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High tech on the half shell

By Terry Roorda

Men’s Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet

Harley-Davidson

$250
www.harley-davidson.com

The humble half-shell helmet that for generations has been the choice of economy-minded and minimalist riders has undergone a transformation in recent years as ever more sophisticated materials and more elaborate features and detailing have been brought to the form. It’s been an easily anticipated evolution given the popularity of cruiser-style motorcycles and the aversion that operators of those bikes have demonstrated to headgear any more extensive than absolutely—and legally—necessary.

Even given that aversion, the logic followed that as long as you had to have something on your head, no matter how abbreviated, you might as well have something with some serious integrity and functionality built into it, and that’s where headgear like the Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet finds its appeal. This helmet is the top of Harley’s half-shell lineup and incorporates pretty much every advance in technology and styling that has come along in the rethinking of what a half-shell can and should be.

Foremost among those advancements is the material used to mold the outer shell: carbon para-aramid, better known by the trade name Kevlar. The chief advantage of this substance is its high strength-to-weight ratio, and in this application it provides greater protection than a fiberglass shell of the same dimensions while reducing the weight of the piece appreciably. The Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet weighs in at a svelte 1 pound 12 ounces—fully 9 ounces less than its fiberglass counterpart in the P&A catalogue (the Men’s Black Titanium Half Helmet). Inside of the shell resides another tech innovation, a liner constructed of Coolmax, a fabric that wicks moisture away from the user and has a faster evaporative rate than cotton. That’s just what you want on a hot day with your head in a bucket, and what’s better is that the liner is removable and washable so you can freshen it up when the funk factor gets unbearable. Aiding in that cool-headed approach are a pair of vents on the front of the helmet, and an exit vent on the back to assure a steady breath of breeze on the brain pan.

From a styling standpoint, the Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet sports some dashing raised flares on the shell that should prove popular among Minnesota Vikings fans, a diminutive removable visor, and a nicely understated Bar & Shield on the forehead. Most striking of all, though, is the gorgeous weave of the Kevlar fabric that gives the helmet a distinctive—and decidedly businesslike—finish.

That combination of sturdy good looks, feather weight, and redoubtable construction have made the Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet my grab-and-go headgear whenever I’m ducking out the door to go and grab some wind.

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