Review: Triple Eight T8-Racer fullface helmet
Choosing a full face helmet for the purposes of downhill skateboarding has long been an exercise in compromise. Paragliding helmets offer an excellent form factor, with integrated visor, large fields of view, and a comfortably low weight, but provide a questionable amount of protection in the event of a head impact. There are plenty of stories about how they’ve protected riders in serious collisions and I have little doubt that they have, but the bottom line is that they were not designed for what we do, or the crashes that we have.
Motorcycle helmets are ridiculously heavy when holding a tuck and have terrible visibility. Downhill mountain biking helmets generally offer a reasonable weight combined with good visibility and protection. The only problem here is that downhill mountain biking is not the same as skateboarding and has different needs. They’re relatively bulky, they lack integrated visors, and they can be awkward while holding a tuck. Still, the ASTM F1952 certification (for DH mountain bike racing) is arguably the most appropriate for the kinds of impacts expected in downhill skateboarding.
Last year, Predator introduced a fullface helmet specifically designed for downhill skateboarding with a CPSC certification for regular bicycle helmets. It was well received and proved that there was a demand for a helmet specifically for bombing hills. With the introduction of the Triple Eight T8-Racer, riders in the market for a skateboarding-specific fullface have another option. The T8-Racer also comes as the first skate bucket with an ASTM F1952 certification. Things are definitely heading in the right direction!
Out of the box, the T8 is clearly a nice helmet. Triple Eight has been developing the lid for 2 years now, and the fit and finish is what you would expect from a gestation period of that length. Everything fits together well and nothing looks out of place. Many in the downhill community will immediately recognize the silhouette from a few different paragliding helmets. Using this commonly used mold from their manufacturer as a jumping off point, Triple Eight tweaked the design and redesigned the interior of the helmet to meet the needs of downhill skaters and to pass CPSC and ASTM certification. The construction is definitely sturdy and confidence inspiring.
Pulling the helmet on for the first time, I found that it fit my oval-shaped head very well. Compared with the Predator helmet, the Triple Eight seems to fit a longer/oval head better, while the Predator seems to fit round heads better. I typically develop a pressure point on my forehead after wearing a helmet for an extended period and was happy to find that this was not the case with the T8. The helmet comes in two sizes: S/M and L/XL. Both sizes have the same sized shell, but varying thicknesses of EPS foam inside and come with a variety of soft pads and two sets of cheek pads for further fine tuning of the fit.
A minor complaint about the helmet is that it only comes with a tinted visor. Night riding is far riskier and should make up a small percentage of your total riding, but sometimes it’s the only way to hit a good spot. Triple Eight is working on a clear visor to be offered as an option in the future, but until then riders will just have to ride without a visor in lowlight situations. In daytime riding conditions, however, the visor is excellent. It has just enough tint to reduce glare and the low-distortion optics make for a nice view.
The visor comes pretreated with anti-fog, although I did experience some fogging while huffing and puffing during a winter session with temperatures that were hovering around the freezing point. Even when I was careful to direct my breath away from the visor it was still difficult to prevent fog from appearing during a run. Initially I assumed that any helmet would perform the same way in such cool conditions until I put on my friend’s Charly No Limit for a run and found that I couldn’t make it fog even if I tried. If you ride in cooler conditions on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to get some kind of aftermarket anti-fog treatment. The visor also lacks a ratcheting mechanism, meaning you have to ride with it completely open or completly closed, although Triple 8 says that it is working on this feature for future versions.
Using the helmet with gloves on is a breeze, thanks to the well designed buckle. Some prefer a motorcycle D-ring closure, but the buckle closure on the T8 doesn’t inspire any doubt in my mind. Popping the visor down results in a solid seal and a close fit for an aerodynamic and quiet ride down the hill. Two ear vents provide the ability to listen for traffic or your sketchy riding buddy smacking his pucks together wildly right behind you without deafening you with wind noise. I initially got annoyed with the end of the chin strap flapping around in the wind until someone made the obvious suggestion of tucking the strap into the helmet. Problem solved.
Out riding hills, everything works as you’d want it to. Visibility while holding a tuck is excellent and the helmet allows for full freedom of motion, meaning that you can look in any direction without worrying about the helmet riding up on the back of your neck or leaving you with a blind spot. The quiet, aerodynamic shape lets you focus on riding and gives the confidence to go faster. Other testers who regularly use helmets by Charly and Predator were thoroughly impressed by the lid, noting that it had a great combination of the solid construction of the Predator and the stylish design of the Charly.
Overall, the design of the helmet is great. It’s clear that the lid has been well-thought out from start to finish, and is free from major shortcomings. Aside from the issues with fogging and the lack of a ratcheting visor, there’s nothing much to complain about and a lot to get excited about. It’s a sleek and stylish bucket that will protect your precious brain and beautiful face during all manner of freeriding, hill bombing, and crashing. After rocking it for over a week, I can definitely recommend the T8-Racer to anyone looking for a new fullface.