What helmets were Team USA bobsledders wearing in Sochi? We identify and break down why they selected a rider tested favorite.
The US Bobsled teams are making headlines in Sochi, taking home their first medal in the sport in 62 years. But, what helmet were Team USA, Lolo Jones and Steven Holcomb, racing in? Why, none other than RideApart fave. The lightest full-face motorcycle helmet you can buy right now, the Nexx XR1R Carbon.
The XR1R is the product of a tiny, specialist helmet manufacturer in Portugal. It's ok if you've never heard or Nexx, they've only been making bike helmets for a few years and they've only just begun to penetrate the American market.
The Nexx XR1R Carbon, as worn by Steven Holcomb.
Why would top US athletes choose the helmet? Well, in one word: weight. Weight matters just as much on a bobsled as it does on a motorcycle, which is why Team USA turned to BMW's North America Design Studio to create their sleds. Your head sits at the extreme end of your body. Any movement or forces your body experiences are magnified by the time they reach your noggin. A few G-Forces are no big deal for your torso, but they are enough to bend your head over onto your shoulders. Rapid acceleration or deceleration, again, your head can be thrown backwards or forwards. Any gram you can save on a helmet reduces those effects.
And, at just 1,200 grams for a size medium, the XR1R Carbon is the lightest full-face, road-race-style motorcycle helmet you can buy. It achieves that through an all-carbon shell and a drastic parts reduction– for instance, there's no quick-change visor mechanism.
Lolo Jones, practicing in her Nexx.
The helmet has other advantages, of course. Its horizon line — the level at which your vision is cut off while peering upwards in a tuck — is exceptionally high. As high as any helmet we've ever tested. That makes its vision while tucked in exceptionally good; an advantage on two wheels and while operating a bobsled. Jones and Holcomb are able to see better in their aerodynamic tuck than other athletes in other helmets — a huge advantage, allowing them to see further down the track without sacrificing aerodynamics.
The XR1R's visor is so large, in fact, that the helmet comes equipped with the largest Pinlock anti-fog visor insert ever made. You can clearly see that item installed in Holcomb's helmet, utterly eliminating fogging.
Of course, none of this would be worth a damn if the helmet didn't fit the athletes' heads. But the XR1R will, thanks to a customizable fit. The intermediate oval head shape lid ships with a healthy selection of pads, designed to stick between liner and EPS which individually tailor the helmet to each rider. The effect is remarkable, you can make this helmet fit you perfectly, provided you roughly approximate its internal shape.
Like the US Bobsled team, this helmet is a winner. It's made to the superior ECE 22.05 safety standard and retails for just $600. It's also available in a 100 gram heavier, non-carbon version starting at just $420. Want Holcomb's exact lid? It's available right here.