We get to sample a lot of helmets here at MD, from budget models to top-of-the-line Arais. We have a pretty good frame of reference when it comes to judging helmets for comfort and design. The latest helmet we have been testing is the all-new Simpson Ghost Bandit. Similar style Bandit models have been selling well for Simpson, but Simpson wanted to “swing for the fences” by offering a premium Bandit model with a remarkable combination of features.
The Simpson Ghost Bandit includes all of the following:
- A very light composite shell (the helmet we have been testing weighs a full half-pound lighter than a similar size Arai Signet-Q)
- DOT/ECE certification
- Easy shield removal
- Removable, anti-bacterial liner
- Flip-down internal sun visor
- Integrated pockets for speakers and microphone
- Dual, adjustable chin vents together with top and rear ventilation
- Removable chin, air and noise dam
We have been testing the Ghost Bandit helmet on our Indian Scout Sixty test bike, which lacks any wind protection. The first thing we noticed about the Ghost Bandit was how quiet it is. We suspect this may have something to do with the chin vents being offset to the side, rather than being placed directly in front as on most competitors’ models. The chin bar itself is also very deep, and there is an integrated noise dam that certainly helps keep some sound from entering beneath the helmet.
The helmet liner is extremely comfortable. Our size large offered a very snug (necessary for impact safety), but plush feel. Very impressive considering the price point of our composite model ($449 MSRP). Overall, we have to rate the Ghost Bandit as one of the most comfortable helmets we have worn. Riding at speeds up to 80 mph on our naked test bike, we were also impressed with the aerodynamics of the Ghost Bandit — we experienced minimal buffeting. The helmet seemed to cut through the air quite well, even when turning our head to look in the rear view mirrors.
A few comments on venting. There are a few options with regard to how you run the helmet. It has been quite cold during our testing, so we have generally run the most closed option, i.e., the front vents closed and the air/noise dam in place below the chin. With this configuration, and cold weather, with the visor in the down position, the helmet tends to fog up at stops, but quickly clears once you are underway. We have also tested with the front vents open (there are a total of six), and air flow is quite noticeable, and any fogging is greatly reduced. The most open position would be front vents open and air/noise dam removed, which we briefly tested and found another fairly significant boost in air flow (coupled with increased noise). The top and rear vents are not adjustable, and we cannot comment on warm/hot weather riding at this point. One negative is the fact that the front vent open/close switches are difficult to reach (impossible with the air/noise dam in place) while the helmet is on. The switches are inside the chin bar.
The flip-down visor Simpson incorporated into the Ghost Bandit is not the first on the market, but its design is top notch. A lever on the left side of the helmet (see picture) allows the rider to easily flip the shield up or down. The last few millimeters of the down position require a pretty good push to engage. Dirck tested the Ghost Bandit with glasses on, and the shield offers easy clearance, yet drops low enough to offer a good block of bright sun. The visor itself offered a nice tint level, not too dark and not too light, with good clarity.
We have not had a chance to mount speakers and a microphone into the pockets Simpson incorporated into the liner of the Ghost Bandit, but we will do so and publish a follow-up article. We note, however, that this is a feature that many riders who now use speakers and microphones in their helmets will appreciate.
Shield removal is quick and easy … similar to a shield on a Shoei, for instance, which we feel sets the standard in the industry for easy shield removal and installation. Simpson says there will be different shield options available when the Ghost Bandit reaches retail outlets. We tested with a standard clear shield, which was all we needed together with the flip-down visor to ride comfortably both during bright sunlight and the evening hours.
There is a small notch for your thumb on the left side of the shield (you can see it the photo above) that allows the rider to flip the outer shield up. Like any new helmet, it takes some familiarity, and a few missed attempts, before you consistently find this notch when you want to raise the shield. The shield seems to form a pretty good seal when lowered.
We were a bit shocked by how light the Ghost Bandit is. We tested the heavier, composite model, but it was still a full half-pound (8 ounces) lighter than an Arai Signet-Q of the same size (size large) we had available for comparison. Simpson says the Ghost Bandit will also be available with a carbon fiber shell that will be 15-20% lighter, still. The carbon fiber Ghost Bandit will be $200 more expensive at an MSRP of $649.
The Simpson Ghost Bandit will be available at retailers soon in Black, Matte Black, White and bare Carbon Fiber. Sizes will range all the way from XS to XXL. We think the Simpson Ghost Bandit, particularly the composite model we tested at an MSRP of $449, offers very good value for a rider looking for a premium helmet with the unique Bandit styling.
See more of MD’s great photography: