TESTED: SCORPION EXO XT9000 HELMET
BY CHAD DE ALVA
Making a good adventure bike helmet is a tall order. The process is essentially fusing an on-road and an off-road helmet into one, and just as with the process of making an adventure bike, making an adventure helmet can’t be done without some compromises. Scorpion EXO’s latest adventure helmet, the XT9000 is an impressive helmet to behold – and it has a solid feature set that makes it a worthwhile contender for riders who like to enjoy riding on-road just as much as they like to play in the dirt.
Pulling the XT9000 out of the box for the first time is impressive. The helmet has outstanding fit and finish, and just exudes quality. Scorpion makes their helmets from raw materials in-house – they’re not white-labeling helmets from another manufacture and it shows. While other helmets feel like they’re slapped together with loose tolerances, the XT9000 is an example of exacting tolerances. On the back of the helmet, you’ll find a sticker indicating that the helmet has the latest DOT and ECE homolgations.
Moving up to the peak of the helmet, you’ll find a quarter-turn fastener in the center and a screw-type fastener on each side holding the peak in place. Undoing the quarter-turn fastener is step one to removing the shield which snaps off with a firm tug. With a little practice, this can be completed in no time at all, and I appreciate the tool-free process. A couple of detents on either side of the helmet hold the shield in place between the up and down end points. In the box you’ll also find a tinted lens and a pinlock insert, which makes for a fog-free shield much like good snow goggles that are fog-free thanks to their double-lens design.
Fit is the subjective part of any helmet, as human heads come in all shapes and sizes. What fits me well may not fit you well and vice versa. I’m normally a size large, and the large XT9000 fits the crown of my head well. Cheek and side fitment of the XT9000 is adjustable, thanks to the Airfit system in which a little pump on the chin bar can be used to inflate a small bladder on each side of the helmet to adjust the cheek pad to face engagement. In playing with the Airfit system I was able to improve the XT9000’s embrace of my head, so I like the idea. Our other test rider, however, found no improvement in fit in playing with the system, so it’s a case of “your mileage may vary”.
Speaking of cheek pads, the other notable feature here is the emergency release system. By pulling the red loops on the bottom of the cheek pads, you can easily remove the pads from the helmet while it’s being worn, which makes the process of removing the helmet from a rider with a suspected cervical spine injury much easier. Both the cheek pads and crown liner are easily removable for washing too.
On road, the XT9000 works well for a peaked helmet. Aerodynamic and ventilation performance are on par with other top shelf helmets in which I’ve logged hundreds of hours. Again, this assessment is subjective – your bike, windscreen, speed, height, body position, and weather conditions are all going to factor into whether a helmet has good aero or ventilation when you’re cranking on the slab. The XT9000 is a helmet that I wouldn’t hesitate to take touring, and since removing the peak is so easy (and has no impact on the shield) going full road-mode is a viable option for long, windy, days crushing freeway miles.
In the dirt, the XT9000’s shield seals well, and the helmet is goggles-compatible with both the shield up or removed. Ventilation is again on par with other top shelf adventure helmets, even with the fancy chin vent removed for maximum airflow. A long day riding in constant dust did seem to have an impact on the shield’s detent mechanism, but the mechanism can be disassembled and cleaned as needed.
My only complaint with the XT9000 is that the hard angles on the bottom of the shield impact your field of vision. With the shield up, the helmet has a great field of view, and works well with both Scott and Klim goggles. But once the shield is down, those edges in the shield take away a significant part of your visual field.
The other feature the XT9000 comes with that has no value to me is the action camera mount. This mount is installed over the chin vent with a screw, and it provides a place to stick a GoPro mount. Doing this will cover the screw, so you’ll have to pry off the GoPro sticky mount if you want to completely remove it. Using a Dango Designs action camera mount is a much easier alternative.
All said and done, the XT9000 is a well-made helmet that provides good performance both on road and off. The peak is easy to remove, as is the shield, which means configuring the helmet as needed or just taking the shield off for cleaning is a frustration-free process. The Airfit system will be a welcome feature for some riders, and the easy to remove pads are just one more feature that will make living with this helmet that much more enjoyable. If you’re in the market for a well made helmet that comes with everything you need, thanks to the pinlock and tinted visor, the Scorpion XT9000 is definitely worth trying. For more information, visit: www.scorpionusa.com.