Kebbek Skateboards, founded in 1992, is one of the few remaining longboard companies that went against the trend of microdrops and short wheelbases to produce large, durable downhill and freeride ...
The thing of 2014 seems to be downhill-specific. Whether you reside in Southern California, or the flattest flat plains of the world, it seems there’s becoming more of a desire for them. The pro circuit, and even amateur circuit, has gotten more and more aero-dome’d and without a doubt skaters are taking notice. It’s rad that there’s more and more companies out there are making downhill skating-specific fullface helmets, because skating safe is a smart idea. While some of these lids may be more or less than safe than others, it’s good to see folks skating in a lid that’s designed for going skating down hills in. Besides, if you wrap yourself around a guardrail at 50mph, you’re probably screwed anyway, right?
Well, the helmets under the spotlight today are the new offerings from New Olders, the Cannonball and the Cannonball FIT. We love helmets because let’s face it, we like to looks fast just as much as we like to go fast. Oh yeah, and something about being safe too. Anyhow, we went and did tons of shredding all over and came back to you guys with all the good news. So let’s have at it.
We got the helmets in a big box stuffed solid with foam peanuts. Both the helmets came in nice black drawstring cloth bags with a white New Olders logo on them for transport. Both the lids are quite light weight. Considerably lighter than any rated motorcycle helmet, but we’d expect that, frankly. They’re definitely cool looking, specifically the little vertical vents in the chin area. They look like little teeth, or sort of like Bane in the latest Batman movie, either way they’re scary and cool looking. Again, this is focusing on the aesthetics portion only. Cool helmets make for cool photos.
The padding is serious on them. We don’t know if New Olders went through with getting certifications for their lids (as they don’t always mean everything, plenty of motorcyclists die in DOT-rated helmets in the U.S. every year, not to mention helmet certifications ain’t easy to get), but these helmets look and feel pretty darn safe. The padding is thick, and they came with replacement pads. They appear to be the same size as the ones that were already in the lid, but it’s always good to back backups. It’s a sturdy feeling to the helmet.
Our Cannonball and Cannonball FIT came in black and white, respectively. If our understanding is right from the New Olders website, which is mostly in Portuguese, the FIT is a slimmed down more sleek version of the Cannonball. They a helmet shell for both the Cannonball and the FIT, and then offer different sized pads to fit different sized heads. The replacement pads we got are mostly in the cheek/lower ear, so we’re not exactly sure how much bigger they’d feel with a larger size, assuming the head-covering pads stay the same (though we aren’t sure if they do or don’t).
The visor is quality and appears to be custom made for these lids, while some others are repurposed motorcycling visors. It’s got a nice little tab to lift and close the lid without getting your field of vision all smudged from finger prints. The visor molds perfectly into the contour of the helmet shell. The chin strap is solid and closes just fine. Getting the straps perfectly tight is a bit of a chore, but we got it set so we feel really, really secure in the helmet.
We went over to the hills, the long windy hills, to put the New Olders helmets through a session of going fast. We packed out pals into the vehicle and went out to the slopes. First things first, we needed to pick a helmet to wear. The Cannonball fit our buddy a little on the tight side whose head measures right about 56 cm measured around at the biggest point. He described the helmet as fitting more snug than not snug, but he appreciated it for a lid because he knew it would stay tight to his head. The Cannonball did not fit on our buddy whose head is 58cm around. The Cannonball FIT, the smaller shell of the two, went on a rider who’s head is right about 52-53 cm around at its biggest point. How a helmet sits on the head is a big part of what makes a lid safe or not. Too much wiggle room and the helmet stops doing its job, but too tight of a fit and you’ll get a headache from squeezing your brain too much.
We did some freeriding in the Cannonball and Cannonball FIT. It’s up to you whether you like freeriding in a fullface helmet or not, but we don’t hate the added protection it provides. We only had minor issues with fogging up, and that was mostly due to the fact that it was a pretty gross and humid afternoon. The vents in the front did aid a little bit in combating a sweaty head situation. We just took off the lid for hiking up the hill and stayed plenty cool. It’s not going to be as breezy and ventilated as a half-shell helmet, but it’s certainly not the sauna we expected it to be.
Shape of your cranium is very important in determining how well a helmet fits. We must recommend above all trying a lid first hand before you buy it. The New Olders lids seemed to fit better on a more slender face. If you have rounder cheeks, you might want to try something else. The tightest part of the helmet seemed to be squeezing most at the upper part of our cheeks, right below our eye sockets.
The field of vision is excellent. Seriously, it’s the best we could imagine it getting, short of an entirely see –through helmet. Even goofing around and over-tucking forward, the only limitation of how far we can see forward is how much we can bend our neck up. The little “nose piece”, if you will, part of the helmet that covers the riders mouth and nose was not at all disruptive. It’s well placed to not restrict vision downward, and to maybe provide a little extra protection to one’s face if it were getting the initial impact of a fall. Would it really make a difference in the event of a full-frontal impact? We don’t know. We haven’t (at the time of writing, knock on wood) taken a face-first slam in the New Olders lids. But it looks really cool and gives the helmet some character. Bonus points, if you will.
The weight of the helmet is impressive. Not impressive in the sense that it’s heavy and that it’ll make your tuck 3 inches lower because your head now weighs so much, but in a sense that it’s actually quite lightweight for a helmet that appears so sturdy and reliable. It feels lightweight on your head and, if it fits well, doesn’t add much of any extra momentum to one whipping their head around to see what riders are right on one’s back wheels. Definitely this is a highlight of the helmet.
The back part of the lid has especially come under fire in the helmet industry the last few years. Sometimes helmets with longer fairings have had issues during crashes, especially when high siding on toeside slides. The issue which can happen is that the longer fairings don’t crumple and let the padding take the impact, but can sometimes remain rigid and make quite an efficient guillotine-like mechanism to the back of one’s neck. However, the Cannonball and Cannonball FIT only come down far enough where we think the top part of our spine is covered, but it’s not limiting mobility in a tuck. The helmets find a very good middle ground between too much protection, and a helmet that’s doing too much.
Colors are cool. We like them and they make helmets look cool. How much are you willing to pay to look cool? You bet it’s a darn lot. And New Olders is doing it for free. They offer a total of 14 different color combinations on both the Cannonball and the Cannonball FIT. All for the same cost! You can get mirrored and tinted and rainbow visors for a fee as well, but we can’t complain because they really fit the helmets so well. Additionally different colored inner pads are available for skaters looking to really match their shoe laces to their helmet.
This whole experience was not without issue, however. First and foremost, the sizing on helmets. It’s confusing. The New Olders website clearly says the Cannonball, the larger shell of the two helmets, fits heads sized from 59 cm to 62 cm. As we said earlier, our pal with a 59 cm noggin definitely did not feel comfortable squeezing into it. He has a rounder face, but he definitely doesn’t look like he’s been attacked by bees lately or having an allergic reaction. We question these measurements that New Olders is putting out.
Second is the deal they have with shipping. It looks like, if we’re understanding it right, they make 3 batches per month. If you order before the 10th, first batch. If you order before the 20th, second batch. Before the 30th, 3rd batch. It’s sort of weird that if you order your helmet on the 11th of the month, it won’t be shipped until the 20th, but it makes sense to operate in the manner in order to keep costs down. Oh, and they do ship worldwide in 5-7 business days, which we must admit is pretty darn impressive. If you don’t live in a place where your local skateshop stocks downhill-specific helmets, New Olders might be your quickest way to get one, even if it’s being shipped from Brazil.
The price isn’t a joke, for sure. Plus the cost of shipping, a brand new Cannonball or Cannonball FIT is $340 and some change shipped to most international destinations. That’s not chump change for most kids getting into downhill skating for the first time, but it’s also pretty darn competitive for a downhill-specific helmet.
So we admit, the helmets are very, very cool. Like, we look so fast in them. We skate pretty fast, but holy smokes, do we ever look fast. And what’s the most important part of looking fast? Safety! Err, wait maybe it’s not. But with these New Olders you really do get both a well-designed and sturdy lid, plus stylish looks for days.
What’s that cost to you? Well if that price tag is looking like right around $340, you might consider checking out the New Olders Cannonball or Cannonball FIT. They’re high performance helmets for high performance skating. We definitely recommend this helmet to anyone who’s going to be serious about downhill skating. New Olders did an exceptional job, and really came out of nowhere, to offer top notch helmets for a remarkably good price.