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
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. But the GM 27S includes a built-in
visor or peak, similar to an "Enduro" styled helmet
like the Arai XD33,
the Shoei Hornet
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
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
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
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 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, 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
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
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
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 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 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 to others, but it feels
pretty good to me.
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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
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
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.
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
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.
Visor 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
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
Score: I'll rate the visor clarity, operation and visibility
of the GM 27 S as "Excellent".
wBW Video Tour of the
GMAX GM 27 Motorcycle Helmet
LED Lights 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 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 GM 27 S
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.
Noise Levels 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 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
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
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 GM 27 S a "Poor" rating
for noise control.
Miscellaneous 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).
Conclusion 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
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
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 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
Thanks again for the outstanding review of our product."