Up in the mountains, goggles and helmets go together like hot tubs and cold beer, so it’s little wonder a manufacturer finally came around and combined the two. Italian helmet maker OSBE brings to the ski game a retractable visor built into a high-tech carbon fiber helmet in the Majic Ski Carbon ($549), which boasts the good looks of Speed Racer’s dome protector and is equipped with as much tech as you can currently wrap around your head. But, the real test is its performance on the slopes, and the question that rises is: does it trump the ol’ goggle-plus-helmet combo punch? Turns out, the answer is yes and no.
Having an elastic band pulling the goggles toward your face, holding them in place and creating a secure seal trumps the novelty of the retractable visor.
The OSBE covers all major helmeting bases (at half a grand, you pray it would). The visor is equipped with an anti-fog and anti-scratch coating, and fog it did not. OSBE’s Direct Air Flux (DAF) Ventilation system uses two side vents and six crown vents that allow cold air to enter the helmet and hot air to escape out. It also works some swirling magic to mix the two, keeping head temps more consistent and comfortable. In the warm NorCal mountains, it did good work to keep me cool, even as the sweat started to drip. And, as an added perk, the inner liner is removable and washable, so things won’t start to stink. The chin strap is comfy and the Micrometric Buckle joins and separates easily, even with gloved hands. The helmet is audio compatible and also meets EN 1077 safety certifications as a high-impact-resistant shell. It’s light, it breathes well, and the glass is clear. So all bases are checked. But the burning question remains: How does the visor work?
New and Improved
OSBE’s Bellagio ($349) adopts the traditional feel of the goggle, while still offering integrated helmet/goggle perks. The improved visor provides that comforting strap pull, bringing the glass back and toward the wearer’s face. There’s all the solid construction of all the OSBE line—DAF ventilation, removable lining, impact-resistant shell—but the helmet also provides the tight fit of traditional goggles. And, more improvements are in store for next year’s iteration, including a photochromatic visor lens.
In short, it takes adjusting to, and in volleying between the Majic and a normal goggle/helmet set up, my loyalties remained with the traditional goggles. It comes down to trust and pressure, and having an elastic band pulling the goggles toward your face, holding them in place and creating a secure seal trumps the novelty of the retractable visor. On the Majic, the lens moves up and down easily, and I enjoyed the convenience of this feature by more frequently adjusting the visor. It was great. But, my hesitations came when the visor was down. At low speeds, I felt small streams of air passing under the visor, even after extensive messing with the positioning of the helmet on my head and the visor over my face. At higher speeds, the air gaps that I anticipated went away, most likely because of the increased pressure the oncoming air provided against the glass, effectively pressing the visor onto my face more securely. But, as something designed to move up and down freely will do, the visor inevitably rose slightly and I had to pull it back down. The foam at the base of the visor is also thinner than a standard goggle (like the Oakley A-Frame I wear), and should be bolstered to add a more secure seal on the cheeks and the bridge of the nose.
Perhaps the futzing and the mistrust of the seal would go away as I became more comfortable with the Majic. But, even then, I still believe the comfort and security of traditional strap goggles would trump the retractable visor. I’m likely to not find out, since instead of investing half a grand into a nice idea that’s an iteration or two off from perfect, I’d rather take a trusty helmet and my own goggles and ride with the peace of mind that the setup won’t shift on me.
That said, I will miss the ease of the rise and fall of the retractable visor, and the quality of the OSBE helmet, outside of the visor’s performance, is unquestionably top-notch. The Majic helmet is almost at the point of being a game-changing helmet, and here’s to hoping that by the time first snow falls next season, OSBE will be up to snuff.