First off, let’s get straight on the name. The Nolan Group produce helmets under three names, Nolan, X-Lite and Grex. So you might see this helmet sold as the Nolan X-802RR or the X-Lite X 802RR. Either way, it’s the same helmet. We’ll call it an X-Lite here because that’s what it’s generally being sold as in the UK.
The X802RR is X-Lite’s premium racing helmet designed with sports bike riders in mind. It’s a slight development from the last X-802R, as X-Lite have a continual program of development with their MotoGP and WSB sponsored riders to try and improve their helmets under race conditions.
To be a good racing helmet means it needs to work in 4 key areas above all: it needs to be light, offer good vision when tucked in – forwards and peripheral; have good ventilation; and be slippery to reduce buffeting. If it can work in those areas, then it’ll be in with a chance.
X-802RR v X-802R
The new RR has a new comfort liner and that’s pretty well the only difference between the two helmets.
The new liner has an activated carbon fabric interior (oddly, called Carbon Fitting Race) which is supposed to do things like lower your head temperature, decrease oxygen intake, lower lactic acid generation and lower pulse rate. Crikey! Maybe it’ll do a bit of that on the track, but doubt most of us mortals will notice much difference.
There’s also a range of Ultra Carbon helmets – alongside the composite helmets of the old R version. According to X-lite they’re ‘high carbon content’ and reduce weight.
- X-Lite’s top sports bike helmet
- Sizes XS-XXL
- 4/5 stars in SHARP safety test (802R)
- X-Lite are our 3rd safest helmet brand
- Great ventilation
- Very comfortable
- Average quietness
- Typical price range:
- £340-£440 (composite version)
- £400-500 (carbon version)
Safety & Construction
The X-lite X-802RR has been ECE 22.05 approved so it’s tested and approved for sale in the EU/UK.
The old X-802R was independently SHARP safety tested where it scored a sound four stars, out a maximum five. X-Lite have a good reputation in safety; they are our 3rd best brand in terms of tested helmet safety – with both Grex and Nolan coming into the top 10 too, meaning they’ve arguably the best safety reputation around.
The X-802RR has a double-d ring fastener, making it good for track day use – they’re solid, reliable and easy to use fasteners so don’t be put off because they’re an older style fastener.
You’ve an option of shell types – with both a carbon fibre version or a composite of carbon fibre, Kevlar and fibreglass – but we reckon either will be up to the job in an accident.
But either are light, with many owners commenting that it’s the lightest helmet they’ve used, which is great if you’re doing lots of miles on or off the track as it’ll keep fatigue to a minimum.
The X-802RR is built with three shell sizes – that means they manufacture the helmet in three distinct sizes rather than producing one shell and under/over padding it for different head sizes.
That’s good for looks, safety and for how well the helmet will perform aerodynamically – you ideally want the smallest helmet shell size for your head size possible to reduce wind resistance and buffeting. So thumbs up here.
Noise and Aero
It’s widely regarded as about average for wind noise – which is surprising considering how much race track development’s been going on to make it as slippery and aerodynamic as possible.
But then again, racers always wear quality ear protection anyhow and noise insulation is much less of a development priority than things like aero, comfort, vision and impact protection.
However, for road riders, it’s a bit more important. Having said that, if you wear ear plugs while you ride, then it’s not going to be an issue anyway. On the plus side, the focus on aerodynamics means X-Lite have developed a helmet that is stable and has reduced buffeting – even when turning your head. Part of the reason may be that large rear spoiler that not only helps vent the helmet, but is three-way adjustable to customise the airflow over the helmet a little and help improve stability.
Ventilation is one of the X-Lite X-802RR’s strong points.
It has X-Lite’s Racing Air Flow system – essentially, that’s four front vents – one in the chin guard, one on the forehead and two smaller inlets either side at the top of the helmet.
There’s three exhaust vents too – one big one to the rear under the spoiler and two side exhausts. They work really well with one owner saying that for the first time they’ve felt wind blowing on their head.
Most of the vents are closeable – all apart from the bottom chin vent – and are fairly easy to operate with gloves. In previous incarnations of the X-Lite 802, there were problems with the vents being a bit cheap and nasty and not closing so well. You can see that X-Lite have listened and improved them on the 802R and 802RR – they’re solidly built and stay closed when you tell them to!
Onto anti-fogging; there’s a breath deflector that helps keep your warm breath away from the visor to reduce fogging, while the vents pour cool air onto the rear of the visor. It’s a feature that’s par for the course on many helmets these days of course but it’s pretty effective and, if used together with a Pinlock anti-fog insert, will keep the visor mist-free under pretty well all conditions.
The visor has been designed with a particularly wide aperture for good peripheral vision. It has X-Lite’s excellent quick release system that means you can take your visor off by pressing a tab to release. It can also be locked in place to stop any chance of it opening on track – and has a setting to keep it slightly cracked to improve de-misting.
All these features are well thought out for a track-biased helmet and work well according to users; the visor lock can be fiddly but once you get the hang of it, it’s fine.
It goes without saying that the visor is anti-scratch these days, but it’s also Pinlock-ready, and it should come with a Pinlock in the box in the UK (check with your retailer before you buy). Nolan Group helmets have a nifty adjustable Pin on their visors to allow you to more easily attach the Pinlock to the inside of the visor, then rotate the Pin to get the perfect fit against the visor. Good feature that. For more info on Pinlocks, read here.
The visor’s opened by a small central tab which does the job and is the best position for the tab – and it has several positions on the ratchet that are positive and hold the visor in place well. All’s good on the visor front.
Sizing & Comfort
Owners reckon that the X-802RR, like the X-802R before it, tends to sit a little higher on the head. Not a problem, just an observation really as no one seems to find it a problem.
If anything, their sizes tend to be a little on the generous side too, again, just worth bearing in mind if you order one.
The internals of the X-802RR are fully removable and washable with separately removable cheek pads which can be replaced with different sizes from X-Lite to make an exact fit – something that’s particularly important in a racing helmet to reduce buffeting and improve protection in an impact.
Improved from the X-802 R is that the comfort lining of the RR is now X-Lite’s active carbon liner. Essentially, weaving carbon strands into the liner is designed to improve cooling, which in turn reduces the load on the body. It’s something that might be of benefit to riders who spend their lives at the track – or those who do lots of riding in hot countries.
It’s also breathable, anti-static and anti-bacterial (actually, it’s bacteriostatic which means it stops bacteria from reproducing. You learn something every day!)
It’s been reported that the chin-guard sits a little closer to your chin than other helmets – again not a problem reported by many people but if you’ve a prominent chin, it might be worth checking out before you buy (or find a retailer with a no-quibble exchange/refund policy – which all our recommended retailers do of course).
Other than these potential niggles, the X-Lite X802RR is reported to be a nice, comfortable helmet.
X-Lite X-802RR Videos
Here’s a subtitled Japanese video looking at the 802RR.
So does the X-Lite X802RR tick all the boxes for a decent sports bike and track day helmet?
It sure does.
X-Lite have obviously put in a great deal of effort to make a helmet that performs for their WSB and MotoGP racers – so it should for you too, especially if you’re a track junkie. They make some of the safest helmets around and the old 802R (same helmet shell as the RR) scored well in the SHARP safety test too, scoring 4/5 stars.
It offers great vision through a wide visor opening with well thought out operation and has excellent ventilation to keep the head cool and the visor clear. It might lack some of the features of some of the more recent crash helmet releases (I’m thinking EQRS mainly here which would’ve been a good addition), but Nolan have focused their effort in making a track-biased helmet that performs well exactly where a racer needs it. Owners love the build and finish quality too. All in all, a great helmet from the Nolan Group and well worth a look.
Alternatives to the X-Lite X-802RR?
There are a few superb alternatives to the X802RR that immediately come to mind.
First off, the Shark Race-R Pro is a top performing SHARP 5 star rated track-focused carbon helmet, that’s super light at 1.3Kg.
Then there’s the new Shoei NXR – a popular lower priced helmet aimed at sportsbike riders; or check out their top of the range Shoei X-Spirit III. That’s a SHARP 5 star rated thoroughbred sports/track helmet that’s the same as the one that adorns Marc Marquez’s head.
For a list of things to consider when buying your next crash helmet, check out our useful links section on our homepage – or for other helmet reviews check out either our Crash Helmet Reviews or SHARP 4 & 5 Star Crash Helmet reviews sections!
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