My touring modular helmet just aged out, so I went looking for my next all-day, all-weather modular helmet. The LS2 Valiant II is a feature-rich modular helmet with a $360 MSRP price point. It is DOT- and ECE-approved as a full- and open-face helmet. It has some functionality features I really like and some usability aspects that are hard for me to get past.Unpacking the Valiant II is a fun experience in and of itself. The helmet arrives inside a microfiber-lined pull string bag inside a durable, camo helmet backpack. The backpack holds the helmet safely when not on your head, and has a pocket to store a second faceshield. A Pinlock anti-fog shield insert is included, as is an inflatable helmet stand. I have opened my share of new helmet boxes, and the extras with LS2 Valiant II just kept coming. LS2 backs the helmet with a five-year warranty, which is a nice benefit for a helmet with so many moving parts.
The LS2 Valiant II has some uncommon features for a modular helmet. A lot is going on with the chin bar. The first thing I noticed was that the chin bar opens with a push-up center button instead of the usual pull outward lever. The chin bar rotates over the top of the helmet to the back, up and out of the way, creating an open-face helmet. The faceshield rotates up and in so that the chin bar clears it on its way to the top, or all the way to the back. The faceshield and the drop-down sunshield can then be flipped down if you want to use the shields in the open-face configuration.The Valiant II uses a DOT-approved quick-release, all-metal, ratchet tongue-and-buckle chinstrap closure mechanism, in place of a double D-ring. I found it easy to secure the chinstrap to proper tension with gloves on, but needed an ungloved left hand to release the buckle. For those times when I forget to secure my chinstrap, it is convenient to be able to do it without having to remove my gloves.An internal drop-down sunshield is operated by a glove-friendly lever on the left side. On long cruises on sunny days, even with prescription sunglasses, I appreciate the extra brightness reduction from this quality, anti-glare, internal sunshield. The faceshield and sunshield are amazingly easy to take off for cleaning or replacement. They are reattached without tools or little parts to drop. However, the drop-down shield requires gripping it in the field of view to re-insert, so don’t put away your shield cleaner until after you wipe off your fingerprints for a second time.I like that the chin bar, detachable chin skirt, and faceshield stay close to the ABS shell when open. They don’t catch the wind on the freeway, and I don’t bump them into shelves in stores or bike parts when bent over checking tire pressure. The faceshield opens and closes using an easy to feel tab at the top, center of the faceshield.The chin bar release button is exactly the width of my ungloved thumb. Pressing up on the small button with summer gloves is a bit of an issue, while using winter gloves takes some cramming to actuate. If you have never used a different brand modular helmet, you won’t have to break old habits for releasing the chin bar and faceshield repositioning.Airflow is provided by a chin bar vent that should direct air up the faceshield and two parallel top vents that should direct fresh air over the top of your head and out the passive, always open rear vents. My test for air management is riding in the cold at 60 mph with the vents closed and then opened—the difference should be obvious.Unfortunately, my testing at 39 degrees Fahrenheit with all vents open standing up on the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike on the freeway didn’t change the temperature feel inside the Valiant II. I felt no air movement inside the helmet. All three vent controls were impossible for me to operate with winter gloves on, so for my final confirmation test ride, I wore summer gloves to make sure I was properly operating the vents—I was.Visibility is great to the front; the eyeport is tall and affords full views from my gas cap to airplanes. However, I discovered while performing lane change head checks that I wasn’t seeing as far to the rear as my 20 years of street riding muscle memory was expecting. Every head check had to be performed twice, once in my muscle memory way and then twisting my shoulders. There is less peripheral vision in the eyeport of the LS2 Valiant II than what I am accustomed to with every other helmet I have ridden with.Sound level is another important feature I am looking for in an all-day helmet. I rode with the LS2 Valiant II helmet on my adventure bike and on my touring bike. On both motorcycles, with different height windscreens, the Valiant II is uncomfortably loud, starting at just 30 mph. The faster I went, the louder the noise level inside the helmet. I would even stand to make sure the helmet was getting undisturbed air, and it was even louder to my ears. If I was to use this helmet as my five-year replacement, I would have to wear earplugs on every ride.I mounted a Bluetooth communications unit on the left side; it requires a stick-on mount, as there is no way to install a slide-up mount between the EPS interior and the ABS shell. The speaker detents are well placed for the speakers to directly point the sound to my ears.The Valiant II comes in two shell sizes for accommodating Intermediate Oval heads from XS to 3XL. Without the comm unit installed, a Medium Valiant II weighs 4 pounds 1.5 ounces—heavier than every modular helmet we have tested, except the Vemar Jiano Evo. The Valiant II does have excellent aerodynamics and is stable in direct freeway speed wind, but 4+ pounds is a lot of weight to shoulder on long days in the saddle.The Orbit Jeans/Glow model I tested has wrap-around luminescent strips. The stripes charge during the day and release a visible glow in the dark. The sun does a better job of charging the stripes than my office LEDs. I left the helmet in the sun for an hour and then brought it into a windowless closet where I could keep an eye on it. The visible luminescence appeared to last about 30 minutes, going from full sun to dark closet. I do not know how to measure the added safety value of glow-in-the-dark stripes on a helmet, but it does look cool in a dark parking lot.I had high expectations that the LS2 Valiant II would be my next five-year helmet for local rides and touring. Although it has some great features like being convertible between full-face to open-face and a chinstrap that is easy to secure with gloves on, and lots of bonus accessories, it comes up short on rideability for me. Unfortunately, it is heavy, loud, short on peripheral vision, lacks airflow, and the airflow vent controls are hard to use. Based on the helmet’s appearance and LS2’s reputation—we loved the last LS2 helmet we tested—I was expecting more.LS2 Valiant II Helmet Fast Facts
This Podcast is also brought to you by the new modular helmet from Schuberth, the C5. The C5 blends safety with light weight and amazing quietness. Visit Schuberth.com for more information.
This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!