We’ve prefaced a previous Real Review with the same level of trepidation as this article will only speak to a very small percentage of our readers. As once stated by Greenhulk.net founder Jerry Gaddis, “I can safely say that 90 percent of the people on the forum have never once worn a helmet while riding a jet ski.” And he would be right; if not more so. Wearing a helmet, although a safe and practical practice, is almost entirely restricted to those who participate in the most extreme of riding, namely racing, freeride and freestyle competition.
That being understood, we did feel that offering a review on such a product would serve an ancillary purpose, as many who ride personal watercraft also ride motorcycles – be them street or off-road bikes. All that being said, we were very honored to be provided a 2014 Fly Racing F2 Acetylene Helmet from our friends at Western Power Sports. Initially part of our Long Beach-to-Catalina Offshore Championship effort, Fly insisted that we “step up” to their stellar F2 Carbon series, as we had originally opted for a cheaper brain bucket.
Of course, those familiar with Fly will no doubt know them for their unique and eye-catching styling, but the F2 not only incorporates race-inspired, lightweight helmet technology – through the use of the brand’s advanced Carbon/Kevlar Composite Construction Shell, wherein the outer shell is made using state-of-the-art, aircraft grade woven carbon fiber and Kevlar composite materials. In fact, the helmet is so durable that it meets or exceeds all SNELL M2010, DOT Approved For USA, ECE and AS (Australian) standards.
Inside, the F2 Carbon features a Dual Density EPS Liner, composed of two layers of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) – one softer one slightly harder – that provides “more progressive impact absorption” for varying levels of impact. The list of safety features continue with custom-molded rubber trim meeting in a one-piece nose guard, designed with smooth, soft edges to shield debris away from the rider’s nose.
While we used our F2 Carbon Acetylene helmet for on-water riding, we were impressed how the Multi-Port Air Induction Cooling System (comprised of eleven intake and four exhaust vents) helped keep ventilation circulating while at speed or sitting still. Likewise, Fly’s three Tri-vent Goggle Anti-Fog Vents above goggle eye port worked well at drawing in air from goggles, effectively clearing away fog. Lastly, the Flow Through EPS And Comfort Liner Air System, made of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) provided both a comfortable fit and allowed superior airflow.
Obviously, using a motocross-style helmet for waterborne riding lends itself to a few problems, the first being waterlogging. We’ve encountered helmets whose liners struggled to dry after a washing. Thankfully, the Fly Racing F2’s Quick Release Washable Comfort Liner and Cheek Pads is designed specifically for this purpose, allowing for the liner to be easily removed and cleaned out, reattaching with its quick-snap system.
The whole of the F2’s design is to maximize ventilation, which is perfect for watercraft use as any racer can attest to particularly when falling off of their ski. Allowing for water to drain quickly is a must, and we found that the F2 does so better than all other helmets we’ve used. When back to speed, the cheek pads quickly wick away water and sweat as the increased air circulation over the top and sides of our face dried our face immediately.
The large, open mouth inlet allows for easy breathing and the large goggle port helps fight back any feelings of claustrophobia (as many might feel in tighter, more confined helmets). And it weighing just under five pounds (thanks to the Carbon/Kevlar construction and lightweight aluminum hardware – ie. machined aluminum screws, rivets, and D-rings), makes it a perfect fit for high speed riding without the “bucketing” sensation that comes from heavier helmets.
Priced at $319.95, the F2 Carbon Acetylene helmet is no small purchase, but in the realm of high speed, intense riding, protection and comfort are key to enjoying a long life of competition. On the surface, the F2 is simply beautiful in its design and will make you wonder if this wasn’t a hand-painted custom piece. Yet, as our moms always taught us, it’s what inside that counts, and Fly Racing has spare no expense to provide a solid, safe and lightweight helmet.
[Editor’s note – We recently had the chance to use our Fly Racing F2 Carbon Acetylene helmet during some brutally cold riding and were very impressed how it managed to keep our face both warm and well-ventilated. It’s clearly not its intended purposed, but again it was worth noting.]