By October 10, 2008

Gmax GM68S LED helmet review

Ever since I read Motorcycle Helmet Performance: Blowing the Lid Off expose on motorcycle safety standards by Motorcyclist magazine in 2005, I have been on the hunt for the most safe, comfortable, and feature-filled DOT-only helmet I could find. Thanks to Web Bike World’s continual reviews, I have tried out three budget helmets. I first tried the Z1R Strike helmet (my review), the top-performer in the Motorcyclist article. I found it a little uncomfortable, so I moved on to the Zox Azuma R (my review). The Azuma R fit me great, but the visor still needed improvement, and I was always wishing I had more airflow through the helmet.

Web Bike World reviewed the Gmax GM68S helmet, and I started searching for one. The helmet had a ton of nifty features, was DOT-only, and $109.00 shipped. I was willing to try it out.

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If you haven’t already, check out Web Bike World’s review of the GMax GM68S. They mention the helmet is best-suited for those with a rounder head. I’m in between a round head and a “long oval,” so for the most part the helmet fits me well. I wear a size large in the GM68S, the same size I wear in the Zox Azuma R. I would say the Gmax is the larger of the two. I wear a medium in the Z1R Strike helmet, which is a little on the tight side.

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You can see the thick cushion on the inside of the helmet. This doesn’t make the helmet any safer, but it does make it more comfortable. Keep in mind I have a somewhat thin face. The pads are removable, but unlike the much more expensive helmets from Shoei or Arai there is only one thickness of cheek pad available.

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There are five (FIVE!!) vents on the top of the helmet. The good news is that they open and close easily with gloves on. The bad news is that even with five vents on the top the GMax GM68S doesn’t flow a ton of air. I find myself cracking my visor open any time I am at speeds 30MPH and lower. The Zox Azuma R seems to flow more air. The visor fogs up a lot more easily than the Zox, which I again find odd. I wonder if having too many vents open keeps the warm air trapped in the helmet and results in fogging.

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One thing I like about the Gmax are the little attention to details. Check out the mesh in front of the mouth vent. Also, look how the vent is opened and closed. That’s a big ass piece of plastic that you can easily find with a gloved hand. The front vent control on the Azuma R is horrible, it’s a left-to-right slider and I don’t know if I have the fucking thing open or closed half the time.

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Okay, here’s my favorite part: the LEDs on the back of the helmet. One push of the button turns the lights on, another push makes them blink, a third push makes them blink rapidly, and a fourth push turns them off. I was skeptical at first but once people saw them on at night I was sold. My friend said he could see the lights while behind me on the highway in a full-on rainstorm. To be honest, the LEDs it’s one of only two reasons I’ve kept the Gmax. I also love the visor.

Here’s one way to tell a cheap helmet from an expensive one. Put the helmet on. Crack open the visor to its lowest setting. Haul ass on your bike. The cheap helmet will have a weak locking mechanism and the visor will snap shut, especially after wearing it for awhile. An expensive helmet will stay locked into place. Furthermore, the more expensive lid will probably have more locking positions, or “detents.” The visor is also high quality. It is thick while remaining flexible, and free of distortion.

The exterior finish of the helmet is okay. The rubatone matte black looked boss out of the box, but it is incredibly hard to keep clean. Bug strikes I chose the matte black because I didn’t like any of the graphical alternatives. I am too old for dragons and too atheist for crosses. I wish they had a white version, or at least solid silver. Lighter colored helmets are thought to be more visible, and sometimes being seen is all that differentiates a motorcyclist from a road pancake.

So, in summary:

Good:
1) Interior quality is very good, especially given the price point. Very comfortable on the inside.

2) Visor quality and locking mechanism is awesome. The other two helmets I mentioned skimped on the visor, and the detents. The visor lock release system is by far better than the HJC, Zox, and Z1R helmets I own.

3) Expensive touches on an inexpensive helmet: little mesh bug-guards on the vents, a snap on the chin strap, deep ear pockets in case you want to put a headset in, the LED lights on the back (they do make a difference) and the free tinted visor.

Bad:
1) Heavier than my Zox Azuma R, which was my daily helmet until now.

2) Despite (or maybe because of) all of the vents, the visor fogs up REALLY QUICKLY. There’s a breath guard in the helmet, but I find myself controlling by breathing a lot more with the Gmax than my Zox.

3) Hot. Well, maybe not “hot,” but “hotter than expected, given all the functional vents.” According to WBW, the GM68S vents are functional — most helmets vents just stop at the shell. However, I don’t feel the air as much as I was led to believe by all of the gushing reviews online. Some have gone so far as to say it’s not a winter helmet because it vents so much air — and that’s total bullshit.

Conclusion:
If you don’t already have a good DOT-only helmet, give the Gmax a try. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably pass, keep my Zox Azuma R, and put the money towards a wireless helmet intercom.

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Posted in: motorcycling, review

1 Comment on "Gmax GM68S LED helmet review"

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  1. Mark Wood says:

    I have only limited experience with helmets. But, the three that I’ve owned was 1) A HJC modular. Loved the flip up chin bar, but it was heavy and caused a headache after a couple of hours of riding. Plus, the visor sealing gasket eventually came apart.

    Then, number 2) the G-Max GM68. Loved and still do love it. Yes, it is a pretty hot helmet to wear here in SE Texas. But, it is extremely comfortable and quiet with the visor down.

    After a while; the prices started to drop on the modular helmet market and they were getting a cool addition… flip down internal sun visor. Really cool for those of us that wear scripts!

    Bought a Hawk helmet. Big Mistake and a waste of money. It hurt my forehead like the HJC did AND the chin strap was a joke. The overall helmet was cheaply built, noisey, rattled and heavy. Still would love a modular with a retractable sun visor, but Hawk Helmets just ain’t it for me.

    My GM68 is all that I need. I just hope that they will produce an affordable internal visor, modular helmet.

    As far as the fogging up. I’m going to buy the GM68 heated visor for those humid, wet and sometimes cold riding days.