LS2 Challenger and Gaerne G-Evolution 5 Review - New Riding Threads
Prior to one month ago, I hadn't encountered the LS2 helmet brand (tagline: ‘Always Ahead’). But after meeting Luke Mason from Whites PowerSports we’re now up with the play and testing one of their lids.
The model I like most is the LS2 Challenger (colour: Squadron Mat Blk/Hi Vis) which retails for $499, and it fitted just so straight out of the box. With some helmets the fit is never quite right. If that’s the case, just move onto another brand until you find one that works for you.
I chose this particular model for a long term tester because it has the internal dark visor that can be deployed when needed, doesn’t weigh too much at 1420g - once you’ve tried lightweight helmets, there’s no going back - and because the colours were right, green, white and black. It also looks great and is loud enough that people will see you; anything advertising your presence helps when riding motorcycles amongst distracted drivers. The other reason I picked this one is because it’s LS2’s most aggressive and the best looking of the road line-up, though not their quietest, perhaps on account of all the vents that can be opened and closed.
Why the LS2 brand name? Good question but it has nothing to do with the V8 engine HSV used in certain models between 2004 and 2008. Sorry Tom. Rather, it is named after the second system Arthur Liao developed for making helmets. The Guangzhou-based company gained the name in 2007 when it decided to go global as a standalone brand. Its helmets are now sold in 85 countries.
Prior to that it was a Chinese OEM/ODM operation named MHR that was set up in 1990 and the helmets were sold in the Chinese domestic market as Fengxing lids. By 2000 MHR was doing everything under one roof, design, technology, production, testing. Come 2005, and the company was manufacturing over two million helmets per year. Now it’s three million per annum, the firm claiming it is the fastest growing helmet brand in the world.
As a global player, LS2 set up head office in Barcelona, and in the same year took their wares to the EICMA show in Milan. In 2010 the company expanded into North America and in 2017 came down under to Australasia.
The Challenger HPFC FF327 helmet we’re trialling is evidently inspired by racers. People like John McPhee and Loris Baz use and help with the development of LS2 helmets. The HPFC stands for high performance fibreglass composite.
What I like about the Challenger, looks aside, is its noteworthy amount of peripheral vision, obviously a significant benefit to sport riders, but you feel as though you can simply see more when peering through the visor. There’s heaps of visibility in the vertical direction too. Rather than a double D loop for fastening there’s a quick release ratchet or ‘micrometric’ system which is simpler to operate, and approved by both ECE and DOT testing.
There are better helmets for glasses wearers in terms of ease of fitment, like the Vector (from $399) for example, which is also said to be slightly quieter.
However, there are things you can do to silence wind noise in helmets, like installing whisper kits or, simpler yet, packing out the ear area inside the EPS (expanded polystyrene) liner with foam used for protecting goods during transit, or even bubble wrap. Either slips in beneath the removable helmet lining. You’ll still need to wear ear protection but helmets thus treated are ever so much quieter. Blocking the head/neck opening helps dramatically too, though solutions for this are sometimes more a case of function over form.
Also new from Whites Powersports are the Gaerne G-Evolution 5 riding boots, designed and made in Italy. The range includes motocross, all-terrain and road bike boots.
The G-Evolution 5s are no question the lightest and also the most comfortable I’ve encountered, both to wear and walk in. They’re amongst the easiest and quickest to climb into and out of too, with just a velcro fixer at the top and a full-length zip. The simplicity of design makes them squeak free.
There’s extra protection in all the usual places, and ventilation slots at the rear, along with reinforcement at the gear change point on the upper. They’re made mainly of Lorica synthetic leather - untested as yet in the wet - the sole being rubber for added grip. At $329 these seem like great value, costing $120 less than my (admittedly leather) Alpinestars S MX 6 V2 boot. Both of these items are available through bits4bikes.co.nz