Product review: SOL SL86S Odyssey
Nowadays you see a dizzying number of helmets in as many designs and colours. Not too long ago this wasn't the case and you were limited to what Studds, Steelbird or Vega deigned the average Joe worthy of.
SOL is a new entrant in our increasingly crowded helmet market. While almost entirely unknown in India, the helmet is well-regarded in South-East Asia, having been used in a one-make racing series. In the western hemisphere, the lid is sold under the budget 'Gmax' brand, and has been just as well received, winning Webbikeworld's 'Helmet of the year' award for 2007.
We received the SOL SL86S Odyssey model which is differentiated by the unique LEDs at the back. While a bit gimmicky, the LEDs do make the helmet rather easy to spot at night and can be switched between an 'always on' and two flashing modes with a simple toggle button. Externally, the helmet is a fairly complex design, owing to its nineteen air vents. Yes, you read that right: nineteen - nine intake and ten exhaust. Nevertheless, the execution is neat and the helmet doesn't look particularly overwrought.
Weight is average and build quality decent. It's feature-packed with a breath deflector, chin curtain and rear neck roll. In terms of internal quality, fit and comfort, I must give the SOL due credit. The materials belie the reasonable price asked for this model and different shell and removable cheek pad sizes are available to suit most heads. Sadly, I'm a size S, so this size M model with size S cheekpads wasn't perfect. One area in which the SOL was particularly impressive was in its visor quality. I've never experienced such a clear and optically transparent visor on a helmet - it's hard to tell whether it's open or closed. It's easy to replace as well, with a simple to operate catch system.
Ratcheting action was smooth but firm. However the helmet tends to get rather noisy at higher speeds The SOL SL86S is DOT approved, but doesn't carry an ISI sticker, so it's the luck of the draw as far as passing muster with the authorities are concerned. However, if you're looking for a quality lid at a very reasonable price, it's hard to do much better.