This is Kind of Obsessed, a column about all the stuff we're really, really into right now.
We all love to see a product improve over time — especially when that product can help save your life. Motorcycle helmets used to be stuffy, uncomfortable things — and on top of that, they weren't nearly as protective as they are now. Add in features like sun visors, cameras and communications gear, and it’s easy to see how much better the helmets of today are.
Yet somewhere along the way, helmets lost a certain coolness. And while looking cool certainly isn’t the most important feature on a product that could separate your head from the asphalt, it’s a nice feature to have. Which is what makes the Biltwell Gringo so special.
The Gringo’s full-face design hearkens back to the '60s and '70s; the glory days of riding legends like Steve McQueen and Evel Knievel. Unlike helmets of old, however, the Gringo meets all modern DOT and ECE R22.05 safety standards, thanks to an exterior made from an injection-molded ABS shell, and an interior containing a three-piece expanded polystyrene safety liner.
While I’ve (luckily) never needed to put the Gringo’s safety features to the test, the helmet is great in all other areas. It’s comfortable for long periods of time; the snaps around the eye port allow you to add a visor or bubble shield; and the Gringo offers several different colors and graphic packages, making an already cool helmet even cooler.
But perhaps the best part is that the Gringo starts at just $175 — which is ridiculously low by modern high-quality motorcyle helmet standards these days. Even if you don’t ride, a price that low almost warrants buying one just to sit on a shelf and look cool.
Of course, it's not perfect in every way. The Gringo isn’t a helmet with the most high-performing stats out there, and if you’re embarking on a cross-country ride, you may want to consider a helmet with additional features. But if you’re looking to cruise around and channel a little bit of Steve McQueen energy, there simply isn’t a better helmet out there in my book.