When I was a lad, budget helmets were universally horrid. The materials and production methods of the 1980s meant any lid under a few hundred quid was a trial to wear. Especially in poor weather, when they would manage to be simultaneously very cold and draughty, while also misting up like a bouncing Vauxhall Astra in the local dogging zone.
Straps were itchy, visors would be unusably scratched within a week, and the un-washable liner gave you ringworm, then made you look like a grubby postwar urchin when you took it off.
Thankfully, things have moved on, and mid-priced and budget models are far lovelier nowadays. The rise of Chinese manufacturing, high-tech materials and advanced assembly lines have all meant that, like 55" tellies and mobile phones, you can get a very effective product for not much cash.
With all this in mind, I was sent this LS2 Valiant flip-front chappie a few months back. It's not super-cheap – but at £269.99 (for chrome, plain colours are £229), it's at the lower-midrange level. The first thing you notice is the chrome colourscheme on this one – it really is a very impressive, deep, shiny finish that looks amazing in the flesh (and is a nightmare to try and take pics of). The flip-over chin bar has a slick mechanism that cams it in and out, and the Valiant is also double-approved as a full-face and open-face design, so you're certified and safe, whether wearing it open or closed.
There's a flip-down sun visor, which is becoming pretty much standard these days, and the strap has a high-quality steel buckle and seatbelt-style closure. It's not the lightest lid I've ever tried, but at 1,734g (weighed on my kitchen scales), it’s good for a flip-front lid.
I've used it for a couple of rides so far, with impressive results. It was a bit tight across the front of my forehead for the first 25 miles, but the lining is bedding in now and it feels much better. The flip design makes it a tight fit under your chin, sealing out wind and noise more effectively. The mechanism is easy to use, once you work out where the button is. Ditto the sun visor and main visor – there's a grab point in the centre of the top edge for that, which confused me at first…
I'll be wearing the LS2 as a day-to-day lid (once the snow stops), and will report back on how it goes. My current favourite flip-front daily rider lid is the Shark Evo-One – can the Valiant topple it from the top spot?
More info: www.ls2helmets.com/uk/