Used: X-lite X-802

If the hat fits, wear it, etc

You know when you press your face against a window pane to distort your face into humorous contortions? Well that's a bit what my face was like at high speed with this new X-802 X-lite helmet until it got fettled with some new cheek pads.

I've been wearing it pretty much non stop since January and generally I adore it. However, it took a track day at Portimao for me to realise that I'd have to get it tweaked. Popping my head up into the 170mph draught at the end of the straight forced the chin bar and visor into my ugly mug with such force It made breathing difficult.

John the race service guru at importers Phoenix took one look and declared the cheek pads way too soft and too small. He has since worked his magic and I'm back in business. To be fair to John and Phoenix, they've had about a thousand years experience with Arai but X-lite is a new brand for them and they're learning and, in my case, developing it to suit UK tastes (and head shapes). Alternative cheek pads are available through any reputable X-Lite dealer.

John's nifty mod has worked a treat. The helmet still sits high on my head (maybe that's just my head) but it is uber comfy and no longer flattens itself against my schnozzle at high speeds.

The X-lite has amazing turbo-fed ventillation, to the point where my head got too cold this morning (until I shut the top vents). The visor is a breeze to remove, too, so black-clear-black swaps are easy, even for a fat-fingered freak like myself.

It's also very, very light and the velvety lining is soft enough to be able to wear this lid for hour upon hour without feeling the need to scratch. Being a spolit journo bustard, I have a choice of lids to wear and I always reach for the X-Lite when I know I'm going to be wearing 12 hours, three or four days on the trot. Can't offer higher praise than that, really. 

Downsides? On the road the high cheek pads obscure my peripheral vison to the point where lifesavers are a bit of a waste of time unless you're an owl or that little girl out of  the Exorcist. On the flip-side ,the view ahead in a race crouch is superb, though.

Prices start from £319.99 and you'll have to pay at least a hundred quid premium if your want to fool people into thinking that you're George Laurence, that well known MotoGP racer.