The new Roof Desmo flip-up helmet is an update on the classic Roof Boxer and it incorporates many improvements.
The Desmo is a solid-feeling helmet with a completely redesigned rotating flip-up visor and new face shield system.
The liner features updated padding and soft-feel fabric and what feels like a new internal shape that is more comfortable than the Boxer.
A completely new ventilation system has also been added, right down to a bi-level, independently operated chin vent. Even the paint, graphics and overall finish have been updated.
One artifact still remains though: the Roof Desmo has a short front-to-back internal length, so check that before you buy.
But otherwise, the Desmo is a complete overhaul of the Boxer's 10-year-old design and improves on it in every way we can count.
Will Roof no longer be known as the maker of quirky motorcycle helmets?
It's quite possible, now that the Roof Desmo is here.
We've been fans of Roof helmets for a decade; in fact, it's been almost 10 years to the day since we first published our Roof Boxer review; a helmet that still looks modern, funky, different and unique, no doubt about that.
But the Boxer has many, well, shall we call them idiosyncrasies?
Enough that any other helmet design would have been long forgotten in the gutters of history. But the Boxer remains a very popular helmet with motorcyclists all over the world.
Besides its unique style, its simplicity may be an attraction. And, as we reported long ago, the Boxer was and still is (as far as we know) the only flip-up helmet to pass the Snell testing regime.
Unfortunately, a U.S. DOT version -- with or without Snell approval -- never did make it to The Colonies, and we know naught about future plans...or how a Roof Desmo might fare if put to the same test.
But let's assume that at least a few of those solidity genes embedded in the Boxer's DNA have crossed over to the Desmo. That wouldn't be difficult to imagine, because the Desmo feels "built like a tank".
So much so that we agree it is one of the most solid-feeling flip-up helmets we've ever flipped.
And one more thing hasn't changed: like the Boxer, the Roof Desmo is dual ECE homologated as both a full-face and "Jet" styled helmet, legal to ride with the rotating visor in either position. So let's take a closer look...
Some helmets have instant appeal from the minute the box is first opened. The Desmo comfortably fits into that category.
The deep red color on this solid "Uni" version is outstanding. We tried several tricks to get the color to display correctly in the photos, but variances in computer monitors and a common issue of red shift with many cameras and lenses makes that all but impossible.
So you'll have to take our word for it: this is one stunning red color.
A nice clear-coat and outstanding finishing helps add to the shimmer and there is not a single flaw, ripple or dust mark to be seen anywhere on the shell. All told, an excellent piece of work by the Roof paint masters.
The Desmo feels solid also, although some of that solidity is due to the additional weight of the thermoplastic shell (the Boxer helmets have a fiberglass composite shell).
But all of the moving parts on the Desmo have a quality feel, although some of that Roof "charm" can still be found.
We'll get into that in the following sections, but one of the main features of this helmet is the new rotating flip-up visor, which has been completely redesigned.
The new system eliminates the snaps on the sides of the Boxer, which have been replaced with a more traditional (for flip-up helmets, anyway) "pin and collar" rotating and locking system. It's now a one-handed design and it works well and feels solid.
The liner has also been updated; it's more plush than the minimalist Boxer liner. And the face shield has been redesigned also; it now fits into a rubber eye port gasket instead of hiding behind the rotating flip-up visor.
So overall, the Desmo keeps the very unique Boxer shape but updates it in every way possible for a completely new generation.
It's good to see a small "boutique" helmet manufacturer like Roof still in business, still going strong and making the investment to improve their products this dramatically.
Score: The Roof Desmo rates an "Outstanding" for the paint, overall finish, overall quality and liner. See the ratings scale in the summary table at the bottom of this page for a description of the rating system.
There were very few changes over the decade or so that the helmet was in production (it still is, by the way).
The snaps that secured the rotating flip-up visor were revised once or twice during the Boxer evolution and the ventilation system was tweaked slightly, but that was about it.
The internal shape of the Boxer was and is relatively non-standard also, which might limit its appeal to a broader range of motorcycle riders. And the thin internal padding on the original amplified potential fit issues for some owners.
The use of a new thermoplastic shell design has allowed Roof to give the Desmo what is apparently a new internal shape.
This time, we ordered a size XL and it has what feels like a fairly standard "Neutral" to "Slight Narrow" (in webBikeWorld parlance) internal shape, very similar to other ECE-only helmets we've reviewed.
The XL is rated at 61 cm but probably a 60 cm "Slightly Narrow" to "Neutral" shaped head would find it more comfortable.
Based on previous Roof experience, we estimate that the size L is closer to a standard M in other helmets, just as the XL is more like a size L.
For comparison, the fit feels similar to several of the Nolan helmets we've reviewed, such as the the Nolan N-104 (review) or Nolan N85 (review), but the sides of the Desmo feel just a touch narrower when the rotating flip-up visor is closed and secured.
The liner material in the Desmo feels more plush than the Boxer and the padding seems slightly thicker -- although it is still far from Arai or Shoei plush.
But overall, the shape feels like the Desmo has a Boxer shape that has been tweaked towards "Neutral".
It should fit a lot more riders than before. We'll call it a "Slight Narrow" in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes classification scheme, but note that it has a touch of "Neutral".
The Desmo even has small ear pockets that can fit smaller intercom speakers, such as the speakers provided with the Interphone F5 (review) and others.
Note that there is one internal shape feature that has been unfortunately brought over from the Boxer, and that is the short front-to-back internal dimensions. The Desmo -- even in size XL -- feels short and both of us find that the chin presses up against the inside.
This will vary, depending on the owner's head shape, but be aware that this may be an issue.
More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
And don't forget that choosing the correct helmet shape is crucial for both comfort and safety!
Score: The Roof Desmo gets an "Excellent" for comfort and fit and sizing, which runs true. But the short front-to-back internal dimension may be an issue.
The main difference between the Desmo and Boxer is the redesigned rotating flip-up visor on the former. Instead of the snaps used on the Boxer to secure the rotating visor in the full-face position, the Desmo takes a much more standard approach.
It is still a manually-operated system without the spring-loaded design found in other flip-ups, and that's because the unique rotating visor first introduced on the Boxer has continued on the Desmo.
But this one unlocks with one hand, via a small button in the center on the underside of the chin bar.
Rotate the visor all the way to the rear of the helmet and there's a slight detent to hold it in place. The Desmo can be worn in this configuration when riding, as it meets ECE "Jet" helmet safety standards with the visor in this position.
With the visor rotated forwards and locked in place, the helmet meets the ECE full-face standard.
The mechanics that rotate the new visor required a completely new system, which is accessible by unfastening the polished metal hex screw on each side of the helmet.
A hex key tool is provided in the box, along with a spare set of nylon cams in case the rotating mechanism on your Desmo becomes worn.
The Desmo face shield has also gone through a complete redesign to accommodate the new rotating flip-up visor.
The face shield now has a standard configuration, fitting into a thick rubber gasket around the eye port. It can be lifted independently with a small tab located at the top center of the face shield.
The face shield doesn't "click" into place in the gasket; it just fits into it with friction, so hopefully it will remain water-tight over time. We gave it the "leak down test" and no water leaked through the seal.
The water is shunted off to the sides of the face shield and directed down and out the bottom, courtesy of the gasket design.
And here's a cool trick the Roof engineers added to the Desmo: as soon as the rotating flip-up visor is lifted, the face shield pops up and moves out of the way, so the visor can be rotated all the way to the rear.
If the face shield is in the down position (as it would be when riding with the helmet in the Jet configuration), it pops up and out of the way as the rotating flip-up visor moves past.
A very slick trick, courtesy of the smooth cam action built into the nylon cam inserts hidden under either side of the flip-up visor rotating mechanism on the sides.
And the face shield appears to have been treated with an anti-fog coating; it does seem more resistant to fogging than others.
The disadvantage of that unique Desmo rotating visor shape is some loss of visibility at the sides, at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions, where the visor angles upwards. The vertical visibility out the eye port is about average.
Score: The Roof Desmo gets a "Very Good" rating for visibility and the eye port, rotating visor and face shield assembly.
More revisions have come in the form of a new chin vent and top vent arrangement, along with independently operated rear exhaust vents on the Desmo. These also bring the helmet up to modern standards for ventilation.
The chin vent is unique; it's a bi-level design, with two "clamshell" sliders.
The bottom half, operated by a small tab on the lower portion of the slider, lets air flow in through the chin bar and then through a small opening, where it is directed on to the rider's face. Flow-through chin vents are rare on flip--up helmets, so this is a welcome surprise.
The upper half opens with a tab on the top portion of the slider and this flows air through the top of the chin bar and on to the back of the face shield. A small chin curtain comes in the box and it can be inserted by the owner.
The system works well and actually provides better-than-average ventilation overall and better than many/most other flip-up helmets.
The top vent is a spring-loaded, dual "V" shaped system. Press down on one or both vents and both will open, allowing air into the top of the helmet and through several holes molded into the EPS liner.
Press the small slider at the rear of the vent assembly and the two vents will snap shut; they are spring-loaded.
This system also works well, providing ventilation along the top of the helmet. While direct air flow isn't necessarily felt, the cooling effect it -- especially in the cold winter temperatures experienced during our evaluation!
And the rear exhaust vents are also new for Roof. The dual system blends nicely into the overall styling of the helmet. Each vent can be operated independently with a small slider tab to open or close the vent.
All told, the ventilation system on the Desmo is much, much better than on any of the Boxer variants.
And even more, it's one of the better flip-up helmet ventilation systems; it can generally be said that flip-up helmets have notoriously poor ventilation systems for some reason.
The only nit that could be picked is that the top vent assembly on the Desmo, while certainly feeling stronger than previous Boxers, seems a bit fragile, but it should hold up with some care.
Do be careful about how you store the helmet though and make sure it doesn't land on the vent assembly and you should be fine.
|webBikeWorld Opinionator: Roof Desmo Ventilation|
|Location||Poor||Below Average||Average||Above Average||Outstanding|
Score: The Desmo gets an "Excellent" rating overall for the ventilation system.
Overall, we think the Desmo is about average to slightly better than average when it comes to noise control.
There is some wind rushing noise around the sides, but if the helmet fits correctly, under the right conditions we think it's probably one of the quieter flip-up helmets.
The top vent can whistle when open, especially when riding a motorcycle with a windscreen that directs air towards the top of the helmet.
But otherwise, noise is fairly well controlled and what appears to be a larger and thicker neck roll attached to the bottom of the helmet seems to help here also.
As always, your experiences may differ, depending upon the many factors such as motorcycle type, helmet fit, windscreen, clothing, etc.
Note that our helmet evaluations are a combined effort of several riders over time on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.
Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).
Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.
Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit, the type of motorcycle and windscreen, wind speed and direction and even the rider's clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: We'll give the Roof Desmo an "Excellent" rating for good noise control.
All of these improvements have come at a (slight) price, and that is weight.
The Desmo definitely feels heavier than a Boxer as soon as it comes out of the box for the first time, and that proved true on the scale, where this Desmo in size XL weighs in at 1865 grams (4 lbs., 1-3/4 oz.).
Since the Desmo uses a new thermoplastic shell and the Boxer series has a fiberglass composite, this makes sense. Actually, there's a lot to be said for a thermoplastic helmet shell, although typically they do add weight.
We usually don't like to see a helmet break the 1,800 gram (approximately 4 lb.) barrier. But in its defense, the Desmo isn't the heaviest flip-up we've reviewed
And because of its shape, it also feels well balanced when it is on the head (although when rotated back, the weight of the rotating flip-up visor can be felt as a manageable unbalance).
The combination of the design, shell shape and fit do help make the Desmo feel balanced and relatively unfazed by buffeting during a ride, so really the weight isn't as much of an issue. And some helmets are heavy but still don't feel solid.
The Desmo may be a bit overweight but it definitely feels very solid.
Note also that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: The Roof Desmo gets a "Very Good" rating for weight with very good balance.
The Roof Desmo has a "Micro-Lock" quick release chin strap that works reasonably well for this type. The helmet meets ECE 22.05 safety standards only and it is dual homologated as both a full-face and "Jet" helmet.
It is legal to wear with the rotating flip-up visor in either the closed and locked position (full-face homologation) or rotated all the way to the rear (Jet).
The chin strap padding is long enough but slightly thin. The padding is acceptable.
The liner, neck roll and cheek pads are removable and replaceable. Tinted face shields are also available. The helmet shell is thermoplastic and we assume there are two shell sizes to cover the head size range.
Intercom fitment on the X30V can be a bit of a problem. The molded region around the bottom of the helmet feels like it has the secondary neck roll piece glued inside, making it difficult to slip a metal intercom mounting bracket between the shell and the EPS liner.
But the angular shape of the shell around the lower portion of the helmet also makes the stick-on approach difficult. It will depend on your intercom type and design; smaller is better in this case.
|webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: Roof Desmo|
The Roof Desmo keeps the same unique styling as the Roof Boxer, but improves on it in just about every way. Overall, the Desmo has a much more conventional mode of operation, with most of the quirkiness of the Boxer having been tamed.
This is certainly good news for Roof and the company should find many more customers for this more conventional version of the classic Boxer design. The only caveat is the internal front-to-rear dimension, which is shorter than normal.
In general, we think that if you had a problem with this aspect of fit with a Boxer, you may find no difference in the Desmo.
Otherwise, the Desmo is a very nicely made, solid-feeling flip-up helmet with some useful and interesting features, better-than-average ventilation and good noise control.
And it has that unique Roof Boxer style, which still looks great even after 10+ years.
|wBW Review: Roof Desmo Helmet|
|Manufacturer: ROOF Helmets (France)||List Price (2013): €399-499|
|Colors: Solids and graphics.||Made In: France|
|Sizes: XS-XL Shell Sizes: Unknown.||Review Date: February 2013|
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding.