And here's a more considered and detailed analysis:
I’ve been contributing to the motorcycle press for over 20 years and producing motorcycle and motorcycle test and product videos since 2004.
Over that time, I’ve had a number of top-of the range helmets supplied for my magazine work, and that’s a privilege I don’t take lightly, and to that end, Forcite supplied me with this helmet for evaluation, with no other requirements or stipulations other than for me to use it and publish a review.
And use it I have. Extensively.
Over the course of the last 9 months, I’ve ridden more than 6000km in a wide variety of conditions, on several different motorcycles, while wearing this helmet.
If you’d like the quick summary first, rather than the full drill down, here goes.
I love it this hat! This is my favourite helmet – ever. In more than 50 years of motorcycle riding I’ve never had a helmet I liked more, and I have had some beauties.
The Forcite has made my motorcycling even more enjoyable, while still having all of the safety features that I covet.
So, with that done, let me tell you the full reasons why.
Even if it wasn’t packed with all of its ‘smart’ features, it’s still a top-notch helmet.
It complies with ECE 22.05 safety standards (or DOT in the US), it’s light (even with all the tech it’s loaded with), it’s aerodynamic, I find it very comfortable, and very good looking.
The shell is made from T-400 carbon fibre composite and Forcite calls it a “Unique Anti-Shock Construction” method.
They achieve this by positioning the electronics in the chin section, “resulting in superior energy dispersion in the event of an impact”.
Not only does it look great – it’s tough.
It’s fastened by a traditional D-loop system that complies with track use and I found it easy to put on and take off, although the strap keeper tab can sometime be a bit fiddly, but that has become easier the more I wear it.
The visor’s quick release mechanism is similar in operation to Shoei’s system and really is as good as it gets.
If you’ve ever sweated on changing visors or broken the side pods on other popular helmet brands, you’ll appreciate the Forcite system even more.
Swapping between clear and smoked visors only takes a few stress-free seconds and there are iridium finish visors available as well.
The visors have an easily engaged locking switch for high speed (track) usage and they are Pinlock Max Vision 120 ready - and an insert was included (depending on the current promotion.)
There are 4 distinct ratchet click positions for the visor opening and it will open slightly for ventilation and remain in place at moderate speeds.
There are two liner options available, the Standard Liner is made from sweat absorbent premium hex sports fabric and has emergency pull tags.
The Premium Liner (as supplied) has 3D formed foam throughout the cheek pads and crown liner for a contoured fit.
It also has a neck roll design with extendable chin curtain to create a tight seal around the neck. This reduces noise and provides better isolation for Audio performance. More on that later too.
This liner is made from premium sweat wick materials for durability, comfort and fit - and is designed for highway use.
I haven’t need to fit the Pinlock in the Queensland spring, but in cooler climates that option is important because the premium liner seals so well the visor does fog up easily - even with the effective 8-vent ventilation system wide open.
It also has a UV rated retractable internal visor and this is the first helmet I’ve had with that option, and I wish I’d known how good they are sooner. There’s no need for sunglasses and deploying, or retracting it, is effortless.
It also means that if I’m going to ride from daylight into the night-time, I can leave the clear outer visor on and still deal to the sunset with the internal.
Alternately If it’s an all-day ride, I fit the smoked outer visor and then have options for riding with it up, down or use both shields.
Which does bring us to wind noise from the helmet.
The premium liner does isolate road and mechanical noise quite effectively, but the Carbon Fibre construction means that the shell is less dense than other materials and therefore it does transmit some wind noise.
Generally, I’ve also found that more vents in the helmet also equals more wind noise – and as noted the Forcite has 8.
That said, it’s not a noisy helmet either.
It’s significantly quieter than my Arai XD-4 Adventure helmet or my Bell Classic open face when I use them without ear plugs.
In fact, the noise levels in the Forcite without ear plugs is similar to those two helmets with foamies or ear buds inserted.
The base noise level is quite similar to my Biltwell Gringo S – and this helmet has no ventilation system - or other creature comforts at all.
The upshot is that overall, I find this to be very comfortable helmet. The XL size fits my melon perfectly and it’s very functional.
And functional brings us to its tech and electronics.
Apart from the fact that it’s a quality motorcycle helmet in its own right, there is a very long list of additional features contained in its built-in tech. And I love ‘em.
The Forcite ecosystem has three components: the helmet, the remote controller, and the phone app.
The system supports Bluetooth 5.0 and the initial setup, connection and getting them talking to each other was all pretty straightforward.
There’s even a walk through in the app setup that makes sense of it all. It took me a few rides to settle into the way everything works – and it is quite intuitive, but it did take a little while to get my head around – or inside – all of its capabilities. But after a few rides I was Forciting like a boss.
Firstly, my favourite of all the clever things this helmet does is its built in Harmon-Karden sound system.
A pair of removable, high quality, 40mm speakers sit in cavities in the helmet liner.
It’s all a long way removed from 1980 and my first attempt to get stereo in a helmet.
Back then I hollowed out the foam in an open face helmet to accommodate the clunky headphones of the original Sony FM Walkman.
That didn’t work very well at all, and I’ve tried many different solutions for playing music while riding ever since - with gradually better results as the tech improved and the devices got smaller over the ensuing 42 years.
Until now, where the sound *and convenience* of the Forcite system is excellent.
The speakers have Velcro backed spacers to allow positioning adjacent the ears. When pumped right up they have sufficient volume to drown almost all of the wind noise at normal or legal speeds.
And there are no cords, cables or other encumbrances to get in the way of enjoying crisp, dynamic sounds from my favourite playlists rocking inside my hat.
For comparison, I find it’s a better sound quality, with more volume than using my favourite JBL ear buds in the Arai XD-4.
Or if you prefer – you can wear protective ear plugs to mitigate the wind noise - and the system is still quite audible and viable – although the trade-off is that sound fidelity is reduced.
For the sake of protecting your hearing this is what I would recommend – but …
The music streams seamlessly to the helmet from your phone with play – pause – skip and rewind functions available via the handlebar mounted remote control. But more on that unit later too.
I’d personally buy the helmet just for this function alone – but it does soooo much more.
If you are one of the subscribers to my You Tube channels (thank you) and hopefully you may have noticed that I’ve been working on - or trying to - optimise the quality, cinematography and production values of my motorcycle vlogs and on-board ramblings since 2006.
As a solo operator that has its own challenges, but like the sound systems, camera tech has become smaller and more efficient over that time.
To that end the 1080/60p camera that is built-in to the chin section of the Forcite helmet is proving to be a very useful addition to my video production arsenal.
It can record at 30 or 60 frames per second from its ¼ inch Sony IMX sensor.
As a dash-cam system to record rides - for whatever reason - this feature is gold and has several modes – selectable from the app.
Auto-Record enables you to capture your ride without the need to use the app or controller.
Just turn your helmet on, and recording starts automatically. The files are saved when you turn your helmet off.
Dashcam mode continuously records until you reach your SD card’s storage capacity, then it deletes the oldest footage on a loop so you can simply set and forget.
Or there are start and stop recording functions available via the remote – or the app if you have your phone mounted on the handlebars too – this is especially handy when you do come across that special piece of road and your mates have no desire to stop while you mess around with an action camera.
The quality of the video is good for social media applications and it employs the H.264 compression algorithm, so the files it generates are quite manageable.
The 158-degree lens is wide enough to easily capture from handlebar mounted instruments and the road ahead - to the sky.
What’s particularly notable is its low light and night-time capability is actually better than my expensive action cameras.
So let’s compare cameras.
As one online sage noted – your best camera is the one you actually have with you - and that’s the case with the Forcite.
Like the sound system – it’s very convenient and always ready to go – although it’s worth noting that how fast the camera boots up can vary.
It’s much faster to start recording when the card SD card is empty – but it can take around 30 seconds to start recording if the card has other footage or files in its directories.
What is handy though, is that there are voice and display prompts to let you know when recording has started - and stopped.
Forcite says that the camera has Minor electronic vibration stabilisation – but the fact that it’s on your chin means that the camera points exactly where the rider is looking, so it needs a concerted effort to keep your head still while shooting.
Lane checks, or even looking in the mirrors can affect the field of view and the smoothness of the footage.
To be fair, that’s the case with helmet mounted action cameras too, and I can only speak to my own equipment, but the stabilised output, picture quality, frame rates and resolution from the latest batch of Go Pros is superior to the Forcite’s – particularly if they are chest or handlebar mounted.
But, that’s really not what the Forcite is trying to do – or be. The Go Pro won’t protect my head i9n an accident - or be as effortless and convenient.
It’s also worth noting that, at retail pricing, my current Vlogging rig - comprising a Hero 10 Black, Media Mod, Lens Mod, Volta Battery grip and set of Rode microphones actually cost more than the Forcite Helmet.
If I take the grip off the Go pro, the helmet has several hours longer recording time available than from a single Go Pro battery – subject to SD card’s capacity of course.
Forcite claims 3-4 hours of runtime with consistent camera usage. With no video recording and the mobile app running in background “usage will exceed 7 hours”.
I’ve done full-day, 400+km rides and my phone running the app ran out of battery before the helmet did.
You may want to consider a power bank solution on touring or long-distance applications – but talk about a first world problems!
The other important advantage is that being integrated, the camera is approved for racetrack use – and all that entails for enthusiasts.
Talk to you
The quality of sound recording for vlogging from inside the helmet is also viable, considering how the mics are positioned – and the way they isolated for telecoms rather that hi-fi recording. But with some post-production and editing, voice recording works reasonably well.
The conclusion here is that the Forcite camera won’t replace my other systems for professional video applications, but for convenience, comfort, and ready availability - it’s an additional – and welcome - tool in my arsenal.
Talk to me
Taking and making phone calls from the helmet isn’t one of my priorities, but the calls I have received while on the move have worked well and the callers reported that the clarity of the call was OK and made comments like “I wouldn’t have realised you were on a motorcycle” or “It sounds fine.”
It has omni-directional dual microphones tuned for vocal clarity and wind reduction and is also operated by one button on the remote controller.
For those looking for an intercom function with other riders, the helmet doesn’t have long-range Bluetooth comms or an app intercom function at this stage, although Forcite do state that and “In-app VOIP communication functionality is in the pipeline however.”
It’s another very useful feature.
A heads up.
The helmet has a simple heads-up display (HUD) that employs a diffused LED array for “non-distracting peripheral alert animations” and it has ambient light sensors for dynamic brightness adjustment, so it doesn’t dazzle at night and is legible in bright sunshine.
Basically, it has an array of coloured lights that sit below the line of sight and combinations of these work with the Forcite app to display navigation prompts, warnings and other information that I found to be surprisingly useful.
A voice prompt (with a selection of voices available) warns ‘Red light camera ahead’ and a red light flashes, ‘Police 300mtrs ahead’ and blue and red lights flash. ‘Turn left 200 metres, or destination 50 metres ahead’ and a green light flashes, debris on road or banked traffic ahead and a yellow light flashes.
It’s all based on the waze app and I didn’t find it distracting or intrusive – just – as I say – surprisingly useful.
Which brings me to the Forcite app.
I have it installed on an iPhone 11 Pro and so far, it works exactly as it should.
Once the initial setup of Helmet, Controller and app is complete, pairing and operation is as simple as turning the devices on and launching the app. It all talks to each other seamlessly.
Power levels, camera status and available storage can be viewed in real time.
Its navigation functions are some of the best I have used with the ability to plan a journey with waypoints and it has been accurate and reliable.
The system uses Forcite Command - a cloud-based server and software system that is “always active and always learning” and it has the ability and share your route with other Forcite Riders.
The predictive alerting model provides real time updates on upcoming road conditions, taking into account your direction of travel, speed, and personalisations – all delivered to the helmet. You can easily change these settings in the app.
By connecting the Media Access Cable, you can view and manage video files inside the Forcite app, as well as trim and export clips up to 30 seconds in length.
Forcite says the system is “designed to simplify, built to evolve”.
The remote controller is simple to mount and operate on 7/8” handlebars.
Mounting on inch and a quarter Harley bars required a little bit of innovation, but it worked well utilising some action camera hardware.
The device has three outer buttons to start and stop the camera, engage navigation functions and the telephony. The centre button controls music playback and playlist functions. Volume up and down is on the side of the unit.
I found it all worked well and the battery life of the unit is pleasing. It hardly used any charge on an all-day ride.
The level of engagement Forcite have with their growing customer base is also admirable and encouraging. There are several Facebook groups associated with the brand, some offer tech support – from the Forcite techs who administer the page - to groups with Forcite riders sharing footage, rides - and their enjoyment of the helmets.
The company says it’s “striving to strengthen this bond, to bridge the gap between man and machine. Forcite technologies are designed to adapt seamlessly to your riding style, enhancing your situational awareness, and amplifying the essence of your unique riding experience.”
That’s all working for me. I signed on to the Forcite Ambassador programme because I was intrigued by the possibility of what a ‘real’ smart helmet can do and because I’ve always been a motorcycling tech geek.
After a decent test period and from my engagements with the company, I’m very happy to endorse this Helmet.
I think it’s outstanding on so many levels and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
This is still at the the Mark 1 Stage after all.
The helmets are designed and assembled in Australia with the components made in Taiwan, and they are now moving into American and European markets.
The product is a product of high standards and there’s no reason to think it won’t emulate its local success.
If you want to find out more about the helmet – point your browser at forcitehelmets.com or ping me any questions in the comments section below.
If you are interested in purchasing a Forcite Mk1S for yourself, use the code DAVE5 at checkout and you’ll receive a discount and some bonus goodies.
Smile, me and my Forcite might see you out there.