Review of the 2017 Biltwell Lane Splitter Full Face Helmet

Once again, Biltwell, Inc. delivers another stylish retro inspired helmet for the masses - the 2017 Biltwell Lane Splitter . I picked...



Once again, Biltwell, Inc. delivers another stylish retro inspired helmet for the masses - the 2017 Biltwell Lane Splitter. I picked up an XS flat silver finish Lane Splitter for just under $250, and as far as a $250 price range full face helmet goes, this Simpson wanna-be is pretty solid.

 

The first thing I noticed when running my hands over the smooth surface was several slight blemishes on the flat finish. However, visually, the blemishes were unnoticeable. The Biltwell Lane Splitter comes in 6 different solid colors: Metallic Bronze, Flat Black, Flat Silver, Flat Titanium, Gloss Black, Gloss Blood Red, and Gloss White and one graphic design brandishing the Rusty Butcher logo. Right out of the box, I was impressed with the light-weight, 3lbs 2oz, which came with a variety pack of Biltwell stickers, a helmet bag, and a rather thick instruction manual for such a basic helmet.
My first excursion with this helmet, was commuting to work on a chilly, 40-degree weather morning. In case I wasn’t feeling badass enough with this helmet’s squared-off, Bain-like chin bar, sharp aggressive lines and no frills style; my usual morning commute was detoured due to lane closures from an early morning shooting; but don’t worry the Lane Splitters tough Cali-inspired styling scared off any would be shooters. The toughness of the Biltwell Lane Splitter doesn't stop at the surface. The Lane Splitter boasts both a DOT and ECE R22.05 safety rating, which is achieved with an injection-molded ABS outer shell, an EPS inner shell, and a soft “hand-stitched” Lyrca interior comfort liner. Which brings me to my first gripe about the helmet. Like most EPS helmets, my princess-and-the-pea head found a small ridge in the foam within 10 minutes of putting it on, which quickly made wearing this helmet very unpleasant. I assume the offensive ridge is from the machine that spits out the inner foam shell. I pulled out the padded, removable chin curtain and blankie soft snap-in cheek pads, peeled back the stylish comfort liner which was held in place with two snaps in the back, and revealed the offensive foam ridge. After taking a fine grit piece of sand paper to it I found it felt “just right” when done. The positive side to all this is that I learned that the washable liner is easy to remove, easy to re-snap, Velcro, and shimmy back into place. Still focusing on the inner guts of this helmet, when I pulled out the stylish, contrast stitched liner, I was able to see massive channels for air flow in the EPS foam layer which leads to a subtle venturi vent in the back of the helmet. Unfortunately, all those massive air flow channels are about as useful as those badass 14" T-bars you’re probably rocking on your HD Dyna, all show and minimal function. The only real way those airflow channels are pulling air across your head is if you are going to ride with the Lane Splitter shield in the open-position, which is always an option as long as you stay below 55 mph. Anything faster than that and the open-position shield becomes nothing but a drag chute to slow you down. Another option would be to completely remove the face shield, meaning you’d risk taking a rock to the face at high speeds or need a set of goggles which, rest easy, Biltwell makes. The three large open vents in the chin bar do provide tons of airflow across the jaw line but very little along the brow and top of the head. Also, those big ‘ol screen covered holes do not have an open or close feature; meaning you’ll regret not being able to plug them up in sub 35-degree temperatures or a rainstorm, but more on that later. Looking more closely at the Biltwell Lane Splitter’s face shield I will say I was super excited about the optical correctness of the stock, clear face shield. This coupled with the massive field of vision makes looking over your shoulder for those quick lane changes a breeze! The shield is so crispy and clear I even accidently tried pushing my sunglasses back up my nose without lifting the shield because – well, I just plain didn’t realize the shield was down as I was standing in my garage. Unfortunately, all the good points about the shield stop there. The shield does not fit well against the black rubber eye port gasket and, thus, this sucker leaks like the Titanic. Colorado being the beautiful, sunny state it is, didn’t provide me with a good solid rain storm when I needed it. So, I resorted to Plan B for an artificial wet-weather test. I went to my backyard with my wife, and to her amusement, let her spray me in the face with the garden hose. Needless to say, even in a gentlest of mists, I felt water leaking into the Lane Splitter in less than a minute. It leaked not only at the chin bar (remember those large air flow vents I talked about earlier?), but also around top of the eye port gasket. So, would I take this sucker through a down poor and be thrilled? meh probably not! But hey I’m young and dumb enough to put fashion over function still. Lastly, let’s move on to the hinge mechanism for the shield. I will say I was not anywhere near impressed for $250. Right out of the box, the bolts were so tight that opening and closing this helmet is a two-handed task. Trying to lift and push up the shield with just my left thumb was a task that only resulted in me mashing my sunglasses onto my face and knocking my head phones out of my ears. I decided to try loosening the two screws that hold the shield in place by just a ¼ turn. Low and behold, problem solved. I was able to lift the shield with a single hand. Unfortunately, closing the helmet can’t be done with the same ease. Yes, it only took one hand to close the shield, but I had to reach directly in the center of the helmet shield and pull down until I heard the loud click of the hole finding the brass peg. Not a huge inconvenience, just something to remember when picking up this helmet. Biltwell does make 7 different swappable shields, as well as 6 different colored Helmet Hardware Kits to give your Lane Splitter a more unique look, so that way when you’re struggling in hot traffic, like a noob, trying to open your shield for more airflow you could at least look cool doing it. However, don’t forget a dime or flat head screwdriver as you will need one of these items to swap out your shields.
Overall, the Biltwell Lane Splitter Helmet is a decent alternative to the much pricier Simpson line up of retro-inspired helmets. I like that this helmet is a basic, no frills, neutral oval bucket that looks good when jamming around town on your club style Dyna or hard-tailed Sportster chopper. I think, for a $250 price range full face helmet with aggressive retro styling, Biltwell did a pretty spot-on job with the Lane Splitter. Just make sure you don’t think this stylish retro helmet is a cheaper version of the Simpson Ghost Bandit or Street Bandit, while they inspire similar impressions, the Lane Splitter is entirely its own beast.

Review By Naomi De La Torre - Denver, CO - Owner of Born Reckless Co.

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