Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Biltwell Gringo: Si, Señor!

After the recent revamp of their El Fuerte DOT-approved open-face lid, which has transmogrified into the Bonanza, the Biltwell crew have finally unleashed one of the most awaited products of 2013, the Gringo full-face helmet. Surfing on the neo-retro and custom trends, the Gringo is the latest old-style full-face crash helmet to arrive on the marketplace, joining the Ruby Castel, the GPA Pure and the soon-to-be-released DMD Rocket.

White is the new black - even if it's vintage...

The shape of the Gringo’s outer shell is quite similar to the Castel’s - minus the central ridge - in that it is pretty much generic late-Eighties/early-Nineties and that it doesn’t have a visor. However, its styling is more reminiscent of Mad Max than the Champs-Elysées; it goes great with a beat-up denim or leather cut (indeed, Biltwell also make a very smart denim cut, by the way), road-dirty jeans and scuffed-to-Hell-and-back boots on a righteous old-skool chopper or 70s/80s Japanese bike, whereas the funky French headgear is at its best with designer rags on a haute-couture bistro-racer. It’s also easier on the wallet than the sumptuous French item and possibly you won’t mind when it picks up a scuff mark or two, like all helmets eventually do however careful you are: with a few “battle scars” the Gringo will look even more hardcore. [...]

Fashion considerations aside, let’s have a closer look at the Biltwell Gringo. The outer shell is made of injection-moulded ABS without any ventilation ports and the inner padding is in EPS covered in open-cell foam and a hand-stitched brushed Lycra liner (this liner is not removable). The lid is secured by a “double-D” chin strap. It is interesting to note that there are two shell and inner padding sizes: the smaller covers XS-M sizes and the larger covers L-XXL, which means that small-headed riders won’t look like bobble-head dolls. As I mentioned earlier, the Gringo doesn’t have a built-in visor and is designed to be worn either with a pair of shades, goggles (Biltwell’s ruggedly handsome, no-nonsense Moto Goggles fit the bill perfectly) or a Bubble visor; Biltwell are currently putting the finishing touches to a five-stud visor as I write this piece.

The future's bright...

The Gringo is available in two flat colours (Black and Titanium) and three gloss colours (Black, Hazard Orange and Vintage White) - the hot favourites here at The Thruxtonian are Vintage White and Hazard Orange. The helmet is DOT-approved; this could be a dealbreaker for many European riders who might be reluctant to take the risk of falling foul of the law in the case of a helmet check (and of their insurance companies in the case of a shunt). That said, technically the DOT standard is every bit as good as the ECE-R22.05 and newfangled SNELL standards, and the Biltwell Gringo will protect your noggin just as well as any other “non-novelty” crash hat. The Gringo is now available from Biltwell’s own webstore for $149.95 (115.49 € for us Europeans), as well as from approved Biltwell stockists.

The Thruxtonian hopes to be able to get its hands on a Gringo shortly so as to give it a thorough road test.

All photos © Biltwell Inc. 2013

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