Removable Chin Bar Fullface Helmets

Words Andrew Major
Photos Fergs
Date Oct 6, 2016

Removable Chin Bar Fullface Helmets

A number of the reader requests we had for Interbike 2016 revolved around ‘Enduro’ full face helmets with removable chin bar options. Fergs and I set out to satisfy with some quality photos and hopefully some insights into which of the new breed helmets is for you.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

Colour match your Enduro Switchblade to your armour friendly Camelbak Enduro pack. Enduro. F*** Yeah!

What was I to do? Channel my inner toddler and swap around chin bars to show you some of the awesome combinations you can come up with if you buy two!

Giro Switchblade

NSMB.com has already had some coverage of the ASTM DH certified Switchblade including a stunning shot of Pete showing how cool the lid can look with the removable chin bar off.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

The Giro Switchblade has a super secure fit with and without the removable chin bar. It is by a mile the most DH of the new breed of ‘Enduro’ helmets.

Sadly, for me, I look like an even bigger dork than usual trying to rock this getup. The Switchblade makes a lot of sense to me as an aggressive lid with the option of more breath-ability on a race course. The fit is the most DH-snug of all the helmets in this category. And it is the only one that inspires full face-like confidence when I put it on.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

In my defence, I have a toddler at home and she would think this is hilarious. In Giro’s defence, it would probably look a lot cooler if I swapped the visors too. Unique options if you buy two or go swapsies with a friend.

With the chin bar removed this would be the perfect Pacific Northwest helmet when temperatures are cooler and the trail surface is unpredictable. I mean, I still would look like a dork but as Billy Connolly says “there are no mirrors on the Serengeti plain.”

Lazer Enduro Fullface

Lazer’s Enduro Full face is the only other ASTM DH certified helmet with a removable chin bar on the market; however, unlike the Giro Switchblade it is not clear if that certification still applies when the chin bar is removed.

It might be more accurate to say that the Lazer Enduro is the only ASTM DH certified helmet with a re-attachable chin bar because I’m pretty certain I could hacksaw the chin bar on off any DH full face in less time than it would take to remove the Lazer’s six screws.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

If you look closely at the screw heads you can see that the removable chin bar on Lazer’s Enduro FF has been on and off a few times. I’m hoping for interesting innovations in this category now that Lazer is owned by Shimano.

Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro

Leatt’s DBX 3.0 Enduro is the closest helmet on the market to the category originator* Bell Super 2R in terms of function and application. Take their excellent all-mountain lid, add a removable chin bar, ride your bike.

The DBX 3.0 uses two locking closures compared to the Super’s three. It is quick and easy to remove and re-attach the chin bar.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

The Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro uses two closures and four contact points to hold the removable chin bar in place.

Leatt has done the best job devising a visor design that looks good with the chin bar both on and off. The other helmets all seem to have a bias one way or the other.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

The Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro looks good with the chinbar on and off.

The chinbar is not adaptable to Leatt’s similar looking open lids as they lack the necessary attachment points. Otherwise fit and function is identical. In the same vein as the Super 2R, the DBX 3.0 Enduro is a great all mountain helmet with attachable piece of mind. It is probably not going to be the go-to lid for aggressive Enduro racing or bike park usage.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

Mix and Match with the Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro.

Bell Super 2R

This is the category originator and sales leader by miles if the trails I regularly ride are any indication. I mention the Bell Super 2R because of fit. While I’m not sold on MIPS from a brain protection standpoint, the MIPS version fits my head very well while the original non-MIPS did not.

Removeable Chin bar Fullface Helmets

The Bell Super 2R Joyride (women’s) helmets look like they were meant to mix-and-match.

If you haven’t tried on a Super 2R since they were first released it may be worth another look.

Kali

Kali does not have a removable chin bar full face helmet available. And, if they have one coming they don’t want to talk about it. What makes them different from a slew of other helmet companies in the same boat?

Boa. Kali has a lot of experience making light, great fitting full face helmets and, as an added bonus, they are using Boa retention devices on their top end open lids. Boa retention devices might be able to be put to amazing use in this category.

Removeable Chinbar Fullface Helmets

Kali doesn’t currently have a helmet with a removeable chinbar and if something is coming down the pipe they don’t want to talk about it. But, their use of Boa retention devices has me hopeful.

The steel wires are aircraft-grade stainless. Want some marketing bullsh*t? They’re stronger per gram than tank armour. Boom! They’re also super light and super fast.

I can imagine a design similar to the Switchblade but relying on a Boa on each side for retention. Because they can be expanded to hook-on the attachment process could be quick and easy without removing the helmet. This helmet category is wide open for companies with innovative ideas to increase protection, reduce weight, ease installation and removal, and to hit more varied price points.

Rankings

At first I planned to find some way to rank all the new Enduro lids, accounting for the fact that fit is personal, but it ended up being no contest. The DH standard rated Giro Switchblade fits the most like a DH full face both with and without the chin bar.

The Leatt and Bell Super both fit exactly like their premium open-faced lids but with some quickly added peace of mind when you want it.

The Lazer Enduro screams “we don’t get it” with its six removable screws. Look for interesting products in this category from Lazer mind you. Shimano, having recently purchased Lazer, has a lot of experience with ratcheting buckles via their shoe line.

It’s clear there is more to come in this category and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

*Or re-originator if we’re actually counting the original Giro Switchblade.


Are any of these your jam?

 

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Comments

Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Oct. 11, 2016, 1:13 p.m.

I wanted the 2R pretty bad, and thought it was a sure thing until I tried it on. It was super uncomfortable, for me. I was surprised as I've been wearing Bell for over a decade and neither Giro's or POC's ever fit me. Now I'm wearing a new POC and it fits like a glove. Almost popped for the Giro Terano as it felt purty good too. Did Bell, Giro and POC all rotate head molds or something? Weird.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 11, 2016, 2:14 p.m.

I had the same experience with the original Super 2R. The MIPS one on the other hand fits like a glove. just like shoes: fit is more than a size.

The Leatt helmets fit quite differently so if you're in the market for a removable chin bar check them out.

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avner-b
0
Avner B.  - Oct. 9, 2016, 2:15 a.m.

My friends and I use Parachute, Super 2R and original switchblade. Our main reason for these helmets is ventilation. If We didn't need it we would use standard FF helmets throughout the year.
So which ones are the best ventilated?

Avner.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 9, 2016, 8:23 a.m.

Your friends are still wearing original Giro Switchblades?!

That's a decade+ old helmet that had a solid reputation for exploding and injuring riders (vs. protecting them) when it was new.

The Leatt and the Super are both just regular open lids once the chin bar is removed so either would offer you the most breathability.

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avner-b
0
Avner B.  - Oct. 9, 2016, 8:57 a.m.

Thanks for the breathability data, for me and other riders in warm climates that is one of the most important helmet parameters.

One friend has in addition to a FF, an original Giro Switchblade. He wears it, instead of a XC style helmet, for light riding in hot weather.

Avner.

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wacek-keepshack
0
Wacek Keepshack  - Oct. 9, 2016, 1:43 p.m.

I'd rather wear a 10 year old original Switchblade than 1 day old original Met Parachute. I did land on my face in original Switchblade. Off a 7m gap. Failed suicide no hander. Saved my face. Prachutes were the one really injuring people.

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Captain-Snappy
-1 ninjichor
Merwinn  - Oct. 11, 2016, 1:17 p.m.

Aver,
Holy crap! Dump that original Switchblade like it has a lice infestation. Styrofoam has a finite life and that sucker's beyond palliative care. XC use only or not, buy one yesterday.

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charles
0
charles  - Oct. 8, 2016, 7:50 a.m.

After multiple trips flying w bike and gear, wish I had bought one of these style helmets sooner. No need to pack a full face and trail helmet now.

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Oct. 7, 2016, 1:01 p.m.

I'm super onboard with the Kali inclusion. Right around the time I started looking at removable chin-bar helmets, I compared the stats sheet to my current Kali Durgana - I've already got a lighter full-face helmet, and realized that I only notice how hot it gets when the ambient temperature is over 85°F, as it breathes really quite well. Even ignoring price, that's competitive on performance with the MET Parachute, but once price is in the equation I already know where I'm going for full-face options.

I don't end up on enough rides where removability is that handy - with uplifts, or when weather gets cold, I just run my full face and don't think twice about it. Even though I don't get much use out of my FF, it's still cheaper to run a good XC helmet and pick up an under-used FF than to get one helmet that does both.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 1:57 p.m.

I think for people who are choosing to purchase these helmets the point is to maximize protection on rides where they otherwise wouldn't wear a full face (visibility climbing, breathabitly at climbing speed, etc).

Hopefully they're buying the best lid for their needs the same way you're using two to cover yours. I don't know anyone who wants to ride with two helmets and as Andy noted he can use a removable chin bar full face without having to carry a pack. Most the riders I know personally with one of these helmets also owns a true full face for park/shuttle duty.

It comes down to where and how you ride but I definitely note a lot of riders purchasing this type of helmet locally.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 2:01 p.m.

I do think Kali is well position to offer a helmet biased towards protection - like the Switchblade - with a modular chin bar. I'd love to see their take on the category.

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Oct. 7, 2016, 2:26 p.m.

Yeah, it does make a lot of sense.
I don't run two helmets on individual rides, I'll just hump it uphill with a FF donned. Mostly, the suck factor for wearing a lightweight full-face helmet isn't really that bad, and if bumping cardio redline isn't the plan for climbing, they do work ok.
I'd still like to run a removable chin-bar option, as it makes lots of sense, it's just that none of them are $100 nicer (especially due to weight) than just running a lightweight full face.
I think the second-gen ones will be awesome enough to start supplanting those, but I think some of the fancy integration will have to come into how the chin bar gets carried (backpack-helmet combos with some limited back protection). Kali may also roll out with a pretty awesome one.

Still pretty cool to me that all of the Bell supported racing teams (FIA WEC, F1, etc.) also run the Super2R as a pit crew helmet where full fire suits aren't required.

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Brocklanders
0
yahs  - Oct. 7, 2016, 10:16 a.m.

My wife has the Bell, she really like it, takes seconds to attach the chin bar.
I really should get one, really no reason not to. Then it becomes the issue of when to wear the chin bar. Shit can happen even on an easy trail.

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 7, 2016, 8:47 a.m.

I have the Switchblade. I rarely ride in the park but the trails I ride In Whistler are challenging and I have scuffed my chin once or twice. I don't often wear a pack so strapping a helmet on is a no go. Wearing a full face makes drinking and eating on a climb very hard and snot rockets kind of messy. The Switchblade chin bit fits under my belt or fanny pack or I can strap it to my bar. I don't find the Switchblade hot at all. I sweat huge no matter what. Certainly makes more sense to simply use a proper DH helmet for the park or shuttle rides. But for up down up down and once a year at the park the Giro works well.

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 8:54 a.m.

Nice post!

Why did you choose the Switchblade over Bell Super 2R Andy?

Extra protection? That classic BMX race look sans chin bar? Goes better with your fanny pack? Fit?

You wore it all summer in Whistler re. Heat?

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 7, 2016, 9:13 a.m.

Fit. The Bell does not fit me very well. The Giro wasn't available until after our short summer but I don't find the helmet any warmer than my Smith or Lazer. I've said before and I'll say it again, helmets don't really make you sweat, riding hard does. Sweat management is what counts and few helmets do that effectively. A few years ago I had to buy helmets with few vents to keep the sun off my scalp. Medical issue. I bought the Giro Air Attack road helmet which has four narrow slits for vents. Riding that helmet at -1°C proved to me that even teeny vents let a lot of frigid air through. Real DH full face helmets often have padded liners that fit more like a toque and those will be hotter. I think a helmet suspension like a hard hat is the best way to get air flow.

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db79467
0
db79467  - Oct. 7, 2016, 8:02 a.m.

I don't understand why the chin guard needs to be removable. The selling point to me is added protection without the heat and weight of my D2 that I can use on pedally but aggressive trails. If there's a sustained climb where I want to be cooler I usually just put my helmet on my pack. If there's not much pedaling I use my D2 for the protection. I can't think of a situation where I'd take the chinbar off in the middle of a ride, or at least not enough situations that warrant the need for a removable chinbar given the added complexity and weight that I'm assuming go into that feature. (I don't yet have but want a Super 2R or Parachute type helmet - neither of those fit my weird head).

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 8:12 a.m.

Depends on where you live/ride for sure.

These types of helmets are very popular where I live. Riders want to be wearing a helmet for climbing and transitional riding but like the extra protection afforded for technical and steep descents.

Multiple laps are possible (pedalling) on all the local mountains so the chin bars are off an on a few times a ride.

I don't wear one myself, but I notice more and more (generally Bells) on the trail.

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db79467
0
db79467  - Oct. 7, 2016, 8:18 a.m.

Right, but I guess my question is does the ability to take off the chin bar giving them that added flexibility or is it the light weight and venting? Or is it just when riding enduros where you're required to have a helmet on while riding a fireroad?

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 8:32 a.m.

I'd say number one it's passive venting - the ability to breath while grinding up steep single track when air flow isn't enough to cool your head.

Number two, again climbing singletrack, would probably be visibility. A chin bar isn't an issue descending because you're looking ahead but it's a restriction pumping over roots in a uphill switchback corner.

If you were to design a full face with a fixed chin bar that had enough visibility and passive venting the chin bar would likely be useless.

For winter riding - cosmetics aside - I love the idea of the Switchblade without the chin bar. More protection when the trails are greasy and unpredictable but I wouldn't generally wear the chin bar because I like to see and I breath heavy. But there are a few trails for which having the chin bar - from that helmet - would at least physiologicaly make a difference for me.

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wacek-keepshack
0
Wacek Keepshack  - Oct. 7, 2016, 10:50 a.m.

The usage of such helmet is very limited in my books. I use the chin piece very rarely, max 3 times a year. I guess it is for situations where you ride up and down frequently and just want that added protection against face abbrasion without compromising ventilation and breathing. After all the face is an important part of many people's professional lives. It's better to have a few small marks, than a huge wound and then a scar.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 1:47 p.m.

I think at the end of the day - like dropper posts, suspension, aggressive tires, bar width, etc - the usefulness of a given product is going to depend on where you ride and how you ride.

Presumably - again noting I don't use one of these helmets myself - the ever increasing plethora of people I see using them on the trails I ride are finding a broader usage for these lids.

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Oct. 7, 2016, 2:32 p.m.

I think the real use case is for the kind of ride where one climbs for a couple of hours to earn their turns, especially if it involves climbing technical singletrack, and then gets to go gravity mode for a while. For a mixed shuttle/uplift and pedally cross-country route (thinking of something like the Saalbach big 5) then the removable chin-bar is a must-have item - so there are definitely uses for them, but to really become a dominant all- mountain type helmet it needs to be quick to don/doff, protective enough to be worth the hassle, and mostly breathe well enough to be good to climb.
I wasn't that impressed with the breathability of the 2R, I'd rather run removable padding everywhere on a full face.

Reply

robert-cooper
0
Robert Cooper  - Oct. 7, 2016, 2:38 p.m.

I've got a Bell Super 2R and love it, although I never bother to take the chin bar off anymore. For me the slight benefit of removing the chin bar is outweighed by the hassle. The helmet is cool enough with or without. In short I think the venting provides the biggest benefit (my Specialized downhill lid is not too heavy but is so hot without vents I'd never wear it anywhere but the park).

My riding buddy has a Met Parachute and I would have bought one except it doesn't fit me as well as the Bell. If you are riding in Arizona it might be worth it to remove the chin bar, but in temperatures less then about 30c/80f I don't think a fit rider will need to remove the bar.

Reply

peter-kundrat
0
Peter Kundrat  - Nov. 23, 2016, 11:46 a.m.

On some races you are obliged to always wear a helmet when pedalling. So you could either carry two helmets or push the bike. Thus removable chinbar solves the problem.

Reply

wacek-keepshack
0
Wacek Keepshack  - Oct. 7, 2016, 2:15 a.m.

I have Bell Super 2R but I'd never race any real Enduro in it, nor would I ride it in the bike park. I have smacked my face enough inside TLD D2, a legit full face to not trust any removable stuff for full on gravity riding. I am surprised I have my teeth in place, when I hit my chin into the ground after my front wheel went over the edge of a berm. That was with D2 on my head and my mouth was hurting for a week, with a big abbrasion on the chin. Check Barry Nobbles Facebook, he just broke his nose in a MX helmet when riding in a bike park.

I agree with Pinkbike audience on this one, Industry has to be quite clear that these helmets offer an ounce more abbrasion protection so that you can show your face on a monday meeting, after a weekend with AM gang, but aren't real FF helmets for gravity riding. Don't think for a moment that you can ride them in the park instead of D3 because you aren't pushing that hard. That thought alone is a hint that you actually should wear a D3-like helmet because you have no clue what you are talking about.

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 7, 2016, 7:02 a.m.

Agreed on the Bell and Leatt which clearly are, and don't pretend to be anything but, their standard open lid All-Trail-Enduro'ing helmets with a little bit of added protection via the chin bar. Helmets you would wear when you would not be taking a proper full face (long techy ride with lots of climbs) but there are long enough descents to warrant the time to install the bar.

What about the Giro Switchblade though? DH rated with and without The bar and the fit feels snug all around like a proper full face (again with and without the chin bar).

Reply

wacek-keepshack
0
Wacek Keepshack  - Oct. 7, 2016, 7:38 a.m.

I wouldn't risk it with lift assisted riding or local descent bombing, even with Giro. As I said, I did hurt my face in a rather stiff D2 a few times. When I lived in mountains, I used to put the fullface on my backpack for a fire road climb, when I knew I'm going to ride down some track as fast as I can. I'd do the same today if I was to go on a proper Enduro comp. I'd take my roadie lid and a legit FF. Not only you try to ride as fast as you can on tracks you barely remember, you are also more and more tired through the day. Your whole body gets stiffer and more fatigued, your heart rate goes up easily, your error margin gets smaller and smaller.

Reply

JBV2
0
james  - Oct. 7, 2016, 4:16 p.m.

you're not supposed to hit your face when u fall.

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Oct. 10, 2016, 7:39 a.m.

Helmets exist for when there is a discrepancy between how I'm supposed to land on things, and how I actually land on things.

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rob-ross
0
Rob Ross  - Oct. 7, 2016, 12:27 a.m.

Interesting read. I also have the Bell Super 2 MIPS version, and also found the non MIPS version wasn't as comfortable. (I too am rather sceptical when it comes to MIPS, but comfort won out over marketing here)
It's so easy to switch between full face and open, even when wearing the helmet as well.
As an aggressive trail helmet it's great to have the added security of the chin guard, (my LBS calls it the Jawbone) but I still have a DH lid for proper DH runs

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