by Dave Spinnenweber
CC Beanie Helmet
As a new rider, wearing a helmet just seemed to make sense. But also as a new rider I didn’t know what I needed or wanted. A plastic bucket with some foam was good enough, I thought. Not always one to think things through and often flying by the seat of my pants (I went from thinking about buying a bike, to driving 1500 miles to get a bike in a matter of days) I ordered a helmet the day I left to go pick up the bike. It arrived the day I pulled into my driveway with the bike on a trailer and I soon learned a lesson: buying a helmet was more intimate than just clicking “Buy Now”. It got me on the road, but it didn’t fit well, was uncomfortable, and made me look like I should be driving a go-cart in the late 90’s on a 27” television. When the opportunity came up to review some quality riding gear, including new helmets, I jumped on the chance.
Enter Z1R. I was approached by ITN to try out some riding gear from Z1R then write about it after putting some miles and bugs on it. For helmets I started with the CC Beanie. This half-shell helmet was definitely my style and it has become my go to helmet. It’s the one I wear 90% of the time. It’s comfortable, light weight, and serves the purpose in a sleek, no frills manor.
I commute to work on my bike every possible day, often 5 days a week. I don’t shy away if the weatherman mentions a chance of showers in the afternoon, nor do I opt for the truck if the roads are still wet in the morning from overnight rain. I’m not a weekends-only rider. At 6:00 am, I put the Beanie on, fire up the bike and, as quietly as possible, make my way through the neighborhood. As the miles have gone by and the bug population has dwindled ever so slightly, I’ve really became accustomed to the CC Beanie.
Stop light to stop light, following traffic or sitting in it, the CC Beanie has never become a pain in the neck. The lightweight shell and thoughtfully placed padding keep the weight down. The inner liner has a great feel to it, never enticing me to cram a gloved finger in the side to get an itch. With no pressure points to annoy me while I ride it leaves me unhindered to focus on the ride instead of avoiding the cars that are seemingly out to punish me for past transgressions.
As with all half helmets, there is significant wind noise at road speed. I combat this with noise canceling ear buds pumping music from my phone mounted on the bars. The straps on the Beanie don’t interfere at all, in fact they seem to have a “safety net” quality to them. I have had the ear buds slide out of position on longer, hotter rides but never managed to lose one as the helmet strap kept it within the confines of my ear. The Beanie utilizes the standard double D ring securement that is well known, stupid easy, and foolproof. The strap under the chin is a soft material that doesn’t grab the beard and make a leisurely ride feel like an accidental waxing session. Even when pulled tighter than normal for short interstate runs, it’s not at all uncomfortable. The sandblasting from trucks, and bugs trying to graffiti my face are issues, but they’re no fault of the CC Beanie. Its DOT rating keeps the law at bay, too. More importantly it will keep your squishy bits from rattling too hard should the inevitable happen.
Z1R’s CC Beanie is a no nonsense, comfortable, helmet that is unapologetic about what it is, and what it does. Being unobtrusive is exactly what a helmet like this is supposed to be, and its simplicity, comfort and functionality have made it part of my daily routine – much like the steel- toe work boots and sunglasses I wear to work every day. I simply love this helmet for what it is, and what it doesn’t claim to be.
The benefits of wearing a full-face helmet on a naked cruiser became painfully obvious within my first mile on the interstate wearing the CC Beanie. It wasn’t long before my expectations came to fruition.
My other half mentioned we should go see a co-worker’s band play after she got off work so I met her there. She hopped on her Street Glide and I followed her on my Softail for the 20-minute jaunt. As we blasted up the interstate on-ramp, I realized my mistake in helmet selection just about the time the first bug’s ass caught up to my chin. Making our way past the first tractor trailer, I looked over at my girlfriend on her fully faired bike. Hair gently flowing, cruise control set, one hand on the bars, singing along to whatever music she had playing in her bubble of comfort created by a touring bike at highway speed. THUNK! Another, larger bug smeared across my tinted glasses. Concentrating on the lines while squinting through the sand being kicked up by the next truck, a bug or a stone (or a bug holding a stone) made contact with my face just as I remembered the full-face Z1R Warrant helmet, hanging securely in my garage. With summer heat creeping over 90 most of July and free time spent at the pool or on the boat, I stuck to the half helmet while commuting to work. Then a recent cold spell convinced me to dust off the full-face Warrant. That first morning slipping near the 50’s on my way to work I immediately fell in love with the helmet. I had my own little bubble to enjoy the tunes playing in my ears. My 6:00 am ride was comfortable, quiet, and ever more enjoyable. Not once did I feel the helmet intruded on my field of vision or restricted my riding style. While it does weigh a bit more than the half helmet I normally wore, it didn’t at all have that sailboat effect while at road speed. That first day I got caught in a thunderstorm after work and was actually laughing inside my helmet at the pitter patter of rain drops bouncing off the helmet’s exterior, trying to get me like so many times before.
The Warrant helmet has a rubber lip seal to mate the visor to the shell, making it impervious to the rain in all but the most torrential downpours and road speeds. With the chin vent and top vent open, I didn’t experience any fogging while moving along. Stopped at a red light, I did find it necessary to pop the visor up to the first detent to keep air moving. However it seems they saw this coming as the first detent is the perfect amount to keep the air moving, and prevent fogging. The visor is wide, offering a full view with nearly no limitation in my peripheral vision. The visor can be opened one handed, and the positive detents allow you to partially open it while going along at low speed to keep fresh air coming in, especially useful when the afternoon temps creep to the upper 80’s.
In addition to the exterior visor, the Warrant has an integrated, drop-down sun visor inside the helmet. It operates smoothly with an actuator on the rider’s left side, near the jawbone. It provides good protection from the sun and offers the freedom to keep the tinted glasses in my pocket. This is a great feature when coupled with the clear exterior visor when riding in the late afternoon and not getting off the bike till after dark. The only thing that bugged me was at times: the interior visor would creep down into my field of view on rougher roads or when hitting potholes, etc. This was nothing more than a minor annoyance, as it’s not a hassle at all to retract it, and it was only during rough rides. However, if the sleek, all-black look is what you want, Z1R offers multiple exterior visors for the Warrant. I currently have the smoke one mounted and will probably switch back to the clear as the sunrise gets later and the darkness holds on while commuting to work. Swapping the exterior visor requires no tools, and only takes a minute once you figure it out. It is held on securely and positively with the spring action of the latch and the tabbed catch, all integrated into the visor mechanism.
Even when the afternoon sun heats up the day to typical summer heat, the lining of the Warrant stayed soft, comfortable and odor free. The lining doesn’t have that Velcro like feel on 3 day stubble, nor does it pinch and grab the beard while riding. The strap is soft with the ever present idiot proof double D ring closure. The protective padding seems to fit my head perfectly without pressure points or annoyances. I usually wear noise cancelling earbuds and I found the shape of the padding to easily accommodate the buds without trying to jam them into my brain. If the lining in the helmet ever does get that “helmet funk” scent to it, it can be removed and washed without hassle. All that padding and protection has earned the Warrant DOT and ECE 22.05 ratings.
While riding, the wind noise is all but gone, but road and traffic noise is not so deadened that you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Even talking with the helmet on is not difficult. The vents on the chin and crown seem to move plenty of air through the helmet while moving to stay comfortable for most situations.
Overall, Z1R built a winner with the Warrant. It’s a functional, stylish helmet that works well for both short trips on surface roads or highway cruising, offering comfort and protection from the elements. Ideally suited for a daily helmet, the bang for the buck on this one is tough to beat. Now my girlfriend won’t be the only one comfortably cruising down the interstate singing along in a bubble of comfort.