by Bill C. for webBikeWorld
Interesting, you may say, but what does that have to
do with the Nitro Helmets N1200-VX shown here?
Well, when I opened the box after it arrived during
the last week of December, I thought that this might be
But the Nitro
is light years ahead of the M2R in everything from
styling to paint to comfort, and it has a quality look
and feel that, in our opinion, is also far above the
Nitro includes a cool backpack as well as a helmet bag,
and the backpack can be used for lots more than simply
storing the lid. They even throw in a really cool,
high quality Nitro hat for good measure.
So what's the problem? Although the Nitro is a
nice helmet, it just doesn't stand out from the crowd
with enough difference to make it a webBikeWorld Helmet
of the Year pick.
Venting and Air Flow
We'll start with the air vents on the Nitro N1200-VX,
because they're probably the most noticeable design
feature of this helmet. The chin vent is located
right at the lower edge of the face shield, and the bottom of
the face shield actually meets the top plastic vent surround.
An easy-to-use lever folds the vent down to open or
up to close, but the vent only opens about 45 degrees
towards the front (see photo below). On close
inspection, it looks like the vent should open wider, to
90 degrees, but it doesn't, and the result is that about
half the air that could flow in through the vent is
The vent is backed by what looks like a stainless
steel or aluminum mesh screen to prevent the ingress of
bugs, but it's recessed back about 10mm, and our guess
is that it will be a real pain to clear out any bugs
that do end up in there.
It's hard to tell where the air goes after it comes
through the chin vent. There is no opening
directly in the back of the chin bar and there are no
obvious vents along the bottom of the face shield opening that
could allow air from the chin vent to flow up on to the
back of the face shield.
Inside the chin bar are two mesh covered circular
openings, located on either side, about equal with the
rider's lower jaw, and just in front of the removable
cheek pads. These holes appear to act as exhaust
vents to allow the air to flow outward, but why this is
necessary in this particular location remains a mystery.
The sides of the chin bar have two "shark gill" vents
on the outside, backed by the same screen mesh (see
photo below). They're covered by a slightly tinted
clear plastic cover that is open at the rear. When
looking through the helmet from the inside, I can see
the shark gill vents directly through the circular vents
inside the chin bar.
The bottom line with the chin venting system on the
Nitro N1200-VX is that I can't tell where the air flows
once it enters, and I'm not sure what purpose is served
by the complex system of exhaust vents on either side of
the chin bar. The cold temperatures we're
experiencing lately make it hard to distinguish where
the air is coming from as it flows into the helmet.
Helmet venting is usually more important when the
weather turns warm, when it's easier to evaluate the
effectiveness of the air flow. I don't really
notice a difference whether the chin vent is open or
closed on the Nitro.
The helmet has a brow vent, located just above the
top of the face shield. A nearly flush, centrally
located switch can be pushed back to open and forward to
close the vents, which are located on either side of the
vent appliqué. This switch is hard to identify at
first when wearing thick motorcycle gloves, but once its
location is determined after some trial and error, it's
fairly easy to slide open or closed.
When the switch is pushed towards the rear, two small
horizontal bars move back about 45 degrees, allowing air
to flow in through the vent. They're open in the
photo above. As with the chin vent, it is not
obvious to me where the air goes once it enters the brow
vent. There are no holes on the inside of the
helmet that I can see that would direct the air on to
the rider's brow or head from the brow vent.
The Nitro also has a couple of circular mesh covered
openings on top of the helmet, situated in one of those
aero-type appendages that form a sort of airfoil over
the top and back of the helmet. Each channel has
its own button, which are labeled "Open" and "Close".
The channels appear to allow air in the front and then
out the back via another pair of circular mesh covered
holes. There are two very small (about 3mm) holes
in the top of the helmet inside that channel air up into
the top exhausts.
Finally, the back of the helmet features two very
small mesh covered exhaust vents that cannot be closed.
I can feel a sort of channel along the lower jaw section
of the helmet on each side that leads from the circular
internal exhaust vents on either side of the chin back
to these tiny rear exhaust openings.
The bottom line on the Nitro's complex venting system
is that I just can't determine whether it provides more
or less venting than other, simpler venting systems,
like those on my current favorite helmet, the
Arai Quantum II,
Look at the photos in our
review to compare the size of the chin vent opening and
the vents on the chin bar that flow air up on to the
back of the face shield and compare it to the photos of the
Nitro N1200-VX and I think you'll see a dramatic
There seems to be a strong correlation between the
number of air vents on a motorcycle helmet and its noise
levels. Although the Nitro N1200-VX isn't what
we'd call a quiet helmet by any means, the vents don't
appear to be a major contributing factor to the noise
levels. This must mean that Nitro has done its
homework in the wind tunnel.
However, the helmet seems to generate a lot of
turbulence-induced noise from up underneath the neck
area. Place the Nitro on a flat surface, and
you'll see that the helmet has a "scooped" shape, which
draws the bottom of the helmet shell up in the middle
and down at the chin and rear. While this may look
cool, because it gives the helmet a streamlined look, it
could be the cause of the noise, because it disrupts the
seal around the rider's neck.
My size XL Nitro feels short from top to bottom, and
this may be partly due to the scooped shape of the lower
part of the shell. The neck roll at the bottom of
the liner is not able to effectively seal the air space
around my neck and jaw, which allows too much air to
flow up underneath the helmet.
This has a twofold
effect: first, it seems to allow too much cold air to
blow up on to my face in our recent winter weather, and
it is also seems to cause most of the helmet's elevated
noise levels. The noise emanating from this area
is about the same when riding behind a fairing or with
For what it's worth, here's an
illustrating the noise levels of the Nitro.
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page for more information
and for a sample of MP3 files of other helmets.
The Nitro N1200-VX is a good candidate for a wind
blocker, such as the
Windjammer helmet or the
Quiet Rider. I can put my finger along the
neck roll of the Nitro and stop most of the noise, and
that's usually a good sign that the helmet can use more
padding or a better fit around the neck.
Note that we always wear earplugs when riding a
motorcycle. It is extremely important to wear
high-quality, correctly fitted earplugs to help prevent
hearing damage, which is permanent and much easier to
get than you'd think. Please see the
Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more
information on choosing and fitting earplugs. That
page also has links to our many earplug reviews.
As mentioned above, the Nitro seems very short in the
top-to-bottom dimension, and my chin feels like it's
hanging out underneath the helmet. This is partly
due to a mis-match in my head shape with the Nitro's
internal shape. Our opinion is that the N1200-VX
will fit oval head shapes best. See the
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on
choosing and fitting motorcycle helmets and for our
description of human head shapes.
The N1200-VX feels like it has head room at the very
top, but then slopes down on either side, above the
rider's ears. It then has a narrower fit along the
sides of the helmet. The apparent slope on either
side near the top of the helmet prevent it from fitting
comfortably on my round head, and it feel like I have to
keep pushing the helmet down on top of my head to get it
to fit correctly.
This is not necessarily a problem with the helmet;
it's simply not a fit that works for me. However,
I have been able to wear other oval shaped helmets
successfully, and I'm still of the opinion that the
Nitro is extra short in the top-to-bottom dimension, so
I got out my Starrett metal scale to see what I could
find out. This is an unscientific experiment,
because of the different internal dimensions and shapes
of each helmet and also because the soft liner padding
makes it difficult to take a measurement.
Nevertheless, I compared the Nitro N1200-VX to the
Arai Quatum II to see if there was a difference.
When I sat the two helmets on a flat marble table, the
Nitro measured 10.25" from the table surface to the
highest point on top of the middle of the helmet.
The Arai measured 10.50". I also measured the
internal height, and the Nitro measured about 8.00" of
clearance, while the Arai, with it's thicker and softer
padding, measured about 8.50".
So the Nitro does seem slightly shorter than the Arai
(which is also a size XL by the way). Again, this
is a completely unscientific experiment. But I
wonder if the Nitro engineers, in their quest to make
the ultimate lightweight helmet, designed the shell to
be the absolute minimum dimensions.
The Nitro has the standard quick-release helmet face
but the face shield does seem slightly thinner and more
flexible than normal. My feeling is that the tab
to lift the face shield is too small, making it difficult to
locate and to lift the face shield.
The face shield on my helmet flexes (twists) too much as I
lift it upwards, and the flexing of the shield makes it
difficult to close it securely. The face shield just
doesn't feel like it closes tightly enough, and I have
to press on the front of the face shield each time I close it
to try and get it to seal.
The Nitro N1200-VX ties the much less expensive
helmet as the lightest size XL full-face helmet we've
tried. No problems here, and for those looking for
the lightest helmet available as their primary criteria,
this may meet your requirements.
Paint and Graphics
Our Nitro N1200-VX is the Steve Plater replica, and
it has outstanding graphics and paint.
It's hard to see in the photos, but some of the red
painted sections include lots of nice, big metal flake
bits that make the helmet a real standout.
My only complaint is a misaligned stripe where the
spoiler meets the helmet shell on the left side (see
photo). It seems strange that the right side is
perfectly aligned, while the left side is not.
Nitro uses the classic (and much preferred) "D" ring
chin strap, and the end of the strap has a plastic snap
keeper. There is sufficient padding used under the
chin strap also.
The N1200-VX has a Coolmax removable liner. It is
a fairly comfortable fabric, but the liner seems very
thin compared to other helmets. Again, this may be
due to the designer's quest for a super-light helmet.
The padding at the top of the helmet is extremely thin,
so there's not much between the rider's head and the
foam inside the helmet shell.
The N1200-VX is ECE 22.05 approved and also meets
the British ACU Gold specifications. We purchased
our helmet directly from the U.K. and it is not DOT FMVSS 218.
Light weight goes a long way towards overriding other
helmet idiosyncrasies. The Nitro N1200-VX seems to
possess high quality; it has a very nice finish and
graphics; and they don't get much lighter than this and
still have ECE 22.05 and ACU Gold approval.
My feeling is that the fit is a bit peculiar, so this
may definitely be a helmet you'll want to try on first.
Make sure you check the fit at the top and see how it
fits under your chin.
There's no doubt that the Nitro is one of the
coolest-looking helmets around. Nitro claims to be
the "biggest helmet brand in the UK", but I'm not sure
what "biggest" means. They do have several other
helmet lines at what seem to be reasonable prices.
By the way, I've searched all over the helmet, the
box it came in and the tags that were attached to the
helmet and can not find any indication as to where the
helmet is made. This is a disturbing trend that
we've noticed lately; many products have no country of
We're very surprised that there
isn't some European Community regulation regarding this.
visitor "L.L." tells us that the helmets are made in
China (see comments below).
Review: Nitro Helmets N1200-VX Steve Plater Replica
Nitro Helmets (UK)
Retail Price: £199.99
|Colors: Many color combinations.
||Made In: Unknown
|Review Date: January 2006
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►Your Comments and Feedback
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From "Spider Man": "I checked out your
review of the Nitro N1200-VX that you got from Britain for GBP199 (which I
guess would translate into ~US$300), and I think I may have some additional
information to contribute.
I'm a Canadian who now lives, works and rides in Hong Kong.
Earlier, I have purchased a second-hand Nitro N1000-V from a local fellow
for HK$250 (or ~US$32 @ HK$7.8=US$1, the pegged exchange rate between HK$
and US$), and the item looks almost exactly the same as the Nitro N1200-VX
that you've reviewed.
I asked the original owner of my helmet, who bought it
first-hand, and he told me that he got it from Mongkok (a district in Hong
Kong that teams with motorcycle-accessory shops) for less than HK$1,000 (or
US$130) about half a year ago.
Ten days ago, I went along with my friend to the "Luo Chong
Wei" district of GuangZhou (Canton), China, where there are an open-air
distribution market and a mall filled with shops peddling motorcycle parts
and accessories. Whilst there, I notice that there were helmet models
of identical shape and outlook available for sale there, but under unknown
or generic brands with different graphics and tags on them. I didn't
bother asking about their selling price, but I'd assume that it wouldn't
surpass the equivalent of less than ~US$130 that my helmet's original owner
paid in Hong Kong.
I guess the lessons that I'd draw from this, would be:
1) Always be on the lookout for helmets that seem to share
similar layout - they may well be made by the same OEM manufacturer (for
example, in the Taiwanese rider's thread, a respondent said that he got a
very similar if not identical helmet under the "Rafale" brand, which I
suppose would be this one);
2) Price doesn't necessarily correlate to quality in a
linear fashion - whether or not my N1000-V is identical to the N1200-VX that
you reviewed, it's still got ECE approval (despite not getting DOT or Snell
ones) and ECE is not that easy to pass as you noted in your article about
3) I'd think thrice and do extra research before buying
helmets from outside Greater China, now that I learn of the huge price
difference for probably the same helmet that I can get here.
On the other hand, I suppose for those of you from Europe
and North America who may come to this part of the world, a visit to the
local bike accessory shops may give you some very pleasant surprises - so
bring more cash with you (they generally don't like taking credit cards
here, because of the steep commission rates that the card companies would
And, don't worry about exchanging your monies before flying,
because Hong Kong is one of the biggest global financial centers and its
banks offer very competitive rates - I generally find the exchange rates
offered here better than almost anywhere else I've been."
From "J.S." (Follow-up; see below):
"Thought I would write the following "follow up" to the Nitro N1200-VX full
face helmet discussion...
Well I have completed the riding season using the Nitro as
my "Lid" of choice...In all warm climates it was cool (well ventilated) and
very light to wear (comfortable). Whenever the weather transitioned
from Summer to Fall, I switched back to my older SHOEI due to it's lack of
vents and quietness (warmness).
The Nitro's quality has been more that acceptable (my
standards) and the face shield system works as well as any helmet I have owned
(both vision clarity and ease of replacement). I still like this
helmet and intend to use it extensively. My opinion is that the
Chinese have come a long way in improving Quality/Process control of this
product and are probably on an accelerated path to becoming a dominant force
in this market...and I think you will agree that they might be already
From ";J.S.“: "I have been riding
motorcycles for approximately 35 years and I have ridden with quite a few
different helmet configurations…. The most comfortable, aerodynamic and edgy
helmet I have ever worn is my new Nitro N1200-VX full face (let me explain
in more detail)…..
I am presently riding a 06 Honda VFR with an opportunity to
use a choice of four full face helmets; Arai Quantum II, Shoei TZ-1, OGK
FF-4 and Nitro N1200-VX, my normal riding conditions are all weather,
commuting (100kms each work day) and weekend touring (approx. 300 kms)….
My experiences with all the aforementioned helmets have all
be good, but with the Nitro, I feel less fatigue after each riding event.
The wind noise is acceptable (ear plugs in), the aerodynamic stability is
“rock solid” at any speed, the comfort is excellent, and cold/hot weather
operations have proven uneventful. After comparing all four (back to
back, same conditions) I have to declare the Nitro N1200-VX a hands down
I purchased the helmet via EBay this winter from a chap in
Australia… The helmet is EC approved but I believe not Snell 2000 or DOT FMVSS 218. I have physically compared all my helmets with the Nitro and
have found very little differences in quality, only with the Arai having the
thickest and plusher lining…. As you can tell my experience with this
product has been very positive and I would recommend the N1200-VX to anyone
that cares to listen”!!!!."
From "H.K.": "I am writing in regards to
your review of the Nitro N1200V helmet. Well, I spotted a Recall
notice from MCN for a Nitro/NT100 (Soaring Helmet Corporation) so I called
up the supplied # 425-656-0683 (which is Vega Helmet's phone #) and asked
about the model N1000 (model I have) and N1200 if they are being recalled as
Editor's Note: The remainder of the
comments reflected H.K.'s attempts and frustration in obtaining the correct
information on the helmet recall. According to this
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
motorcycle helmet safety testing report for 2006 (.pdf format), the
Nitro N1000, not the 1200-VX we reviewed, has been recalled under "Recall No. 07E-016: Multiple
penetration failures, Labeling failure".
Here's a copy of the NHTSA report (.pdf format) for that helmet.
Response from Vega Helmets: "In
clarification to the above: the Nitro helmet pictured (in the webBikeWorld
review article) was manufactured for a European company variously known as
Lloyd Lifestyles or VSJ. This company holds the rights to use the
Nitro and Nitro Racing name in Europe.
The helmet is manufactured to the relevant European
standards. Our company, VEGA Helmet, holds the rights to the Nitro and
Nitro Racing name in the US. We carried a similar helmet in the past,
albeit with different graphics. The helmet manufactured for us was
manufactured to meet US standards, both DOT and Snell. At the time our
company was selling this helmet, both helmets were manufactured in China by
the same manufacturer. We have, however, moved our manufacturing to
another factory and thus no longer have access to new inventory of this
I am not familiar with marking requirements in Europe, so I
do not know if or exactly how country of origin is required to be marked on
helmets. In the US, both US Customs (for packaging and Customs
declarations) and the USDOT (for helmets) have very specific marking
requirements, including country of origin marking as well as manufacturer
name and date information. All VEGA Helmet products conform at all
times to these requirements.
The helmet involved in the recall was the VEGA NT100.
This was an open face helmet with a flip shield, and is not in any way
related to Nitro 1000 or any of the other helmets mentioned in (the
webBikeWorld) article or by the caller. If any of your readers have
the VEGA NT100, they are encouraged to contact us and get return
authorization to return the helmet and receive an NT200 in replacement."
"...I regret I was not in the office to speak with the
caller and clarify matters for him immediately. We have been in
business since 1994, and have always conducted our business with the utmost
concern for quality and honesty. I appreciate the opportunity to set
the record straight."
jeannedemund @ vegahelmet.com
From "L.L.": "...saw the review of Nitro Helmet N1200-VX
on your web site. You mentioned in the review that you couldn't find the
country of origin for this helmet. Well, here's the answer - All Nitro
helmets are made in China and I am positive about it coz they are selling
these helmets here in Taiwan and does have the label of Made in China on it.
Guess they are trying to avoid the bad image of Chinese
product qualities, that's why the company took off any thing that's related
with China. Hope this info will be helpful to you."