Tag Archives: Airoh TR1 review

Bell Mag 9 helmet review

See also the similar Airoh TR1 and the better XLite X420 GT reviews

Updated March 2017

bellIN A LINE
Good looking, comfortable and cheap full-visor open face, but as usual, visor actuations can get problematic.

DESCRIPTION
Light, vented, full visor open face helmet with integrated sun visor and a short beak.

WHERE TESTED
Riding around SW USA on backroads and dirt roads. And a few trips in Morocco.

COST
Discounted to something like $75 delivered from motorcycle superstore. Original rrp was $169. Discontinued model; superseded by Mag Sena 9 at around $180.

PRO

  • Very comfortable for the price
  • Quiet compared to others
  • Looks cool; no naff graphics
  • Integrated sun visor is exceedingly useful
  • Inexpensive
  • Velvety padding has pop fasterners like an Arai, not cheap velcro

CON

  • Lifting main visor gets notchy
  • Sun shade visor lever sticks sometimes (probably dust)
  • Peak wants to be lower/longer to be an effect low-sun shade

REVIEW
I’ve always had a soft spot for Bell helmets from the era of Kenny Roberts flat tracking and my own Moto III (right). I’m sure glad I never had to crash in that old head brick, though!

Needing to save weight on the way to the US, I saw the new Mag Sena announced and liked the look of it, with its jaunty centurion-like anterior lip. It took me a while to work out there was a non-Sena (intercom system) available and that it had been around for years: the Mag 9.

bell-5Not only did the looks appeal, but it turns out to be one of the best lids I’ve had in years. At first I thought I’d bought a size too small; in the US what is labelled Large is usually a Medium in Europe – not unlike everything else over here in fact – from food to vehicles. So it was with the Bell; my much repeated head measurements lined up and the Mag 9 in medium was snug out of the box but now fits just right.

It may not look very ‘ay dee vee’ like the ubiquitous Arai XDs which come free with a GS12, but give me a lid without the in-your-face chin guard any day. For moto travelling in AM amzonemapZone (right) the advantages of an open face are well known. You can show your face to the peasants and the cops and generally get a better response as a recognisable human being, compared to the full-face spaceman image. And like I’ve said, for me the less I feel I’m wearing a lid the better. You can pay for the gas while wearing this – being Arai-d up might set off the alarms. Then you can add the fact that you can feed yourself on the move and scratch an itch. Outside of winter, for world travels, this is the helmet style for me.

The ‘ear pouches’ envelope the ears. I don’t wear them, but no need for ears plugs here; this is one of the quietest helmets I’ve had (though used mostly with a short screen and at low speeds). As for the vents, I’ve long believed these make little difference on the road and I’ve no reason to change that view with the 9.

bell-2The sun visor is such a handy feature as long as it’s kept clean. Shaded main visors are not so convenient for reading glaring satnavs or of course night riding; flip down the sun visor and you’re in business. I also like the dirt-bikeresque beak element on the Mag 9 for arai_ctz riding into low sun angles where no shady visor can help, but it’s not low enough to do that well. It’s something I see that Arai have on their  CTZ (right), but, snakes alive, is that an ugly contraption for no less than $500.

The linings on the Mag are plush and cushy and pop out easily for a wash and the visors are easy to clean with the windscreen wipe stick you get by the pumps.

bell-6But, as with the Airoh and the expensive XLite, the sun visor actuation gets stiff; it usually seems to be a problem with leverage, although with the Bell it’s become more likely dust from the trail has jammed the lever and release mechanisms a bit. I’ve tried rinsing and may go for a full-on hose down to clean it out. The sun visor retracts with a nudge if necessary but lifting the main visor has become really notchy – don’t know what the problem is there. The racket it makes and effort needed doesn’t make it an enjoyable and slick manoeuvre.

kisomaroc

I also recall I read reports that the Mag 9 suffered from the main visor not lifting high enough. I suppose that is true though you can tip the whole lid backwards to get it out of your eye line. Being out on the country, not riding in town, I usually have the visor down. I think it’s safe to retire my Airoh TR1 now; comparatively, it feels like wearing a milk crate.

belAfter wearing it for a month on Morocco and four years use, in 2017 I left my Mag 9 in a dumpster in an industrial estate Malaga. The visor was getting on a bit, the D-ring buckle seemed to loosen up easily, and the peak assembly was duct taped on after a few rough transits and very strong headwinds out of Tangier. It was starting to feel a bit cheap but I like the look and features and can safely say I got my $75-worth out of that lid.

bell-7

Airoh TR1 (J106) modular helmet review

AIROH TR1 MODULAR HELMET

See also my similar but better XLite X420 GT and also Bell Mag 9 reviews

IN A LINE
Original modular design but a bit plasticy and; since copied by several quality helmet manufacturers (see below).

Since, gave it away to a charity shop.

DESCRIPTION
Light, vented helmet with integrated sun visor. Converts to open face by removing the chin bar.

WHERE TESTED
Off-road riding in Algeria and Morocco in 2008.

COST
Was something like £100 on ebay – ordered from Germany. A replacement visor is £20. I see now they’re as little as £60 on ebay in the UK in odd sizes.

tik

  • Looks cool; no naff graphics
  • Light
  • Removable chin guard: versatile
  • Integrated sun visor
  • Ratchet chin strap
  • Inexpensive

cros

  • A bit plasticy and flimsy, especially the chin bar fitting.
  • Not exactly a velvety interior. My more recent lids by X-Lite and Bell are much comfier
  • The thin foam seal on the top of the chin bar sealing the visor soon came away.
  • Noisy.

REVIEW
I liked the TR1 and its clever features as soon as I saw it. It reminded me of an old Royal Navy helicopter pilot’s helmet (left) I used to wear in the early 1980s while despatching in London.
And let’s not forget the Yamaha TR1 V-twin – always liked the idea of them too, and as you’ll see from the link some people have done great things with that motor.
I especially like the Airoh’s good visibility – even with the chin on you can see down to your hands – and the removable chin bar idea which I didn’t think anyone else did at the time (see below).
I don’t really go for those flip-up lids which look as elegant as a ferry bow door, heavy and I’m sure can’t be sustained flipped up while riding due to wind drag. On a long, cold, wet run you want the face protection, but bumbling around off road in Morocco it was nice not to have anything in your face or hanging over your eyebrows. Handily, the bar comes off in a few seconds and is a more or less a right angle shape so tucks out of the way in the corner of a pannier. The sun visor is not bad at all, and saves you having to fiddle with shades as the sun sets – or wearing shades at all. I like the muted design too.
The vents, I never can tell if they’re working or just adding noise. I generally ride no more than 70mph on the XT with a tall screen which actually made wind noise worse until I fitted an extension. I don’t wear ear plugs but may give them a go one time. The chin bar sits pretty close to the mouth and feels like it wouldn’t give much protection in an impact. And if you grab the chin bar to remove the lid it creaks and may even come off.
There are lots of innovative ideas on the TR1. What would be nice is to see a quality helmet manufacturer like Arai or Shoei copy and improve on it and adding a bit more plush padding. A solid chin bar mounting would be worth a little extra weight.

UPDATE March 2012
Just took a two-day late-winter ride and my impressions are pretty much the same as a few years ago: great viz, nice and light, great visor features but jeez, this thing is noisy! As a round town lid it’s just the job but may have to tape up some vents and try ear plugs or get something else for long rides. Airoh still make it as a J106.
Just had a quick look, plenty of cumbersome flip-lids but can’t see any removable chin-bar, twin visor alternatives by other manufacturers.
A few days later I looked again and saw that Nolan make an Nolan N43 Air with just about all the same features as the Airoh but hopefully better quality. The 2011 model is pictured left in all it’s modular glory. The 2012 model is going for around £200 and has a bit more of an ‘air dam’ on the chin guard and a different visor rachet. And then I see there’s also the X-Lite 402-GT – same thing but reassuringly more pricey at around £320 and a Caberg Hyper-X  too. I’ve also just learned that X-Lite is to Nolan what Lexus is to Toyota – the upmarket arm of the same company. The Arai-esque X-Lite logo must be trying to say something.
Looking a bit more closely at pictures of these two lids (left), the X-Lite GT does seem to have a smoother exterior with less conspicuous venting and hardware which one would hope may make it quieter. And you’d also hope your paying for a better made, more comfortable helmet in composite. Here’s a cool promo vid of the GT and in fact. I bought the X-Lite for Morocco in March and have been using it since: review here.

Great visibility – the less I feel like I’m wearing a helmet the better.
Chin bar close to the mouth and a bit flimsy.
Chin off and it’s a nifty open face with a drop down visor.
Deploy all visors! I generally don’t like sunglass/shades, but the sun visor has it’s uses.
On the road with the sun shade fully down; it doesn’t come right down like a visor.
Side view. It’s a crash helmet.
That’s the Oued Ziz running past Erg Chebbi. You don’t see that every day. Oh, and a TR1.
The chin bar packs away quite neatly.