When sister magazine ATV Rider handed its tester MSR's System X Helmet for testing, naturally he was excited. When its editor admitted the company had mistakenly sent two helmets, the tester got really pumped. Then he crashed. Again. And some more for good measure. "What better way to test a helmet than to crash in it?" he asked. We could go on about the improved removable liner, the carbon-fiber-reinforced chin bar, the feathery light weight that makes this bucket comfortable on long rides, the killer graphics, the much-improved strap system and the very comfortable fit and finish. But ...He proceeded to roll a big Kawasaki V Force ATV repeatedly through the sands of Baja California, Mexico, leaving it a hunk of shattered plastic and bent metal. What he learned was MSR lids are much stronger than Kawasaki bodywork, since he punched a head-shaped hole in the big Kawi's airbox and airbox cover during the epic tumble.He thought, "That's pretty good," and decided it would be even better to crash-test last year's helmet to see how the two differed. So he catapulted upside down into a crevasse later that day. While both helmets fared well during testing, the current System X ($249.95) is a much nicer lid than previous efforts. Topping the list of favorite improvements are the ultra-light weight, better fit and finish and, well, pretty much all of the features mentioned above.Most people would have called it a day at that point, but the tester insisted we still had one helmet left, packed up his gear and headed to the motocross track, or at least that's the last thing he remembers. Apparently, he came up about 2 feet short of clearing a step-up/step-down jump and flung off into the stratosphere like an errant cosmonaut. Again, the MSR helmet performed well, even as the persistent test dummy scared the bejeezus out of the paramedics with the "artistry" of his dismount. He suffered a decent concussion but is still alive and ambulatory—heaps better than the EMT on the scene predicted from these sorts of antics. The helmet did its job of dispersing the impact to the whole noggin, not just one drool-inducing spot. All in all, we are very impressed with the quality of the MSR buckets—and the endurance of the tester as he is looking forward to testing chest protectors next, after we replace the well-abused lid.
(Note: You should always replace a helmet after a serious head impact/crash.)DR Tested: 9.5MSR: See your local Tucker Rocky dealer; www.msracing.com