But remember: the Air Force inventory includes the F-117 Nighthawk “stealth” fighter bomber, which has to be one of the coolest-looking aircraft this side of a Ferengi D’Kora-class Marauder.
There is something curious about the Stealth helmet though that some of our readers have already noticed: the Akuma Stealth looks very much like a KBC VR-3 (review), right down to the front vent opening.
But so what? A few KBC genes sprinkled here and there throughout the Stealth’s double helix can’t be a bad thing.
Now the Akuma V-1 Ghost Rider was and is a hot seller, so it only made sense to follow it up with the Stealth. But how the heck do you follow up on a hit like that?
Well, besides adding a very nicely done paint job and graphics, how about throwing in the latest generation of Akuma’s integrated rechargeable power system, with a built-in LED flashlight up front and a pair of red exhaust LED lights in the back, just like the VR-1?
Now you may think that these added features could make the Stealth a bit porky, but the combination of Akuma’s latest incarnation of the power pack and electronics, along with the Stealth’s fiberglass and Kevlar composite shell has kept everything nice and light.
Akuma is making a name for itself with some of the trickest helmet graphics anywhere and the LED lights are a feature that no one has matched. That’s all well and good, you may ask, but what about the helmet?
“A friend of mine who knew I was shopping for a new helmet told me that since I was an F-117 Stealth crew chief that I should have a look at this new helmet Akuma was bringing out. Imagine my surprise to see not just a very sharp-looking helmet, but one with my aircraftâ€™s tail number!
The detail is amazingly accurate, right down to the unit patches and the yellow squadron flash along the side. The design of the “panels” shows no curves at all, just like the jet. I love the idea of the squared “intakes” and the lights at the “exhausts.” My jetâ€™s tail number aside, this is a helmet I just gotta have!
Hey, what can you say? The Akuma Stealth has one of the coolest paint jobs you’ll find anywhere. It’s more than a helmet; it’s a work of art.
Granted, there are some who may not like the military theme, but you have to admit, it sure is different! And it’s even patterned after a real, live F-117 Nighthawk (see link in box above).
The paint and graphics are very well done indeed, with a super-thick and high-gloss clear coat topping everything off. The Akuma website mentions a matte finish, but the Stealth is apparently only available in gloss
(UPDATE: The matte version will be available in December 2007).
Actually, in addition to a matte finish, the Stealth would probably look great with the slightly shiny “Rubatone” finish used on helmets like the URBAN N20 (review) or the Zox Azuma R (review), although the gloss finish is easier to keep clean and it certainly polishes up nicely.
No doubt about it — slap this baby down on the dealer’s counter while you’re waiting for service and you’ll be the talk of the town.
Especially if you absent-mindedly flip the LED light switches on and off a few times while you’re trolling for compliments…
The fit of the various parts is excellent, with just a couple of tiny misalignments here and there. But overall, the Stealth is nicely turned out.
By the way, it’s hard to tell in the photos, but the Stealth has a sort of gold/taupe colored airbrush-style “fade” in the paint.
It looks silver in the photos, but the color seems to change in different lighting conditions, sometimes appearing like silver and other times with a gold/beige/taupe colored tinge.
Same for the pinstripes. It’s either a trick of the eyes, the lighting or the paint, but whatever it is, it’s pretty cool and adds to the “Stealth” theme.
Score: We give the Akuma Stealth an “Outstanding” rating for paint, graphics and design and an “Excellent” for overall quality. See the ratings descriptions in the summary table at the end of this page.
The Akuma Stealth and the Akuma V-1 Ghost Rider have a similar fit that we’d characterize as neutral. Like the V-1, the Stealth should fit a majority of riders, as long as they’re within 1σ or so of the mean on the normal distribution for head shapes.
In other words, anyone without an extreme “long oval” or extreme “round” head shape should find the Stealth to be a comfortable fit.
In fact, the Stealth seems to have one of the most neutral fits we’ve seen, if that’s possible; it’s kind of a strange statement to make, when you think about it. Like saying “This is the most average average we’ve seen!”.
The Stealth fits a round head up top, with enough room in the forehead for intermediate oval types. The sides feel very slightly narrow, yet it has enough room in the cheeks for those with square jaws. This is a good thing — there aren’t many helmets that have these characteristics.
By the way, for more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see thewBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head shapes.
Our size XL Stealth is nice and snug, and it seems to run true to size to maybe just a touch small. This isn’t a problem, as most helmets should fit snugly when new because they’ll loosen up a bit over time.
And like the V-1, the Stealth’s chin bar seems very slightly shorter than normal, which may be due to the electronics and switches placed in the chin bar.
The Coolmax liner is removable and washable, but the fabric doesn’t quite have the silky-soft smoothness of microfiber. It’s comfortable, but the padding and liner feels a bit more like it’s from a race helmet rather than a touring model.
Score: We rate the Akuma Stealth with an “Excellent” for its internal shape, which should fit a wide variety of riders. The liner and slightly shorter than normal front-to-back dimensions rate a “Good”.
The Akuma Stealth has dual vents on top, each with its own sliding switch to open or close a port that directly faces the front of the helmet to allow air to enter.
The helmet liner covers the inside of the helmet along the top, yet the helmet seems to flow a decent amount of air, which we think is partly a result of the simple forward-facing top vent openings, which allow a strong flow of air into the helmet.
The chin bar air vent has a sliding lever that is identical to the type found on some KBC helmets, so either Akuma is using the same supplier, or possibly the helmet shell is sourced from KBC?
There are two small horizontal vent passages in the upper part of the back of the chin bar, and the air that enters the titanium mesh vents up front is channeled through these passages and also up in back of the visor.
The sliding switch on the top of the lower section of the eye port opens and closes the front chin vent.
The chin vent slider on our helmet lost its detents after a while, so it doesn’t always stay in place. An accidental brush with a gloved hand can unknowingly move the slider one way or the other.
The helmet has two small exhaust vents in the lower rear of the shell that are also covered with the titanium mesh.
It appears that the air comes in through the top vents, travels along through the channels in the top of the helmet and exhausts from the rear vents. The low pressure probably helps pull some air from the inside of the helmet.
Score: The Stealth gets a “Very Good” rating for venting and air flow.
This size XL Stealth weighs a relatively light 1631 grams (3 lbs., 9-1/2 oz.), which is pretty amazing, considering the extra weight of the battery, LED lights and electronics.
For comparison, the Stealth weighs just a touch more than the old OGK FF-3 (review) that was considered to be a super-lightweight only a couple of years ago.
The fiberglass and Kevlar composite shell on the Akuma Stealth surely contributes to the helmet’s light weight, so potential owners need not worry about the rechargeable battery, LED lights, switches and electronics adding too much heft.
The weight is also nicely distributed and the helmet feels well balanced.
In fact, when the helmet is handled, it feels lighter than the scales indicate. Relative light weight is also a characteristic of the Akuma V-1 Ghost Rider, so Akuma seems to have this integrated power system thing figured out.
For more information on helmet weights, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart comparing the Akuma Stealth with the other 75+ other helmets we’ve reviewed as of this writing.
Score: We rate the Akuma Stealth as “Excellent” for its relatively light weight and good balance.
The Stealth is available with either the standard clear or Akuma “Super Smoke” dark smoke face shield, which can be seen in the photos in our review of the Akuma V-1 Ghost Rider.
The face shield rotating mechanism on our Stealth has firm and tight detents, which hold the face shield in any one of 6 positions. The first open position holds the face shield open about 15 mm or so, just enough to let some cool air in for defogging.
TThe face shield has a good quality release mechanism, allowing quick face shield replacement if necessary. This is demonstrated in our Video Tour of the Akuma Stealth helmet shown below.
One interesting feature to note is that the eye port seems taller than average, giving the Stealth good visibility out the top, which is especially important for Sportbike riders in a leaned-over riding position. Side-to-side visibility seems better than average.
Score: We rate the face shield clarity, operation and visibility of the Stealth as “Excellent”.
The Stealth’s graphics are unique, but so is the helmet’s lighting technology. Like the V-1 Ghost Rider, the Stealth has red LED lights hidden under the exhaust vents in the rear.
A small on/off rocker switch, located on the back side of the chin bar, turns the lights on and off. The effect is hard to photograph, but the lights are noticeable, especially at night.
The Stealth also adds the white LED flashlight found in the newer V-1 Ghost Rider helmets, the AFX FX-11 and Shoei Syncrotec Police helmet. This 40,000 mcd (millicandela) LED light is embedded in the liner on the left-hand side of the helmet in the eye port.
It shouldn’t be used when the face shield is closed, but it is very useful indeed when traveling at night for arranging gear on the bike, loading saddlebags, reading a map and especially if a repair becomes necessary.
The rechargeable battery has a tiny connector hidden in the helmet liner, and the helmet comes with an electric recharger and power cord.
The LED lights last seemingly forever; our battery was charged when the helmet arrived and we’ve been using, playing with and demonstrating the lights since then and the battery hasn’t needed a recharge.
Here’s where it gets a bit complicated; maybe paradoxical is the word.
We think the Stealth is relatively quiet at lower speeds, especially when worn while riding an unfaired motorcycle that doesn’t throw turbulent air around the bottom of the helmet.
But when we first tried it, we thought the Stealth seemed noisy at speed, and very noisy when riding behind a small fairing, like the windscreen on either the Ducati Multistrada or the Suzuki Bandit S, which directs air on to the lower part of the helmet.
Riding those bikes caused the Stealth to generate a loud roaring wind noise around the bottom of the helmet.
Then just by chance, one evaluator went for a ride using a different style ear plug; the EARsoft “Grippers (review)”, which are bigger and thicker than most disposable ear plugs. He reported a dramatic difference in noise levels.
We’ve since tried various ear plugs and for some reason, certain types of earplugs can make a big difference in the noise levels transmitted by the Stealth.
Correctly inserted EARsoft Grippers seem to lower the noise levels to a point where the Stealth becomes very quiet — even one of the quietest helmets we’ve tried. But other types of ear plugs seem to actually increased the noise volume.
Coincidentally, we’re in the process of reviewing one of the new HJC FS-10 full-face helmets, and we found the same issue with that helmet also.
This is a very strange phenomenon, and our only conclusion is that under certain conditions and with the rider wearing certain types of ear plugs, the Akuma Stealth may range from very quiet to noisy.
This is, and something we haven’t previously encountered, so owners of the Akuma Stealth may want to try different combinations of ear plugs to find one that works for them.
The Stealth also has a scalloped or scooped shape up under the bottom, and we think this directs a volume of air along the bottom of the helmet and up inside the liner in back of the rider’s ears.
Even when the helmet is in noisy mode, a finger placed up behind the rider’s ear can dramatically decrease the noise levels.
Also, we found that the vents on the Stealth are quiet and without any of the whistling noise that can be generated by wind passing over poorly designed vents.
Remember that we always wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs and an extra helmet liner when riding, and we strongly recommend that you always wear hearing protection also. See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
And also remember that your experience with noise levels will probably be different because it depends on many factors, including your head shape, the motorcycle configuration, prevailing winds and more.
The Akuma Stealth is both DOT and ECE 22-05 approved.
The Stealth has a D-ring attachment system, but the chin strap seems narrower than average, and the protective padding underneath feels thinner than normal, in our opinion, causing slight discomfort.
Also, the extra section of chin strap is secured with “hook and loop” fastener rather than a snap; we prefer either a snap or the arrangement used on Shoei helmets, where the extra piece of strap connects to the D-ring itself.
The Akuma Stealth is a great-looking helmet with custom-level paint and graphics, but it’s also very functional.
It has all the features and relatively light weight of its competitors, but the added attraction of the whimsical LED exhaust lights in the rear and the very useful LED flashlight in the front make this a helmet that definitely stands out from the crowd.
From “D.Z.” (8/08): “I Recently purchased an Akuma Stealth based on your review and thought I’d pass on my thoughts… I have about a thousand miles on the helmet so far.
Fitment – I have an “XL” sized head but in the Stealth I needed an XXL. The chin bar on the XL was close enough to my face that unless I pursed my lips they would touch the chin bar.
Akuma said the XXL shell is slightly larger so I exchanged the XL for the XXL.
The XXL is better, although I think it’s also a tad wider, which makes it noisier under the ears than I expected. I wear earplugs most of the time anyhow so it’s not much of a problem for me.
The chin bar is still close – if I pucker up I can easily touch the chin bar. If I could offer any suggestions, it would be to extend the chin bar 3 or 4 mm out… I know that’s easier said than done with an existing mold but it’s on my wish list.
I bought this helmet with the intent of adding a Bluetooth comm system, but I don’t think there’s enough room in the chin bar for a mic.
Quality – The quality is very high and finish is gorgeous, but a little fragile. I have about a thousand miles on the helmet so far and have several tiny bubbles in the clearcoat from bug/rock impacts.
I also have a scratch in the clearcoat on the back of the helmet and no idea how it happened. The face shield (dark smoke) also hasn’t faired too well with the bug impacts – several bug impacts have scratched the coating on the outside of the shield.
Otherwise the shield has low distortion and seems of nice quality.
TThe interior liner is extremely comfortable and fit is nearly perfect. Now that the helmet is broken in a bit the fit is slightly looser than I like – if the chin bar would have been farther out, I would probably have been happier with the XL.
Ventilation – Very good. This past weekend I put about 800 or so miles on my Monster 750 in 80-85 degree temps. Hot, but the helmet flowed nicely.
The helmet vent controls on the top of the helmet are easy to use but the chin vent control is a little odd and I can’t say I notice an effect comparing the on/off positions.”
From “D.H.”: “Very cool helmet. I have the newer carbon fiber version. The materials are 1st rate inside and out, the paint job is nice and it is light. The venting seems to be good, but I have only ridden with it once, so Iâ€™ll have to update this review once I have more experience with it. I must also say Akumaâ€™s support is very good tooâ€¦which brings me to some of the negatives.
First, the assembly quality seems to be lacking (I imagine these are being assembled in China or Mexico). I had to send mine back to the company twice for exchange. In the first helmet I received, the battery was loose and rattling around in the helmet.
I used some double stick tape to fasten it to the inside helmet wall which seem to work fine.
Then I noticed the venting assembly on the top of the helmet was cracked and peeling along one edge where it mated to the helmet. Akuma replaced it, but it took almost 2 months to get a new one due to the high demand for these helmets.
The 2nd I received had a problem with that same venting assemblyâ€¦it was not fastened down correctly on the front on one side (it had an 1/8 inch gap with glue showing).
To Akumaâ€™s credit they paid for 2-day shipping to get it to me before Christmas.
I just received an Autocom Intercom system for Christmas which Iâ€™m in the process of installing. Iâ€™ve noticed some other things about the liner of the helmet as a result.
Although the cheek pads are snap in, much of the remaining liner is hot-glued into the helmet. It doesnâ€™t take a lot of coaxing to get the glue to release. So I donâ€™t know how long it will hang together.
The other thing I noticed is that the light switches have no backing to them. The liner on the face bar sits about 1/8â€ off the surface of the helmet which provides room for the back of the switch.
If for any reason the inside of the face bar were to bumped hard, it could bend the switchesâ€™ prongs and/or attached resistors that stick out the back of the liner.
Fortunately, the switches are far enough below the spot where the intercomâ€™s microphone needs to go to allow me to mount the microphone arm behind the liner.
The other challenge presented by the helmetâ€™s interior design is mounting of the intercom headphone speakers. It is critical that the center these speakers sit over your ear canal for the best sound.
They also need to sit up against your ear.
The problem is that the neck strap comes through the liner right where the center of my ear is. Although the helmet liner allows me move strap behind the cheek pad and helmet liner, the problem isnâ€™t completely solved.
Doing so leaves a sizable gap where the strap used to sit that needs to be filled. This would be an easy to fix with an extra pad, but unfortunately the cheek pad sits such that the edge of it is right over my ear canal and that pad cannot be modified without cutting and some major rework to the pad.
The other problem is with the strap now behind the cheek pad, it no longer holds the cheek pad in place while donning the helmet.
Although the cheek pad is still held in place with three snaps, the padâ€™s foam shifts a bit and requires a little adjustment with your finger to get the pad to sit correctly on your face.
This is a bit of a hassle, but it will workâ€¦until the snaps eventually loosen up from removing and replacing the cheek pads.
From “J.L.”: “I love your website. I read everything and take everything you review in consideration to the gear I buy. Keep up the great work!
Now, my opinion of the helmet. It looks phenomenal. But that’s not the only phenomenal thing about the helmet.
The company is just as impressive. I just receiving my helmet today only to find the disappointment of a damaged helmet, caused by UPS.
The back of my brand new helmet was shattered/cracked.
I quickly emailed Akuma’s general email address at 8pm PDT, and to my surprise, I immediately received a response from them. It wasn’t a generic auto-response or a response from a sales person.
The email went directly to their COO. He apologized for the helmet in his email and provided me his personal contact number to call immediately so we can figure out a resolution to the issue.
As we spoke, he mentioned that he and his employees QC every helmet before placing it in the box for shipment. To me, that’s critical for something I’m to put my trust and faith in to help protect the fragile contents within my skull.
Since we attributed the damage to UPS, he said he would take care of the UPS claim on my behalf since he strongly feels it shouldn’t be my issue to deal with and therefore will take care of it. Also, he will send me a new helmet via overnight first thing tomorrow morning.
I can’t say much about the helmet YET, since I haven’t tried it while riding, but I did try to see if it fit and it’s nice and comfy.
It’s slightly pinchy around the cheek area, but it’ll be fine once it’s broken in. I’m also enjoying the map light LED as I’m sure I’ll find it helpful at some point not to look at a map, but just in general if I have to check the bike at night before I ride and so forth.
So far, I’m impressed with the helmet and I love the design with all it’s lights.
Bottom line, the helmet’s an important piece of gear for a rider.
And, it helps me feel even more comfortable wearing the helmet backed by people that care about their product and the riders that wear their product with trust. To me, that’s the winning combination.”
From “J.D.”: “Your review of the Akuma Stealth is very good, thanks for doing it. I received mine last week and have been riding with it ever since here in Florida.
The helmet is very light and I have really been surprised at all the compliments I am getting from my riding buddies and strangers.
All my buds freaked out when I turned on the LEDs in the vents which kinda sucks because now they want the helmet and I won’t be the only one with it down here.
Hit a pretty big pothole coming home Monday so I stopped and used the map light on the helmet to check things out, really came in handy.
TThe liner is super smooth especially when you start to sweat in it and you don’t feel the wetness, in fact the padding seemed to feel smoother. I kind of like the Velcro better than the snap because I can connect it easier when I’m wearing gloves.
It flows lots of air which is really a good thing down here especially in the morning when its cool and muggy. I have an R1 so I’m slightly leaned over when riding and you get a really good view of the road compared to my old helmets.
I had a KBC and though the Akuma does look similar, it fits a ton better and the quality is miles ahead of my old KBC, HJC, and I like it a ton better than my Shoei and I paid 200 bucks more.
I also think it would look better with a matte finish but its still looks very good. Never heard of these guys but they certainly have their stuff together. Your YouTube review really makes the report a ton better and gives it that personal touch.