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  • December 16, 2015
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino and Dirck Edge
  • 39 Comments

MD Product Review: Simpson Ghost Bandit Helmet

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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.

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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.

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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.

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39 Comments

  1. Tony says:

    Bill Simpson was one of the premier safety innovators. In Nascar, his products were used by everyone. His company was sold some time ago. Bandit helmets were used in drag racing, sprint car racing, and nascar among many others. The products are top-notch.

  2. Max Frisson says:

    Currently the quietest helmet I’ve seen is the Schubert SR1 and I was lucky to get a display unit for almost half off. But I had a Simpson Bandit new in 2003 that I rode with for years and it was the most comfortable helmet I have ever owned so I will buy one of these in a month or two.

    • Scott says:

      Yeah… I think I’ll just deal with my chin strap. Thanks, but no.

    • beasty says:

      Medieval torture device. The first decapitation law suit will be interesting. But in one way, it’s good to see different helmet ideas. Those ideas usually work their way into useable stuff.

  3. Jamo says:

    Full face helmets invariably amplify the exhaust sound of Big Twin engines as the pulses echo around inside the helmet, even with unmodified exhausts. Full face helmets are not sonicly comfortable for cruiser riders, at least not for me, without ear plugs too. I’d like a different helmet solution all together.

    • red says:

      I just gave myself an eye-rolling injury. thanks a lot

    • nickst4 says:

      Very true about the amplification of sound in a full-face helmet, particularly the lower frequencies from a twin, though they probably reduce wind noise. Most external sound gets in around the neck/chin region, so the more you can do to seal that area the quieter the ride. This Simpson is obviously designed with that in mind.

    • Mr.Mike says:

      There’s an easy solution for that: Stop riding with open pipes. I’ve heard all the false arguments in favor but the truth is you cruiser guys who ride loud bikes and wear open face helmets do so because you are preening peacocks desperate for attention who bring shame upon all motorcyclists.

  4. JimR says:

    The Signet-Q is a long oval fit. How does the Simpson compare?

  5. WellRat says:

    How quiet is it? Quiet enough for no ear plugs?
    Sorry, a little off topic: Have you ever tested Quiet Ride Helmets?http://www.quietridehelmets.com
    They claim very quiet operation with built-in ear muffs that are sealed around your ears with an air bladder.

    • todd says:

      I don’t think those helmets would be legal to wear, at least in California.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Another helmet I have never heard of. Interesting idea, but I would want to know who actually makes the helmets. Seems like the patent holder could have done much better by trying to license the “ear muffs” rather than go into the helmet business.

      • MGNorge says:

        No specific manufacturer but:

        Question: Where is the helmet made?
        Answer: All Quiet Ride Helmets are made by a high quality helmet manufacturing company in China. I picked this factory to make Quiet Ride Helmets because of their reputation for making quality helmets and for their exceptional research and development personnel who are capable of designing and developing this new innovative ear noise reduction muff helmet technology within motocross and full face helmets. Also, this factory is very clean inside and outside and well organized.

  6. mkviz says:

    This is going to be a big hit for you SOA bad assess!!! I see fools in Norcal in there SOA starter kitted Street bobs wearing these helmets.

    • Scott says:

      For those of us who are “label illiterate”, what’s a SOA? Is that anything like a “hipster”? I always want to make sure I choose my motorcycles and gear wisely, lest some guy on the internet saddles me with an unflattering label…

  7. tyg says:

    Have to wonder what was left out that it’s 8oz lighter while including a sun visor – which has to add weight – so apples-to-apples that’s considerably lighter.

    Thinner shell? Thinner everything?

  8. Dale says:

    Hi Dirck, Is Simpson still manufacturing their helmets in the USA? Texas?

  9. Hot Dog says:

    I had a Simpson back in the mid 80’s and really liked it. It had the same Darth Vader nose but was completely round/smooth. Quite is a good feature and comfort is tantamount always wearing a bucket. I’ve got a flip shield/sun visor on my current lid and I love it. I wish they’d do a Hi-viz, so the nut jobs on 4 wheels could see you better. All in all, I think this is a fantastic helmet.

  10. beasty says:

    How well does the helmet move air? I have to wear a fullface even in Summer and I’m always searching for the perfect warm weather fullface helmet.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Updated the review with comments on venting.

      • Dave says:

        Dirck, I’m an “oval head” and have always been most comfortable in Shoei. Do you have any insight on this helmet’s ideal head-shape?

        • Brett says:

          Dave, I did a search “Simpson helmet long oval” and while most of the results dealt with auto racing, it seems that the opinion on the forums is that Simpson makes oval or long oval internal shape helmets. This actually means it is a helmet I would consider for myself.

  11. Jeremy in TX says:

    I’ve never even heard of Simpson helmets before. How well does it vent?

    • Blackcayman says:

      The Stig wears Simpson…..

      do you live in a cave???

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I guess I just live in the motorcycle consumer world (which is akin to a cave in many respects) where I can’t ever recall seeing a Simpson advertisement. Maybe they are in the last pages of the mags with all those Bohn Body Armor and aphrodisiac ads?

        If the Stig’s distant, two-wheeling Japanese cousin, YamaStiggy-san, had worn a Simpson, then I would probably recall the name.

        • Hot Dog says:

          Jeremy, they were really popular with the drag racing crowd in the 80’s and 90’s.

        • Blackcayman says:

          Nah…I was just giving you “the business” about not being a Top Gear fan

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I actually am a Top Gear fan, but I somehow still managed never to notice what brand of helmet the Stig wore. One of my favorite episodes was when they rode through Vietnam on two wheels.

          • Blackcayman says:

            YES!!!

            That was a winner!

        • Max Frisson says:

          Simpsons used to be made in New Braunfels, TX. They had an earlier version of this helmet, in the 1980’s, we called ot the “Darth Vader”. I’ve had two Simpsons and they are great.

    • The Spaceman says:

      Simson has been a big player in the automotive helmet sector for years. They aren’t that well known in the motorcycle market, especially compared to Arai, Shoei, and other brands.

      • MGNorge says:

        Haven’t they been more of a car/truck/dragster favorite? Seems like I’ve seen many at Funny Car and Dragster events.