Joe Rocket RKT 101 Motorcycle Helmet
by webBikeWorld.com Staff
Reviews Home | Owner
Summary: Excellent quality helmet with solid
features and attention to detail is surprisingly quiet in most situations.
Slightly heavy and visor clarity issues don't detract from our overall
impression of this new helmet from Joe Rocket.
Joe Rocket recently introduced a new line of motorcycle helmets to
compliment their established and successful line of clothing. The RKT
101 is the first in what will probably be an expanded line of helmets for
It wasn't too long ago when the name "Joe Rocket" meant
cheap, low-quality apparel that was snubbed by the Aerostich-wearing
The brand could have taken one of two paths after that;
spend some money developing name equity and then sell out to make a
quick buck (the low road) or high-road it by putting in the time, money,
resources, sweat and headaches to do it right.
Fortunately for us, the owners of the Joe Rocket brand took
the high road and the motorcycle world is better for it, because Joe
Rocket has become one of the most respected names in motorcycle apparel.
There's a good reason for this: If you had to buy your motorcycle gear from just one
manufacturer, you couldn't do much better than going soup to nuts with Joe
Rocket. Their products are generally very good and the breadth of
choices they offer is
Adding a line of motorcycle helmets certainly has its risks.
First of all, there's the incredibly crowded market that covers every price
point and feature set imaginable. How anyone makes a buck in that business is
amazing, especially when you
consider that insurance alone costs 10% of the
This means that $10 million in coverage will cost a cool $1
mil. Think about how many helmets would have to be sold in today's
cutthroat market just to cover that single expenses? Then you have the
issues of dealer support, customer service and, of course, the
complex, monopolistic and creaky old-boy U.S. distribution system for
Just breaking into that club can take years, and then only
if you can prove you're worthy to the minions who dominate the
system. We've heard from many small manufacturers who have simply given up
after years of fighting, and we all suffer from that because we don't have the
choices we would have otherwise.
But that's a different story for a different time.
Obviously, Joe Rocket has the market clout to make people sit up and listen;
thus, they were able to bring a helmet to market that will probably become
widely successful just because it will be in every mom and pop bike shop in
But webBikeWorld readers know that's not enough -- if the
helmet doesn't deliver the goods, you won't fork over the cash. So
does the helmet deliver?
Well, when a company who has built a reputation like Joe
Rocket brings a motorcycle helmet to market, you'd expect it's going to be
good and we'll tell you straight up that the RKT 101 is a winner.
We'll cut them a little slack because it's their first attempt,
but the RKT 101 isn't just a good first try, it's an excellent piece of work
that should shame other helmet manufacturers who have been in the business,
oh, shall we say 20 or 30 times longer?
Paint and Finish
The RKT 101 helmet is available in three color schemes, the "Solid Edge"
shown here, the "Rocket Science" graphic and the sexist "Good 'n Evil".
Let's address the latter once and for all: Why helmet
manufacturers are turning out lurid graphic designs featuring scantily clad
women lately is
beyond us, especially considering the fact that women are the fastest
growing segment of the sport. It's not enough that most clothing
manufacturers don't even come in sizes that are designed to fit
women, does it make sense to alienate them too with sexist graphics?
Why Joe Rocket would sully their brand by falling for this
after creating such a fine helmet is puzzling. It sets a bad example
for the young riders who are the target market for the helmets. This kind of nonsense
just continues to prove the reality that motorcycling is filled with Old
White Farts who are living in the '50's. Wake up folks -- it's 2007!
OK, end of diatribe.
The Rocket Science graphic is better
than the adolescent Good 'n Evil design, but to our eyes, it's
still a bit lame. Thus, we went for the Solid Edge pattern, which we
think does a better job of accentuating the helmet's shape anyway.
A matte finish is used on all of the Solid Edge patterns.
addition to the white shown here, Joe Rocket offers red, blue and black with
The paint is applied smoothly and evenly on our example,
with no overspray or dust bumps, indicating that proper care was taken with
preparation and execution. A matte finish with no clearcoat will
really show any errors in preparation, so someone did their homework here.
The graphics are applied as decals, and
although they're smooth, they do feel slightly raised over the matte paint. This
is the disadvantage of not having a nice clear coat sprayed over the top.
The finish is not rubberized, like the
URBAN N20 Astro
we reviewed recently. The white color on our RKT 101 is nice, but it does seem to
attract bugs fairly easily and the paint allows the nicks and dings
to become obvious rather quickly, because they show up as shiny marks on the otherwise flat
finish. It remains to be seen whether or not this will be a problem
over the long run.
Nevertheless, the helmet gives an overall impression of
quality based on the finish. Some better detailing and Version 2.0
graphics would help it score better, but we give it an 8 out of 10.
The RKT 101 has a fairly neutral fit, biased towards a round internal shape.
Our helmet is marked as an XL but fits much more like a size L in our
opinion, which may indicate that all of the RKT 101 helmets run one size small.
Thus, caution is indicated when purchasing this helmet; try before you buy.
The fit is definitely not as "long oval-ish" as, for
example, an Arai Vector,
Arai Profile or
Shark RSi, but it's not as
round as a Shoei RF-1000
or an Arai Quantum II either.
In fact, the fit feels very much like some HJC helmets we've tried and the
combination of the fit and the rocker switch visor lock (see below) leads us
to believe that HJC is building these helmets for Joe Rocket.
The RKT 101 helmet is available in sizes ranging from XS to
XXL. Joe Rocket uses three different shell sizes over this range,
which should allow for a good fit without the "space helmet" look that can
be caused by a shell too large for the rider's hat size. For more information on selecting and fitting motorcycle
helmets, see the
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.
Arrow points to latch that releases the visor. Note the HJC-style
The face shield opens and closes with authority and it has three detents which
allow it to open for de-misting, half open and fully open. The face
has a rocker switch on the left-hand side that will lock it shut.
This lock looks nearly identical the type found on HJC
helmets, which leads us to believe that the helmet is made by HJC for Joe
Rocket, which is not a drawback by any means, because HJC makes some of the
highest quality helmets available.
Most helmet manufacturers seem to have problems getting a
perfect fit between the face shield and the eye port seal, and the RKT 101 is no
exception. We found a gap on either side of the face shield where the helmet
shell is slightly narrower than the curvature of the clear face shield.
The face shield on our example has problems: it's wavy and
blotchy, to a point where it is both distracting and annoying. This is
very surprising; we haven't experienced a face shield with such poor quality in,
Joe Rocket's press material claims that the face shield is "hard
coated" and that it's an "optically superior 3D shield design rated at 95%
UV resistant." Not sure what a 3D shield is, but let's hope that our
problem is only something found on the initial production run and that it
will be resolved soon. In the meantime, an email to Joe Rocket is in
order to see if we can get a replacement.
The eye port opening seems about about average in size,
possibly just on the small side.
Overall, the face shield gets high marks for function but loses
some points for the minor sealing issue. The face shield clarity problem is
more serious, so we give the visor a 5 out of 10.
Liner and Venting
The liner in the RKT 101 shows care in its construction and it's both plush
and comfortable. It would be nicer if there was just a touch more
padding in the liner, but overall, the helmet offers a snug "sport" fit with
no apparent pressure points.
The liner is removable, although we're beginning to wonder
if this is a feature that anyone really uses; we don't, but we wear helmet
liners on every ride.
The top section of the liner is pretty thin. It has 6
holes which are supposed to direct air on to the rider's head, but the top
front vents direct air only through the first two holes in the liner, so the
other liner holes seem like they're more show than go.
The top vents have close-fitting sliders which positively
shut off the air flow, but they're hard to find when wearing heavy gloves
and the left-hand slider on our example is difficult to operate.
Perhaps a shot or two of silicone spray lube will loosen things up.
The chin vent opens and closes with a positive snap.
It's easy to open it by flipping down the lever on top, but it's harder to
close the vent, especially when wearing heavy gloves, because the lever fits
nearly flush against the plastic housing. See the video below for a
We give the liner an 8 out of 10 and the venting also gets
an 8 out of 10. The venting would have scored higher if the air was
directed back into some deeper channels in the lining.
Joe Rocket's Quad Port Venturi System
Close-up of top front vent, the hole directs air right through the face
the wall in back of the helmet can be seen through the hole in the photo.
Rear exhaust vents.
Front chin bar vent.
Surprise - the RKT 101 is quieter than we expected. Those big top
vents look like they'd scoop a lot of air and sing the blues at speed, but
they're actually not bad.
There is some wind rushing noise over the top vents when
riding upright, which is especially noticeable on a touring bike or when a
fairing directs turbulent air right at the vents. But close the
sliders or tilt forward into a Sportbike tuck and the helmet becomes nice
Of course, all of this is helped by the snug fit of our XL,
which fits more like a size large. A close-fitting helmet can go a
long way to reducing ambient noise levels.
Don't forget, we always wear correctly inserted
earplugs when we ride -- see the wBWEarplugs and Hearing
Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing ear plugs.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
The RKT 101 felt slightly heavy when we first took it out of the box and
this was confirmed on the webBikeWorld scales. Our size XL helmet
weighs in at 1737 grams (3 lbs., 13-1/4 oz.), which puts it in the top
25-percentile of helmets we've reviewed.
The helmet does feel slightly heavy when riding, but it's
not really a problem, possibly because of the snug fit and because the shell
doesn't feel oversized.
See the wBW
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart that compares the weights of
all of the helmets we've reviewed.
Joe Rocket uses the tried-and-true D-ring chin strap system, which is a
definite plus in our book. There's a nice hefty snap to secure the
loose end of the chin strap. The helmet could use a bit more padding
on the strap protectors, but overall the system works well.
There's supposed to be a "built in communication system
speaker cavity" in the helmet liner, but if there is, we can't find it.
Overall, Joe Rocket gets a big slap on the old back for a job well done,
especially since this is their first try at creating a helmet that will meet
the expectations of Joe Rocket customers. We have a few nits to pick
here and there, but the RKT 101 is a real winner and all bets are that
things will only get better from here.
wBW Product Review: Joe Rocket RKT 101 Helmet
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Retail Price: $249.99
variety of solids and graphics.
||Made In: Korea
Meets DOT and Snell 2005 safety standards and claimed
to be "FIM ready".
Review Date: March 2007
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►Your Comments and Feedback
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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 "D.H." (6/10): "After reading your review on the
standard RKT 101, I purchased the Carbon 101 as there are many clearances and I
got a super deal on 2 Carbons, one for my wife who wanted something lighter and
same for me too. She hasn't had the chance to ride with hers, but I took
mine out today and well...
Light is the right word for this helmet, I could wear it all day and no neck
strain. Definitely a 10. (Editor's Note: The author is referring to the
Carbon Fiber version).
Fit and finish were exceptional. I got more looks and stares than I
ever did with my HJC. I would like to see the cheek pads a little thicker
for a snugger fit. Since the site doesn't give you an idea of the standard
size and every place you go will leave you confused at what size to order.
Sent a email to Joe Rocket and waiting for their reply.
These were the pros. The cons and the one that will have me sending
mine back is the noise. Generally I wear ear plugs, but for short jaunts I
usually don't. The noise from the top vents reminded of howling wind
through a tunnel. Depending on (my) head position, down minimizes it,
straight up on my cruiser I had to keep them closed.
Face shield noise was on a level that actually had me turn around and come
straight home and by the time I did, my ears ached and I had a headache.
Felt like I was in a Jumbo jet's prop wash.
Seems the majority of noise came from around the quick release mechanisms on
both sides. I was almost able to eliminate it by covering them up with my
hands, but of course one can't drive this way. You can see where the
shield doesn't seal when you look down through there. Perhaps wearing it
behind a windshield would eliminate 95% of the wind noise, but since I only use
my windshield on highway rides, well then.
My HJC is very similar in style, almost an exact match seeing that HJC makes
Joe Rockets and they are a division of HJC. For noise and ventilation I
would have to give it an exceptionally poor rating. Overall I have
found most of your reviews pretty spot on, but this one missed the mark.
Going to look into a Shoei RF100 which I have tried on and liked, but haven't
ridden it yet.
Editor's Reply: Thanks for the feedback. Note that
we review one sample out of the production run, which may or may not be
representative of the entire output. Also, our RKT 101 review was
published in 2007 and specifications or build quality can change over time as
the manufacturers work to reduce costs.
Also, helmet noise is highly variable and depends on the individual fit to
the rider's head, the type of motorcycle, windscreen or fairing (the presence of
which basically throws all conclusions out the window because they almost
always create a lot of helmet noise) and several other factors.
From your description, it almost sounds like the helmet does not fit your
head shape correctly, or it may be the incorrect size? This happens
frequently, when the fit isn't exact, there may be an increase in noise levels.
It happens to me all the time because I'm in between sizes for an L or XL.
You mention you're using the helmet on a cruiser, and the more upright
seating position will almost always create more top vent noise when wearing a
sportbike styled helmet (i.e., a helmet with top vents optimized for a
leaned-forward riding position).
It could be that you're getting the classic "blowing over a Coke bottle"
noise which is typical when a helmet that may have top vents designed to be
efficient in the leaned-forward riding position is worn on a cruiser or touring
bike with an upright riding position. I experienced this just recently on
the Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom I reviewed. Again, a windscreen can
cause a dramatic increase in noise levels from one or more locations on the
With regards to the face shield, you may be able to tighten up the fit if the
rotating mechanism has screws -- I can't remember if that helmet has them or
not, but helmets usually have two screws under the face shield on either side on
the rotating mechanism plastic assembly. These screws are used to adjust
the fit of the face shield. You have to sort of play with the top and
bottom screws to get the shield to seal correctly at the top and bottom. We
often get brand new helmets that need adjustment.
Anyway, the bottom line is that there's so much variability in the
manufacturing tolerances for a helmet, and the production quality changes so
much over time, that it's not surprising that your findings are different from
Hope this helps...."
Response From "M" (A webBikeWorld Visitor): "This helmet
used different size cheek pads per Joe Rocket depending on the release date.
The later ones has thicker padding, which would help with the fit and in turn
the noise. I bought the carbon and a deviant version, a thing to note is
that liners are different for the carbon and the standard RKT-101 but cheek pads