X-lite X803 Ultra Carbon Helmet | Gear Review

X-lite X803 Ultra Carbon Helmet in Nuance Red.
X-lite X803 Ultra Carbon Helmet in Nuance Red.

Does a rider really need a race-bred, made-in-Italy carbon fiber helmet with a translucent wash of subtle color splashing across it in the sun? Maybe not, but sometimes a guy or girl’s gotta splurge. X-lite, in case you’re not familiar with the brand, is a division of Nolan Helmets that’s been well known in Europe for some time (three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo wore X-lite helmets for the first five years of his GP career), but it has only recently been made available in the U.S. As soon as I laid eyes on the X803 Ultra Carbon in silky Nuance Red, I knew I had to have one.

Like Nolan, X-lite helmets are made 100-percent in Italy, from raw materials to finished product, but unlike Nolan helmets which use Lexan polycarbonate shells, X-lite helmets use “multi-axial hybrid fabrics” (carbon fiber and aramid fiber) bonded with a thermosetting resin. The Ultra Carbon is X-lite’s top-of-the-line series, engineered for reduced weight and an exclusive look thanks to the visible fiber weave.

As a race- and sport-oriented helmet, the X803 isn’t N-Com-ready (though one could install a Bluetooth headset if so inclined), nor does it have convenience features like eyeglasses slots or a drop-down inner sun shield. What it does have is one of the most plush, softest liners I’ve ever put my cheek against, with high-value green contrast panels and stitching, emergency quick-release cheekpads and venting that works well in a forward, sporting riding position. It’s also quite lightweight, with my size small weighing in at just 3 pounds, 3 ounces. The visor is fairly easy to change without tools and it comes with a Pinlock fog-resistant insert. I would prefer a glossy finish on the top vents and exhaust like that on the helmet’s other plastic pieces rather than matte, since a glossy finish would better complement such a beautiful shell, but that’s my only gripe.

At $609.95 ($589.95 for the Puro “plain” carbon fiber and starting at $739.95 for race replica graphics), the X803 Ultra Carbon Nuance is priced competitively with other top-line racing helmets. It’s available in sizes XS-2XL spread over three shell sizes.

For more information, call (866) 243-5638 or visit xlite-usa.com.

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