Our readers have time and again requested us to put reviews of riding gears like jackets, helmets, gloves, boots etc. Here we start with our different section dedicated to that cadre of people. So in line, first we talk about the KBC Tarmac Radiation Helmet.
KBC has two helmets under the ‘Tarmac’ range: Radiation and Hammerhead. I would be talking about the Radiation in this article which were launched in 2008 and are still as popular as they were when they first made it to the streets.
Design and Quality: The overall designing of the helmet could well be called as either hate it or love it combo. The radiation graphics make this one look fantastic to some and drastic to the others. I, for being the owner, belong to the former cadre. The helmet has a matte type semi rubberized finishing with three color combinations, Black, Grey and sparkling yellow. Contrastingly, I am not a person who likes too much of graphics on a helmet but this one seems to somehow make me melt for it. Especially the radiant yellow circular radiation graphics, two ‘danger skull & crossbones’ protecting the ‘KBC’ logo upfront along with stripes swathing all around the helmet makes it even more noticeable and spunky. On the other hand the other variant in offer is absolutely same in graphic design the only difference being the absence of yellow color which makes it a little ‘getting-lost-in-the-crowd’ type. The helmet also has a metallic ‘V’ type of design element towards the top which has been peeling off slightly since the time the helmet made it to my home. Observe more metal chips just above the helmet visor.
The Hammerhead is slightly brighter in colors but heck, we are not talking about it any further now. The finishing of this helmet is top notch with no noticeable flaws anywhere on the core.
BikeAdvice Score: 9/10
Fitting, comfort & Ease of use: This helmet is offered right from 2X-Small to 2X-Large and I went for the ‘Medium’ sized one. The recommendation as per KBC size chart is that a 57-58 centimeter head will fit in perfectly for the ‘M’ sized one and with my head measuring slightly more than 58cms this one fits me pretty well with a slight tighter grip on to my head. The internal shape of the helmet is more biased towards the oval shape and a head ranging from 57-59 cm will fit in perfectly on the medium size. The liner of the helmet is extremely comfortable and has huge piles of padding. Obviously, not compared to the higher Sparks, Shoie or Arais I have seen, but the liner has been fantastically constructed and the material used is also high grade. Moreover, the liner is removable and washable. The padding towards the facial side is on the softer side and makes sure that your cheek and skin get ample amount of comfort. However, towards either side of the back of the head, I feel they could have padded it a little more. Getting in and out of the helmet is also decently easy but I have to set my helmet slightly towards the back to ensure perfect vision. The breath guard is also not very comfortable and touches my nose. It could have been better designed; however, I always have the option of removing it! One important aspect of the helmet is the ease with which it gets cleaned, more so with rubber-matte finished helmets and let me say, this is the best and the easiest one I have seen which gets clean(ed) with a single wipe of a soft cloth.
Switching our attention to the ventilation system of this helmet, it has 6 air vents in all. The front has twin chin vents which have a switch to open and close the air flow. Just below these we have a couple of …well lets call them vents! Towards the rear, Tarmac has couple of air exhaust vents, however, there are no vents towards the top. Instead, KBC has put senseless metal plates in place of (supposedly) top air vents which are non functional and look damn odd! The helmet doesn’t have any provision of stopping breeze coming from underneath, which is an irritant on chilly winter mornings. Another funny feature of the helmet is the horizontal switch which opens/ closes the chin air vents and believe me, after owning this one for quite sometime now, I still cannot say with precision that whether the air vent is on or off specially with loads of air making way from under the helmet. A vertical switch would have been much better! However, let me admit that, so far the helmet has been pretty good with the air flow. But since summers are coming fast and harsh, I might have a different story to tell that time.
BikeAdvice Score: 7/10
Safety & Miscellaneous features: The Tarmac weighs more than 1600 grams which takes it slightly on the heavier side, however, the good thing about this helmet is that I have not felt any strain on my neck or any other part of my body till now, nor does it feel heavy after I am inside it. The finish of the helmet makes it look harder. Tarmac’s shell has been constructed using an advanced alloy resin which results in greater energy absorption upon an impact. This helmet also meets or exceeds SNELL/DOT safety standards and the helmet is also available in ECE and Australian standards. It does imbibe in you that extra confidence of safety when you are inside it and riding.Even after the absence of top air vents, this helmet has fair amount of inside air noise, when comparing it with any other foreign brand. However, they are far lesser than any helmet made by any Indian brand. The helmet comes loaded with an anti fog visor which I feel is not a very prominently concerning factor in India. The way the visor opens up is not authoritative but fairly decent. It has a small sized visor lifting tab towards the left side which is not very easy to find when I am wearing my gloves. The visor is pretty easy to remove and I perfected the activity at the first attempt only. All you need to do is flip open the helmet, pull down the lever and here comes the visor out. The view from the helmet is also fantastic and wide which ensures your eyes get maximum reach. The chin strap has a double D-ring attachment system that has a button for putting the loose end which I found a crappy feature, may be because I am not used to it. But it does take heavenly amount of time just to remove the helmet especially when fully loaded.
BikeAdvice Score: 8.5/10
Price & Verdict: The list price for this helmet is $140 and different sites run different closeout deals varying from as low as $79 all the way till its list price. I got this one just for…surprise surprise…$30 only from www.motorcycle-superstore.com. According to what I have heard from different people in India, this helmet retails starting from 8000 INR all the way to 13,000 INR at different vendors. Forget about what I got it at, at 8-10k in India this helmet is worth every penny and probably one of the best branded helmets you would get at this price.
BikeAdvice Verdict: 8/10
– Saad Khan