Vozz RS 1.0 Rear-entry Motorcycle Helmet Review: Problem Solver!
Helmets do their work at the point of impact. They exist as a proactive measure against an event the wearer hopes will never happen.
Most motorcycle helmets on the market have been designed with that event as the focus of development: protection of the brain, skull and in the case of full-face helmets, face, eyes, jaw/airway, as well.
By its own destruction, the helmet is designed to absorb as much of the force of impact as possible to reduce the amount of energy transmitted to the wearer.
Consideration of how the helmet functions after it does its job in a crash was less apparent until recent years. It was only then that manufacturers began to consider design elements that affect how the helmet functions after the crash.
Specifically, in the case of a full-face helmet, how do rescuers (first responders, EMTs, paramedics) gain access to the person’s airway when that becomes necessary to suction blood or vomit or for ventilation of the person during resuscitation—without potentially moving the person’s head in such a way it may aggravate possible spinal injury? Would that necessarily involve helmet removal or could the helmet be designed to allow some other option?
As a former EMT/Paramedic myself, the Vozz helmet as a potential answer to those questions was of great interest.
Some manufacturers went with modular helmet designs with a hinged chin bar that can pivot upward, others offer designs with a removable chin bar. Others have opted for a solid, non-articulated chin bar but designed the cheek pads at each side of the helmet to be quickly removable to make helmet removal easier.
This is done by the use of quick-release snaps to mount the cheek pads and addition of finger loops or pull tabs to the pads to provide positive pull-points. Still others have come up with retrofit devices that can assist with helmet removal from the inside of the helmet itself such as the Simpson Shock Doctor Helmet Eject system.
The newest and perhaps most innovative design approach to this problem is the Vozz RS 1.0 helmet from Australian firm Voztec.
Mr. Johnny Vozzo, co-founder of Voztec developed the new “rear-entry” helmet concept more than twenty years ago while working out a new design for sky-diving helmets. The design introduces a number of radically new elements in helmet structure and function and, from my experience with the product, also notable improvements in some already common elements such as ventilation, noise suppression and the helmet retention system.
The first and most notable departure from standard full-face helmet design is the rear-entry concept. Instead of the standard approach requiring the helmet to be pulled down over the wearer’s head, the helmet opens to the rear and the wearer slides in toward the eye port.
Once positioned in the pre-set chin cup, the back of the helmet is drawn forward until the latches at each side of the helmet base click into the locked position. Note that this design eliminates the conventional nylon chin strap. Removing the helmet is a simple matter of pushing up on the latches on each side of the base of the helmet to unlock the latches and sliding the helmet forward. (See the video on the Vozz site)
In case you’re wondering, as I did, can the helmet latches be reached and released one at a time with only one hand in case one arm is injured—the answer is yes.
It is that last step that sets the Vozz helmet so far apart from every other full-face helmet, not only in day-to-day use, but particularly when emergency personnel may need to remove the helmet after a crash.
Instead of having to apply any degree of traction (pulling) or rotational force to pull the helmet off, which can increase the risk of aggravating a cervical spine injury, the entire front portion of the Vozz helmet can be opened and left in place or, with removal of the hinge pins, removed without applying traction force or risking rotational force that can occur while attempting to pull a standard helmet off. The absence of a chin strap eliminates the need to move the wearer’s head around to access the strap to either unbuckle it or cut it for helmet removal.
The remaining portion of the helmet can remain in place supporting the head with the padded comfort liner and the neck with a built-in neck roll when the head and neck are immobilized for transport. Unlike a conventional modular helmet, the head is exposed to behind the ears, allowing assessment of the ear canals for the presence of blood or cerebrospinal fluid—an indication of possible serious injury known as basilar skull fracture—and an important type of injury for medical personnel to be aware of.
Since the procedure for helmet removal with the Vozz is different from conventional pull-on helmets, a QR scan symbol is on both sides of the helmet, which takes rescuers directly to step-by-step instructions using their smart phone with the necessary QR/bar code reader app: http://www.vozzhelmets.com/emergency-procedure.html
The chin cup is not actually a cup but rather twin padded bands that the chin rides between. Adjusting the chin cup is a simple matter of removing the cheek pieces on each side of the helmet, loosening the adjuster screws, setting it to the right fit, re-tightening the screws and replacing the cheek pads.
Once set, the chin cup need not be adjusted again. Not having to fiddle with a chin strap at all means the helmet goes on and off easily with one’s riding gloves on. The design is remarkably simple and comfortable all-day long.
The helmet fit is precise; indeed, at first, I thought I may have gotten too snug a fit. The first few times I spent riding with the Vozz, I found it difficult to close the helmet, yet once it was closed the fit was very comfortable and not overly snug.
By the end of the day, both my technique of donning the helmet improved and the comfort liner was “breaking in” like a new pair of boots, matching the contours of my head. The helmet began readily snapping into place and it closed, latched and fit like it was custom-made for me. I didn’t miss the ear folding that happens with some of the conventional pull-on helmets. There is no slop or slippage in any motion I make with my head; the helmet and I move as one.
If you’d plan to use a Vozz helmet for cold-weather riding applications such as snowmobiling where use of a balaclava inside the helmet is anticipated, you may want to go at least one size up from what you might otherwise wear. One small but handy advantage of the rear-entry helmet is that your balaclava stays in place. With conventional helmets, my balaclava nearly always gets pulled down and out of place when I pull the helmet on; in my experiment with the Vozz, the balaclava stays in place, not over my eyes.
It is also possible to put the helmet on without taking one’s gloves or glasses off. As is the case with other helmets, the fit over the glasses will vary with the size and shape of the lenses, the shape of the glasses over the bridge of the nose and the ear pieces of the glasses.
The overall shape of the helmet is also a radical departure from what we’re accustomed to in a full-face. It has a “rolled” bottom edge that greatly reduces the size of the bottom opening of the shell. The resultant smooth curve appears to have an aerodynamic effect in terms of reducing interior wind noise, reducing buffeting and lift at interstate highway speed and in reducing interference with garment collars.
With no windshield in use on the bike, the helmet is remarkably quiet; only a mild “chuffing” wind sound is audible, coming from around the corners of the face shield hinge area. With a shorty windshield, where the helmet is in the turbulent slipstream coming over the top of the windshield, the sound is only a bit more noticeable, with nearly no buffeting at highway speed. With a full-height windshield where the helmet is out of the direct slipstream, it was back into the quiet zone.
Shell construction is described as composite comprised of fiberglass and Kevlar fiber in the front portion of the shell and polyester resin in the back portion. The internal impact absorbing layers are comprised of multi-density expanded polystyrene (EPS), which includes an ultra-low density layer.
A carbon fiber shell option is in plans for the product’s future. The helmet provided for this review was DOT (FMVSS 218) compliant for on-road use in the U.S., but ECE 22.05 and AS/NZ compliant versions are also available. Submission for Snell Memorial Foundation certification is a possibility for the future, according to Mr. Vozzo. To learn more about how helmets are tested under various standards, see our coverage here: http://ultimatemotorcycling.com/motorcycle-helmet-standards-explained-dot-ece-22-05-snell/
The seam where the two parts of the shell come together is described as “Helix interlocking edges” that come together in a male-to-female joint. A robust neoprene gasket applied over the tall rib on the front (male) side fits snugly into a channel on the back part of the shell. In effect, this design appears to create three sealing surfaces—on the top of the rib and on the exterior and interior surfaces of it. At the hinge area, the gasket stops and the seal appears to be dependent on the mating surfaces of the shell and liner. In my one ride in rain, there was no leakage at the seam nor around the visor.
Ventilation of the shell is accomplished with dual closable vents on the chin bar and crown of the helmet with four exhaust vents out the back. The intake vents are prominent, effective and each pair open and close with a single slide control. They feature unusual channels that extend from the vent openings out a short distance along the surface of the helmet.
At first glance, they may appear merely as a styling exercise, but after using the helmet in hot weather, where the effectiveness of the ventilation from the vents was evident, I began wondering if the channels actually have a functional laminar flow effect, perhaps to reduce turbulence at the vent inlets, that resulted in improving ventilation.
Indeed, Mr. Vozzo confirms that the design is intended to increase ventilation performance. Another feature of the vents is positive closure that shuts off airflow when desired and prevents any whistling or buzzing from the shutters.
Two polycarbonate face shields are included with the helmet as standard equipment; a clear shield and 80 percent smoke tinted unit. Changing the shields is very easy; things aligned easily and the hinge mechanisms are smooth and positive.
The high-viz orange color option—one of seven helmet color options available—looks pretty cool with the tinted shield in place. We have learned that factory-applied reflective materials may be added to the shell in the future to increase low-light conspicuity.
Three reflective coated visor options are available, as well. Pinlock is not currently available, but that option as well as heated shield options are under consideration. Learn more about visor performance standards in our coverage here: https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2015/01/27/motorcycle-helmet-face-shield-performance-standards-explained/
There are six pre-set positions for the shield, including fully closed and fully open. Each is firm and the shield doesn’t change positions unexpectedly even at highway speed. In the fully down position, it is firmly in place over the seal around the large eye port.
The comfort liner is just that—comfortable. The cheek pads are removable but the remainder of the comfort liner does not come out for cleaning. Rather, instructions are provided for cleaning the remainder of the liner in place.
The quiet afforded by the helmet together with the relative absence of buffeting in the wind, volume of cooling air moving through the interior and secure fit of the helmet seem to work well together to minimize rider fatigue.
The weather for most of the first ten or fifteen outings of long duration I put the helmet to use in was fairly hot and humid. Those design features kept the helmet user-friendly from start to finish on those outings.
The Vozz spec sheet indicates the medium size shell bearing DOT (FMVSS 218) markings weighs in at 1,780 g (3.92 lb.) and the ECE 22.05 certified version of the same size weighs 1,680 g (3.70 lb.). Presumably, the XL size example I wear would weigh slightly more. I didn’t find the weight of the helmet to be a problem and the stability of it in the wind kept fatigue at bay.
The Vozz helmet bag tops all others I’ve seen, approaching the look and construction of the best ballistic nylon luggage. It is spacious and has a large twin-zipper opening. It provides some ventilation, as well so that if the helmet lining has any moisture on it, the drying process can take place. In addition, the Vozz owner’s manual is comprehensive and readable compared to those from many other manufacturers.
The Vozz helmet is one of the most radical innovations in helmet design in a long time; perhaps since the introduction of the full-face helmet itself in the late sixties. When the full-face helmet came out, there were probably a lot of people who had misgivings about them and how well they would be accepted by riders and racers. Turns out, the full-face helmet was one of those “disruptive” innovations that went from being a curiosity when introduced to very common among regular riders and the standard for competition.
The Vozz RS 1.0 has been on the market outside the U.S. since December 2015, so it is not an unknown in terms of practical application. Retail distribution in the U.S. is coming soon but contact Voztec directly for information on immediate availability online http://www.vozzhelmets.com/ .
Interestingly, the Vozz rear-entry helmet concept may eventually find its way into the market under other brand names, as well as Vozz since the company is interested in licensing the patented design for manufacture by other entities.
Whether the rear-entry full-face helmet is the next step in the evolution of helmet design remains to be seen; time and acceptance by the riding public and racers will tell as was the case with the original full-face helmet.
Vozz RS 1.0 Motorcycle Helmet Fast Facts (as reviewed):
- Helmet: Vozz RS 1.0
- Distribution: See the Vozz website for retail locations: http://www.vozzhelmets.com/.
- Configuration: Full face—rear entry.
- Country of origin: Australia/China. Manufacturer is ISO9001 certified.
- Shell material: Composite.
- Available shell sizing: XS (53-54 cm) to XXL (62-63 cm). See the Vozz website for sizing information.
- Weight (claimed): Med. Shell: DOT and AS/NZ: 1,780g (3.92 lb.), ECE 22.05: 1,680g (3.70 lb.).
- Certifications: ECE/22-05, AS/NZ and DOT (FMVSS 218) versions.
- Shield/visor: Polycarbonate, clear and 80% smoke tinted, anti-scratch included. Reflective visor options also available at additional cost.
- Retention system: No strap or buckle—adjustable pre-set chin cup
- Special features: Textile carrying bag included, Sena -20S EVO – blue tooth system communications mount available. Safety Release System (SRS) removable hinge pins.
- Warranty: Three years
- MSRP: $699.95 USD
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