Harley-Davidson’s Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet not only looks sharp but is the lightest half shell that I’ve ever worn.
Harley-Davidson and Carbon Kevlar are not four words that I usually associate together. Forged steel and polished chrome, now that’s more like it. But H-D has made me reconsider my thinking after testing its Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet.
Initial inspection reveals that the lid sports a traditional half shell-cut with the back of the helmet coming down between the parietal and occipital bones of your skull, just covering the base of your brainstem. It has three small air vents, two small wire-covered intake vents in the front and one outtake in the rear. Instead of an even surface, two small raised ridges sweep front to back, more aesthetic than aerodynamic. A small black visor adds to the styling of the helmet and can easily be removed in less than a minute by loosening two flathead screws. Black, padded ear flaps will keep bees out of your ears but a good set of plugs are still necessary to counter the sound of rushing wind. The Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet cinches on with an easy-to-use double D-ring chin strap that comes with a convenient small button to snap the excess strap down and keep it from flogging your neck.
The outer shell of the helmet is clear and glossy, with the woven zig-zag pattern of the Carbon Kevlar visible through the finish giving the helmet a 3-D look. The lightweight composite is known for its strength, but fortunately I didn’t test its DOT ratings. About three-quarters of an inch of Styrofoam provides a protective layer beneath the Carbon Kevlar-reinforced outer shell, while a padded CoolMax liner makes sure it fits comfortably. The liner is removable and washable and snaps right out. My Shoei full-face helmet is an XL (7 5/8” to 7 3/4”) and the XL H-D Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet fit me comparably, snug all the way around my head without applying headache-inducing pressure.
Harley-Davidson is known for a high standard of fit and finish on its motorcycles, and the Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet is styled in that vein. The CK looks trick, especially when it’s gleaming in the sun, and the small visor adds to its classiness. But the best part is its feather weight. H-D’s Half Helmet tips the scales at a very rider-friendly 1.75 lbs, which means less weight for your neck to support and less heft to your gear bag. And if you lug your gear through airports as frequently as we do, having less weight to tote around is appreciated.
The helmet is comfortable up until about 70mph when the wind inevitably creeps under the shell and it starts to try and lift off from your head. At this juncture, you become aware that the part of the chin strap that sits next to your skin isn’t padded. And while the clear coat on the helmet puts the serrated strips of Carbon Kevlar beneath it on display, it is also susceptible to scuffing, a lesson I found out after it rolled of my seat and into rocks.
H-D’s Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet looks sharp and is one of the lightest helmets I’ve worn. Being a half shell, protection is limited, but it’s comforting to know that I’ve got a little Carbon Kevlar-reinforcement to protect my dome. It is a high-end half shell, both in construction and price, and rings in with a Carbon Kevlar-inspired price tag of $250.