By David Alden
I’m always a bit apprehensive when it comes to testing safety gear. I mean, to test shoes you ride and walk around a lot, to test shifters and derailleurs you ride and shift a lot and so on. So am I supposed to crash to write a full and complete review on this stuff?
When the box full of 661 safety gear arrived, that’s all I could ponder. But, when I laid all of the gear out, I figured that if I did go down, I was going to be pretty well covered. From the top, the gear includes the Full Bravo full-face helmet, the Straight Jacket chest protector, MTB knee&shin pads and DJ elbow pads. Pretty good coverage indeed. Over the course of testing this gear, I did three styles of riding. The first was downhill oriented freeride mountain bike rides, the second was a couple of days on my BMX bike at the local dirt jumps and the third was a few sessions at the new skate park that just opened in my hometown, also on my BMX bike.
Before I break it all down for you, I want to let you know that I’ve been riding BMX bikes for over 20 years, some of that professional freestyle. Add to that my time riding slalom and a little bit of DH, and that’s a lot of time spent encased in safety gear. With that in mind, here are my impressions on the 661 gear.
Okay, it looks sharp, and I like that. I’m sorry, but I have to like the way something looks if I’m going to wear it. The “hand layered, fiberglass outer shell” comes in a red/gray finish and black/gray. I tested the red, and I love red.
The first time I put the Full Bravo on I discovered the only thing that I didn’t like about it—the buckle. I’ve gotten used to the plastic buckles and had forgotten all about the strap and “D” ring style buckles. It does have a little quick release tab that makes it easier to take off, but I prefer the plastic style. Once I got past that though, I had no complaints, quite the opposite in fact. The fit was great. I didn’t feel like my melon was being squashed and it didn’t move around much. Visibility was good too, thanks in part to a visor with adjustable height. And it really didn’t feel much heavier than many open-face helmets that I’ve worn in the past.
It did get hot, but it’s a full-face helmet, what do you expect? No one wears a full-face helmet for extended periods of time without taking it off anyway, right? Even hot and sweaty, I didn’t mind wearing it. The Full Bravo does have FHVS, or the Full Helmet Venting System, which provides side, top and back vent, and I’m sure that they did help. I didn’t crash bad enough to warrant any cranial impacts, so a review based on fit and style will have to suffice. This helmet is for the rider that’s looking for total protection, above and beyond regular open face helmets, and it is well worth the MSRP of $119.95. And it has a lifetime crash replacement offer, to the original owner, that will provide a new helmet for $40.
Contact: 661 (a division of the Valencia Sports Group—the same folks that bring you AXO gear), 28307 Industry Drive, Valencia, California, 91355; 661.257.2756; www.vsportgroup.com