The experience shows
As Simpson Race Products enters its 61st year of manufacturing high-performance powersports safety equipment, there isn’t much argument about the company’s experience in making serious gear.
One of the latest additions to the line-up is a full-featured modular helmet, the Mod Bandit. The Mod Bandit is a versatile cousin to the Simpson Ghost Bandit we told you about back in 2016, but with an articulating chin bar that can rotate up and lock into the raised position.
The Mod Bandit has a striking appearance in part due to its compelling shell shape, and in part due to the superb fit and finish of the external surfaces. Its angular design is for more than slick, aggressive looks.
Such angular design inherently adds strength to thin materials such as a helmet shell without adding weight in the same way a triangulated shape in a frame is more rigid than smooth or curved shapes or adding small ridges to sheet metal adds strength compared to flat sheet. Ridges add rigidity over the crown of the helmet, along both sides and at the chin bar.
Impact attenuation, shell rigidity, external face shield and retention system all meet UN ECE 22.05 standards as well as DOT (FMVSS 218) standards. Helmet materials note that the Mod Bandit passed certification as a full-face helmet. For more info on helmet performance standards, see: https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2019/01/29/helmet-motorcycle-safety-standards-2019-changes-fim-frhphe-ece2205-dot-snell/
Ventilation into the eye port is accomplished with a total of six closable chin bar vents, while two more non-closable vents supply air up onto the external shield to aid with anti-fogging; ventilation into the crown of the helmet is controlled by two closable vents.
The chin bar vents are operated by two slide controls on the inside of the chin bar. While they are a little more difficult to operate with the chin curtain in place, they are positive, stay in place when set and keep the exterior of the chin bar clean looking.
The crown vents are independently controlled by slide-type shutters that are easy to work with gloves on and that do not vibrate or whistle when underway. Ventilation into the crown of the helmet is moderate with both vents wide open; perception of air inflow being aided by the fairly cold air present during the rides done for this review.
Six non-closable exhaust vents take air out the back. Chin bar vent efficiency is high, based on riding in temperatures in the 30s with air movement into the eye port quite perceptible. When closed the vent shutters do well sealing out the wind and don’t create noise, but, of course, some air movement comes in despite the removable chin curtain.
The removable, washable, hypoallergenic and antimicrobial comfort liner is polyester. It is a smooth material and one of the more comfortable I’ve experienced.
Indeed, “smooth” is a term that applies to a number of characteristics of the Mod Bandit. The chin bar operates with remarkable, consistent ease; some modular designs seem to require a lot of effort at one point or another in the operation of unlocking and lifting the chin bar—not so with the Mod Bandit. It unlocks with a single control in the mid-point of the bottom of the chin bar and raises smoothly to the locked-open position. The chin bar locks down on metal pins at each lower corner.
The same is true in the operation of the polycarbonate external face shield and the tinted internal sun visor. The standard external shield is clear and opens smoothly with three detent positions between closed and fully open. It has a single, easy-to-find-with-gloves-on operator tab on the left bottom edge.
It locks down positively at that point by means of a molded-in visor hook over a tab on the edge of the eye port. When the shield is left in the lowest position but not locked down, there is a small clearance that allows more air flow in to help manage shield fogging at low speeds and low temperatures. In addition, the exterior shields are Pin-lock ready. There are five external shield options available.
The standard integral tinted sun visor is operated by a slide control on the left side of the helmet that is easy to operate with gloves on and it also is remarkably smooth, yet positive in engagement in the open and closed position. Three optional internal shields are available.
At highway speed, without substantial cross wind, with a short windshield—that is, the height you would look over rather than through, the Mod Bandit has minimal to moderate buffeting and wind noise. That is not uncommon since that configuration produces the most turbulence at helmet height. Out in the wind with no windshield and minimal cross wind at highway speed, there is very little buffeting and perhaps slightly below average wind noise with vents open or closed. With a tall windshield, noise and buffeting are both minimal at highway speed.
The retention system is with a 7/8” nylon strap with padding and metal double D-ring closure and a snap to secure the loose end.
Overall, there are very few shortcomings in this product—indeed, about the only thing that could stand some improvement is the scanty owner’s manual.
For example, there is no information on proper removal of and cleaning of the comfort liner, no information on proper removal and mounting of the internal and external visors when those are changed, or, for that matter even the way the helmet’s basic functions work. I checked out the Simpson website in case more detailed information was there, but didn’t find anything further.
Sure, you’ll figure it out, but sometimes a little accurate intel up front can spare the owner some frustration—particularly if they are new to the helmet thing or if something doesn’t seem to be working the way you expect.
That said, changing shields is about as easy as it can be. The black “Simpson” hinge covers on the external shield have a small slide button on the bottom of the logo. Push it up and turn (they will only turn one way) the hinge cover a quarter turn and that releases it. Lift away the hinge covers and the shield is free.
Installing the optional shield is easiest if you have it slightly raised so it’s not trying to seal against the eye port gasket and you can move it around until the shield seats in place at the hinges. Doing it with clean cloth gloves will help keep the shield from being covered with finger smudges when you’re done—a real pleasing effect when installing one of the optional reflective shields. Get careless with how you clean some shields with reflective coating and you may take off some of the coating with the grime.
To switch the internal shield, raise the chin bar and gently but firmly draw one end of the shield out and down to clear the eyeport edge until it unsnaps from its pivot inside the helmet—it’s just a friction fit as most of these are. Unhook the other side the same way.
It can be handy to have a flashlight handy to look inside the helmet to see the pivot points to assure you’re not trying to slide the shield too high or low when installing the other internal shield. Push the shield onto the pivot point until it snaps into place and align the shield top edge with its slot and repeat the process on the other side. Again, clean cloth gloves help prevent the next step from having to try to clean smudges off the lens.
The helmet comes with the clear external shield and tinted internal shield mounted, a combination which works great for most riding. For winter use, Simpson Motorcycle Product and Brand Director, Scott Holbrooks suggested using the silver reflective external shield and a clear internal drop-down. It is a spot-on idea, since the reflective coating gives not only a very cool look to the helmet, but provides sunshade tinting similar to the standard internal tinted shield.
Check out the Mod Bandit in use on a 1979 Chrysler Sno-Runner on a snowy Wisconsin day. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGM1jq3lTyE (Action video thanks to Jacci Shauger). The tinted shield was a bit dark for the cloudy, snowy weather, but on a bright, sunny day with total snow cover, it would be just about perfect. Flipping it up and going with the clear inner visor worked well.
The pinlock insert on the external shield would be advisable for cold weather use to prevent fogging at low speeds. Road testing was done on my H-D 883R Sportster in the days before on dry pavement! As they say hereabouts: “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes; it’ll change.”
Simpson Mod Bandit Helmet Tech Specs:
- DOT/ECE 22.05 dual certification (Check out our article on helmet standards for more info: https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2019/01/29/helmet-motorcycle-safety-standards-2019-changes-fim-frhphe-ece2205-dot-snell/
- Tri Composite (reviewed) or Carbon Fiber (available) shell combined with a polycarbonate alloy chin bar
- Claimed weight as reviewed: 1750g (±50g) 3.85 lb.
- One hand chin bar opening
- Ability to lock the chin bar in the open position
- Metal chin bar locking components
- Communication system compatibility
- Multiple adjustable intake vents
- Six free flow, non-closing low pressure exhaust vents
- Integrated spoiler to enhance stability and aid in air extraction
- Removable, washable, hypoallergenic and antimicrobial cheek pads and interior
- Pinlock external shield insert-ready (shield insert not included)
- Toolless, quick release, shield changing
- Smoke tinted internal sun shield; other options available
- Rear facing cheek pad reflective panels; four adhesive-backed reflective stickers also included
- Removable, noise reducing chin curtain
- Double D-ring retention system, 7/8” nylon strap, padded contact areas.
- Sizes: XS to XXL
- Website: https://www.simpsonraceproducts.com/blog/pages/sizing-charts
- MSRP: $499.95 Tri Composite (reviewed) Carbon fiber: $699.95