Roux is a relatively new brand to us here at DiscoveryParts but in the short time we've been acquainted, we have grown to love them. With the company's style and safety state of mind, their helmets are quickly climbing to the top and competing with best selling brands like Stilo, Arai and Bell. In this review, we are going to delve into what makes Roux a great company and how their entry level helmet contrasts with the entry level helmet of a much more experienced brand, Bell.
(Photo: @littleleglonklover ; Owner: @boosted_datsun )
When we introduced the R1 Composite helmet in a previous article in our DP Product Duels series entitled “ROUX Helmets – The Complete R1 Composite Review”, we went into detail about how much of a bargain the Roux R1 Composite package is compared to other brands’ helmets in the same price range. This goody-bag style packaging is unique to the Roux brand, setting them apart from the rest. In this product review, we are going to forget about all the extras and zoom in on the entry level base model Roux helmet, the R1-F, stripped down to the essentials, and why it’s a perfect representation of the heart of the Roux brand. Then we shall compare it to another base model helmet in its price range, the Bell Sport, and see what both bare-boned helmets have to offer.
Aesthetics are really important in the motorsports industry. If you’re planning on buying a new GT3RS, you expect upon arrival it be in mint condition and in your preferred color with no scratches or scuffs. You look forward to undressing its shifter and wheels from the plastic wrap protectors. Because if you’re going to pay money for it, you want it to feel good behind the wheel AND look perfect. Many drivers try to deny it, but most want their big gear investments to go beyond function. Roux was created by young, experienced racers who know how other drivers think. They have cracked the code to creating a completely customizable brand, from the inside of your helmet that only you see and feel to the exterior that will be seen through the window of your racecar, bobbling along as you wisp by all your other fellow racecar drivers on track. Everything Roux makes is functional, dependable, reliable. But on top of that, their products look cool.
(Airbrushed Roux Helmet Pictured above)
This past weekend, the store was bustling a little more than expected for an SCCA event and I got to help out on the showroom floor. We had a kid come in to look around and he shyly admitted that it was his first time at a racetrack. All of the safety products were foreign to him and the gears in his head were spinning as Jesse explained different safety products and why they’re necessary on track. The first thing the kid physically puts his hands on is a Roux from the showroom helmet wall. If you’ve seen our helmet display, you know how big it is, sometimes, overwhelming. Yet, the Roux was the first one he noticed. Roux wants their gear to be attractive because attractive sells. All their helmets are SNELL 2015 rated and have the same safety features and options. So, while the fashion element sells the helmet, all their customers get the protection they need to enjoy the track with peace of mind. Even if they initially bought the helmet because it looks the coolest.
(DiscoveryParts showroom helmet wall. Roux is visibly the most noticeable helmet because of the shine and the bright red accents.)
As a student who studied marketing and design throughout college, you would think that I would realize just how necessary remarkable product packaging is but it really wasn’t until I was reviewing Roux products that I realized how much a single cardboard box design could make me want this helmet. And beyond that, other gear items and apparel like graphic t-shits and hats that sport this new, brightly colored brand.
(Roux R1-F base model packaging)
Part of the pricing of the R1 Composite was the unique storage box that the helmet and accessories came in (click here to read the R1 Composite review). With this entry level R1-F, Roux doesn’t jip you on the box either.
You get a hearty, re-sealable cardboard box that has the same graphics and dimensions that the Composite comes in. And in addition to how pretty it is, surprisingly, this box feels really good to open and close. It remains durable and can be used over and over again.
But you don’t steal a watermelon out of a watermelon patch for the rind… let’s dig into the good stuff inside!
Upon opening, you get a peek of a delightfully round, radiant red orb. Flip it over to find the drawstring underside and entry-way to your brand-spanking-new helmet. The helmet bag is a thick yet mesh material and the drawstring is about double the diameter of your average shoestring, foreshadowing its long-lasting life.
Roux, as it should be, is proud of its animated logo. It’s simple, recognizable, and pops. It does an excellent job of representing who they are. Therefore, it’s screened onto everything they produce.
Once the helmet bag is off, you get a glimpse of the pearly white fiberglass shell and bright red details of your helmet. But wait! There is always more with Roux. Take another peek into the box to find your gigantic sheet of decals for customizing your helmet. This little addition made me smile. So far, Roux is a personable brand. They don’t believe that you should sacrifice your personal style for comfort or protection – you can have it all! Earlier this year, we received a Bell helmet that came with decals as well. Well, four decals. Bell sent us four stickers that were all the same oval “Bell” logo graphic. To stress that Roux has style and customization in their motto, they include this sheet of 31 helmet and visor decals – that’s 27 more stickers for you to deck your gear out the way you want it to be.
Like the people from the BK commercials used to chant while taking a double-gripper on a whopper, “Have it your way!” Except, ditch the whopper enthusiasts and replace them with motivated safety experts and you get the picture.
But the choices don’t end with aesthetics.
BACK TO THE BASICS:
If you haven’t read our previous blogs, I’ll brief you on what we already know about the Roux R1 series. From the base model to the R1 Carbon, it’s all about extras and options. The Carbon and Composite editions come what they label “fully loaded” – like a baked potato with all the cheese and bacon on top – which means they include:
- Integrated drink set up with quick release
- Full radio, noise-cancelling mic and speaker pods
- Head cooling system
- Hans anchors
- Emergency release removal system
- An extra smoke shield
- Hardware for changing out your Hans anchors and Visors
- Graphics helmet bag and matching velvet hardware and visor bags
The base model R1-F is stripped back to the basics for the least expensive Roux helmet on the market.
(Hans anchor ports, radio ports, and drink tube ports shown above.)
Here’s what the hype is all about with this helmet: the so-called stripped base model still comes with the emergency release removal system that Roux is becoming famous for, long-lasting helmet bag, and ports for all of the attachments. So, if you’re budgeting this week, you could purchase the base Roux helmet for $399 from DiscoveryParts, which is a steal, and purchase the extras that Roux includes in their “loaded” R1s another day for instant installation. No drilling, cutting, or wiring necessary.
(Emergency release helmet removal system pictured above.)
Want more customizable options? The quirky color options for Roux shields that DiscoveryParts has to offer might be right up your ally. Roux basic crystal clear shield is the standard shield that comes on the helmets when you purchase them. Other options include Roux specialty yellow amber shield, Roux dark smoke shield, Roux light smoke shield, and Roux iridium blue two-tone shield. Not only does a new shield affect your visibility, like different colored sunglasses, they make your helmet look completely different as well!
All Roux R1 helmets have the same aerodynamic shape: Stig-like front with a highly ventilated optimum-coverage mouth guard, tall and wide visor for excellent vision, top forced air adapter for circulation, and a duck-tail rear to cut through wind. The R1-F includes all the above and has a pearly white finish to the paint in comparison to the enamel white of some of the older brands. The pillow-like foam padding that line the helmet are fire-resistant and give a perfectly fitting feel, bringing comfort and protection together to the front of the priority list.
But what about weight? There’s a lot that goes into these helmets and though this one is stripped of attachments, it is still set up to take them all on at any moment. But it’s still the least expensive, made from fiberglass, and coined “the entry level Roux”. Does that affect its weight? Time to put it to the test!
The Weigh In
(The Roux R1-F weighs in at 3.4lb)
The Roux R1-F weighs in at 3.4lb, making it .4lb lighter than the “fully loaded” helmets by Roux. But we have yet to weigh our competitors helmet, the Bell Sport
Bell Sport SA2015
Bell has been one of motorist’s go-to helmet brands for years. In fact, Bell has been around since the 40’s being sported by racers and daredevils alike. Evil Knievel even credited Bell for saving his life in his crash landing at Cesar’s Palace in 1967, where he was said to have broken over 40 bones, excluding his skull which was cradled by the fiberglass shell of the Bell helmet. By 1970, Bell was known as the first safety company in America to have a sophisticated and reliable test lab for rating their helmets. Considering these events, Bell has earned its solid rapport with the racing world.
Now that we know a little background to this brand, how does it differ in comparison to a young, new brand like Roux? Let’s compare one of their entry-level helmets to the Roux R1-F to see how they differ and find out which one is best for you!
(Image above: a Bell ad from 1968. In the 60’s there were little safety restrictions for racers and the open-face was the most popular style because of breathability )
While Bell helmets, advertisements, and prices have evolved over the years, their packaging has remained about the same, which in the company’s opinion is something that means little to them and the customer. Upon first glance, the box that your Bell Sport comes in is thinner than the Roux helmet box. But once the box is opened and the helmet is taken out, you see little foam blocks strategically glued to the sides of the inside of the box protecting the helmet from coming into contact with any hard surfaces during shipping. Like Roux and most other high tier helmet brands, the Bell Sport comes with a mesh drawstring bag, keeping it nice and shiny for its arrival and a small bag of hardware for adjusting its visor.
(image above: Bell helmet bag, hardware for adjusting visor)
While Bell has some options for customizing their gear with, their focus is on safety and reliability. They are the granddaddy of racing helmets. When it comes to the car-racing, SA2005-2015 helmets, they basically have a few styles to choose from and they send the same four Bell logo stickers with every helmet, but all of the helmets in this category by Bell have the same vintage feel to them.
So I put this helmet on my head and walked around the store for a while. I even wore it at my desk while I worked on some imagery for the website. It didn’t wobble of jiggle. It fit. And in the middle of a warm, late August day, in the back of the shop, I really didn’t feel the need to take this helmet off my head. It is exceptionally ventilated and breathable, which also surprised me due to the fact that it doesn’t have a ram air scoop like the Roux does. But it does have a lot of air openings: SIX vents in the front bottom, two in the front top, and back vent on the crown. It’s known as having the largest eyeport in Bell history, but it honestly feels like the largest in all of history. I was truly surprised by the fit because you can’t tell from just looking at the helmet how much room it has.
(We sold the white medium Bell Sport before I finished writing this article, so I pulled the Black Gloss Bell Sport from the helmet wall. Image showing the load of hair that fits comfortably under this medium helmet)
Despite being a petite person, I do not have a small head. In fact, I have long, thick curly hair. But this Medium Bell Sport could fit 80’s punk hair under its shell comfortably without feeling tight. Then I did a little research and found out that it was designed specifically for people who wear eyeglasses, so they can fit comfortably under the helmet. While the Roux R1-F has style, reliability, and is also comfortable, you could not fit a pair of glasses under it as effortlessly as this Bell Sport, which makes me think that you could comfortably fit a thicker balaclava under it for winter time racing!
The Weigh In
As long as Bell has been around, they’ve gained some experience that other brands have yet to.
Therefore, they are wise enough to keep their entry level helmet simple and light, after weighing in on both of these helmets, the Bell came in at an even 3lb, weighing .4lb less than the Roux. Keeping in mind that the Roux still has all of the ports and plugs for attachments and the emergency release system, I would not call this Roux’s defeat. They still have a lot to offer in their entry-level helmet that Bell decided to leave out. But both helmets are spectacular base model helmets for entry-level drivers that are just getting into the sport.
In conclusion, the Roux R1-F has a lot to offer. It’s aesthetically pleasing and SA2015 approved, customizable, ready for attachments without drilling or cutting, has a ram air scoop, and is aerodynamically fashioned. This helmet fits people who like to express their style while on track and like to give new products a try.
The Bell Sport was created by the grandfather helmet company that paved the way for motorsports safety. It is lighter in weight, one of the most comfortable helmets, runs larger in the crown and around the eyes, was specifically created for people with eyeglasses or for thick balaclavas, and has max ventilation.
Both of these helmets are considered some of the highest quality on the market. If after reading this review, you still can’t decide what is best for you, stop by the store at Atlanta Motorsports Park or by the DiscoveryParts Track Side store at one of the local race tracks and try them on for yourself!
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