The Osbe X-Race Motorcycle Helmet
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld
| Owner Comments (Below)
As we've said many times before, one of the primary
goals of webBikeWorld is to bring you information on
unique, interesting and (or) hard-to-find motorcycle
products and accessories.
Well, here's a good example. The name "Osbe",
may conjure up images of one of Beaver Cleaver's school
mates, but this Italian manufacturer has been in
business since 1976.
Osbe started as a supplier of electronics
communication equipment for the Italian military,
police, fire departments and local security forces.
That business evolved into helmet communications devices
for events like the Giro d'Italia bicycle race,
motorcycle schools, crane operators and others.
Going with their experience in molding electronic
devices, they decided to start making their own
motorcycle helmets, ski helmets and other types of head
By the way -- Osbe is located in Moncalieri, Italy,
just south of Turin. It was only natural then to
see the Italian bobsled team in the recent winter
Olympics wearing some cool-looking Osbe carbon fiber
As an aside, I'm told that if you're ever
in Moncalieri, be sure to check out the
chocolate boutique for a couple of bites of
gianduiotto, the famous Torino sweet!
Apparently, the Piedmontese were instrumental in
discovering the method for turning cocoa into hard
chocolate, and this has been a tradition ever since.
But we digress... I'm not sure how I first learned of
Osbe helmets; it may have been through an advertisement
in one of the British motorcycle magazines we receive.
The "X-Race" version seen here was ordered from
Motorcycles in the UK. It carries the British
Auto Cycle Union Gold endorsement, in addition to
meeting ECE 22.05 standards, which are mandatory for
street-legal motorcycle helmets in the UK.
The Osbe X-Race is not DOT FMVSS 218 and is not sold in the
U.S.A., but ordering one from Bici is easy, as long as
you're willing to pay the shipping.
Paint and Graphics
Our Osbe X-Race is the Anthracite color with the
standard X-Race livery. I didn't really know what
color to expect when we placed the order, because the
photos provided by Bici for this helmet didn't match
But the helmet has a nice overall look,
and the quality of the paint and graphics seem very
good, if not quite up to Suomy or Arai standards.
But realize that the Osbe, at £179.00 (approx. $314.00),
is about half the cost of a
Suomy Extreme, which lists for £399.00 (~$700.00),
so overall the Osbe compares very nicely.
The Anthracite color name is probably a bit
misleading, as the darker graphics on our have a very
slight green tint, which gives the helmet a different
and, I think, sophisticated look.
work nicely with the helmet's modern shell shape, which
eschews the typical garish plastic spoilers and other
doodads that lately seem so yesterday. The X-Race
does have a smaller top vent cover and rear exhaust
add-on, but they are nicely integrated into the overall
One slight disappointment though -- or two actually
-- with the top vent and the rear exhaust. The
vent assembly is a slightly different color than the
helmet paint, and the pinstripes don't line up, which is
unfortunate. I'm not sure why this is, because the
rear exhaust vent appliqué is a perfect match with the
The other disappointment involves the way in which
both the top vent and rear exhaust are mounted to the
helmet shell. There are some uneven gaps around
the edges, and pressing on the plastic creates a few
noises that lead me to believe these parts may not have
very long lives.
Venting and Air Flow
The top vent has another problem. The vent can be
opened or closed via a small rocker switch. While
this isn't a bad idea, and the switch is relatively easy
to locate when wearing gloves, it needs a much stronger
detent to keep it in the desired position; it is much
too loose on our helmet, and I fear that what little
strength it does have to keep the vents open will
This may not matter though, because although the
liner is very comfortable (see below), it doesn't have
enough mesh at the top to allow the air to flow over the
rider's head. This means that it's difficult to
tell, at least in the cool spring weather we experienced
so far in evaluating the helmet, how much air is
actually moving across the top of the liner.
The chin vent is more successful; it opens via a
sliding switch located on the center part inside the
chin bar. The air enters through a pair of metal
mesh covered slits on the chin and flows directly on to
the rider's face when the vents are open.
The Osbe X-Race is one of the few helmets that has a
simple and effective chin venting system that flows air
directly through the chin bar. You can see through
the inside holes directly through to the outside of the
helmet, meaning the air flow has no restrictions and can
be put to good use cooling the rider's face.
The slider has enough friction to allow the vent to
be opened or closed to any position, which helps control
the amount of air flowing in.
I'm not sure if the rear exhaust vents actually do
anything, but I have never been sure if rear exhaust
vents do anything on any of the helmets I've ever worn.
In theory, the air flowing into the helmet is exhausted
or pulled out the back by the low pressure at the rear
of the helmet.
The Osbe's helmet liner fabric is one of the most
comfortable I've encountered, and the liner is also very
nicely cushioned. The very bottom of the neck roll
is covered in some type of micro-suede fabric, which
feels great. The lining also feels like a finer
grade of micro-suede, which is wonderful next to the
Our X-Race was supplied with an extra set of cheek
pads, but I'm not sure if these are standard or not.
There is no indication on the Osbe or Bici website on
whether the helmet comes with an extra set. The
cheekpads cover a large area, going all the way to the
back of the helmet, so changing them may make a
difference in the way the helmet fits.
The liner appears to be made with care and has the
look and feel of high quality, so I anticipate no
problems in this area.
The comfortable liner goes a long way to making the
X-Race a very nice helmet to wear.
I'd say that it has very close to a round head
internal shape, probably very similar to but just a tiny
bit narrower than the fit of the
HJC CL-SP, the
RF-1000 or the
Arai Quantum II.
All of those helmets in comparison fit round shaped heads best.
Based on our size XL Osbe X-Race, my feeling is that the
helmet may run a half to one size smaller than those
It also feels like it may be slightly shorter in the
top-to-bottom dimension than other helmets, although
this may change over time as the liner breaks in.
I feel like my chin is very slightly lower than the
bottom of the helmet.
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on
choosing and fitting motorcycle helmets and for our
description of human head shapes as they relate to
motorcycle helmet fitment.
The X-Race has another quirk that I think can be
characterized under the Helmet Fit section; the eye port
seems shorter and narrower than the eye port on other
I can see the inside of the helmet on
each side in my peripheral vision when I'm looking left
or right when making a turn. The eye port also
seems shorter from top to bottom than normal.
This doesn't bother me that much and I'm getting used
to it, but some motorcyclists have indicated to us in
emails that helmets with smaller eye ports are a problem
Oh, and one more thing: the breath guard has a loose
friction fit into the space between the shell and the
liner (see photo). If the little raised tabs on
the breath guard were just a bit bigger, I think they
would fit better and keep the breath guard from coming
As it is, at least on our helmet, the
breath guard keeps falling out and I think the cause is
that the manufacturing tolerances to hold it in place
are not held close enough.
Our Osbe X-Race in size XL weighs 1601 grams, or 3 lbs.,
8.5 oz. This is a tie with the
and is right about in the middle of the range of all the
helmets we've reviewed. The Osbe feels good and
does not feel heavy or like it has a lot of mass.
I have not noticed any problems with lifting or pressure
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart comparing
all of the helmets that have been reviewed on
Osbe X-Race Helmet
The sleek and modern shape of the X-Race helmet shell
has lots of potential for low noise. I can usually
tell within the first 100 meters or so how a helmet will
perform, and the Osbe was very promising in this regard.
And although my first impression proved true; that
is, the X-Race does seem to have very low overall noise
levels, there is one annoying exception. The top
vent causes some turbulence over the top of the helmet,
and, for some reason, this causes a very high-pitched
whistling noise at speeds over about 30 MPH or so.
It isn't coming from the vents; it's coming from the
Turbulence is the primary cause of most helmet noise,
and it's amazing how it can affect a helmet. The
Osbe is a great example of the vagaries of helmet
I can hold my hand about 150mm above
the helmet, in the field of turbulence which I can feel
with my fingers, and the whistling noise immediately
stops. I can move my hand closer and farther to
the helmet and actually play the noise like a
Theremin, making it louder and softer.
The noise is most apparent when turning the head
slightly side to side, or when riding in a crosswind.
Now you'd think someone from Osbe would have noticed
this and would have changed the design to eliminate this
I suppose there is a small chance that
this may only be a problem with our helmet, but I don't
think so. It's not like there's a loose part or
something up there; the noise doesn't change when the
top vent is closed, so it must have something to do with
the design of the helmet.
Overall though, the Osbe X-Race is still a relatively
quiet helmet. The thick neck roll and the standard
chin air curtain underneath the chin bar help to prevent
turbulence induced noise in this area. The noise
levels are about the same whether the helmet is in or
above the turbulence zone of a fairing.
For what it's worth, here's an
illustrating the noise levels of the Osbe.
Towards the end of the sound file, I announce when I
move my hand up above the helmet and you can hear the
whistling noise stop.
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page for more information
and for a sampling of other helmet MP3 files we've
Note that we always wear earplugs and a helmet liner 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.
The Osbe has a nice, clear face shield that seems like it
possesses high quality. It has a full seven
detents or positions from fully closed to fully open,
which is a nice feature.
The face shield uses a quick release mechanism that looks
and operates much like those found on Shoei helmets.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I found that these
parts and the visor were sourced from Shoei. The
eye port has a relatively thick rubber gasket, allowing
the clear face shield to seal and helping to eliminate noise
from this area.
The Osbe X-Race uses the classic and proven D-ring chin
strap system. A plastic snap on the end of the
chin strap acts as a retainer for the extra length.
The strap has two padded flaps that keep it from chafing
I think the Osbe X-Race is a comfortable and relatively
quiet helmet even considering the whistling noise
problem mentioned above, which isn't as obtrusive as,
for example, the low-frequency "booming" noise common to
With a bit more attention to detail, like the fit of
the plastic vent covers and the breath guard, this could
go from being a good helmet to a great one. It's
almost sort of frustrating, because the liner and paint
and the gasket around the bottom of the shell seem to be
made with care and show very high quality, but it's just
missing a couple of the details that would help it go
all the way.
I really like the overall shape of the helmet; it's
modern and sets itself off from the "Speed Racer" shapes
that are thankfully becoming a thing of the past.
In this regard, the X-Race is ahead of the curve -- its
shape is similar to some of the new crop of helmets
we'll see in 2006, including the Suomy Vandal and Shark
RSi, both of which we hope to evaluate soon
That said, if you're looking for a helmet that will
be unique, the Osbe X-Race may be the one.
Review: Osbe X-Race Motorcycle Helmet
Retail Price: £179.99 (~$314.00)
|Colors: Many color combinations.
||Made In: Italy
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