If you’re shopping for a helmet, you can probably rattle off a few popular brands. What do these helmets offer, aside from brand-name, and what do people want in a helmet? Quality, features, and safety all at a price that doesn’t require you to steal from your retirement fund. Is this too much to ask? Newcomer ScorpionEXO doesn’t think so.
Jeff Kang and Eric Anderson are the faces behind ScorpionEXO; the startup described as a “historic undertaking” according to the official website (www.scorpionusa.com
). Together, they bring ScorpionEXO nearly 30 years experience in the motorcycle industry; Kang alone has been designing helmets over a decade.
Headquarted in Lake Forest, California, Scorpion’s 37,700 sq. ft. facility includes the latest techno-gadgetry for order entry, inventory management and order tracking. Dealers can even place orders online and track their progress. The same facility contains the customer service support personnel for Scorpion.
Scorpion’s sprawling 810,000 square foot manufacturing facility, located in China, serves as the epicenter for Scorpion’s manufacturing. This single facility houses the ability to mold the shells for all of their helmets in-house, liner manufacturing and sewing, water-decal production, clean-room paint booths, drying rooms, assembly, packaging and shipping. The only part of a Scorpion helmet not made at this facility is the shields.
None of this sounds all too groundbreaking, so where does ScorpionExo helmets try to be different? The primary feature that will attract you to a Scorpion helmet is the price, MSRP of $199. While other manufacturers are forced to sacrifice quality and features to provide low-cost alternatives to the pricey name brand lids, Scorpion attempts to break the mold, so-to-speak. The emphasis on quality and features, while providing them at a price point any would-be helmet consumer can afford, is what Kang and Anderson set out to do.
What features are we talking about? First off, all helmets are DOT and SNELL Foundation certified. The SNELL certification is commonly regarded as the being one of the, if not the, highest safety standard in the industry. The EXO-700 series is comprised of a fiberglass/Kevlar shell to help achieve this certification. Also included is a “EPS-lined chin bar” for additional protection.
What else? How about a lining that actually wicks moisture from your skin, something Scorpion calls their “KwikWick™” technology. The cheekpads and lining are removable and machine washable. A no-fog face shield (breath deflector included as well) that is resistant to scratching, and a system designed to make the removal of the shield quick and painless process. The ventilation system is designed for maximum airflow using wind tunnel testing and the rear spoiler on the EXO-700 is designed to reduce lift; which can be very annoying at high-speeds.
Sizing and “fitment”
Another factor integral to reducing lift and maintaining proper airflow is helmet fit. This is, perhaps, the number one area where helmet buyers go wrong. Since you’re the only one who can tell how it fits, it is imperative to understand what a proper fitting helmet feels like.
The first step is to measure your head. Since not all helmets are created equal, you cannot simply measure your head and go by a chart alone; and of course there is no substitute for trying on a helmet. Your measurement will give you a size to try on first, but you may not necessarily wind up with that size. And, since finding a knowledgeable helmet sales person can be such a challenge, your best bet is to arm yourself with as much information as possible before trying on any helmet.
Scorpion’s helmet sizing (http://www.scorpionusa.com/helmetsizing.html
) page is one of the better explanations of how a helmet should fit. The page depicts graphical representations of three-dimensional movements, explaining how to tell if a helmet is too large.
My large melon measures 60cm; I like to use cm because the measurement increments are smaller. This puts me on the fringe of a L/XL in the Scorpion line. I tried on the L and XL at least a half dozen times each. Knowing that the inside will wear a little and become larger over time, I found myself faced with a difficult decision. The L was tight, very tight. In fact, it was so tight my ears folded when I put the helmet on and I had to shove a few fingers up each side to unfold them; the XL did not do this. My helmet sales person left me to decide stating it was a matter of preference.
But, by using the helmet sizing guidance on Scorpion’s website, I wound up with an XL despite the size chart. Naturally, not all 60cm noggins are created equal; they vary in shape. Because I didn’t have a problem using Scorpion’s fitment steps, I actual fell into an XL and not the L as I originally thought I would.
Fit and Finish
I chose a Scorpion EXO-700 Raider style for my “test”. My first impression with the fit and finish impressed me. The graphics are very eye-catching and are something you’d find in a helmet at a much higher price-point. The decal application superb and the final coating over the decals is excellent. All of the trim pieces fit well and don’t have that cheap feeling typically found on a lower priced helmet. The “S” logo affixed on the front of the helmet above the forehead is a raised sticker and not part of the rest of the decal application. It could, conceivably, get caught on something and come off. However, it appears easily replaceable should this happen. There is no indication on my helmet it is or will come off, but it’s worth noting.
Taking the shield on and off is as advertised. I did notice one side of the shield seemed want to stay attached every so often when I wanted to remove it; though this could be due to my unfamiliarity with this new system. While I don’t know that I’d swap shields without taking the helmet off my head as the official website shows, technically it’s possible. It’s a simple mechanism that works. The helmet comes with, naturally, a clear shield. If you’re riding anytime other than nighttime, you’ll want a smoke or mirrored shield. Scorpion offers several varieties and, like the cost of the helmet, the shields are reasonably priced (expect about $40 street prices).
The anti-fogging claims are not unfounded. On several cool mornings I could see my breath in the helmet, yet the clear shield remained unfogged. With all vents closed and trying to fog the shield, it resisted fogging despite my best effort. The removable breath deflector aids in the anti-fog arena as well. I did notice the mirrored shield did fog slightly, but not enough to be a factor while riding.
The “optically correct” shield is just that, when it’s down there is no warping or distortion in the viewing area. When I opened the shield a click or two, I was able to detect some distortion but it’s nothing to be concerned about. I know some riders like to open the shield a click or two for airflow, but with this helmet that’s not necessary.
You never seem to be able to get the best of both worlds in relation to noise and airflow; always choosing one or the other. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some exceptionally quiet helmets, but the trade off has always been airflow. If you ride in hot weather that may not be a compromise you’re eager to make. Some other helmets with great airflow sacrifice wind noise. You can’t ride in your car with the windows down and have it quiet as if they were up, it just doesn’t work that way. The trick is to find a happy medium.
The EXO-700 seems to make a good compromise. It’s certainly not as quiet as some other helmets, but the airflow is impressive. And, of course, closing the vent quiets down the helmet considerably. If you’re planning a long ride with the vents open, you may want to consider ear plugs particularly if you intend to ride at highway speeds. In the twisties or around town, plugs are not necessary for any duration of ride.
Let’s talk about venting. The EXO-700 has a left and right top entry vent, a middle entry vent in between the left and right top entry vent and one more entry vent on the chin guard. The chin vent is on or off and blows onto the inside of the shield. The top left and right vents are open, half-open or closed; the top middle vent has four settings. All airflow coming into the top vents exits aft.
On the spoiler, at the rear of the helmet there are three small venting exit holes that are always open. On either side of these three holes are two three-way adjustable exit vents. Finally there are two flush-mounted “gill” vents on the left and right lower rear side of the helmet. These two flush-mounted vents are fixed.
While we’re on the subject of the spoiler, I should mention that it does a superb job in reducing buffeting and shake to almost nothing. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of wearing an improperly sized helmet with poor stability and I can tell you first-hand it can be downright scary. At speeds approaching 100MPH, the EXO-700 stayed put and I didn’t feel as if I was fighting the wind or the helmet. The EXO-700 did not lift or move, and moving my head to side created manageable turbulence. I have to attribute this to the wind-tunnel testing; the system is effective. The weight of the helmet also helps; I came up with an unscientific measurement of just above three lbs.
I had the opportunity to ride with the EXO-700 when temperatures were in the mid-eighties and humidity hovering in the same range; a good test of several features. The airflow was more than adequate and did an excellent job of moving volumes into and out of the helmet. The airflow was so much when all vents are open at their maximum, it was almost as if the shield was open slightly. If you sweat a lot like I do, you’ll enjoy the amount of air this helmet will push through.
Since I do sweat a lot, my helmets tend to get pretty nasty inside. I was anxious see if the KwikWick™ technology was up to snuff. After sitting through slow moving city traffic and amassing nearly an hour on the bike, I removed the helmet. The forehead area, where I sweat the most, was dry to the touch. In fact the entire liner was dry to the touch. The airflow in conjunction with the fabric used in the liner serve make this feature very effective and, perhaps, my favorite.
If after riding you don’t like the idea of putting on a “dirty” helmet, you can wash the liner like a pair of jeans. Throw it in the washing machine on gentle cycle or hand wash; either way you can remove the all of that nasty stuff you should have washed off in the shower anyway. Removing the liner is an easy process, each cheek pad is held in with three snaps. The head liner is marginally challenging, but still easy. Though I didn’t actually wash my liner, removing it and reinstalling isn’t any more difficult than installing a liner in riding jacket.
Also worth mentioning are the different designs Scorpion sells as replacement liners. The standard gray/black is available but if you want to fancy up your lid with a zebra design, then Scorpion has what you’re looking for. Also available are camouflage, leopard spot and a checker design.
Overall response of the Raider helmet has been positive. I’ve yet to run into anyone who wasn’t curious about it. The stylish looks seem to garner a lot of interest from other riders. The most frequently asked questions being, “What is that” and “How much does it cost”. There’s nothing like an eye-catching helmet to start a conversation at a red light.
If I had to choose one word to describe the response it would be curious. Those who know about ScorpionEXO want to know how it performs. Those who aren’t familiar want to know the same, and more.
I’ve been told dealers have had somewhat of a challenge obtaining inventories, and I had a hard time finding one myself. However shipments are starting to arrive in bulk and as the pipeline opens, availability should as well. After several trips to my local shop, I noticed new models and accessories showing up at each visit.
Scorpion has been quick to sign up dealers and I found several in my area from the "Where to buy" page (http://www.scorpionusa.com/wheretobuy.html
). Scoprion also provides a downloadable form if you wish to become a dealer.
My final analysis concludes this is a great choice for those who don’t want a compromise or break the bank. While skeptics may scoff at the price, citing that cost equates to safety and features, I must disagree. With a DOT/SNELL rating just like the big boys and features alike; there’s no reason to believe the critics. Real-life testing (short of crash testing) has proven to me that the EXO-700 can easily serve as a perfect secondary or even your primary lid. I found it comfortable and feature laden, all for a price that is attractive. Scorpion backs their helmets with a three year warranty
to boot, who can complain about that?
The only downside to the helmet is the difficulty you may have in finding one. As I already mentioned, though, that is sure to improve as time goes on. However, if others find the value in this helmet as I did you may NOT be able to find one for some time.
My litmus test, for almost anything I buy, is to ask whether I’d buy the same product again. After living with this helmet and logging hour after hour in it, my answer to the Scorpion EXO-700 would be a resounding “yes”.
Copyright 2004 TwoWheelforum.com
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