Common Tread

Would you buy an air-conditioned helmet?

Feb 06, 2018

That question was answered 30 years ago by other riders. The answer was "No."

I'm not even kidding. There are helmets all over. It's like a motorcycle museum you could live in. Photo by Lemmy.

I would have bet my bottom dollar that a/c in a lid would be a hot seller, but I woulda been way wrong. This story begins in the home of Bobby Buchsbaum, a dear friend. We used to work together at RevZilla, but Big Bob’s retired now. We were talking about Bobby's most favoritest of topics: helmets.

Bobby has, for lack of a more delicate term, a helmet fetish. This guy simply loves lids. He loves wearing them, touching them, and selling them to people. I used to call him “The Helmet Whisperer,” because I could see him assessing noggins as they entered the RevZilla showroom. He can place his eyes or hands upon your head like some sort of PPE Jesus, and tell you which helmet will feel like home on your head. The man knows about everything there is to know about helmets, and this whacko decorates his house with them.

Seriously, they are everywhere. In his kitchen I found a Shoei sitting on a cake display stand. That is its permanent home. As I gawked, Mr. Buchsbaum bragged, “I even have a helmet that’s air conditioned!”

“You mean it has a fan in it, Bobby?” That was my reply to the silly man who told me he owned an air-conditioned helmet.

"No, it's legitimately air conditioned. C'mere, follow me."

Snell '85 approved, baby. Photo by Lemmy.

We went to his basement shop area and he displayed an AGV box that looked like it came approximately from the Paleolithic era. The helmet came from one of Bobby’s customers who knew Bobby collected lids. The thing was really complete, with paperwork, controller, and helmet in lovely shape.

"Oh, it comes with an ice cube tray. How lovely!" Photo by Lemmy.

I sent an email over to AGV, and the reply I got came from someone who wished to be identified as “an internal source” stating, “I don’t have any official documentation about it, but Tech-7 was produced for a brief period in 1987 and 1988. Thirty years is an incredible amount of time for a company!”

That's original lint on the faceshield from the helmet bag that I hurriedly threw on the floor. Photo by Lemmy.

The helmet is supposedly cooled by “thermal chip technology,” and it’s Snell ‘85 approved, which is nice for those who are sticklers for safety. (I believe it’s a thermoelectric air conditioning unit in here, but I didn’t pull the lid apart because, you know… it wasn’t mine.) 

Heat sink
That strip is made of finned aluminum. One hell of a heat sink, huh? I wonder how crashworthy it is. Photo by Lemmy.

Presumably, the great big ribbed aluminum strip on top was a heat sink. “Tech-7 came with an interesting system that used electricity to cool down the internal surface. ‘Air conditioning’ is technically wrong, but you get the idea,” my AGV contact wrote. (Evidently, this helmet also can heat, as well. Sleds, anyone?)

Intensity of both heat and cold can be varied. Photo by Lemmy.

The included directions walk through the controller hookup. It’s very straightforward, route the wires, mount it to the handlebars, power the unit, and tidy up. Still trying to find more information, I located a person on the internet who said the system worked well, but had fragile wiring. I tossed the helmet on the scale and got 4.6 pounds, which is on the heavy side, but for a 30-year-old lid with an air conditioner? I thought that was actually pretty good. The box indicates it was made of “Kevlarglass,” and these supposedly boasted an anti-scratch and anti-fog Lexan faceshield. Not bad for the 1980s.

I shared this gem because I was unaware this helmet existed and my bet is most of you were clueless to it, too. But it’s a cool concept (literally), and is a good attempt at solving a problem nearly everyone on a motorcycle has had. In a twist of fate, between the time I shot these photos and wrote the article, Indian firm BluArmor debuted a new evaporative cooling system, the BluSnap, that came out recently. I chuckled when I saw that product release. I have been told (and told others) more than once: Everything in motorcycling has been done before.

Including air-conditioned helmets.