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Top Five… Retro Helmet Brands




To be honest, the brief for this piece was to find the top five best retro helmets but the more we got into it, the more difficult it became to separate the pack…

Just how do you properly rank Biltwells against Bells, and then how do you separate within the ranges – Custom 500 or Bullitt?

Really a lot of it is down to personal preference: some folk like a leather lining, some don’t; some people’s heads fit a particular brand better; some like an open face, while others will only ever wear full…

What our hours of tireless research/internet browsing showed though, was that the cafe racer/scrambler/bobber revolution has helped spawn some amazing new brands and resurrected, and cemented old ones, all of whom are tearing up the modern helmet maker’s rule book and designing functional, protective lids that also look proper nice.

If you’re in the market for a traditional lid, here – in no particular order – is who you should be looking at:



Davida, were years… nah… decades ahead of the retro helmet curve. They’ve been making open face helmets in a quiet corner of Birkenhead for a shade over 30 years now.
Davida are all about quality, craftsmanship and luxury. From their ‘signature’ leather-lined Jet, through the compact Ninety-2 to the truly traditional pudding-basin Classic (recently seen on the heads of Cameron Donald and Michael Dunlop at the Classic TT) every Davida helmet is hand-crafted on Merseyside, no part of the process is automated, and finished in pretty much any colour and design you can think of.



A relatively new company in the UK, Hedon – derived from the word Hedonism – is the brainchild of two super trendy designers called Lindsay and Reginald.
Hedon bill their helmets as much more than just protective headgear, they’re “A necessary accessory for the discerning rider… A fine blend of the old and the new, deftly forged using traditional craftsmanship along with modern technology.”

You don’t just buy a Hedon, you go on a journey with it. Truly bespoke, you can have everything the way you want it: colour, finish, interior, fixtures and fittings… everything basically can be tailored by and for you. They’re not cheap, but my god are they pretty.



Bell are one of pioneers of head protection, in fact they lay claim to producing first ever full-face helmet.
The company was founded by racing driver and all-round speed freak Roy Richter who – having lost a friend in a racing accident – turned his attention away from driving and towards improving safety on the track.

Roy’s first design – the open face ‘500’ – designed to protect Bonneville National Speed Trials drivers – set things rolling, but the desire for more protection led to the ‘Star’ full-face model in the early 1960s – it would lay the foundations for every full-face helmet produced since.

If that’s not enough pedigree for you, Bell wearers have included: Steve McQueen, Evil Knievel and Burt Munro.



Another fairly new kid on the block, Biltwill Inc. launched in 2006 with a mission to …”give bikers a brand free of the needless machismo and gaudy excess that founders Bill Bryant and Harold “McGoo” McGruther were seeing far too much of out on the roads.” And that they do, offering riding gear that takes inspiration from the skater and surfer subcultures, instead of the biker-style textbook.

There are four models to choose from: the open face ‘Bonanza’, the full-face ‘Gringo’ and ‘Gringo S’, and the Simson-Bandit-esque ‘Lane Splitter’.
They’re reasonably priced, well specced and come with the usual array of cool colours, visors and goggles.

They’re not currently ECE approved, so if you’re in the UK or Europe, they’re for off-road use only.



Remember high-fashion-meets-helmets brand Ruby? Well, co-founder Jean-Etienne Prach is back with a new brand: Veldt Helmets. This time the high fashion has been dialled back (a bit) and the functionality dialled up: “…carbon fibre from Toray of Japan, leather from Indutan of Portugal, paint is from Akzonobel…” and each lid can be converted from a full to an open face, too.

You can buy an ‘off the shelf’ Veldt, but there’s also an online configurator that allows you to design your own, with a choice of patterns, colours, paint finishes, labelling options and even customisable chin guards. Just don’t get too carried away, as one thing that definitely has carried over from Ruby is pricing.

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Phil's probably the shortest motorcycle journalist on the planet, standing just 5ft 4in, but has almost certainly got the longest beard in the industry (we've not measured it yet). Cruiser test then?


Icon claim back the streets in their latest, epic video



Street’s Not Dead.

Regular readers will know that we eagerly await anything released from the US streetwear firm Icon Motorsports. So the moment that a video drops from the Portland firm we’re bound to pay attention.

That’s an interest piqued double when they post it alongside what is essentially a call to arms…

“Street’s not dead. If you think it went away, you’d be wrong. Street’s still here undermining pompous authority, rejecting standards, and bucking the status quo..”

And they’re not kidding either. With the Icon clad rider thrashing their Kawasaki ZX-10R through city streets, car parks and even a public fountain at one point, there’s a lot to take in.

Couple that with their usual loud, Icon style and you’ve certainly got a statement of intent.

(Don’t try this at home kids).



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Ex-Skully Helmet bosses theft claims ‘without merit’; case dropped



Lawsuit against founders of Skully, the failed connected helmet-maker reportedly dropped.

The dream of an augmented reality projecting, heads-up display motorcycle helmet has been offered by a few companies over recent years, but there have been none more famous and fabled than Californian technology Start-up Skully.

Launched via Indiegogo in 2014 the company managed to raise $2,446,824 in crowdsourced funds to help them deliver their AR-1 helmet. However despite securing another whopping $11 million in additional investor funding, after much delay and negative press, the company announced in August of 2016 that they were closing; and that few (if any) of the helmets promised would be delivered.

Of the many reports with regards to the company’s inability to ship a final product, the most voracious and damaging of all where the ones surrounding the alleged misappropriation of funds by the two founding brothers of the company, Mitchell and Marcus Weller.

In a lawsuit filed by ex-employee Isabelle Faithauer who claimed wrongful dismissal, Faithauer filed a complaint claiming that the ‘Wellers used Skully corporate accounts as their personal piggy banks’ and that they had demanded that Faithauer ‘conceal the true nature of the expenses by entering them in Skully’s books to make it appear that the expenses were incurred for legitimate business expenses, which in fact they were clearly not’.

Amongst the list of falsely claimed expenses, the lawsuit detailed such payments being made on a variety of items, from Grocery Bills through to a pair of Dodge Vipers and a $13,000 trip to Las Vegas.

Once news of the lawsuit broke – and the details within it emerged – forums, message-boards and Indiegogo themselves were inundated with hundreds of customers and product investors furious at the alleged misuse of their funds; not to mention the lack of actual helmet that they had paid for.

Whilst it may not have been the absolute reason for Skully’s failure, there is no doubt that the negative press and legal expenses surrounding the case did not come at the best time for the company and had played a significant role in the ultimate closure of the business.

However it’s been brought to Motofire’s attention – via an anonymous message online – that the plaintiff for the case, Isabelle Faithauer herself has now withdrawn her claims that and has in fact admitted that her accusations made in the lawsuit could be construed as being ‘without merit’.

According to the document that we have been sent, Faithauer states that after her dismissal from Skully, Inc in December 2015 she was ‘upset’ and that during the discovery phase of her case by her attorney she soon came to learn that ‘many facts, documents, and information th’ uncovered ‘could lead a reasonable jury to conclude that [her] claims were totally without merit’.

She states that it is for this reason that she dismissed her claims against the Wellers in an agreement to settle for mutual release of claims. The document is signed 28th of December 2017.

Motofire have attempted to contact both Faithauer and her Attorney to confirm the veracity of the statement we have received but at the time of publishing have not received reply.

It’s another intriguing twist in a company tale and story that seems to refuse to lay down and die and whatever the truth, there is no doubt that Skully tapped into the desire for motorcyclists to utilise greater technology within their day-to-day riding, and that the heads-up technology envisioned by the company will eventually be developed successfully.

In fact, since the initial closure of Skully helmets, a new consortium have taken ownership of the brand and have promised to release their version of the AR-1 helmet – now appropriately titled the Fenix – in the summer of 2018.

Neither of the Weller brothers have any involvement in the new setup.

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