Having survived dodgy internet connections, U.S. Customs, jet lag, and the effects of motorcycle show overload, I’m back on domestic soil and working my way through my notes about things I saw at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany, that caught my attention. Last time, we talked new bikes. Consider this the headgear edition.
Sena 10U: be gone the box
Sena is taking the Bluetooth communicator to the next level by eliminating the black box stuck on the side of the helmet. They are doing this by shrinking the communicators and finding ways to integrate them better into popular helmets — even fitting them inside the helmet. The new Sena 10U is built to fit into the Neotec, GT-Air, J-Cruise from Shoei, and the C3 and C3Pro from Schuberth. If I know my helmet customers, the Shoei buyers will be happy to have a Sena seamlessly fitted into their helmets, but the Schuberth owners will really be ecstatic.
Scala Rider Packtalk
Cardo will be introducing a new communicator in the next year to 18 months called the Packtalk. As you can infer from the name, it is designed for people who like to ride in groups. The key to this new piece is its ability to have riders come in and out of connectivity without having to reconnect everyone. Details are still very vague, especially since I got them from the German rep, who spoke much better English than I do German (which is to say, about what I learned from watching Heidi Klum and Hogan’s Heroes).
The jist is that the group conference remains alive, even if several participants go out of range or decide to turn off to explore another route. If those riders who left the group come back into range, they will automatically rejoin the group.
The following may be multilingual miscommunication, but my understanding is that eventually the units will have the ability to automatically pair with other riders using the Cardo Packtalk who aren’t even part of your group, letting you speak to total strangers on the road. It kind of reminds me of the Citizens Band radios back in the day (look it up, kids, they were cool once). You can ask people on the road if those clouds they just came out of are going to get you wet. This would also be great for sharing news about County Mounties. As I said, this is not coming soon. Consider it something to watch for in 2016.
Shoei Hornet ADV replaces the popular Hornet DS
Shoei has a replacement for the aging but still popular Hornet DS. While the old helmet was derived from an off-road helmet, the new Hornet ADV was developed from the start as a street helmet. For example, the gnarly peak visor has two sets of "shark gills" on the visor, on either side of the centerline, but Shoei says those gills were designed to limit lift and not cause undue pulling when making lane checks at highway speeds. Off-road features haven’t been abandoned, however. The peak is still designed to break away and it is easy to remove with quarter-turn fasteners.
The visor is Pinlock-ready and is easy to change. Shoei claims venting has been massively improved. The interior is updated and is fully removable and washable. I fully expect many riders will be chomping at the bit to try this helmet when it arrives in the United States next spring. Expect to see it in a number of graphics and solid colors, including matte finishes.
Bell Helmets and RSD
Bell is working with Roland Sand Designs to introduce new carbon fiber helmets. I saw an RS-1 with an RSD design that uses an interesting mix of highly polished clear carbon, matte carbon and painted finishes.
RSD also had its way with the Custom 500 retro helmet. A full carbon version will now be available, but it will top the $400 mark. This is the real deal. It’s not a layer of carbon over a regular shell, but a full carbon layup that will reduce the weight of an already lightweight helmet. The RSD model will again showcase matte and gloss finishes, along with silver leaf striping and a ghosted Bell logo. Bell has said the interiors will be upgraded with real suede leather quilting.
Bell Qualifier, with more Bluetooth news included
Bell is introducing an upscale version of its Qualifier that will include upgraded materials in the interior, the photochromic Transitions faceshield included stock, and a molded-in port for a Sena SMH-10 or a Cardo Q3 Bluetooth communicator. This is not an internal arrangement, like the Shoei and Schuberth helmets mentioned above, but it is a convenient and nicely integrated way for buyers of a lower cost helmet to add Bluetooth connectivity. A communicator package sold separately from the helmet provides the parts needed to add communications capability.
The Qualifier line also gets a version of the Flying Tiger graphics made famous on the Bell Vortex helmet a few years ago.
Shark: something between Raw and well done
Editor's note: This article was edited on Oct. 14 to clarify Sena's relationship with helmet manufacturers.
Shark unleashed its latest urban assault helmet. If you thought the Raw was a little over the top, but the Explore-R was not quite urban enough, then meet the Vancore. It uses DNA found in the Raw for the outer shell, including the blade vent in the crown of the helmet, but instead of the removable chin bar and goggles used on the Raw, it has a fixed chinbar. It is great to see Shark pushing boundaries. The company has come out with a string of helmets that has really forced people to stop and take a look. Good for them.