Editors note: this review was updated on March 23, 2019 to add in a response from Matrix Helmets. You can read their response here.
Some Less Than Pleasant Surprises
I was really looking forward to testing this helmet due to the lightness. I am religious about wearing a full face helmet and the lighter the better. I also was very interested in the airflow thinking that the Matrix Alpha Streetfighter had the potential to be my go-to helmet for the hot summers here in Phoenix.
The Alpha Streetfighter offers a large chin bar with two large vent openings on each side of the helmet. Most helmets offer a single vent in the center of the chin bar and the Alpha Streetfighter looked like it would provide far more airflow even at lowers speeds on city streets.
The Alpha Streetfighter, as well as the Street FX Streetfighter the other fiberglass helmet offered by Matrix, are both offered in a high gloss white or a matte black finish. The sizes range from XS to XXL. And the standard visor on the Streetfighter is a 3mm adjustable dark race style visor. A quick release micrometric buckle secures the helmet.
The helmet sells for just under $250.00 USD. But this is subject to change due to the exchange rate as the matrix produces are sold from the UK. When I entered my shipping address, the website estimated my shipping to be an additional $32.00 roughly bringing the total cost of the helmet to around $280. This price range puts the Alpha Streetfighter in the mid-range for helmets in the United States and a relatively reasonable cost for a quality helmet.
Fit, Comfort, & Sizing
Fit and comfort are important qualities of any piece of riding gear but size is possibly the most critical for a motorcycle helmet. And because riders need to order this helmet without having any way to try on a sample before the purchase, I feel that accurate sizing and sizing information on the website is critical.
When I put on the Alpha Streetfighter for the first time I was relatively disheartened as I knew immediately that this helmet was not a good fit for me as it felt very loose across my cheeks. I was able to grab the chin bar and slide the helmet up and down several inches.
My hope was that once I secured the chin strap, the helmet would feel more secure and that I would begin to get more comfortable with the fit. This was my first experience with the quick release chin strap fastener and I was thinking that I would really like this simple but useful feature.
As it turned out, muscle memory for the old standard double D ring closure is fairly ingrained in me and the quick release was not really much quicker, but it felt odd. Knowing that I would need to really snug the helmet down with the chin strap, I shortened the strap as much as possible before buckling it. To my dismay, the strap hung a good two finger widths below my chin.
The cheek pads in the Alpha Streetfighter are a good 1.5 inches thick and are removable but the rest of the helmet has only a thin poly liner which appears to be held in place with a matte adhesive or possibly double-sided tape. From what I could tell the liner is not removable which means that it is also not washable or replaceable.
Overall, I was very disappointed with the fit and sizing of the helmet. I have worn assorted Icon, Schuberth, Scorpion helmets and never had an issue with the sizing. I did double back to the website to see if I had misinterpreted the Matrix sizing but the XS is listed as 53-54 cm which is pretty standard.
I also doubled back to look at the helmet, the box and the documentation included in my order to verify that I was shipped the correct size. The box was labeled XS but I was unable to find a size listed inside the helmet or on the packing slip enclosed in the order. My assumption is that I did receive an XS but that the product runs large.
Field of Vision
As I mentioned earlier, I am a die hard full face helmet rider. As such, I am willing to accept a little reduction in my field of vision to get the added protection. I understand that I need to turn my head further to see to the sides and also behind me. But I have never worn a helmet that was so restrictive when looking straight ahead.
Peripheral vision is limited to about 1.5 inches at the far left and right of the opening. I found the vision very limited and felt the need to really crank my head around to get a good look when making a turn or changing lanes. There was no way to quickly glance back. Instead, I needed to shift my entire body and rotate at the waist to get a decent view of what was around me.
This limited field of vision also brought up another concern. The chin bar on this helmet is huge. Normally, I have a very difficult time getting my hand inside my helmet to scratch my nose or touch my lips, but in the Alpha Streetfighter, I can slide my entire hand in front of my face and reach my forehead. In some instances that could be considered a benefit, but it can also create an issue.
When turning my head, the front of the chin bar was hitting and catching on the shoulder armor on my jacket. My only solution was to look up as I turned my head and then let the bottom of the chin bar rest on my shoulder which caused the helmet to move on my head.
As I turned back to a forward facing position I then had to readjust the helmet to look forward and not be looking into the arched nose portion of the chin bar.
When looking forward, the large chin bar becomes a big obstacle. In a normal riding position, I was able to look forward and see the road clearly but could not shift my eyes down to see even the top of my windscreen.
To look at any gauges on my bike I needed to tilt my head down enough that I was no longer looking at the road in front of me. With any other helmet I have ever worn, I might have needed to move my head slightly, but I could still glance down to the gauges while still seeing some of the road.
Overall, I was very uncomfortable with the limited vision that this helmet offers. I had a feeling of tunnel vision that reminded me of when I first learned to ride. It took some time to learn the skills needed to be a safe rider and to look around and take in all of my surroundings to know what was coming and what my alternatives were in a worst-case scenario.
I feel that wearing this helmet took away my ability to really be looking at the big picture to be the safest rider that I could possibly be.
The Alpha Streetfighter visor is tinted and 3mm thick. There are three positions that the locking mechanism offers.
Riders can have the visor completely open, lowered so that there is about an inch gap between the bottom of the visor and the top of the chin bar or the visor can be fully closed. I rode most of the time with the visor fully closed as I was wearing clear prescription glasses, not sunglasses, and I did notice that there was a thin line of sunlight coming in under the visor.
Sure-Lock Visor System Open & Closed
The Sure-Lock system on the visor is basically a pin on the helmet and a hole in the visor. There is an angle to the edge of the visor that is designed to be a tab to move the visor.
I found it virtually impossible to secure the visor with one hand when I was riding and equally as difficult to open the visor when it was secured with one hand. Part of the issue with opening the visor was related to the fact that the helmet was very loose and would move when I tried to unlatch the Sure-Lock pin system.
A Little Discovery
It wasn’t until I got home and looked more closely at the front of the Alpha Streetfighter that I discovered that the visor does not fit the helmet correctly and sits offset to one side. That could account for some of the light getting past the visor as well as the difficulty in trying to align the pin and hole in the visor to get it locked and unlocked.
As expected, the air flow in this helmet is very good in the face area of the helmet. The extended chin bar and the large vent openings allow for a ton of air to enter the front of the helmet. Unfortunately, there is no way to control the amount of air. Also, the lack of vents in the top of the helmet will result in a pretty sweaty head in the summertime.
The gap between the visor and the front of the helmet also created a whistle at higher speeds. I was able to eliminate the whistle by opening the visor to the setting of about an inch open but that created some additional light and glare. The large opening at the bottom of the helmet did make this helmet overall more loud than most others that I have worn.
I had high expectations for the Matrix Alpha Streetfighter as soon as I picked it up. I was hoping for a great lightweight summer helmet with great airflow. In fact, the helmet is very lightweight and does offer a lot of airflow due to the very large opening at the base of the helmet to accommodate the very large chin bar.
But I could not get past the poor sizing of the helmet and the fact that it created the feeling of tunnel vision. In addition, the ill-fitting visor made me wonder about the quality of the parts and construction that was not visible.
To be fair to the Alpha Streetfighter and the manufacturer, I hope that a properly fitting helmet would eliminate some of the comfort issues that I experienced as well as aiding in the used of the Sure-Lock visor system. But the field of vision will always be too tight for my comfort.
The Matrix website clearly states that the Alpha Streetfighter helmet as suitable to, “Test the limits of your sport bike, sprint car, or go-kart in this commanding composite helmet!”
And while I disagree with the helmet’s function as in the motorcycle use case, it could be the perfect protection for a sprint car or a go-kart where you keep your head fairly stationary. But in my opinion, the Alpha Streetfighter is not a great choice for motorcycle riders.
An Important Note
As a motorcycle rider and a writer, it is never my intention to damage the credibility or reputation of a gear manufacturer. But there are times, during the course of a hands-on gear test, when I discover concerns or issues that I believe consumers and the gear manufacturer alike need to hear about. This was the case with the Matrix Alpha Streetfighter helmet.
When my assessment was completed, the folks at Matrix were given the opportunity to read my review and submit their comments or some type of rebuttal. Their comments were equally as professional and respectful as I feel my comments about their product were in my review.
My biggest take away was that this relatively new company was open to hearing constructive criticism about their product, and using it to improve the second generation Alpha Streetfighter helmet.
Although I have no information on the time frame for the gen 2, I look forward to the opportunity to get my hands on the new and improved design for another evaluation as well as a comparison to the original model.
And with that being said, I hope that my hands on review of the Alpha Streetfighter provide some valuable input to the Matrix company and to the riders who are searching for a new full faced helmet that will provide safety, comfort, functionality and even a really cool look.
- Light Weight
- Fiberglass Shell
- DOT Compliant
- Poor Sizing-VERY large extra small
- Extremely limited field of vision
- Visor Is Difficult to adjust with one hand
- Chin strap is too long and does not secure the helmet
- Visor does not close completely to block out light
- Manufacturer: Matrix
- Price (When Tested): ~$250 USD (depending on exchange rate plus shipping)
- Made In: China and Vietnam
- Alternative models & colors: black matte and gloss white
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Review Date: January 2019
Update From Matrix Helmets
First, we’d like to thank Kathy for her detailed review. Even though it wasn’t what we were expecting, we appreciate that it is an objective review and won’t be taking it easy in light of her criticisms. We will be working to address these issues with our manufacturer. We’d like to talk about some of the changes we are making and actions we are taking.
We are a small brand and are working hard to create helmets that are ideal for every type of environment and head shape. This feedback is helping us rise to that challenge and to create great helmets that tick all the right boxes.
Sizing & Interior
We are going to improve overall sizing by incrreasing padding inside the helmet to make the fit more snug. This will make it easier to open/close the visor, as well as turn your head without the helmet shifting.
We are also making a new removable interior liner. This one-piece liener will be stitched together and can be removed for washing/etc.
Chin Strap for XS Sizes
Your feedback about the strap length was on point and is something we are fixing immediately. We are reducing the size of the strap to ensure that XS wearers are able to tighten it securely. However, we are going to leave the quick-release buckle as we believe riders prefer the quick-release over the old double-D system.
We are working with our quality control department to ensure visors are properly aligned. This wound up being a simple fix.
We took your feedback about noise and ventilation very seriously! We are producing a chin curtain that will help reduce noise. We are also adding a vent to the top of the helmet that will greatly improve airflow.