Caberg Duke Helmet Review
The helmet is comfortable and it’s quieter than average. It also has surprisingly good outward visibility.
The Duke is 100% made in Italy and it continues the Caberg tradition of style, features, functionality and high quality, all at a very reasonable list price.
Caberg was the first Italian manufacturer to produce a flip-up helmet and they have continued to evolve the type through the years.
In fact, Caberg has probably done more to evolve and improve flip-up and “modular” helmets than any other manufacturer I can think of.
For example, Caberg pioneered the P/J dual-homologation feature on their flip-up helmets like theCaberg Sintesi (review).
This is an ECE certification that the helmet can be worn either as a full-face, with the rotating flip-up visor down and locked, or as a “Jet” style helmet with the rotating visor rotated up and locked.
Their modular helmets include leading-edge styles and fantastic designs like the Caberg HyperX (review) and the Caberg Ego (review), with its unique perforated metal “sunroof”, with air flow levels way beyond any other helmet of any type.
And here’s the bonus: Caberg Helmets are made in Italy.
So if Caberg can continually pump out new, exciting, innovative and high-quality designs in their factory in Italy, why can’t the other helmet manufacturers?
That is a very interesting question, especially now that other Italian helmet manufacturers like AGV and Vemar seem to be making fewer and fewer helmets in Italia…
The Caberg Duke: Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
All of the Caberg helmets we have reviewed through the years have been of excellent to outstanding build quality, with construction, paint, and all of the moving parts or “switchgear” much better than the average flip-up. The Caberg Duke is no exception.
In fact, each Caberg helmet we have received seems to be made better than the one before, which says a lot for the company’s strategy of continuous improvement.
The polycarbonate-shell Duke is available in solid colors and it looks very sinister indeed in “Smart Black”, an “unpainted” color that has a list price of only €169.90.
The Matte Black and Black colors are also a perfect match for the Duke’s looks, and they’ll set you back another 30 Euros.
The Gunmetal color is also a looker and the Duke is also available in “Metal White”.
When the Editor was asked at the 2011 EICMA show (report) whether Caberg should offer the Duke in “Hi-Vizion” yellow, he sad “Definitely”.
I’m not sure if that reaction did the trick, but Caberg has also just announced that the Hi-Vizion Duke will indeed join the lineup and they sent a photo (below).
The Duke shown here is in the “Booster” graphics, which add about 40 Euros to the cost for a total of €239.90, still a pretty good deal for a made-in-Italy helmet.
The graphics and the clear coat on our example rate an outstanding. The finish is superb, with perfectly applied graphics and not even a micron of orange peel or any other imperfections.
This level of finish is rare on a flip-up or indeed, on any helmet in this price range. I’d sure like to see Caberg’s paint booth and system one of these days…
The clear coat has a “feel” somewhere between the “hard” feel of the European Nolan helmets and the “softer” feel of the Shoei helmets we’ve reviewed recently.
It feels thick and should do a good job at protecting the Booster graphics, which are a good compliment to the Duke’s design and style.
As on other Caberg helmets we’ve reviewed, the moving parts, plastic bits and switchgear all have a precision feel, from the detents on the face shield to the excellent large tab for the top vent that has a real “snap” when it’s opened or closed.
The rotating flip-up visor on the Duke uses no springs or detents on the way up, until it reaches the top-most position, where a strong detent clicks it in place.
The helmet has a special feature to keep the rotating visor open and I’ll describe that below.
Score: We give the Caberg Duke an “Outstanding” rating for paint and build quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
We currently have a whole bunch o’ helmets in the evaluation queue just now, so I’ve been riding back and forth swapping out the Duke with other helmets from a variety of manufacturers. That’s always a good thing to do for a helmet evaluation…but not always possible due to scheduling and logistics.
Every time I set the Duke on my head, I definitely notice a difference. The padding is not as thick as some helmets but something about the internal shape makes the Duke feel right at home and very comfortable on my head.
It (both the helmet and my head) is a round-ish shape, similar, in my opinion, to the Arai RX-Q (review) “round oval” shape. I can feel the roundness along the top “crown” of the Duke — it’s different from, for example, the Nolan N-104 (review) and other European helmets I have worn, most of which have a narrower, “ECE” fit.
The sides and lower portion of the Duke are more neutral, so I’ll rate this one as a “Neutral” to “Slight Round” in the webBikeWorld Helmet Fit classification scheme.
The size large Duke shown here is designed to fit a 59 cm to 60 cm head circumference and we think that’s correct, so the helmets apparently fit to size as expected.
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.
The large, wide and tall chin bar is a noted feature of the Duke, just as it was with the Konda and Trip.
It may look a bit disconcerting at first but when the helmet is slipped on, a tug brings the chin bar down where it should be and settles the helmet on the head.
In fact, despite the tall and wide chin bar, the Duke paradoxically seems to offer better outward visibility than found on many other flip-ups in this price range.
The sides of the eye port slant down at angles and they’re in my peripheral vision at first, but the design is more unusual than bothersome and there’s plenty of visibility out the sides and towards the bottom.
I’ll surmise that this will differ, depending on each Duke owner’s individual head shape, but be sure to pull down on the chin bar or push down on the top of the helmet to get it seated and when you go for a ride, you should be fine.
The front-to-back internal dimensions of the Duke are a bit shorter than average also, with the tip of my chin just touching the inside bottom part of the chin bar.
Again, this will vary, depending on your head shape. I’m at the outer edge of head size for this size large Duke, so anyone with a slightly smaller head should fit with no problems.
The liner is removable and washable and has been treated with an anti-bacterial. It also has some reflective material swen in along the rear.
The ear pockets have a unique design. They seem a bit small but have not bothered me because the lining is tapered up from the ear pocket into the main part of the liner. An extra-thick foam and fabric lining covers each ear pocket, and the EPS liner is shaped to fit speakers.
Caberg would like you to buy one of their “Just Speak” Bluetooth systems, of course, but a smaller external system will work and the shell is designed to easily fit a typical intercom clamp.
Score: We’ll give the Caberg Duke an “Excellent” rating for fit and comfort and internal shape, with a slightly short front-to-rear internal dimension.
Caberg Duke Face Shield, Eye Port and Visibility
The Duke has an extra-large, Pinlock-ready face shield with a centrally-located lift tab and all models of the Duke except the base “Smart Black” come with the Pinlock insert in the box.
The face shield completely covers the eye port and up over the top of the eye port gasket on to the first few millimeters of the helmet shell. The design is very similar (if not identical to) the face shield used on the Caberg Konda.
The optical quality of both the 2.2 mm thick face shield and the internal sun visor is outstanding. The clarity of the sun visor is especially appreciated.
The face shield seals against the eye port gasket and it proved water-tight in our “leak-down test”.
The water runs along the top of the gasket and drains on either side, where it can enter the eye port. But this is a static test where water is poured along the top. On the road, any forward motion will quickly pull water away and off the helmet.
The face shield has five detents and the first is larger than we’d like for defogging, although the excellent defogging vent system and the anti-fog (and anti-scratch) treated face shield do an excellent job at defeating the mist.
Internal Sun Visor
The Duke’s internal sun visor is actuated with a slider located along the top rear of the helmet, which is a bit of a reach when riding but at least the slider button is easy to find.
The sun visor mechanism uses the friction method and is not spring-loaded. In cae you’re wondering, this is good, because it means that the sun visor can be stopped in an intermediate position.
When the slider is pulled all the way towards the front, the button slider slips into a light detent and the sun visor will move into its lowest position.
The sun visor doesn’t reach as far down as I’d like, although it’s better than some others I’ve tried. It is cut at an angle on either side, which is also slightly distracting, but overall, it’s acceptable.
I’d prefer if it was cut straighter across the bottom and if it rotated farther down, but apparently this isn’t possible with the “aggressive” styling of the Duke.
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Rotating Flip-up Visor
As the visor is raised, it offers no resistance until it hits a very stiff detent at the top of its range, where it clicks into place with a solid “thunk”.
Since the Duke is both P and J homologated, it is legal to ride in Europe with the flip-up visor in the raised position. This is controlled with a spring-loaded lock on the left-hand side, just behind the face shield.
If the slider is pushed towards the front, in the “J” position (a P and J are molded into the plastic), the flip-up visor will rotate up but then lock in the raised position.
To release it, you must snap the slider all the way back into its detent, which will release the visor so you can close the helmet.
If you’re not planning on riding with the flip-up visor in the raised position, push the slider all the way back until it snaps into the “P” position. Now the flip-up visor can be raised or lowered and it will pause only in the detent at the fully raised position.
It took me a few tries to figure it out, but the system works well and feels very solid and it’s what has allowed Caberg to obtain the dual homologation for the Duke.
Also, you may notice the notched stops in the sun visor slider assembly at the top of the helmet, located in front of the slider for the internal sun visor.
If the face shield is raised when the flip-up visor is rotated upwards, the stops are designed to catch the lip of the face shield and close it on to the flip-up visor when the visor is raised.
Score: We’ll give the Caberg Duke an “Excellent” rating in this category for the face shield and eye port. The internal sun visor gets a “Very Good”. The design and styling of the Duke may affect outward visibility differently for various rider head shapes.
Caberg Duke Ventilation and Air Flow
The Caberg Duke chin vent and the chin bar is reminiscent of both the Caberg Konda and the Caberg Trip. An array of five intakes surrounds the triangulated “nose” that forms the chin bar.
But there is no on/off switch for the chin vent on the Duke.
I suppose that’s one less moving part to have to break, and it seems unusual (I can’t think of another helmet we’ve reviewed without an on/off shutter or switch), but Caberg said that the system is designed to flow air on to the back of the face shield for defogging.
I have to admit that it works, because between the anti-fog coating on the face shield and the chin vent system, the face shield does not become fogged, even if I breathe directly on it while I’m riding.
The chin vent does flow a good amount of air into the helmet and the large chin curtain underneath helps block the air from flowing in from underneath, and that helps when riding in cold weather.
The top vent isn’t quite as efficient. The EPS liner is molded into a grid of 20 mm or so square shapes, which act as crushable deformation zones. There are channels between each square in a grid pattern.
The air comes in through the top vent and down through two vertical holes, where it’s vented into the channels.
The liner covers a lot of surface area, however, which blocks some of the air from venting directly on to the rider’s head. The system works, but I don’t feel a strong air flow directly on my head, which is by design.
The Duke does not have exhaust vents in the rear of the shell.
Score: The Caberg Duke ventilation system gets an “Excellent” rating, with average ventilation through the top vents and slightly better than average through the chin vent.
Caberg Duke Sound Levels
The comfortable and snug fit and the thick padding in the ear pockets, along with the wind tunnel tested design, help to keep the noise levels on the Duke under control, more or less.
The upper part of the helmet has normal to less than average noise levels and the neck roll padding is nicely designed.
But depending on the riding situation, there is some noise that can be generated around the lower portion of the shell, just behind and underneath the ears.
This varies, depending on the motorcycle type, but there does seem to be some turbulence around that area that generates some noise. The noise levels decrease dramatically if I put a hand there or if I’m wearing a high collar or scarf.
But overall, I’d say the Duke has average to slightly worse than average noise control, although it’s better than many of the other flip-up helmets in this price range that we have reviewed.
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 Caberg Duke a “Very Good” rating for average to slightly worse than average overall noise levels.
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This Caberg Duke in size large weighs 1633 grams, which is actually a light weight when compared to other flip-up helmets. It’s among the lightest 25% of all the flip-up helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld.com. This is borne out when riding — the Duke feels lighter than average and that has been confirmed on the scale.
Just for comparison, the Caberg Trip (review) in size XL weighs 1614 grams; the CMS SUV Apribile (review) in size L weighs 1625 grams; the ROOF Boxer V (review), size L weighs 1638 grams; theSchuberth C3 With SRC (L) 1692 grams; the AGV Miglia II (L) 1707 grams and the Schuberth C3 (XL) 1709 grams.
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 Caberg Duke gets an “Excellent” rating for light weight with good balance.
The Caberg Duke has a “microlock” chin strap retainer. The shape of the helmet puts the chin strap in a location that can be slightly uncomfortable for some riders, as we noticed during the evaluation trials.
The chin strap padding is thick enough and the strap also has a metal D-ring that can be used to lock the helmet to a motorcycle.
The helmet meets the ECE 22.05 P and J safety standard only and it is not sold in North America. The Duke has a two-year warranty in Europe.
The Caberg Duke is yet another winner from the Italian manufacturer who has brought us so many interesting and unique helmet designs.
The Duke certainly offers something different than your average $200.00 to $250.00 generic flip-up, most of which are probably pumped out of the same nameless global supply factory.
That you can get a made-in-Italy helmet with a super paint and finish, unique style, a “roomy” neutral-to-round fit that is also dual-homologated as both a full-face and “Jet” at this price is most definitely a good thing.
The originator of this “Insect/Pilot” style was the Caberg Trip, a very popular helmet. The Konda improved on the trip in many ways and the Duke is a further evolution of “the species”.
Too bad that motorcyclists in the U.S. don’t get a DOT version — Caberg is still trying to put together a U.S. distribution program, so hopefully someday it will arrive. In the meantime, our European webBikeWorld readers can enjoy a solid helmet at a very good price.
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I truly enjoyed that helmet, but I did keep it too long.
When I finally came to terms with the fact I had to replace it in 2014, I looked at a lot of helmets. I had initially planned to buy a Nolan N104 (review). The Nolan N103 (review) had fit me well, but it was very heavy.
Unfortunately for me, Nolan made the N104 a bit more narrow. I have a rather round head and just couldn’t get comfortable in the N104. I have some mild neck issues, so I also wanted a lighter helmet than the N103, even though I’m wedded to the modular style.
After looking at a variety of other options, I came back around to Caberg and purchased a Duke Legend in black and hi-viz yellow in 2014. I very much appreciated your review, which helped me decide on the Duke.
One minor quibble, in the caption for the photo of the front vents, you say, “The large chin vent operates with an easy-to-find tab but doesn’t quite provide the ventilation we expected.” I don’t believe there is a tab to operate the chin vents. As you correctly note in the body, “But there is no on/off switch for the chin vent on the Duke.”
My apologies if I have simply missed the obvious in what you were saying.
After quite some time of riding with the Duke, my observations generally match yours:
1. Very comfortable for my bald roundish head.
2. Great optics, and the Pinlock is much appreciated (and easy to install).
3. Not much chin room. By no means do I have a big chin. My chin doesn’t touch while riding, but it will if I jut it out ever so slightly.
4. Poor ventilation. The top vent is poorly marked and seems to have no real effect whatsoever. The chin vents don’t do enough in heat, although at least they don’t freeze you in winter (but it would still be nice to be able to close them entirely).
5. Great construction. I love the feel of this helmet.
6. Stellar looks. Especially for the Legend in hi-viz; I love the contrast. And the color exactly matches my Olympia AirGlide 3 hi-viz jacket.
7. The sun visor, when fully down, actually sits on the bridge of my nose unless I pull the helmet back a bit; glad it’s a friction slider! Note, the sun visor will fog up quickly, even though the outer shield stays clear.
8. Overall, the helmet feels light and very well balanced. It also does not sail when I turn my head or bobble in cross-winds. I have not had any neck fatigue wearing it.
9. Easily fit my UClear HBC200 Force HD BT (review) unit in the ear pockets. The helmet has convenient elastic straps in the ear pocket to hold speakers, so installation was about 10 seconds per ear. And the shell was easy to install the side clamp for the unit itself.
10. Noise levels are great in my riding configuration (For reference, I ride my trusty Honda VTX 1800C with windshield and bags, but no lower faring).
11. The chin strap is easy to use and comfortably padded. Mine does not have an actual d-ring for locking, but it does have a thinner black metal tab that can be used to lock it to the bike.
12. The interior padding feels very nice and does a decent job of wicking a way moisture.
13. Just a quick note that the Duke is one of a few helmets to earn 5-star ratings in all SHARP tests. That’s a nice safety plus.
14. The chin bar works well, but I do wish there was a better way to grip it when opening and closing. It’d be nice to have thumb-grip at the bottom of the chin bar. And I’d really prefer a two-button system like Nolan uses.
15. The chin curtain does not impress me. It’s a rather stiff plastic, although it does get better over time. I would think there are better materials for this function.
Would I buy the Duke again? Absolutely, even though I wish the ventilation were better. That’s really my only significant gripe. I can adjust the sun visor to a position with which I’m very happy.
The chin bar sitting so close is not a real issue for me. The other little issue are just nits to pick. But the ventilation is disappointing, especially in the heat of Summer. Still, though, I like this helmet a lot.
I got my first motorcycle when I was 6. As of this writing, I’m rapidly closing in on 49. I’ve ridden many bikes and worn many helmets. I’m still searching for the “perfect” helmet, but the Duke comes closer than any other I’ve had.
Riding with the Duke was such a dramatic improvement over my old X2, that it felt like I’d gotten a new bike (again, I really kept that helmet way past its prime). Thanks, wBW, for a very helpful review. And thanks, Caberg, for continuing to make great helmets; now, about that ventilation issue…”
From “I.J.” (July 2013): “I bought my helmet shortly after it’s release in 2012, and have been using it exclusively for the past year. By and large I find myself concurring with most of what you have written, especially regarding the value for money and the styling, (although a query I emailed to Caberg about the pricing as advertised in a motorcycling magazine has still to be answered by them)!!
I find the helmet to be very versatile with the flip front and especially the integral sun visor. sWhere I feel the helmet is a big let down is the ventilation, both top and bottom. My experience is that the chin guard vents are totally useless for maintaining a clear visor. I have found it necessary to keep the visor off the fully locked down tight position in order to keep the visor from misting up.
As for the top vent — it was only after reading your article that I discovered what position the vent should be in for air flow! There was nothing to advise you in the instructions that came with the helmet, and I was never certain whether the slide had the vent opened for air whenever it was covering the “Open” inscription on the helmet, or, whenever the “Open” inscription was exposed when the slide covered the “Closed” inscription! In any event, I could not feel any discernible difference between opened and closed with no beneficial ventilation being felt whatsoever.
Additionally, I don’t think lateral to rear vision is great, with more of a backward glance being required rather than a quick shoulder check being necessary. I love the system for removing the visor, although it took a wee bit of getting used to initially, however, overall I think the helmet is fair value for money.”
From “M.H.” (April 2012): “Your review of the Duke Caberg helmet was amazingly accurate for me in many ways. A couple of noted items you made comments about and I did not pick up on it until about four hours into a ride — the padding on the front face about the edge of my forehead and hair line meet could use a bit more padding.
Additionally, I installed my Autocom system to my helmet and the ear pockets are a bit tight with the speakers. This I can easily adjust. It has to be one of the quietest helmets I’ve ever worn.
I have always wanted to be able to listen to audio books on a long ride, but never could get the volume loud enough to actually hear. What I didn’t realize, it was the helmets creating too much noise. With the Duke I can easily hear.
Only negative I have so far, the helmet appears to be a bit warm. I was able to lift the front visor a quarter inch and receive a enough ventilation that it kept me cool and it did not create significant noise to interrupt my audio books. I do believe it has enough ventilation for I have gone out on a day that it should have fogged up and it did not, but time will tell.
We’ll keep you posted, in general it’s the best helmet I’ve ever had. I have the size 58 in all my helmet. I live in Dallas Texas. I also placed a “DOT” sticker on the helmet. Don’t know if I will really full anyone but, may keep them off my back otherwise. Texas does not require helmets but I do ride a lot. I ride a 2007 BMW GSA, prior helmets were Caberg Justissimo (review) and the Roof Boxer V (review).”
Editor’s Note: The Caberg Justissimo is one of the most popular flip-up helmets of all time of any manufacturer. We have a review of the 2012 version of the Justissimo coming soon. The Roof Boxer V was updated also; be sure to read our Roof Boxer V8 review.