▲ The Duchinni D606. It hasn't got a catchy name, and it ain't the greatest looking helmet we've ever seen. But if you're flirting with your first flip-front lid, you might want to take a closer look at this. For the money, it's pretty good. However, like all lids, it's also a disposable item. So wear it for a couple of seasons, then trash it and start again. And if you are gonna trash one, better not overspend.
Chin bar action
Removable & washable lining
▲ It doesn't look a lot prettier from the side. But it's all to do with aerodynamics or something. And it's reasonably quiet on the move (until you pop the chin bar and listen to the tappets on your T140 rattling like a machine gun, and then you're glad you can flip the front back down).
It's our first flip-front lid, but it might not be our last. Here at Sump, we're all pretty much "open-faced" guys. And girls. We've got a large collection of "traditional" motorcycle helmets, some of 'em dating back to before many of you Sumpsters were born. That's what the "goggles" device is all about on the Sump logo. Open-faced riding. Nose in the breeze. Teeth full of bugs. Lovely.
But okay, we've got a few full-faced helmets too for those longer jaunts, especially during the colder months and/or when we suspect serious rain on the horizon.
Being motorcyclists, we've naturally got a few masochistic genes mixed up in all those complicated chromosomes. But being masochists doesn't necessarily make us idiots. So it was only natural, and perhaps inevitable, that sooner or later we'd move the game along a little and go flip-front. And this Duchinni D606 arrived on the scene at exactly the right moment.
Duchinni sounds Italian. But it's a Chinese brand. Now, Chinese made products get a bad rap. And a lot of Chinese made stuff, as everyone (including the Chinese) knows, really is rubbish. But that's mostly because it's built to western specifications, and down to a price. However, it's worth remembering that a lot of very good stuff is also made in China. You just have to be selective.
This Duchinni D606 is generally reckoned to be a pretty decent value flip-front. And we'd agree. It was launched earlier this year (2015) and retails for £89.99. You can pay five or six times that amount of money for the best flippers, but those hallowed lids ain't five or six times the quality of this one. It never works like that, does it? And the quality of this lid is not bad, and it's fair for the price.
But wait! Are we apologising for it already? Nope. But you have to put everything in context because if you don't, your comments, criticisms and sundry observations will be meaningless.
So this helmet isn't the best quality, but isn't bad, and it's fair for the price. But what are the specifics?
Well, we pretty much liked the D606 from the start. Part of that was the novelty, like getting a new TV set or discovering a new shaped condom. But novelties wear off quickly, and we're still enjoying this one.
Clearly, the designers have thought hard about pretty much everything. This helmet fits us snugly and reassuringly. The all-important chin bar flips up at the touch of a single button (buried inside the chin bar), but the action is a little notchy and needs a decent jerk to seat it in the uppermost position. But it has since loosened a little. Nevertheless, if you grab a higher quality flipper and open and close it, the action is generally so much smoother. But you pay for it. And often pay dearly.
The chin bar on the D606 snicks back down again without much effort, but again, it's a little harsh and needs an extra tug to seat it properly. That too has eased up a little as the miles have clocked up, and we suspect it will continue to improve. But whether it later becomes sloppy remains to be seen. If Duchinni could cure that particular ill, or just improve it a little, that would make the lid feel so much better. Then again, you're not flipping it up and down constantly. And hey, we're an abnormally sensitive bunch around these parts. Factor that in.
The Duchinni D606 has got a simple chin-strap securing mechanism, and it operates easily. It's a comfortable enough ratchet device with a small release tab. Note that if you try to raise the chin bar without securing the helmet, you simply can't do it. You'll just push the helmet off the back of your head. But once the chin strap is in place and secured, you can raise and lower that bar as much as you luck; but as we said, it's a little harsh. Maybe all flippers have the same problem. We simply haven't sufficient experience to make a judgment.
The air vents, meanwhile, seems to do their job. There are two at the front, and two on top. The front vents, note, are a little uncertain. Not flimsy, mind. Just ... well, uncertain. Like they don't care how they operate. The top vents have "exhausts" at the back. Their word, not ours.
Beyond that, we did what we reasonably could to overheat our noggins, but as ever, we stayed cool throughout. On a seriously hot day, in thick traffic, on a cooking bike, you're going to need that flip front, which has long helped kept our full-faced lids shut away. Fear of the heat. And claustrophobia. But on the open road, in pretty much any weather, we can't see a significant problem, temperature-wise.
Generally speaking, the compromise of a flip front with the switchable security of a full-faced lid is welcome. But there's a weight penalty, of course. It ain't much, and it's not bothered us slightly. But taking off an open-faced helmet and putting on the D606 is a shock. Consequently, you need a moment to adjust. But after a few seconds, you start to marvel at how the manufacturer can make this thing so light. That's how it struck us anyway, such is the perversity of man.
Removable & washable lining
The lining is removable. We tried it, and it took some figuring out. We didn't want to damage the lid, and there were no instructions in the box. But once we sat and thought about it, and argued with each other, and threw a few punches, it became clear what to do (tip: remove the cheek pads first. They just pull off a couple of press studs, and then ease out at the rear. Then you remove two more studs at the back of the lining at the bottom, and then you fiddle it all out at the front. There's no Velcro, note. Just studs. It should press back in without much aggravation).
Apparently, you can wash that lining in a washing machine at a low temperature. But we'd prefer to do it by hand with a little soapy water. The lining feels like reasonable quality, incidentally. It doesn't chaff or irritate.
There are two visors; a clear one outermost, and a tinted fighter-pilot style visor tucked inside. The outermost visor has two positions; half open, and full open. We'd like it much better if we could crack it open by smaller increments; say, four progressive stops. But that visor does what it's supposed to do and is, typically, scratch resistant. However, we can't remove it. That's partly because visors can be tricky things, even for the experts. And it's partly because, as we said, Duchinni didn't see fit to include comprehensive instructions.
No doubt we'll figure it out when the time comes. But not knowing how to remove it easily will probably make us look after it better. Talk to your dealer when you try one one. He'll explain how stupid we are.
And consider this when you're trying this lid (and probably any lid with an inner visor). This fighter pilot thingy tickles our noses occasionally, and eventually we're gonna have to take a file to it and remove some material. It's a question of fixed positions and nose size. If we could just nudge it up a tad or, paradoxically, nudge it down, then it would be okay all of the time. It would either stay well clear, or would stay in contact with the skin. But as you ride along looking left and right and up and down, the bloody visor occasionally catches you and tickles. Maybe you already know all about this problem and have your own solutions (comments to the usual email address, please).
Sunglasses are different. Sunglasses sit positively on your schnozz. They might irritate after many miles as they settle into your skin, but they rarely tickle. The inner visor, however, is that much closer to your nose. The solution needs some careful thought; perhaps a small flair or something. Or a nose removal kit. It's not a deal-breaker for us. But it's not ideal either.
This is a fair product at a fair price. In fact, we've all got so used to mass produced items that we sometimes forget to marvel at how much we get for our money. The Duchinni D606 helmet has an ABS shell, is UV resistant, comes in white or black, and it carries a current ECE22.05 safety certificate. Sizes are XS to XL. We've no information on how many shell sizes there are, so we're assuming it's just one.
If you're riding classic bikes, a full-faced lid might not suit your image (and if you're of a certain age, you may have all kinds of prejudices against such headgear). But if you're looking for fuller head and face protection, the flip-front design just might be the answer to your problem, and this one is a good starting point. If you haven't already been there, take a look sometime.
Meanwhile, if you're a modern bike rider and want a reasonable value flip front helmet, the Duchinni D606 strikes us a pretty good. It's entry-level, but there's no shame in that. It's not the best on the market, but it's a contender.
Just watch out when you're taking it from the box. We got two nasty paper cuts from ours, and you could bleed to death from one of these if you're not careful.
UPDATE: See Sump Magazine April 2017 for more on this crash helmet