After passing my A2 bike tests and jumping on my Yamaha XT660X, I thought I’d treat myself to a new lid that would be more practical in all weathers than the motocross helmet and goggles set-up I was using before.
With a 700-mile dad-and-lad trip up north in early October on the cards, it was especially important to get a bit more weather protection.
I still wanted something good-looking that would fit the supermoto style of my bike, but with the comforts of a full visor – and the LS2 Explorer Carbon fit the bill perfectly.
Straight away I was impressed with the overall quality of the finish. The carbon weave was laid nicely, the lacquer had a good shine to it and all the fixings and vents had a solid feeling.
My size medium weighs 1529 grams, which is on the heavier side for a carbon lid, but being a peaked adventure helmet it makes sense that it would weigh a bit more.
I’ve never really noticed the weight while wearing it, but that could’ve been masked by the less-than-ideal aerodynamics caused by the peak.
With no screen to tuck down behind on my XT when riding at motorway speeds, I found there was an annoying amount of head shake.
Once I’d adjusted the peak to its lowest setting it was better, but still not great. This meant I ended up lying flat on the tank, Springfield-mile-style, on the M180 to try and give my neck a rest from the wind.
You can imagine how unimpressed I was when on my return I found there were a pair of blanking plates in the box that meant I could have run it peakless in ‘Street mode’. If only I’d spotted those before I set off! These plates simply screw on top of the visor mountings to take up the extra space where the peak would have been.
I found the interior to be good, and the shape fitted my head perfectly, meaning a long day on the bike was comfortable enough for my head at least.
The visor is good quality - wide and deep, with minimal distortion and an included Pinlock 70 insert. This insert worked well and the only time I had issues with it was after it got wet because I’d cracked open the visor on a rainy day.
This then really restricted my vision, to the point that I had to stop and wipe it dry. Thankfully by that point it had stopped raining, and a mile or so riding with the visor open seemed to sort the issue for the rest of the day.
I found the chin vent to be the most effective, on chilly morning rides I kept it firmly closed to keep out the cold blast it would otherwise let in.
Photography: Joel Blevins/Helen Meeds
In my time with this helmet I’ve not ridden in hot weather so I can’t comment on how the venting is when the temperature climbs, so I’ll come back and update this when I have.
I rarely lower the internal sun visor because it isn’t anti-fog coated and it quickly becomes almost useless. Most of the time angling my head down and using the peak is an effective way to shield my eyes from glare instead.
Still, I wouldn’t recommend using that method for long as recently I’ve found the distorted vision through the top section of the visor can strain my eyes.
After about 2500 miles of use the sun visor pivots (mainly the right-hand one) are now becoming a bit sticky and making the sun visor come down unevenly, and it’s a struggle to get it back up.
I put a couple of drops of silicone lubricant in there, and it has made it a bit better, but still not great. The slider is on the left hand rim of the helmet, which makes fitting a universal intercom system a bit awkward.
I’ve seen mixed messages online and from LS2 about whether the RidePal would fit. It does fit, and the control module clips neatly onto the fastening strap using the red poppers. However I found the large cheekpads made it very difficult to use the volume-down button. That was with bare hands too, not even with gloves on.
The RidePal speakers fit relatively well in the helmet’s recesses, but since they’re not that deep I could feel them pressing on my ears. Taking the lid on and off was uncomfortable too as the strap no longer flexed because that’s where the intercom controls are mounted. In my opinion the answer to the question of whether you can fit a RidePal to this helmet is: ‘You can, but that doesn’t mean you should.’
The 20S Evo from Sena fitted better (using the clamp mount), but the control module was a lot further back on the rim than what was ideal, which meant the boom mic wasn’t in front of my mouth - but it still worked.
All things considered, this is a carbon-shelled adventure lid with a D-ring strap fastener, a dropdown visor and an included Pinlock insert for less than £300 (if you go for the plain colours) at the time of writing this review.
Bearing that in mind, the LS2 Explorer Carbon is a solid helmet and definitely worth considering.
If you’re happy with the non-carbon option, the LS2 Explorer with a fibreglass shell costs even less. That one does have a micrometric buckle strap fastener instead of D-rings, though - and there’s no option to run without the peak.
UPDATE (Aug 1, 2022): I've ridden another 1500 miles since writing this review, and several of the niggling issues I previously mentioned have got worse. The internal sun visor has become jammed and quite a few times now I have had to open the main visor and use my finger to help the sun visor back up.
Another issue is the fastening strap, which is fraying, I suspect from contact with the velcro on my jacket collar. I don’t find it a safety problem, but it is becoming more difficult to feed the D-rings back on each other as they get caught on the frayed part.
There is positive news to report, though. I have now been able to wear the Explorer Carbon in much warmer temperatures and I found the venting to be great. In the recent heatwave here in the UK I rode in temperatures touching 38 degrees, and while it was getting warm (a given in situations like that) there was ample venting to keep my head at a comfortable temperature.
I consider the jammed visor to be an issue that comes under the two-year warranty and I'll report back when LS2 have had a chance to examine the helmet to see if they agree.
UPDATE (September 2022): I made use of LS2’s two-year warranty on this helmet to sort the sun visor issue and I was pleasantly surprised. From giving my helmet to the returns team at Sportsbikeshop it was seven days until I got my helmet back, and I was surprised at how quick that was. The sun visor mechanism has been replaced (using my existing sun visor) and I’m sure the helmet as a whole is cleaner than when I sent it off. As well as fixing the internal visor they replaced the chin strap padding, which I’d lost somewhere over the past year, which was a nice surprise and much appreciated.