URBAN Helmets are a completely new brand in the UK. They're made in Europe and based on what I've seen so far,
the helmets possess excellent quality yet they're priced very competitively.
There's an interesting story behind the development of the
Apparently, the motorcycle helmet market in the UK and Europe
has recently been flooded with many low priced, poor quality motorcycle helmets.
Motorcyclists may not like the quality, but they're jumping on the low prices.
Thunderchild, the importer and distributor for Ixon
clothing, Falco boots and ROOF helmets decided to fight back by developing
their own line of lower priced motorcycle helmets. The plan was to
create high quality helmets that could be sold at a competitive price
They first attempted to find an Asian manufacturer to
develop the new helmet, but the end result didn't meet the standards of the
company owners, who are also motorcycle riders. They told us that no
matter how low the price, the helmets had to be something that they'd wear
themselves with 100% confidence.
So they started knocking on the doors of European helmet
manufacturers, looking for someone who shared
their vision. Most turned their nose up at the plan but Thunderchild
eventually worked out an arrangement which allows them to leverage existing
European hardware and technologies to create the new URBAN brand motorcycle
helmet lineup. The helmets are completely sourced and manufactured in
Europe, using European parts and labor exclusively.
The URBAN helmet lineup currently consists of the N20 Astro
full--face helmet and the N350 Moto half-helmet (which will be featured in
an upcoming webBikeWorld review). Thunderchild sent us one of each in size
Locating the parts and manufacturing the helmets in
Europe doesn't automatically create a winner. How do the URBAN helmets
stand up to webBikeWorld scrutiny? Let's take a look...
Paint and Finish
We have a bajillion helmets laying around here to use for comparison, which
has given me something
of a sixth sense to very quickly determine whether a helmet is going to do
it for me or not. First impressions count for a lot and as
soon as I started to open the URBAN N20 Astro box, I sensed a real find.
The helmet is simple and honest and the first touch and feel gave me good vibes.
I'm only looking at a sample size of one here, but the
quality is really first-rate. There isn't a thread out of place and
all of the bits line up perfectly. The N20 has a soft-touch, slightly
finish and the lack of a shiny surface really works with
the graphics. The stars on the helmet seem to pop out with a 3-D
shadow effect but everything ties together pretty well from a graphic design
While the chin and top vents are relatively simple, they're
tightly faired in to the helmet shell with a tight fit and very small gaps.
And the band that runs around the bottom of the shell is also nice and tight
and it's thick enough yet subtle, which adds to the design, making it more than just a bump guard.
Overall, the helmet gets high marks for fit and finish, especially in this
I usually take a size XL but the size large N20 Astro fits me, although it
is slightly tight. Its neutral-to-round head shape makes
the difference. I have a round "earth" shaped head and the
cheek pads on the size large N20 Astro feel slightly tight, but I haven't
noticed any discomfort when wearing the helmet for extended periods.
The N20 Astro does fit nearly perfectly from my ears on up to the top of my
head. So overall, I'd say that based on this example, the N20 Astro
should fit most head shapes except maybe an extreme long oval.
The liner in the URBAN N20 Astro is another pleasant surprise. It
looks and feels a couple of steps above what one would typically expect to
find in a £99 (list price) helmet. The fabric is soft, feeling
something like a cross between flannel and suede.
Something about the liner looks nice; I think it's a
combination of the cut, the fabric, the colors and the stitching. The
bottom of the liner is covered with a nice pebbled grain vinyl and this all
conspires to make the bottom of the helmet look as good as the top.
The vinyl continues with a separate section under the chin, helping to block
some of the turbulent air that might affect this area.
It's unusual to see this much effort spent on making the
underside of a motorcycle helmet look good! The liner is also
removable and washable and it's claimed to be hypo-allergenic and it also
has an anti-perspiration treatment.
The N20 Astro has two simple vents. The chin vent has a sliding cover
with a molded-in ridge. It's very easy to find and to open it by
sliding it down, even when wearing gloves.
The top vent is also a slider, it can be pushed back to open
the vent. The slider also has a ridge, making it easy to find and to
operate. Both vents are nicely integrated into the overall helmet
design and shape.
Unfortunately, I have to report though that I don't really notice much of a
difference whether the vents are open or closed. The back of the chin
bar on the inside is covered with a nice, thick and semi-soft lining
(possibly EPS?), which is also unusual for a less expensive helmet. But the chin bar isn't isn't vented, so no air
flows directly on to the rider's face.
The air is directed up through a small and
narrow horizontal vent on to the too-large breath guard, but by time the air
gets up there, most of the pressure seems to be lost, making it hard to
sense any air at all.
The top vent isn't very effective either. The slider
doesn't move back very far so there's not much of an opening for air to flow
through. The venting system does not appear to have a direct channel through
the liner and on to the top of the rider's head and the lining on our
example is glued to the foam liner anyway, which would prevent any air from
reaching the rider's head in any case.
I haven't used the helmet in warm weather, so I don't know
whether the minimal venting will be a problem or not in the summer.
Noise Levels and Visor The URBAN N20 Astro is relatively quiet. The visor seals firm
against the eye port gasket, although the gasket is unusual because it feels
like hard plastic rather than the typical soft rubber. Also, the visor
is a wrap-around flush-fitting type and it looks and operates very similar
to the Shoei visor. It is claimed to have an anti-fog and anti-scratch
The visor has about 8 strong detents, or stops, when it's
lifted up. It snaps shut for a good seal and it also has a relatively
large tab on the left hand side for lifting. The visor also uses a
very nice quick release mechanism. A small loop is pulled down to
release the visor. This type of system is found on many helmets today
and it's one of the best, simplest and most efficient visor release
mechanisms around. Take note, Arai!
The vents don't seem to generate much noise, probably because they
fit nearly flush with the helmet shell. There is a rushing noise that
emanates from the back of the helmet at the bottom. This area could
stand a thicker lining to help seal the area between the helmet liner and
the rider's head and neck.
The wind rushing sound starts at around 20MPH and continues
as speeds increase,
although the sound doesn't seem to get any louder with speed. This is true
whether riding with the helmet on an unfaired bike or behind a small fairing that creates some
turbulence. The noise isn't too bothersome, just a bit disappointing
because it seems like it would be easy to resolve.
Otherwise, the helmet seems to handle turbulent air
relatively well and I don't notice any undue noises. Note that "quiet" is a relative term; no motorcycle helmet
is truly quiet -- they're loud and louder.
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.
The URBAN N20 Astro in size large weighs 1511 grams (3 lbs., 5-1/4 oz.).
This makes it a very light weight helmet, lighter than the
Vemar VSR or even the
Suomy Extreme Spec-1R. The weight is nicely
distributed and I haven't noticed any undue buffeting or lifting at speed.
Other Features The N20 Astro uses the oxymoronic "quick release" buckle latch
mechanism, which I don't care for, but that's a matter of taste.
The helmet meets the ECE 22.05 safety standards and carries
an ACU Gold sticker. UPDATE: The helmets sold in the U.S.A. are now
DOT safety standard. Since the helmets sold in the U.S.A. are the exact same
helmets sold in Europe, the URBAN N20 can now be considered to meet both DOT
and ECE 22.05 approval.
The URBAN marketing materials say that the N20 Astro is the
first helmet to use the "oblique impact system". We're not quite sure
what that means though. The helmet has a thermoplastic shell.
The eye port does seem slightly shorter in height and
side-to-side than other size large helmets. This doesn't bother me but
others may have a different opinion. The front-to-back dimensions
inside the helmet seem slightly shorter than I expected. My chin
doesn't touch the back of the chin bar, but it's close.
Pricing is very competitive; the basic Matte Black helmet is
$199.95 in the U.S.A. and
£99.99 in the UK and the graphic designs retail for $229.95 in the U.S.A.
and £129.99 in the UK. The helmet is
available in sizes XS to XXL.
The URBAN N20 Astro starts with a very good first impression and follows it
up by delivering
the goods. I'm especially fond of the liner's construction and feel
and I like the graphics. Unlike some helmets costing hundreds more,
everything fits and the tolerances seem tight. This is a lot of helmet
for the money and I'd say that it meets all of the original design goals set for
Product Review: URBAN Helmets N20 Astro
Helmets (UK) (Note: As of December 2010, the company is apparently no
longer in business).
Price: U.S.A. - $229.95 for graphics. UK - £89.99 (plain), and £99.99
Matte Black, Pink, Blue, Red, Silver.
Made In: E.U.
Summary: DOT safety standard in the U.S.A. and meets ECE 22.05 and BSI ACU Gold safety standards
in Europe. Since the helmets are identical, helmets sold in both markets
meet both standards.
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 "T.F.": "I purchased my (URBAN N20) helmet right
after I read the review, the price was right. I have since ridden just
about everyday with no issues to speak of. I have hit speeds over 150
mph with no drag or bobble , the strap stays tight, the visor stays down and
the helmet is extremely comfortable considering it is a helmet. I have
to say this is a great helmet for the price."