Joe Rocket RKT 201 Carbon | Review

Joe Rocket Motorcycle Helmet

Every motorcycle racer knows there’s truth in the old adage that lighter equals faster.

And although racers strive for ultimate lightness on their machines, from high-priced carbon-fiber bodywork to magnesium wheels, many forget about shaving some pounds from their protective apparel.

One place where lightness can make all the difference is on the head. This isn’t to say a helmet that’s lighter by an ounce or two is going to make your bike quicker, it’s more of saying a lighter helmet will make the track’s daily challenges easier.

How? The lighter the helmet, the lighter the awareness is of having one on, allowing you to focus on the task ahead. But manufacturers know they can’t skimp on protection just to achieve lightness.

This thought process had to initially surface as Joe Rocket designed its new RKT 201 helmet, which replaced the popular RKT 101. And then for R&D, Joe Rocket simply looked to their fieldsmen: former AMA Superbike’s Mat Mladin, Pro Stock Dragster’s Rickey Gadson, and Isle of Man TT riders Mark Miller and Jimmy Moore.

This review pertains to the lightest of the RKT 201 helmets, the carbon-fiber model. The shell on this model is created out of a 4X4 carbon-fiber weave shell, which combines high strength with ultra lightness, exactly what Joe Rocket was seeking from the beginning of the design process.

The Carbon Fiber RKT 201 weights just under 3.25 lbs., with the non-carbon-fiber helmets knocking the scales a bit higher. In regards to motorcycle helmets, especially ones designed for road racing, this is feather light. The only helmet I’ve tested in comparison to this lightness was the HJC RPS-10 Ben Spies.

This weight is immediately noticed on the street, but it really becomes a significant aspect of the RKT 201 while on the track. I spent two consecutive days at New Jersey Motorsports Park with the RKT 201, and the lightness allowed for complete comfort throughout the track sessions.

What also created comfort on the old noggin was the "ACS" advanced channeling ventilation system; the RKT201 Carbon features two ram-air vents on top that channel to two rear exhaust vents. The front ones each have two positions to regulate airflow, but the rear vents are constantly open. This can be a problem in the rain, the helmet taking in a few drops of water if at a dead stop. But for the power of the ventilation, a bit of rain on the head quickly becomes futile.

Also incorporated into the helmet for ventilation is a ram-air chin vent, which has only an open or closed position. It worked well while on the track, helping to defog the face shield on the Joe Rocket RKT201.

The face shield features a two-stage locking mechanism, which provides an extremely tight seal, not allowing air to rush in. This tightness is due to not only the locking mechanism, but also the molded gasket around the wide eye port.

This seal also helps keep the noises down, allowing for more concentration on the road or track. And changing the face shield on the Joe Rocket Rapid Fire design is extremely simple, requiring only the push of two buttons for removal/replacement.

The 3D face shield is also hard coated to prevent scratches, and rated at 95% UV resistant. The helmet arrives with a clear shield, but Joe Rocket offers various others, including smoke, amber, 2D race-ready, RST mirrored, and ones Pinlock ready.

Regarding the interior, the RKT201 has a moisture-wicking SilverCool lining that is anti-bacterial and odor free. The cheek pads and top liner come out quickly, and use snaps to hold them in place. I spent a 300-mile day of sport riding in temps around 98, and the SilverCool lining performed optimally. And there was no greasy, helmet stench.

Also, because the liner was so easy to remove, while at the track on a hot day I took the interior out and soaked the top in ice water before heading back out. Instant air conditioning, and due to the ACS ventilation, the top liner dried within a few laps.

Also in the interior is a removable chin curtain and streamlined breath deflector, allowing for customization in various climate conditions.

The helmet is designed with a wing out back to prevent buffeting at high speeds, which works well up to around 150 mph. After that I felt a bit of buffeting, but nothing extreme.

As for fit, the RKT 201 features an intermediate oval shape that is designed using advanced CAD technology, which will fit a wide number of head shapes. The fit was true to size, me taking a medium. And of course, the Joe Rocket RKT201 Carbon meets or exceeds SNELL 2010 and DOT standards.

The UltimateMotorCycling.com verdict: If you’re a hardcore sportbike rider, full-out racer or occasional track day rider, the Joe Rocket RKT 201 would be a perfect match due to its light weight, optimal eye-port view, ventilation and ease of removing a sweaty liner. And at a price around $450, it has many features of the more expensive helmets, but at a fraction of the cost.

Joe Rocket RKT 201 Carbon Motorcycle Helmet

  • Colors: Carbon Black, Transtone Carbon Blue, Transtone Carbon Red
  • Sizes: XS – XXL
  • MSRP: $449.99 (black); $459.99 (Transtone)

Joe Rocket