It’s unlikely many of you watched much of the 2010 Winter Olympics, let alone caught the bobsled racing action. Where’s your patriotism? Okay, we didn’t either. If you did, however, you would have noticed that each of the U.S. Men’s Bobsled team racers were sporting Captain America-esque KBC helmets in their race to gold — a point the Korean helmet manufacturer is very proud of. So proud that the company recently released its new VR4R Carbon helmet in an Olympic replica design to commemorate the team’s success.
A solid-colored offering is available as well, although the helmet’s designs are not the most important features. The VR4R has been heavily modified and is a step in the right direction for KBC, which couldn’t hold a candle to manufacturers like Shoei and Arai in the past, quite frankly. The carbon fiber hybrid shell of the VR4R is manufactured using KBC’s pre-impregnated bag molding process, which guarantees the helmets are not only light, but also that the shell thickness is consistent. At a mere 2.8 pounds, our medium VR4R helmet is one of the lightest helmets we have tested in some time, matched only by the NEXX XR1R Carbon helmet we tested in the August 2011 issue.
It’s not just that weight has been cut either. The ventilation system has been updated, the company’s “one-touch” shield release system has been incorporated and a rear spoiler has been integrated to increase stability and reduce drag. In addition, the helmet is ECE-certified and DOT-compliant.
Typically, if something seems too good to be true, chances are it is. That’s not the case with the VR4R though. The helmet is every bit as good as it’s made out to be, with only a few cons and a long list of pros. What we like most about the VR4R carbon is its snug fit. The manufacturer claims that the helmet’s “race fit” was a purposeful design. With it being so snug around the bottom, the helmet can admittedly feel a little tight the first couple of times you put it on and take it off. Even with its snug fit, we didn’t experience any hot spots with the VR4R and were plenty fine wearing it for our longer stints on the road. Still, try one on before purchasing, as the sizing feels a tad different than that of other helmets.
The comfort-fit savoir suede liner, which is removable and washable, is extremely soft and makes the helmet that much more pleasant. Plus it works well to wick away sweat and moisture. The extended chin curtain works well to keep wind noise to a minimum, and in comparison to other models we have tested of late, the VR4R is extremely quiet. Aerodynamics are great too, with absolutely zero lift and little drag at highway speeds. The integrated rear spoiler works well to keep the helmet stable at those speeds and the helmet doesn’t have that bouncing nature that heavier, less aerodynamic helmets tend to have. As far as the shell is concerned, the only issue is that the eyeport is modest in size and the low brow is in your line of sight,
The helmet’s ventilation system is adequate, although not quite on par with that of the top-tier Shoei and Arai helmets. Of course, neither is the helmet’s price tag (the Olympic Replica model retails for $429, while the solid version retails for $379). The problem seems to be that the multiple intake ports are relatively small in size and don’t pull in enough air. At speed however, the inside of the helmet remains cool thanks to the integrated ventilation channels in the dual-layer EPS liner. That of course requires the air be rammed through the system though, and as such things got warm when we’d come to a stop for an elongated period of time.
When it came time to swap out our clear shield for a darker offering, we were surprised out how simple the visor release system is to operate. Simply pull the easy-to-access release lever on the helmet’s side plate and the visor pops out of its housing with ease. Mounting the new shield is just as simple and takes mere seconds. Our one complaint is that KBC didn’t have a dark smoke shield like other helmet manufacturers offer. The light smoke is obviously better than the clear, but we wouldn’t mind a darker shield on occasion. Despite the built-in breath deflector, the VR4R’s shield fogs fairly easily in colder conditions, which forced us to run it slightly cracked on most of our morning commutes to the office. KBC sells Pinlock® insert lenses that should solve this problem, although we have yet to test one on the helmet. Nevertheless, it’s a seemingly simple solution for customers who may experience similar problems with fogging.
The new VR4R Carbon helmet is clearly a big step up for KBC. Not only is the helmet among the lightest lids we have tested, but it is comfortable and provides a snug fit. The commemorative graphic gives you a chance to show a little patriotism too, if you’re into that kind of thing.
KBC VR4R Carbon helmet
Retail: solid $379, graphic $429