now surrounded by a rubber ring,
which keeps it from switching on or off too easily.
The LEDs have a red cover as standard, and this
helmet doesn't include the extra dark smoke tinted cover
found in the GM68S box. I did not disassemble the
lights on this helmet to see what's inside, so I'll have
to assume it uses the same power pack found in the
The white color of this helmet and the LEDs make this
an excellent choice for city or suburban driving, or for
Score: As in the GM68S, bonus points for the addition of the LED
lights and their potential for safety.
I expected an open face helmet to transmit more noise
than a full-face helmet -- although this isn't always
necessarily the case. But the GM 27 S seems louder
than I expected when speeds exceed 40 MPH or so.
At slower speeds, the helmet is actually rather quiet.
Something about the air vents or the sun visor or the
overall design seem to channel the wind rushing noise
through the helmet. I can usually pinpoint what's
causing the noise, but I can't find a specific cause
The noise doesn't seem to be coming from the top vents,
so I think the helmet has some sort of resonating
frequency that doesn't like a lot of air rushing by.
Again, if used in the city at slower speeds, not a
problem, but this might not be the best choice for
touring -- unless you're riding behind a big fairing.
Remember that we always wear correctly
fitted, high quality earplugs and an extra helmet liner
when riding, and we strongly recommend that you always
wear hearing protection also. See the
Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more
information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
And also remember that your experience with noise levels
will probably be different because it depends on many factors, including your
head shape, the motorcycle configuration, prevailing winds
Score: I'll give the GM 27 S a "Poor"
rating for noise control.
The GMAX GM 27 S is DOT FMVSS 218 and it has a
thermoplastic shell. It uses the preferred D-ring attachment system
and the chin
strap padding is good. The end of the strap
is secured with a large plastic snap. The chin
strap seems more comfortable than average.
The ear pockets on the GM 27 S are
larger than average (as in the GM68S).
The GMAX GM 27 S is a different type of helmet, and my
guess is that the looks will be polarizing -- some will
like it, while others won't.
One thing's for sure,
it's another GMAX screamin' deal -- this helmet can be
found for around $80.00, but if you're interested,
better hurry; between the time we purchased the helmet
and completed the evaluation, it has disappeared from
the GMAX website, so we're not sure if it has been
discontinued, but I'll bet there are still a few in
stock at your favorite retailer.
UPDATE: Apparently we were going to the
Canadian GMAX distributor's website; the
U.S. GMAX website does still list the GM 27 S.
Also, just for the record, the GM 27 can be worn without
the upper visor; with a short "cruiser" style visor
included in the box; and with or without the clear face
shield. We did not try it in these configurations.
If I was living in a city, riding a scooter or rat
bike, I'd be looking at the GM 27 S as a good solution
for an easy-to-use, lightweight helmet. I know --
some of you scooter jockeys tell us that you wear
full-face helmets, and that's fine, but the majority of
the scooter riders I see in downtown DC would, I think,
be very interested in this type of helmet.
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "M" (6/09): "Review was great,
I bought two of these helmets, I ride on the highway
60-65 and it does get a little noisy but nothing more
than any other open face. The noise you mention
appears to be the top of the vision lightly hitting the
helmet under strong winds.
Beyond that I love the helmet, it's light and
comfortable as the size chart was spot on. My only
complaint is I had to get a smoke visor separately.
And I had to hit a few places before I found them.
Other than (that) I recommend for those who can't deal
with a full face for what ever reason."
From Western Power Sports, Inc. (U.S. GMAX
Distributor) (9/08): "You guys do a
wonderful job in your reviews and giving your readers
the straight up facts about motorcycle products!
Thanks for the nice write up on the GM27."
They also told us that the GM 27 S comes with a
short "cruiser style" visor; it was in the box with the
helmet. This visor allows the helmet to be worn in
another configuration; the sun visor and the clear visor
can be removed and the small "cruiser visor" can be
attached to create a 3/4-length helmet.
"A little more background for you; we initially
brought the 27 in to "test" the market to see what we
could do with it. Our factory had actually been
trying to get us to bring it in for a year and we kept
saying no. On our latest trip to the factory in
Taiwan last June they approached us on it again and we
decided to go ahead and bring in a limited number of
The response on the helmet has been overwhelming and
we are going to continue with the helmet. Now,
with lead times as they are it will take until January
for us have good inventory again so we can get the
helmets out to our dealers but not only are we
continuing the helmet in these 4 colors we are also
going to offer the helmet in solid black, solid white,
and solid titanium.
We have literally had zero negative feedback on this
helmet except for the fact that we needed solid colors
so the helmet will remain unchanged except for adding
the solid colors. Last but not least we also offer
an optional smoke shield for the consumer that wants to
replace the stock clear shield with a tinted one.
Thanks again for the outstanding review of our