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For ladies only

By Shadow

Women’s Skyline Helmet

Harley-Davidson

Half helmet: $175
Three-quarter helmet: $195
www.harleydavidson.com

Many of you are aware that Harley-Davidson has stepped up its outreach efforts to draw females into the motorcycling fold. From Women’s Days at Daytona Bike Week and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to Garage Parties at dealerships across the country, The Motor Company has continued to focus on getting women to ride. In keeping with these efforts, Harley has designed a helmet especially for women—the Skyline, available in glossy black in a half or three-quarter model.

Sure, there are other manufacturers who sell helmets for women, but for the most part, the only thing that designates them as female is a rose design or painted pink finish. In speaking with Matt Thompson, H-D category manager of riding gear, leathers and outerwear, I learned that the fiberglass-shelled Skyline has a deeper cavity, removable and interchangeable pads, a ponytail notch and an anti-static liner.

Mark told me, “I used to give seminars on fitting helmets, and found that women were having difficulty finding a half helmet that fit them properly. With the amount of hair that women traditionally have on top of their heads, the helmets often sit too high. We looked at the helmets we already offered, and realized those that fit women the best were the ones whose cavities were deeper. So I developed a helmet that’s 10mm deeper so it sits farther down on the woman’s head, and with different pressure points. We had to make sure it fit three-dimensionally, as well—top, front and sides. By having differently sized side panels designed to pop in and out, a woman has the ability to make sure the helmet fits from side to side.”

My own helmet has not aged gracefully, and I’m sure its lifespan has far exceeded replacement recommendations. It seemed like the Sky­line ad­dressed the problems that many women experience when using the typical unisex helmet. However, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted the half or three-quarter model, so I decided to get both.

Making sure I got the correct size was an education in itself. Recogniz­ing that fitting helmets is—or should be—a science rather than an art, Harley makes educational programs available to all its dealers. There’s also a helmet-fitting guide, “Get the Heads Up on Helmets,” on Harley’s Acces­sories and Apparel home page. Thomp­son recommends that helmets be fitted first from front to back, which is how I selected my size for the Skyline half-helmet. However, it was a little loose from side to side, even when I put in the side panels and foam inserts that were included in the box with the helmet. This was easily remedied by choosing a separately sold, thicker side panel to take up the extra space. Now the helmet fit perfectly! Fitting the three-quarter Skyline was much easier, as is the case with most three-quarter helmets in general.

I’ve been wearing the half helmet around town for months, and the padding makes it quite comfortable. The Skyline comes with an easily removable visor—just three screws—that comes in handy when it’s sunny, and face shields are also available. Each model has a double D-ring chin strap and a snap that prevents the end of the strap from hitting you in the face while you’re riding, and the chin strap comes with a comfort chin pad.

The three-quarter Skyline got a lot of use during my ride to Laconia, where I put on about 1,000 miles during the trip. I’ve been wearing only half helmets for years, but I got used to this one quickly. The heavy padding made it quite comfortable, and the ponytail notch worked well. I discovered exactly how well by accident when I left my hair in two pigtails, like I often do when riding. I started feeling some pressure against my forehead, so I stopped and rearranged my hair into a single braid that fit nicely into the ponytail notch. That uncomfortable pressure was relieved immediately. The three-quarter helmet comes with a face shield, and when the shield is down, the helmet provides quite a bit of warmth when the temperatures come down.

Both Skyline helmets have removable liners that can be hand-washed with soap and water and air-dried, making it easy to keep your helmet fresh and clean. Removing the liner from the three-quarter helmet is quite tricky, though, and it took me quite a while to figure out how it’s done.

With the choice of seven sizes of helmet side panels, Harley assures that nearly every woman can achieve the correct fit. Although Harley-Davidson never comments on future products, rumor has it that the helmet may be offered in different colors and finishes if this first version is well received. The ponytail notch and anti-static liner to prevent “helmet hair” will appeal to many women. In fact, some of the long-haired guys watching a helmet fitting at Harley’s display at Daytona Bike Week wished out loud that their helmets had the ponytail notch, so don’t be surprised if this feature turns up in some of Harley’s other helmet models. It’s about time that us gals have something that guys are envious of!

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