Kabuto Faro Helmet
Japanese helmet manufacturer Kabuto are relative newcomers to Australia; if their Faro ‘trail’ helmet is anything to go by, it’s likely you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in future. Available in two sizes and a range of colours from utterly garish to Ninja stealth, the Kabuto Faro (isn’t he/she a ‘foreign film’ star?) sells for around $215 and our small/medium sample tipped the scales at 323g with the visor. From the outset it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into this little brain-saver, not all of which is immediately apparent.
In terms of overall construction, the Faro uses the now common in-mould construction technique, whereby the polycarbonate outer shell and the polystyrene liner are made as one piece. The finishing of the foam isn’t the best we’ve seen, but it’s far from the worst, and the shell completely covers the lower edges of the helmet so it’s quite resistant to general wear and tear. The visor is removable but not adjustable, although its fixed position never got in the way whilst riding. The overall look is relatively sleek for the size, and there’s ample airflow through the 23 vents and internal air channels to keep you cool on all but the hottest days.
In terms of rear coverage the Faro doesn’t extend quite as low down as the Lazer Oasiz we tested a few months back, but certainly offers more protection that a standard XC-style lid, especially at the rear corners. As a clever touch there’s a mounting rail built into the top of the helmet designed to run a CatEye brand light or camera; this is a great idea in principle, but we’d love to see an ‘industry standard’ mounting system (like the universal tripod mount in the camera world) to better integrate any helmet with any brand of light/camera. Anyone out there (GoPro/Contour/Lupine/Radical etc) listening?
There’s plenty of adjustment built into the Faro; the rear cradle can be adjusted up and down through four different positions to fit securely under the occipital lobe on a range of head sizes, and its volume can be adjusted with one hand by simply turning the dial at the back. There’s a definite sense of the helmet wrapping around your head rather than simply being perched on top—we like the feel of the retention system a lot. Three sets of inner pads are also provided to further customise the Faro to your tastes; there’s a thick and a thin set of ‘normal’ pads for maximum ventilation, plus another thin set with inbuilt bug netting for the helmet’s front vents (apparently bugs are automatically repelled by thickly padded helmets). Whichever set you choose, the brow pad extends from ear to ear so you don’t get sweat constantly dripping down your forehead and into your eyes like on some other helmets we’ve used. I know I don’t have the world’s largest cranium, but I’ve never considered myself Zippy the pinhead either. However, I had to run the adjustment at its smallest and highest setting to get a comfortable fit. Those with genuinely small heads will have to give the Faro a miss unless Kabuto decides to make three sizes (which we’d like to see) instead of the current two.
The inner pads and the chin strap have an odour-blocking treatment that’s claimed to last for three years. After three months of regular use and without a single wash, our helmet’s pads have no detectable scent, even when pressed against your nose and inhaling like an asthmatic on Ventolin. Although reasonably thick, the chin strap is soft and comfortable against your skin and the buckle is relatively unobtrusive. That said, the strap/cradle arrangement didn’t play quite as nicely with glasses as some of the other helmets we’ve tried, perhaps because the straps mount very close to the inner edge of the shell; we could still find a comfortable spot for our sunnies, but it just took a bit more fiddling.
All little details aside, the Faro is currently my go-to helmet for trail riding; within a minute of putting it on it’s all but forgotten, and I’ve never had to fiddle with it or make mid-ride adjustments of any sort. It’s almost as light as many straight XC helmets, but with better coverage. It’s got a more secure and more adjustable fit than any other trail helmet we’ve tested to date. It’s as maintenance free and stink free as any other helmet we’ve come across. If you use CatEye lights they’ll mount directly and securely to it, the styling isn’t horrible and it comes in black.
Although not every helmet fits every head, the Faro has a lot of good points going for it. It isn’t perfect, and reworking the strap attachment points as well as adding a genuine small size to the range would make it even more appealing, but so far the Kabuto Faro is the best of the bunch for the riding that 90% of us do 90% of the time.
Shimano Australia 1300 731 077 / www.ogkhelmet.com