When I got the plastic and foam bags off the helmet, that Gloss Blood Red hit me square in the face. What a finish! It just pops! According to Biltwell, this bad boy is hand painted, and it certainly looks that wat it’s simply awesome.
The chrome trim around both the eye port and the bottom rim of the shell is a nice contrast to the lustrous paint, and it certainly boosts helmet’s appearance. The only issue with the trim is where it starts and finishes on the lower right side of the eye port. When light hits the trim at the joint it stands out and unfortunately, it draws my eye to it. Realistically, I don’t think there is any reasonable way to improve this however for the chrome trim on the bottom rim they placed the join right around the back of the helmet, so it is virtually unnoticeable.
On the inside of the helmet you find a beautiful diamond-stitched interior with removable cheek pads. There’s also plenty of padding on the chin strap which should help keep strap rash to a minimum. The Biltwell guys have gone to the trouble of padding the chin area – a place where most manufacturers will save a couple of bucks which shows their dedication to producing a quality product.
When I hit the Biltwell webpage for the Gringo S specs I was stoked to see so many flat and bubble visor options. Also available is a range of anodized aluminum visor pivot caps, so you can really customize the helmet to match your style.
Since there is no sealing around the perimeter of the face opening, I was already expecting some wind entry and noise compared to my every day fully sealed helmet. Also, my experience suggests helmets with visor mechanisms on the outside of the visor will catch the air and generate noise as well.
Unfortunately for all of us outside the USA, the DOT safety certification may limit its legality in your local area. Here in Australia, it’s an automatic fine from your Highway Patrol police officer for wearing a helmet without Australian Standards certification. Oh well. If a local shop imported the helmet and had it tested, the retail price would probably triple. This is probably where Bell and their Bullitt helmet have an advantage with local safety certification, at least here in Australia anyway. It’s just one less reason for hassles on the side of the road with those flashing lights behind you.
Enough staring at this thing, it was time for a ride. I pulled the Gringo S over my bonce and headed out on a sunny, but chilly, winter afternoon. After pulling away from the curb, I was already impressed with the fit and comfort. Around the ‘burbs there was the expected wind noise, and once road speeds picked up to highway speeds, I could also feel some wind around my neck. But really, nothing worse than my open face helmet which doesn’t give me the face protection from bugs in summer, rain in winter and the road! By the time I got home, I was pleasantly surprised that a helmet could feel this good on my head straight out of the box. The helmets large eye opening provides a nice wide line of sight and my the chin bar gave me plenty of breathing space.
Biltwell has packed a lot of quality fit and finish into their $200USD Gringo S helmet. The “traditional” style, shape and colors should certainly appeal to a good chunk of the rider market. I’ve bought a few parts and accessories from Biltwell, and I’ve never been disappointed. The Gringo S certainly maintains that standard, and upholds their motto “Quality Counts”.
If you’ve got a funny egg-shaped head like me, you probably have trouble finding a comfortable motorcycle helmet. Once the pads have worn in you might find that a helmet that fit great in the shop, is now a pain in the, well, head. I’ve binned a few helmets (cheap and expensive) because of this exact issue.
Having only found one manufacturer with a shell that suits my noggin, I was pretty sure I’d have no joy when I was offered to test drive the new Biltwell Gringo S. Despite my skepticism, I measured my cranium, selected the appropriate size and placed an order for one glossy Blood Red Gringo S.