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Suomy D20 Review

Suomy D20 Helmet Review
Suomy D20 Flip-up Motorcycle Helmet Review
by "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
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Summary

The Suomy D20 is the company's first attempt at a flip-up helmet.

It feels solid and has a good surface finish and it's available with several options.

These include different size cheek pads and a Bluetooth communications system.

Background

Suomy helmets suddenly became very popular a few years ago in the U.S.

But my impression is that the brand still remains somewhat of a niche player in the North American market.

Suomy is known for their unique graphic designs and a focus on race helmets, but they don't release new helmets very often and it's also possible that the complicated U.S. distribution system may affect Suomy helmet availability.

But the Suomy D20 is notable because it's both a brand-new helmet design and it's the company's first flip-up, with the potential to expand their market share to a wider range of motorcyclists.

Based on the volume of email received at webBikeWorld, the Suomy D20 was highly anticipated, perhaps by riders thinking that Suomy might bring some fresh ideas, innovation and technology to the flip-up helmet segment.

That would have been great news, but, alas, it's not to be. The short answer is that the D20 doesn't break any new ground in flip-up design.

I'm a flip-up guy and I've been doing most of the webBikeWorld flip-up helmet evaluations and I've also been scratching my head, wondering when the "perfect" flip-up would arrive. I was one of those who thought that maybe Suomy would give us something new and innovative, so I'm a bit disappointed.

It has been mentioned before in other webBikeWorld helmet reviews, but it seems that the manufacturers generally saddle flip-up helmets with more conservative designs and styles than full-face helmets. My conjecture is that touring riders are the primary target market for flip-ups, and for some reason they want more conservative styling?  All is not lost, however -- Caberg is probably a notable exception to this rule.

And since Suomy has a reputation for some very interesting and complex graphic designs on their full-face helmets, I expected that this would carry over to the D20. But the helmet is available only in black, white, silver and a '70's-look white graphic. Oh well...

Finally, Suomy is also known for making light weight helmets, and the D20...well, wait a second -- I'm stealing my own thunder again, so you'll have to read on to learn more!

Suomy D20 top view

Suomy D20 Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

The D20 color palette may not be very adventurous, but the silver gloss D20 shown here in nicely applied and the surface finish has a hard-feeling clearcoat that feels like it will do a solid job at protecting the paint underneath.

The clearcoat must be that new formula that is being used by several helmet manufacturers recently; I've noticed it on other helmets. It feels "hard" -- but I'm not sure if that's the right term -- it has a harder surface than the old-style clearcoat used in the past.

The D20 also feels solid in the way it opens and closes and operates. It has a metal-to-metal latch system with metal hooks inside the rotating flip-up visor that lock securely on to the metal posts on the cheeks of the helmet shell.

Between the visor lock, the release and the rotating mechanism, the D20 closes up tight, which eliminates most or all of those creaking and groaning noises that can be heard in most flip-ups that are usually the result of loose tolerances and poor fit.

The helmet shell also has a firm feel when the visor is closed and locked, so if all this solidity is an indicator of quality, then the D20 has it.

The liner is also comfortable and I'd rate it as above average in this regard, especially for a flip-up. Suomy has optional cheek pads listed for the helmet, which will allow somewhat of a bespoke fit.

The top vent, chin vent, rotating internal sun visor and unique rear exhaust spoiler have large operating tabs or buttons that work well and are easy to use when wearing gloves. The top and chin vents open and close with authority and it looks like they should flow large volumes of air, but, as you'll learn in a minute, this isn't really the case, unfortunately.

The only quality issue I have with this D20 revolves around the clear face shield, or rather its rotating and removal mechanism. The face shield feels a bit flimsy and I think this is due to the system that holds the visor on to the helmet.

There's a removable cover on the side that is held on by a little friction lever (illustrated in the video below). Slide the lever and pull off the cover, then there's a plastic lever that must be removed to release the face shield. Reverse the process to install, but basically the face shield and the cover is held by friction, using only by these small rotating levers.

The system doesn't hold the face shield tight to the helmet shell and the face shield feels slightly wobbly when it's raised. We're not sure why Suomy didn't just copy one of the solid existing systems rather than cobbling together a new design that uses small parts that may be easy to lose.

Score: I'll give the Suomy D20 a "Very Good" rating for overall quality, surface finish, clear coat and overall fit and finish. The clumsy face shield removal system prevents me from giving the D20 an Excellent or Outstanding rating in this category.   See the ratings descriptions in the summary table at the end of this page.

Suomy D20 Helmet

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Suomy D20 Helmet Fit, Comfort and Internal Shape

It took us some time to agree on a characterization of the D20's shape in accordance with the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ but I can say this: it's comfortable. For me anyway.

Our experience has demonstrated that choices for flip-up head shapes are more limited than the head shapes available for full-face helmets. The internal shapes of most flip-ups run pretty close to neutral, and the D20 is basically the same.

But the Suomy D20 does offer a variation, in that the top of the helmet feels round and the sides feel slightly narrow. So our feeling is that the D20 is a combination of neutral on the bottom and round on top, and we rated it as a "Slightly Round" in the  webBikeWorld Helmet Shapes chart.

I can tell that the upper part of the D20 is round because I can't stick my finger straight up above my nose between the helmet liner and my forehead. This is my indicator; on some helmets, like the very "Long Oval" Arai Profile, two fingers nearly fit. But true round helmets fit as tight as a wool watch cap, and that's the feeling I get from the D20.

The sides aren't as proportional, but the helmet is still comfortable, and Suomy offers a variety of cheek pads for the D20 which can make a semi-custom fit.

webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: Suomy D20
Narrow Med. Narrow Slight Narrow Neutral Slight Round Med. Round Round
 
 
Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)
Arai
Profile
Scorpion EXO-700 Neon KBC
Tarmac
AGV
Stealth
Arai
RX-Q
Bell
Arrow
Arai
Quantum II

The liner of the D20 is removable, as are the cheek pads, of course, and Suomy also says the neck padding (aka neck roll) is also removable and washable. I don't recall ever pulling a neck roll out of a helmet, and never really thought about doing it, but I do know mine get pretty dirty sometimes from setting the helmet down on the ground when I park.

I won't say the D20 is "vault like" when it's closed, but it does seem to clamp shut pretty tightly, and between that and the good fit, the helmet feels secure and comfortable.

The fit feels slightly undersized to me -- based on this example, the D20 runs about 1/2 to 1 size small.  The D20 comes in a smaller range of sizes, from XS to XL only, according to the Suomy information table we have.

The XL shown here is said to fit a 61-62 cm head, but I do think 62 cm would be too tight; 60-61 is more like it. I'm not sure if these proportions hold for the smaller sized D20's, but that's usually the case.

So to sum this section up, I'll repeat myself and say that the Suomy D20 feels secure, it has a comfortable liner with a good fit for me and it should fit a wide range of head shapes due to its Slightly Round internal shape. The availability of sized cheek pads will help custom-tailor the fit and I think also this shows a dedication to the D20 range by Suomy.

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: I'll give the Suomy D20 an "Excellent" rating for fit and liner comfort.

Suomy D20 top vent system
The large top vent system on the Suomy D20 looks promising but doesn't deliver.
Rear exhaust vent is hidden under the popup spoiler.
Rear exhaust vent is hidden under the popup spoiler.
Suomy D20 chin vent.
Suomy D20 chin vent.
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Suomy D20 Ventilation

The chin vent and top vent on the D20 have a substantial look and feel and the vents appear to be larger than average, promising a large volume of air flow which, in a flip-up helmet, would be a revolution in and of itself.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way. The chin vent directs the air up through the top of the chin bar to the two narrow slits that can be seen in the photo directly above. Those slits are covered by the face shield when it's closed, so the air doesn't get a chance to flow directly on the rider's face, but it can be felt moving up the face shield and towards the forehead.

I suppose this will be good for anti-fogging purposes, although I wasn't able to confirm this during my evaluation time. The D20 has a large vinyl wind block under the chin bar, which prevents most of the air from flowing up underneath and I suppose it can be removed if necessary, which might help ventilation.

The top vent also appears promising with its large openings, but the EPS liner is designed so that the air flowing through the vent must first make a 90-degree turn downwards, where it runs smack into the front of the helmet liner, which blocks it from reaching the rider's head. This is unfortunate, because I think there's potential here for a lot more air flow up top with a design tweak.

The rear spoiler flips open or closed and it uncovers the rear exhaust vents. This seems a bit gimmicky, and it's usually impossible to tell if the rear exhausts on any helmet actually help, but this one is probably more discreet than some of the other designs I've seen.

So overall, I have to say that I'm disappointed in the weak air flow from what at first appears to be larger than average vents. The vent switchgear works well and feels solid and the simplicity of the design is a plus, but it just doesn't seem to deliver on the potential.

The face shield can be popped open at an initial setting to let in more air, but it's one of those designs that opens too wide at the first notch to be useful in anything other than slow speed riding.

Score: I'll give the Suomy D20 a "Good" rating (which is the equivalent of a "neutral") for below-average ventilation.

Suomy D20 Slide Show
p_0001 p_0002 p_0003 p_0004 p_0005 p_0006 p_0007 p_0008
  • p_0001
  • p_0002
  • p_0003
  • p_0004
  • p_0005
  • p_0006
  • p_0007
  • p_0008
Helmet Weight

Now for some bad news. This size XL Suomy D20 breaks that nasty 2 kg barrier. It weighs in at 2003 grams (4 lbs. 5-5/8 oz.), giving it the dubious distinction of being one of the heaviest motorcycle helmets reviewed so far on webBikeWorld.com

Carrying 2 kilograms on your head can get tiring, but I will admit that the D20's snug and comfortable fit and its solidity work in its favor.

We typically do not weigh the helmets until we sit down to write the final evaluation to avoid any bias. In working with the D20 over the last couple of weeks, I did notice its weight, but I thought it would end up somewhere in the 1800 gram range. So I suppose that says something for the design.

The puzzling issue is that one of Suomy's strengths is their relatively lightweight full-face designs, like the Suomy Vandal (review) at 1486 grams and the Suomy Extreme Spec-1R (review) in size XL at 1570 grams. So of all things, you'd think Suomy would have figured out a way to make a solid flip-up that was also a lightweight leader. Caberg did it with the very nice Caberg Trip, at only 1614 grams, one of the lightest flip-ups we've reviewed.

The D20 does feel its weight, but it is also at least nicely balanced when riding and other than the mass, which can be felt when moving the head side-to-side, it does not display any tendency towards lifting or buffeting.

See thewBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a matrix and chart comparing the weights of all of the open-face, full-face and flip-up helmets we've reviewed.

Score: The Suomy D20 gets a "Unacceptable" rating from me for its weight.

Suomy D20 helmet visor locking mechanism
Side pods are held on by a simple lever. Metal post keeps the rotating visor locked.
The D20 is ready for the Suomy Bluetooth intercom system, which fits into the cutout seen above.
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Rotating Flip-up Visor and Internal Sun Shade

I described the issues with the face shield removal system above in the "Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality" section above, so I won't go into that here other than to refer you to the photograph above, in which you can see the black lever bar that rotates up slightly to hold the side cover in place.

Also, the clear face shield that comes with the helmet has good optical qualities, but the removal system also makes it wobble back and forth more than necessary. The face shield has a centrally located tab for lifting, which I prefer.

[UPDATE:  Found in the box: a "Clear" anti-fog insert, made by Fog City (review) for Suomy. Apparently Suomy is the latest manufacturer to abandon all pretense of an anti-fog coating and instead opt for providing an anti-fog insert that must be installed by the owner.]

My vision out the front is better than average side-to-side, but the wide (tall) chin bar does block my vision at the bottom more than average, although my vision out the top is better than average.

The D20 otherwise has a solid-feeling rotating visor that operates smoothly. The centrally-located release button must be squeezed to open the visor to raise it. Then it must be squeezed again to lower the visor, which I think is a very good safety feature once I got used to it.

The visor locks solidly in place when closed, and it feels solid also when it's raised all the way up. So no complaints here. The metal hooks lock to the metal posts at the cheek of the shell. The left-hand side post can also be seen in the photo directly above.

The vinyl chin curtain is larger than average (good) but feels slightly flimsy and sort of gets in the way when my thumb reaches under the chin bar. I get the feeling that the chin curtain will one day come loose from its moorings, but so far, so good.

The internal sun shade on the D20 works with a friction slider at the top of the helmet. It is designed to allow the sun visor to stop at any position, which I prefer, rather than the designs that only allow an off or on (like HJC). This allows me to rotate the sun shade down just enough to keep the sun out of my eyes when necessary.

Like most of the internal sun shades, this one could rotate down even farther, because the lower edge is a bit distracting, but it's not bad. Someday, someone will design one of these internally rotating sun visors that adds virtually no weight to the helmet and can be lowered all the way down out of the rider's line of sight...

Score: I'll rate the face shield clarity and visor operation and visibility of the D20 as "Excellent" but the face shield gets a lower score because of the flimsy-feeling removal mechanism, which also allows too much side-to-side play in the face shield.

Suomy D20 helmet liner.
Suomy D20 helmet liner.
Suomy D20 liner ear pockets are ready for speakers
The D20 is ready for the Suomy Bluetooth intercom system. The ear pocket lining is ready for speakers.
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Noise Levels

Those big vents on the D20 don't add much to the sound levels, but there seems to be an unusual amount of noise coming from the lower sides of the helmet. I can't quite figure out what's causing it; I think it may be some turbulence around the side plates.

Also, there's some wind rushing noise that is louder than it should be due to a mismatch between my head shape and the neck roll. I can place my hand at the neck roll under my ear and the noise levels noticeably decrease.

Surprisingly, the noise levels don't seem to vary much whether I ride behind a windscreen or not. So there's something about the design of the lower part of the helmet that seems to allow more wind noise to enter than is normal.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: Suomy D20 Noise Levels
Location Very Quiet Quieter Average Louder Very Loud
Upper
Lower

Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens. Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle.  See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page 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 type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score: I'll give the Suomy D20 a "Poor" rating for noise control.

wBW Video: Suomy D20 Helmet
Miscellaneous

Suomy says the D20 helmet shell is made from "thermoplastic composite resin" and it meets both ECE and DOT safety specifications. The D20 is also ready for the Suomy Bluetooth system.

The chin strap uses a "quick release" system which feels bulky under the neck and the cushioning that goes under the strap isn't quite as comfortable as it could be.

webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: Suomy D20
Picks...
...and Pans
  • Feels solid.
  • Rotating visor works smoothly, feels solid.
  • Liner feels comfortable & fits well.
  • Styling.
  • Surface Finish and clearcoat.
  • Heavy.
  • Poor noise control.
  • Flimsy-feeling face shield.
  • Weak ventilation.
  • Big retainer on the chin strap.
Conclusion

The Suomy D20 is a solid design with some nice features, but the relatively weak ventilation, louder than average noise levels and heavy weight are disappointing. Although it's a good first attempt by Suomy, the helmet unfortunately doesn't break any new ground in flip-up design and it's also relatively expensive.

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wBW Review: Suomy D20 Flip-up Helmet
Manufacturer: Suomy Helmets List Price (2009): $389.95
Colors: Black, Matte Black, Silver, White. Made In: Italy
Sizes: XS to XL  Shell Sizes:  Unknown.  
Review Date: October 2009
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

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 "S.H." (6/10):  "This is my third flip helmet, previously Iíve worn the Century Lazer and Vega Summit. Formerly an Arai user, I found the D20 to be comparable in terms of fit, finish and feeling of quality.

The weight of helmets is not an issue of purely a weight on the scale but how it rides on the head when underway. The Suomy is excellent in cutting air, despite the weight on the scale it feels lighter and is mostly unaffected by turbulence in comparison to the models I mentioned previously. No buffeting means longer and more enjoyable riding. Even with the chin bar up this helmet remains balanced. I have not had the pleasure of a helmet that does this better even at speed and when doing a head check.

I donít ride open face often but nice to know that Suomy paid extra attention at the wind tunnel testing to make this happen. The venting of the helmet does work, for a time I thought my hair was wet on a sunny day. The vent is highly localized and felt like water running through my hair. Opening and closing the ports while under way is simple; same direction on the chin bar and forehead, something Iíve longed for when Iíve had to guess whether vents were open or closed.

The inclusion of space for a communication system is nice if you need to remain connected. The cover is unobtrusive; the ear placement for the speakers is marked but doesnít need to be altered if not used.

I found the chin strap to be very comfortable and the quick release secure and fast, on and off. What really made this helmet my favorite is the integrated sun shade; I wear glasses and with the shield down sunglasses always add a moirť pattern having two levels of polarization; the shield and the glasses.

With the integrated sun visor this is a problem of the past. I canít even forget to bring my sunglasses, this oneís built in!  Ok, the helmet's not perfect, itís expensive, the color choices are limited and distribution is limited. After a month Iím still very pleased and looking forward to the next version assuming it will be just that much better."


From "G.C." (12/09):  "I received this helmet for Christmas, the helmet's quality is good and very comfortable. However, I'm very disappointed that Suomy does not offer a Mac version of their communicator software. Not sure what I'm going to do, since I think its not really a valid reason to install Windows on my Mac just so I can use the Suomy software to configure my communicator that I received along with the helmet."

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