I always wanted a dualsport helmet. I love to ride the countryside in my MX helmet. All the good smells of the countryside are reaching your nose and the warm and moist air brushing your face. The tremendous practicality of the sun visor is unbeatable. The airflow of an MX helmet is awesome on a hot summer day.
On long road rides a good full face helmet is superb. A built-in sunshade is a great feature. How a good quality full face helmet can reduce the wind noise to the possible minimum is extremely comfortable. When the weather turns cold, the closed helmet can provide comfort and the pinlock on the visor is priceless. If your full face helmet is a “flip-up” helmet, that just makes everything even better.
If you are riding a KLR650, you need to make a compromise on the helmet. You are riding a decent stretch of road to reach some beautiful and remote unsealed road or single track. Not easy to make your pick between the road and the MX helmet most of the time. I expected the dualsport helmets to bring the best of both worlds’ together.
Thanks to the political circus around the BREXIT, I had a good opportunity to lay my hands on one of the 2016 O’NEAL Sierra dualsport helmets for a very appealing price. I am very well aware that cheap helmets are cheap for some good reasons. While all modern helmets are providing sufficient safety and complies with the required safety standards, cheap ones can fall behind in comfort, craftmanship or life span. The only question is, how much?
The first impression of the helmet is it’s weight when you take it out from the box. Oh my God, it is heavy! Let’s compare it to my other two helmets.
O’NEAL Sierra dualsport – 1915g
HJC RPHA MAX – 1510g
HJC RPHA X – 1140g
I account the extra weight to the cheaper materials and the extra features packed into this helmet. I think a less “feature rich” but lighter helmet would result an overall better product. And we have arrived to maybe the most painful part, the extra features. The built-in sunshade for example. I closed and opened it two times and there were an ugly deep scratch and some plastic shavings on the sunshade. :-( Turned out, it was not put properly in place and a rough end of a rivet inside the helmet, which is intended to keep a mesh cover of an air vent in place, scratched it badly.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s the communist Romania manufactured a car called Dacia. Although the design of many parts of it was licensed from Renault, it was famous about the bad craftmanship. When you bought this car, the first thing you did was to take it apart, literally, and assemble it again properly to make the most out of it.
I have decided to do the same on the 2016 O’NEAL Sierra dualsport helmet.
The first thing was to take the sunshade out and try to “fix” the scratch. After a good amount of polishing, I think, I could reduce it enough to make it bearable. The closing and opening mechanism of the sunshade is weak. The lever on the left side of the helmet is not really secured to the shell and looks like something what will contribute to the whistling ensemble of the helmet. The lose or lazily designed covers and sliders on the helmet are a general problem.
One other candidate for this whistling ensemble is the peak visor. It just does not line up with the helmet at the attachment points.
There are reports on different riding forums about losing the screws from the pivot point of the visor, so I decided to get it off and put it back securely as possible. Taking the visor off and on, pointed out the weakness of the seal on the helmet around the visor. There is a good gap between the visor and the seal. I have fears about the amount of bugs, rain and dust what can sneak inside the helmet through this gap during an extended “dualsport” ride.
If you are doing your “mandatory” research on dualsport helmets, you can find people raising concerns about dust gaining access to the inner side of the visor through the bottom of the helmet. It must be true because the designers of the O’NEAL Sierra dualsport helmet tried to address this issue with a piece of stretchable fabric spanning through the front bottom part of the helmet. It is a good idea, but makes very uncomfortable to take on and off the helmet, specially for someone with big nose like me.
A strange thing on the helmet is how it is indicating the compliance with the Australian standards. The visor was pressed with a large stamp at the edge of your field of view. Weird. Why they did not put this stamp closer to the pivot point of the visor? There is enough space there. I hope it happens only if you buying your helmet from Australia.
There are a few more “funny” things on the helmet, but I don’t want to make this article an endless lamentation about faults and bad engineering. I was able to fix or correct most of the above mentioned flaws. The helmet fits perfectly. I do like the design of this helmet, the designer guys at O’Neal did an awesome work. I am generally happy with it and looking forward to using it on my daily commute and the upcoming gravel rides. As a summary I can say, this helmet delivers the maximum what is possible in the sub 200NZD helmet range.