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KLIM F4 Helmet

Tour of Idaho approved!

by Martin Hackworth

Photos: Martin Hackworth, KLIM, Heather Lewis


One hundred and ten in the desert. Heat? What heat? 
      KLIM recently provided us with a F4 helmet for use on the Tour of Idaho. Like almost everyone unfamiliar with the F4 who sees one in a photo or looks at one in a store without trying it on, we were initially skeptical. The vents on the F4 look huge (especially in photos) and appear to be very eager to snag low-hanging branches. But after wearing a F4 for most of the summer, including throughout the 1433 mile Tour of Idaho, I'm now convinced that the only reason it isn't one of the most popular off road helmets around is that it looks a little weird. To wear one is to want one. One MoJazz staffer binned a brand new Shoei VFX-W in favor of the F4 (and paid retail for it) as soon as he had a chance to try one out. The F4's only drawback is that it is incapable of jumping off the shelf onto your noggin. You need someone who has actually used one to convince you to make that happen for yourself. If KLIM figures out a solution to that particular issue the F4 helmet will become very popular.

    The ventilation afforded by the multiple vents and plenums in the F4 is amazing. KLIM's advertising cack claims no less than "41 air-craving intakes," but we only counted 28, including the big one you look out of. I'm sure that the folks at KLIM know how to count so we must have missed a few behind all of those screens and pads and nooks in the EPS liner. Either way the F4 flows rivers of cool air - even at a walking pace. When you sweat inside the F4 it flows so much air that the sweat quickly evaporates and your head cools like it's air-conditioned. It's really your best friend in hot weather.     
     There are a few drawbacks that come with massive ventilation. The F4's generous airflow is accompanied by some extra sound from the outside world. Yet it's far from the noisiest helmet we've used, and we consider the trade-off for ventilation to be worth it. For us this isn't much of an issue because we use noise-canceling earplugs (KLIM should just acknowledge the noise issue and throw in a pair). The three vents that span the the top and back of the helmet will snag low-hanging branches, not with enough force to injure your neck or knock you off your bike (the vents louvers will snap off well before that happens and are replaceable if you lose them), but the jolt will wake you up. Finally, the F4 flows a lot of air no matter the temperature. Though KLIM provides a snap in Windstopper® liner for cold weather use, we are going to reserve judgment on the effectiveness of this until we've had a chance to use it*.

     Ventilation aside, an equally impressive feature of the F4 is it's fit. The moisture-wicking, padded liner that KLIM uses inside the EPS foam has far less "squish" than with any other off road helmet we've used. The F4 is also well-shaped for my head (long and narrow). All you have to do is make sure that the F4 fits snugly (not tightly) out of the box and you are good to go. It's a very comfortable fit. Initially I was concerned that I'd need to get a size smaller helmet because it didn't feel tight enough, but KLIM provided us with extra sets of cheek pads that we used to dial up the advised fit and off we went.

     The vented visor has a good range of adjustability and is tough (the helmet comes with a spare). I had to put a patch of black tape on the bottom of mine, which is white, to prevent reflection from my side-mounted helmet light.The visor opening works with every set of goggles I've tried. The chin strap and other miscellaneous bits are well-sorted. The F4 also comes with a breath deflector, a really nice carrying bag, spare screws and miscellaneous parts.

     Fortunately, we have yet to experience a major dinger while wearing the F4, but industry sources we trust tell us that the F4 is among the most protective off road lids available. Constructed with fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar® and weighing 3 lbs 9 oz (in XL) it's in the middle of the range of weights for popular off road helmets. Like most KLIM products, the F4 extrudes thoughtful design and construction.
    So our verdict? After several months and thousands of miles of use my F4 has not budged a millimeter in use on my head since I first put it on. The fit hasn't changed and the liner still feels exactly the same as it did out of the box. It's held up to several low-speed get offs and one exciting cruise-missile like flight that ended with a header into a creek (it acts as if it might double as a personal flotation device in this circumstance). It's been dropped, muddied, soaked in sweat and immersed in water without any visible signs of stress or wear. I even slept in it one cold night, while bivied under my bike, and it made an acceptable pillow. During this year's Tour of Idaho I encountered triple digit temperatures for significant portions of the first two days and the F4 was huge in dealing with the heat. I currently wouldn't consider another helmet for three season use. If the liner works as well as KLIM claims, you can amend that to four seasons.

     Virtually everyone we've had the opportunity to show one of these to wants one. The F4 is flat out the most ventilated helmet out there and if that's important to you look no further. It's also reasonably light, very protective and KLIM spec, which is to say, designed and built by people who actually use it. KLIM needs to put the boots to its reps and get these on more heads. That's really about all that it takes to make the F4's case.  
     KLIM F4 
*    After using the F4 for nearly five months now, including some time in very cold weather, I am prepared to render a verdict on the Windstopper® liner - it works! The nicest feature of the liner is that it cuts down the airflow from the top vents (a lot, as it turns out), but the rest of the vents continue to flow enough air through the helmet to remove sweat. Sweat is really bad when you are trying to stay warm in cool weather and the F4 deals with it as well, if not better, than any other helmet I have owned. The F4 is a four-season helmet.
KLIM F4 KLIM F4 Helmet

MSRP: $399.99 (ours was provided free by KLIM for review)

The Good: Flows air like a supercharger - even while walking.
The Rad: Liner and cheek pads don't "squish" - assuring that the out of box fit is permanent.
The Gnarly: It can't put itself on your head.

Here is another F4 review from Jimmy Lewis, of Dirt Rider, who strikes us as one of the few people to pontificate about this helmet who actually used it. Our take on the F4 in the Tour of Idaho. The new ECE F4.

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