The GMAX GM27S has good quality and an interesting design.
It includes a 3-position LED light in the rear.
The GMAX GM27S makes an excellent city, dual-sport or scooter helmet.
The huge popularity of the GMAX GM68S, 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 ordinary.
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.
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 you'll 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 streets.
OK, so what's my second impression? Noise.
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.
GMAX helmets have excellent quality, based on the many examples I've seen. The GM27S 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 GM27S.
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 before.
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.
This gives 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 GM27S 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 GM27S 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 GM27S 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 from rising.
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 helmet.
The liner material feels similar to that used on the GM68S; it's not the silkiest I've felt, but it's acceptable.
For more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head shapes.
Score: Overall, I'd give the GM27S 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 to others, but it feels pretty good to me.
The GM27S 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 GM27S 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 GM27S 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 GM27S 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 GM27S 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.
The size large GM27S 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 GM27S feels like a featherweight compared to most full-face helmets.
See the wBW 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 reviewed.
Score: I'll give the GM27S a "Good" for its weight, which is heavy for an open-face helmet but relatively light weight otherwise.
The GM27S has a wide and clear visor/face shield that obviously provides nearly unlimited visibility -- a selling point for many riders who may feel claustrophobic in a full-face helmet.
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 position.
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 GM27S as "Excellent".
The GM27S 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 channel assembly.
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 GM27S feels more solid than the sensitive switch on the GM68S, so apparently GMAX made some improvements.
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 GM68S.
The white color of this helmet and the LEDs make this an excellent choice for city or suburban driving, or for commuters.
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 GM27S 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 this time.
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 wBW 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 and more.
Score: I'll give the GM27S a "Poor" rating for noise control.
The GMAX GM27S 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 GM27S are larger than average (as in the GM68S).
The GMAX GM27S 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 GM27S.
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 GM27S 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.
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 GM27S 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 these helmets.
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 product."