Tuesday, July 28

Introducing: The Scorpion EXO-900 Transformer

The BMW rally was a great place to check out vendors and spend a little cash. With a budget firmly in mind, I was receptive to being convinced to acquire a few "must-have" farkles. My own list included a new helmet. My friend, Lucas, wears a full-face Scorpion. He's not the kind to push his favs on others but he'll answer all your questions about a product he's been impressed with. He's likes his Scorpion and says it's quiet. Like me, he does a lot of research before parting with his dollars. So, the Scorpion was on my radar as a possible alternative to buying a fourth Nolan helmet. I've loved my Nolans. Obviously. Although some say, "if it's not broken, don't fix it," I say, change is good sometimes.

My friend, Claye, was also looking for a new helmet--the result of a theft in Johnson City, which I'll talk about in the rally blog that I'm working on. We knew that Nolan was having a big sale. I missed the Nolan vendor booth upon first search. Then Claye and I found the Scorpion booth. The helmets looked sleek and aerodynamic, almost space age to me. We checked out the full face, which I keep saying I'm going to purchase to add to my modular collection (helmets to me are like shoes are to some women--one can't have too many IMHO).

I shared with Claye, my friend's comments about his Scorpion. After much consideration and a return to the Scorpion booth, we both bought the Scorpion EXO-900 Transfomer helmet. It gets its "Transformer" name because the modular system that surrounds the front of the helmet is removable. This removable piece can be replaced with another, similar piece that surrounds the top part of the helmet, making a sort of external top guard. This operation opens the helmet's face and turns it into a 3/4 helmet. I'd never wear such a helmet--now; although I own a Nolan 3/4 helmet that I unfortunately bought in my first year of riding and wore about three times before shelving it in favor of a Nolan modular. Because of this, the helmet is also referred to a 3 in 1 helmet (modular, full face, and 3/4).

Claye and I thought the separate transformer feature so unimpressive that we each gave it back to the vendor for recycling. So, what is it I like about this helmet. Many things. Compared to my beloved Nolan N102, the Scorpion is significantly quieter. Since I didn't have a reference point, I didn't realize that my Nolan was noisy until I heard something different. My HJC Sy-Max seemed quiet until I experienced the Nolan. Wearing ear plugs also makes the noise less of an issue. But with or without ear plugs (I wear the Etymotic er6i noise isolating plugs) the EXO-900 is significantly more quiet.
The helmet has some interesting features. I like its internal visor system. On the left side of the helmet is a glove friendly slider that can be raised to releases a sun visor inside the helmet. It is not a deeply dark visor but it is certainly enough to block the sun from one's eyes. Both the internal and external visors are coated with an anti fog solution, which worked as I went through fog in VA on my way home from the rally. My Nolan's visor is external to the helmet. I've had no problem with this style but others have complained about it being caught in the wind and rattling. My problems started only after dropping the helmet, which I did several times. After that, the visor was randomly loose and occasionally giggled. The internal Scorpion visor can also be lowered fully or part way. It fits nicely over my eyeglasses. Speaking of which, if you wear glasses, to me, the modular is the way to go. Initially, I had trouble getting the new helmet over the glasses and had to remove them to get the helmet on. This didn't make me happy but I correctly attributed it to the helmet being new. After more than 2500 miles, I'm able to get it on and removed without removing my glasses.

The helmet has two top vents and one at chin level. I've not tested the venting system in 90 plus degrees Fahrenheit weather, but the air flow seems adequate. The helmet is a snug fit, which demands that I take care in inserting my ear plugs. If not, any protuberance will hurt, given the helmet's snug fit, after a few miles. On the back, bottom of the helmet is a small rubber bubble that is part of the "Airfit" system. If the bubble is pushed, it adds snuggness to the cheek and lower neck area. The more it's pushed, the more snug the fit and the more air is prevented from getting inside the helmet--pretty cool. This allows one to tweak the helmet for more snuggness around the checks and helps secure the helmet around the neck. I've pressed the bubble and frankly I don't notice much difference as it is already rather snug fitting in those two areas.

On the lower left side of the helmet is a doorway of sorts that looks as if it is the portal to a communication system. The Nolan has one in the same place that allows one to hook up a communication unit. I made one modification on the helmet. I loved the ratchet system on the Nolan for securing the helmet at the neck. It's a cool feature that allows easy opening and closing. The Scorpion has--or had--the old D-ring system, which I don't like. So for $10, Claye made the D-ring superfluous. We had installed a two-part slide and click system. It required minor surgery to remove the snap and replace it with the two part slide and click. Unfortunately, this doesn't remove the D-ring, so I'm left to tuck it away, which isn't a problem. So, I've had to tuck the D-ring behind the strap. This may seem complicated but it isn't and now that I've tucked the D-ring a few times, it sort of stays put.

Overall, an excellent investment. Selecting the new helmet was easy. The hardest part will be keeping the dang helmet from hard drops on hard surfaces!

Scale: 1 -- 10 (from weakest to strongest)

Performance: 10
Style: 9
Design: 9
Colors (available) 2
Cost: 10