I just wore my KBC helmet (VR-2 Mat Mladin Replica) the first time. First impression? Impressed. The fit-finish levels are really very good and so are the graphics designs. There's some really striking ones around, so hunt a bit. If the Vega dealer you're at shows you a helmet or two and says that's all KBC is offering, that's BS. There's a huge range of lids on offer from the KBC range. The one I have got is a VR-2, which is the top of the line helmet that KBC makes (in 2007. For 2008, the VR-2R is the top model). If your read their brochures, you will understand that the shell if made of a kevlar-aramid-frp composite, which means a light, pretty strong shell. That's a good place to start, right? The interiors of all of their helmets are removable (Sparx range included) which means stinky helmets should be a thing of the past if you're willing to put in the effort.
All the helmets come with D-rings. This has been an issue for some people I know. However, trust me, its for the better. D-rings take about two times of use to get used to, after that you won't fumble. More importantly, its nigh impossible to wear a helmet with a loose strap if you have D-rings. Which makes your helmet a whole bunch safer. Every single big name helmet model will usually use D-rings. The loose end of the D-rings snaps on to a fixed tab on the side to stop it flapping. Shoei builds this snap into the strap itself, which is a more elegant way to do it, (as do Arai) in my opinion. All three are equally functional, but I think having a short nylon flap with the snap closure is one more added to the mix, no?
The interior material feels really smooth to the skin, and the printed labels that came with the lid say they're some sort of a pseudo-suede. Whatever it is, it feels very cool. And since it is easily removable, the levels of cleaniless possible (there's always native laziness, right?) are very high.
On the move, its a pretty quiet helmet, and venting works. Not like my Shoei X-11, of course, but you'll feel it. The visor quality is pretty good (yes, it does feel a bit plasticky, but that's all right, it won't scratch easily (and don't ask how I know)) and as usual, I personally think you guys should buy a clear and a dark shield (as in one of the lid, plus one; Rs 1500 per shield) at the time of purchase itself. However, the mechanism is a pain to operate when it comes time to replace shields. The problem is, first, that the notches in the mechanism for your fingers to operate it are triangular, so they hurt. Especially because the metal spring they use is plenty stiff. I've been using my Yamaha pen knife's screwdriver to operate it!
Putting the new shield back is imposing too. While the circular pivot bit goes in easy, the notch that slots into the teeth and holds the shield in one of six or seven open positions never does. You have to force it in. I can't see a better way of doing it, but like the breaking noise that comes with taking AGV shields off, this is a bit of a bother. Especially because I have to do this twice daily. Maybe it gets easier with time, eh?
Perhaps the biggest bother I've had with the lid, surprisingly, is fogging. All the shields are supposedly anti-fog coated and stuff. But sit still in the morning for ten minutes on a muggy Mumbai morning and you'll see the work disappear rapidly into a misty haze. This happens on my mirror-finish shield, the dark shield as well as the clear one. On the move there isn't any trouble, but in the same situation, for the record, my Shoei shields (all three – mirror, dark and clear) remain crystal clear.
On the whole, I am thrilled to bits that the KBC lid is on offer in India. I already posted here, that I have issues with blindly trusting ISI marked helmets. So I am glad to say that all of KBC's range meets DOT and most crucially ECE 22.05 standards. Better still, the KBC branded helmets also meet SNELL's exacting and thoroughly implemented M2005 standard. Which does wonders for how much I am willing to trust the helmet.
The helmet I have costs Rs 12,500, while the spare shield has cost me Rs 1,500. But if there is one piece of kit on a motorcycle that I think should be above wallet constraints, it is the helmet. I think the Rs 14,000 is money well spent.