It’s So Pure This GS Makes Me Swoon
“Would you like to review a newly-released BMW adventure helmet, Jim?”
Simon Armstrong, the BMW brand champion at Blackfoot Motosports (my local dealership in Calgary, Alberta) surprised me with an opportunity to get my hands on an alluring new helmet a few months back.
A couple of weeks before that conversation, BMW Motorrad had announced a new line of riding gear for 2021, so I already had the GS Pure helmet on my must-review wish list. I asked Simon to see if BMW Motorrad Canada could get me one.
They sent me a Medium-sized, GS Pure in Desert coloring at no charge! I’ve worn it in all kinds of weather, on and off-road for over 3500 kms (2200 miles) to see what it’s made of.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, BMW Motorrad Canada!
Aren’t You A KTM Rider, Jim?
Yes, I am, but I’ve unapologetically been wearing this BMW lid on my Katoom 790 adventure and will continue to do so.
Traditions, societal taboos, and brand loyalty be damned! I throw caution to the wind and do what feels right. I’m always living on the edge, y’know?
BMW GS Pure Helmet Design, Fitment, & Shape
Unfortunately, I haven’t got the usual press kit information at my fingertips for this helmet, so I’ll be guessing a bit when interpreting the intentions behind the design, shape, and construction.
The Airoh Commander Connection
Let’s get this out in the open right now: The GS Pure is an extra fancy Airoh Commander from what my eyes tell me. Here’s a photo (below) of the Commander for you to compare to the GS Pure. The two helmets aren’t exactly the same, but I’m certain it’s a Cadillac/General Motors scenario. I’ve seen something similar before when I reviewed the Touratech Aventuro Traveller Carbon helmet.
As such, we can borrow information and stats from Airoh (a well-established Italian Helmet Manufacturer since 1997) to gauge what the GS Pure is or should be.
This helmet has a tasteful blend of earth tone brown, black, and white colorway with a fetching red stripe tossed in for some visual spice. Every metal-flecked decal is placed level and exactly where it should be with a flawless layer of clear coating encasing it all.
I like very much how the black BMW Motorrad script is subtly hidden in the brown patch on the back of the helmet with a bright red half-moon below it to draw the eye away from the brand name. They could have scattered blue and white checkered BMW propeller logos all over the exterior, but wisely didn’t in the name of having a distinguished look and showing understated good taste.
The overall, “swoopy” aerodynamic look strikes me as being all business and that business is performance. There’s nothing built into the design that doesn’t have a purpose.
It’s a real shame this helmet only comes with an ECE 22-05 certification because it would be very popular in the United States. Of course, it’s legal to wear in any of the United States not requiring DOT, along with anywhere in Europe, Australia, or here in Canada where ECE alone is kosher.
The Safety Factor
I think by now everyone can agree that ECE is a more demanding standard than DOT FMVSS 218, so there should be no hesitation wearing the GS Pure in the US (where permitted!) from a safety perspective despite the missing NHTSA sticker.
On the Airoh website, you’ll learn about some interesting crash technology incorporated in the Commander helmet they call the Airoh Multi-action Safety System or AMS2.
This looks to be something similar to the concept Bell uses in their helmets with the MIPS liner.
I looked on the SHARP website to see how Airoh helmets perform in their testing, but unfortunately, the Commander isn’t listed there. On average it appears Airoh helmets score pretty highly with this AMS2 product likely playing a part.
BMW Motorrad USA should put pressure on BMW Motorrad head office to get the GS Pure DOT certified, in my opinion. It would likely be easier than getting ECE certification allowed in the US. I wonder if it’s a case of Airoh/BMW never having bothered attempting to get DOT certification or the helmet failing to pass it? DOT is self-certified by manufacturers, so it’s likely the former rather than the latter.
But I digress… back to the GS Pure Review.
My 23” circumference (58.42cm) head often complicates choosing the correct helmet size. It’s inconvenient how I land right between a Medium and Large thus creating a sizing conflict. That again was the case with the GS Pure and then some.
The Airoh sizing chart was accurate while the BMW Europe-Moto website chart wasn’t. Watch out for this if you’re ordering from the BMW-Europe-Moto website. Instead, rely on the Airoh sizing chart to choose your size.
I got a Medium GS Pure which tops out at 58cm, so it fit me very tight around my cheeks until after a couple of hundred miles when things loosened up on the interior. Now every contour on my skull is cradled snugly by the interior liner as desired.
In short, it’s a perfect and comfortable fit once I ram my cranium past the narrow neck roll opening.
My only complaint surrounding fitment is that the neckroll opening is narrower than my wider and shorter than average Round-Oval-shaped head. That means my right or left ear gets folded over each time I pull the helmet on. It’s annoying to have to reach my fingers up inside to get the ear as it should be but still worth it.
I’m classifying the GS Pure as Intermediate Oval in shape but with a slightly round or neutral bias. It slots in between a Shoei Hornet X2 (that would be narrower by a fair margin) and an Arai XD-4 or Klim Krios Pro – both of which are just slightly more round, if that helps you understand.
Only 2 Shell Sizes
If your head is at all larger than mine, you’ll want to size up to a Large despite the fact you’ll be crossing over to the larger of two shell sizes available for this helmet. At least, I assume there are only two shell sizes since the Airoh Commander page says as much. I’ve no reason to believe BMW required a third shell to be created just for the GS Pure… although that would be a terrific idea to differentiate between the two.
The GS Pure shell is made from fiberglass but has Carbon Fiber zones in it to make it stiffer/stronger. That likely also is the main reason it’s so fantastically lightweight.
The Airoh Commander is also lightweight. It’s listed at 1430 g ±50 g or 3.15 lbs. My scale confirmed this Medium GS Pure weighs 3.1 lbs or 1406g. Not only is this a feather of a helmet, but the weight is distributed low in the shell. FYI, the second even lower weight printed on the helmet sticker in the photo above refers to when the visor is removed.
The Klim Krios Pro I previously reviewed also comes in at 3.1lbs but the balance is different on it and the shell feels just a bit larger/bulkier to me because of how it’s distributed. Of the two helmets I’d lean more towards wearing the GS Pure, despite the fact the Klim helmet flows way more air, has a Koroyd crash liner instead of EPS foam in it, and a lovely Transitions visor.
I adore both helmets, so it’s a real toss-up choosing between them. The GS Pure feels a wee bit better put together (better longevity?) and performs slightly better off-road when things get horribly dusty. The Klim helmet vents jammed open during my testing when fine dust clogged the locking mechanism up. The BMW helmet suffered no ill effects from the same kind of dust.
My favorite helmet interior liners are the silky-feeling ones found in many Arai helmets. They use a smooth nylon material that stays cool and doesn’t chafe, making them more comfortable to wear at any temperature. The XD-4 has this material in its comfort liner.
This BMW helmet is close to that same washable, hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, material but less silky and maybe not as robust. My XD-4 has almost double the miles on it and still looks brand new, while conversely, I’m beginning to notice some fraying starting to show up on the edge of the neckroll nylon of this GS Pure.
I rate the XD-4 as the best adventure helmet when it comes to fit, finish, and longevity, but it’s high praise coming from me for this BMW helmet to even be in the discussion.
The Double D ring chin strap closure is nicely made on the GS Pure and more than does the trick of holding the helmet on my head. I would have preferred a micrometric style instead, but I’m told most people prefer the old-fashioned loops.
I like the way the cushioning material fully separates my skin from the harsh chin strap itself at all times without coming out of place the way it does on many other helmets I’ve tested. Even some high-end Shoei helmets I’ve worn have this problem.
BMW GS Pure Helmet Visor and Field of View
The view out of the eyeport of the GS Pure is as good as any other adventure helmet I’ve worn. I’m 100% satisfied with it and it’s sized large enough to allow goggles to sit inside, should you choose to remove the visor and run that way for extended time off-road.
I’m a visor snob and will mercilessly attack any flaws with a sub-standard lens. That includes how the visor moves through its range of motion, scratch resistance, and how it is removed and installed.
The BMW GS Pure has a lovely visor and an integrated, drop-down sun visor as well. The clarity, coverage, and UV protection they provide is top shelf as it should be at this price point.
Bug Guts Didn’t Faze It
Despite repeated impacts from large and small insects along with many rushed cleaning sessions using only water and paper towels, I wasn’t able to put a single scratch on the outer visor or Pinlock lens.
That made me very happy.
I prioritize smooth and quiet movement and a desirable number of positioning detents from helmet visors. This GS Pure visor is just as good as the Arai XD-4 which is one of the visors I measure all others by.
There are 6 detent positions to choose from, including the very desirable “just barely cracked open” feature I always look for. Bravo BMW/Airoh for including this on the GS Pure.
The visor release button is easy to find and actuate even while wearing gloves. It’s located in the center of the chin bar just above the vent and is made out of metal as opposed to plastic. That solid feeling button as opposed to a flimsy plastic one falls in step with the premium feel I expect of a BMW product. Yep, they nailed it.
If BMW didn’t include a Pinlock anti-fog lens with this helmet I would have immediately taken off a full point from the score. Precious little grinds my gears more than “Pinlock Ready” as opposed to “Pinlock Included.”
This Pinlock works perfectly in the GS Pure and I never encountered a single instance of the visor fogging up. This was a welcomed relief compared to a recent review I did of the Shark Spartan GT Replikan. The Shark had a horrible fogging problem that left me shocked and disappointed. I can’t yet understand how from one helmet to another the fogging issues vary so greatly even with a Pinlock lens installed.
Quick Release Mechanism
It’s a shame BMW didn’t insist on having a quick-release visor on this helmet. It’s worthy of one, but instead, you need a small Allen key to take it off the mounting point on each side.
Coincidentally, the Allen key you need for this is the same size used for mounting clamping style Sena intercom devices. So if you have one of those kicking around make sure to pack it with you out on the trail.
I suppose the upside of using screws as opposed to latches is that there is little chance of failure compared to the seemingly flimsy plastic mechanisms found on most QR helmet visors. Having said that, I’ve never had a plastic one break on any helmet I’ve owned or reviewed to date.
Drop Down Sun Lens/Visor
The drop-down sun visor isn’t tinted very dark and I suspect people who ride on sand will want less light in their eyes. For my part, I found it acceptable in the environment I travel through on two wheels.
The slider switch to raise/lower the integrated lens is smoother to operate than many less-expensive helmets I’ve encountered, but not as posh as the ones on Schuberth C4 and C4 Pro helmets. Those are buttery smooth and the best in the business, in my humble opinion.
BMW GS Pure Helmet Ventilation
Overall ventilation through the GS Pure is quite good. It’s better than in the Shoei Hornet X2 but not as good as with the Arai XD-4, Klim Krios Pro, or Touratech Aventuro Traveler Carbon.
The Upper Vents
There are two small ON/OFF switches located up on either side of the crown area of the helmet that create a Venturi effect to suck out hot air and moisture, but it doesn’t work as well as I would like it to.
When I rode in colder weather I could feel some air flow back along the crown area of my head, but once temperatures climbed over 86 Fahrenheit or 30 Celsius I couldn’t tell whether the vents were open or closed.
These upper vents are one of the few things I think are crying out for improvement on the GS Pure helmet. At least it’s easy to actuate the switches while wearing gloves so you can more readily play a game of “are the vents open or closed?”
The Chin Bar Vent
The chin bar vent mechanism moves smoothly and in theory, has 3 detent positions to choose from, but I left it wide open all the time while testing the GS Pure.
The airflow coming in from that chin bar vent lands right where I want it on my upper lip and the flow is above average. Additionally, some of the incoming air gets directed up at the visor to keep it fog-free, and happily it doesn’t get routed into my eyes to dry them out as I’ve found with some other helmets I’ve tested.
Out On The Road
Helmet reviews that don’t include plenty of time in the saddle have limited value so I go out of my way to pile on the miles when reviewing any kind of riding gear.
As mentioned already I’ve surpassed 2200 miles on the road with the GS Pure and can speak to its performance in temperatures ranging from a low of 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) up to a sweltering 42 Celsius (107 Fahrenheit).
This included plenty of off-road and highway riding. A good portion of it was spent at the Revzilla GET ON! Adventure Fest Rally last week in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Testing included a few hours riding in light rain that fell constantly. It soaked the helmet exterior but no moisture passed through the visor seal or anywhere else other than the chin bar vent while it was open.
I would have liked to wear it for a ride in some torrential rain to better test the seals, but it just hasn’t happened yet in this unusually dry summer of 2021.
The Sun Peak
The removable sun peak on this helmet flirts with being useless due to its smaller size compared to the peaks found on the Arai, Kilm, and Shoei.
This BMW one is BARELY big enough to block the sun as intended but does function. I swear, if it was even a 1/8” shorter/smaller I would just remove it and never put it back on as I do with the Klim Krios Pro.
Lift and Pull
The flip side of this is that I have to hand it to the Airoh designers who must have known EXACTLY how small to make the peak to cut down on the wind grabbing it. It does better at shaking off crosswinds than the Klim Krios Pro, Arai XD-4, and Touratech Aventuro Traveler Carbon. It’s just as good as the Shoei Hornet X2 which I regard as being the best at it.
Any sun peak will catch wind to a certain point, but I don’t notice any unusual amount of neck-wrenching, lift or pull from this one. If you remove the peak altogether the GS Pure is close to perfection out in the wind thanks to all the wind tunnel testing Airoh put into designing the myriad of swoops and fins on the exterior shell.
There are no quiet adventure helmets on the market compared to something like the awesomely quiet Shoei RF-1400 for example.
Having said that, the GS Pure is quiet compared to the rest of the field. Again the Airoh wind tunnel testing paid off, but the asterisk on this is that it’s noticeably louder whenever I turn my head to either side.
Sitting in the standard riding position nets the quietest ride by far with a muted rumble and hiss, while turning my head brings out louder roaring.
Bluetooth Communicator Integration
This helmet was designed specifically to house the BMW Fit-For-All Communication System. It only costs €156.24 (VAT included) or $160 US which is acceptably affordable compared to many Sena and Cardo units on the market.
I didn’t get the BMW intercom system sent to me with the helmet and I didn’t feel like buying it since I already had a perfectly good Sena 10C Evo standing by.
Could I perhaps find a way to install it in the GS Pure? Yes, and it turned out to be among the cleanest installations I’ve ever pulled off thanks to the conveniently located rubber grommet you see in the photo above.
It took some extra effort and using the sticky mount instead of the clamp style mount to hold the Sena module in place. After 2000 miles the sticky mount is still holding perfectly and I learned it might be wise to use it more often instead of the bulky clamping one for future Sena reviews I take on.
Here’s a video explaining the extra work I did to route the harness through a rubber grommet on the left side of the shell.
Everything else in the Sena kit fits perfectly in the helmet including the speakers in the inside pockets.
Got Hi-Viz and Reflective Materials?
I often harp on helmets and other riding gear for failing to have adequate reflective materials on them, but the GS Pure has won my approval in this area!
There are two patches of reflective silver at the back of the neck roll on both sides along with two small stripes on each side of the eyeport opening where the cheek pads and crown liner meet.
Bravo BMW! These reflective add-ons are understated and only noticeable in the dark which is what we want!
There are so many great adventure helmets on the market now that it’s impossible to choose one as the best, in my opinion. I attempted to pick a winner earlier this year but I don’t think the showdown was overly conclusive.
If you read my 3 helmet shootout article you’ll see how I broke down the contest into several categories and chose a winner in each critical area of performance identified.
Depending on the amount of time you spend off-road vs on-road or if you value specific features more than others, you might pick the Arai, Shoei, or Klim as the helmet you buy regardless of the overall scores. I don’t think everyone could agree on just one of them as the best of the best, though.
Dollars and Sense
This BMW GS Pure is a strong competitor with those three big favorite adventure lids in all but a couple of categories. It even has three configurations to choose from just like the others do and comes with a couple of different GoPro camera mounts specially designed for attaching to the shell. Wow! Nice added value!
Shockingly, all this costs $213 US less than the least expensive in this vaunted trio: the $699 Klim Krios Pro! The price difference alone might make the GS Pure the first choice for the majority of adventure riders, never mind the fact that the GS Pure is an outstanding performer!
If you’re a BMW owner things really tip in favor of this helmet for obvious sentimental reasons.
Consider this as well: the GS Pure costs almost $100 US more than the $395 Airoh Commander which is probably very close to the same helmet. I admit the need to see one in person to know for sure but even if it’s close to the same quality it should put the Commander at the top of the list of options for every adventure rider working with a tight budget.
I’m a firm believer that you most often get what you pay for, but this BMW GS Pure is an unlikely bargain that I highly recommend. I don’t see it lasting nearly as long as my favorite adventure helmet (the Arai XD-4) will, but you could buy two GS Pure helmets for the price of one XD-4. There are other reasons to buy the Arai over this BMW helmet, but it’s open for debate.
We’re supposed to be replacing our helmets every 5 years according to manufacturers anyway, right? There’s no doubt in my mind the GS Pure will perform flawlessly for that amount of time.
- Premium appearance
- High quality materials and workmanship
- Good chinbar ventilation
- Reasonably quiet at high speed
- Pinlock visor included
- Super smooth visor action
- Clear optics
- Notably good eyeport visibility
- Ultra Lightweight
- Good value for money
- GoPro mounts
- 3 configurations
- Quietest in only one riding position
- Need an Allen key to remove the visor
- Crown ventilation is just ok
- No DOT model – ECE homologated only
- Accommodates BMW intercom system best
- Fraying neckroll comfort liner
- Not widely available
- More expensive than the Airoh Commander
- Manufacturer: Locatelli S.p.a. /Airoh Helmets
- Price when tested: €476.10 (VAT included) or $485.78 US
- Made in: Italy
- Sizes: XS (53-54 cm) S (55-56 cm) M (57-58 cm) L (59-60 cm) XL (61-62 cm) XL (63 cm)
- Colors: 7 different colorways
- Safety Designations: ECE 22-05 only
- Review Date: July 29, 2021
- Where to Buy: BMW Europe Only