Review of the Biltwell Gringo and Gringo-S Motorcycle Crash Helmet

Biltwell Gringo and Gringo-S Review: two Full Face Retro Helmets

Like the Bell Bullet and the Nexx XG100, the Biltwell Gringos are full face retro helmets, designed to conjure up those halcyon days when panheads ruled and in-line fours were new on the streets, and when protection boiled down to how thick the denim was on your jeans.

These days, we demand a bit more from our gear and lids, but we kinda like that retro vibe – often to go with our new breed of retro bikes. Which is where helmets like the Gringo (no visor) and Gringo S (hinged visor) come in.

But when they cost about as much as you’d have paid for your bike in the 70’s, are they worth the money?

  • Full Face thermoplastic retro helmet
  • Gringo (snap on visor) and Gringo S (regular visor)
  • DOT certified only (so not road legal in Eu)
  • Double-D ring strap
  • 2 shell sizes
  • Comfortable but noisy
  • Neutral head shape
  • Sizes XS-XXL
  • Expect to pay £140-£175
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Gringo S in Bourbon metallic

Looking to buy a Biltwell Helmet?

There are few places in Europe where you can buy US Biltwell helmets. So we recommend you buy from one of our US recommended retailers. It'll cost a bit more in shipping of course (so check out our recommended retailer links to find out more).

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and are highly rated for outstanding service and a decent range of Biltwell helmets. Or try SoloMoto in Nevada who have a great rating on Reseller Ratings. Please click either link to see their full range and latest deals

Safety

(more about helmet safety)

The shells of both Biltwell Gringos are made from ABS which is a similar thermoplastic material that you’ll find in lots of helmets.

They’ve been DOT certified for use on the roads in the US, but haven’t been ECE certified for legal road use in the EU. And neither helmet has been independently Snell or SHARP tested, so beyond their having been built to pass DOT tests, there’s no word on the protection a Gringo will offer in an accident.

However, there’s an expanded polystyrene shock absorbing liner (EPS liner) in there and it’s got a decent double-d ring fastener to keep it stuck firmly to your head.

And the S version also has a permanent visor which has gotta be a good thing for safety. In fact quite a few owners of the regular Gringo (without the visor) find that there’s just too much wind-blast without the visor – that’s whether riding with our without sunglasses.

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White Tri-stripe Biltwell Gringo S

So, to max out safety with the Gringo, we’d recommend buying the S version – or buying one of the clip-on visors available to the standard Gringo.

Having said that, and while the Gringo is no novelty helmet, a few owners said it doesn’t give them a feeling of security and safety like most modern full face helmets; some owners sighting the chin bar that’s just made of the same thermoplastic material as the shell and can flex quite a bit.

Note: DOT testing doesn’t cover the chin guard either (though Snell certified helmets will have passed a chin bar impact test).

Noise doesn’t really seem to be an issue for owners of a Gringo.

That seems to be a) because most people seem to be trading-up from an open face helmet so their Gringo seems quiet in comparison or b) no-one is really expecting much noise-attenuation performance from their Gringo, so buy one expecting it to be noisier than ‘modern’ ff helmets.

Again, folks are buying a Gringo for simplicity and looks and ‘so what if it’s a bit noisy’. Which is totally fine. But if we’re looking objectively at helmet noise, then the Gringo seems to be a pretty noisy helmet compared to most other full faces.

But if you’re thinking about buying a Gringo – hey, what does that matter?!? Buy some decent ear plugs and rock a Gringo anyway!

biltwell-gringo-gloss-black-retro-helmet-side-view
Flat black Gringo (snap-on visor)

As you’ve probably noticed from the pictures, there’s only two ventilation holes in the Gringo; and that’s the one big hole in the front where the visor goes and that other big hole where your head goes. Apart from that, there’s zero vents.

Which might not be a problem if you’re wearing a Gringo around town for the occasional ride or if you keep it without a visor and letting in a ton of air.

And the great thing is that most people who buy the Gringo do it because they’re looking to get back to basics and they can forgive the Gringo minor misgivings like poor ventilation.

In fact despite the lack of vents, very few Gringo owners seem to report getting too hot in their helmets. If you’re buying one expecting great levels of venting like modern day full face helmets, then you might be disappointed. But then most owners don’t buy a Gringo for its ventilation; because they’re after retro-cool rather than cool-venting.

And besides, keep the visor open or wear goggles or shades and you’ll get enough air into your Gringo – for short/medium trips anyhow. And if you do buy one but find it too hot, a couple of owners said they removed the cheek pads which helped air flow massively without making it too uncomfortable (plus helped with fitting earbuds).

The Gringo comes in 2 flavours – the Gringo S with a basic hinged face visor and the Gringo (no S) with the snaps to take a snap-on visor.

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White Gringo with smoked bubble visor

Taking the visor-less Gringo first, there’s a few different visors available if you decide you want to try one. The standard 2D visor is called the Blast Face visor, but there’s also the Biltwell Bubble anti-fog visor. And of course there’s a bunch of goggles and riding glasses that will fit inside the Gringo.

Having said that, be careful if you’re planning on using goggles or sun glasses as word is that many goggles don’t fit as the opening’s too small. Also wear sealed biker shades rather than standard sun glasses as a few riders reckoned the Gringo tends to funnel air behind the glasses and make your eyes water.

If all that’s a problem, then you might be best going for the Gringo S with built-in visor and with either rubber gasket or shiny chrome gasket. Owners reckon it’s a better bet for longer distance riding too. Plus the visor can be snapped closed to make sure it stays closed when it needs to be.

biltwell-gringo-s-gloss-agave-grey-helmet-rear-view
Totally plan rear on Gringo S Agave

Owners love how comfortable their Gringo’s are.

It’s a slightly rounder helmet fitment (rather than the more common oval shape) meaning it’s pretty neutral, designed to fit most heads – but if you’re unsure, make sure you either try one on first or buy from a retailer with a no-quibble returns policy (like our recommended retailers).

Oh, and make sure you follow our fitment guide.

Inside the Gringo is a quality quilted interior made from a brushed Lycra. It’s removable for washing too.

Sizing of the Gringo is about right, so just measure your head and order the right size.

Looks & Graphics

Most people buy a Biltwell Gringo because they look spot-on for that retro look. Which is why Biltwell have made so many old-school and muted colour schemes that’ll match your old-school Triumph or HD.

If you can’t find the finish you’re after on this page, then click through to our recommended retailers using the links below to find the latest colours and deals.

Best places to buy a Biltwell crash helmet?

There aren't many places in Europe to buy a US Biltwell helmet, so here's a couple of US retailers we recommend.

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and offers outstanding service (at the time of writing 9.8/10 on Reseller Ratings and 4.9/5 on Google customer reviews), 30 day refunds and decent shipping rates.

We also recommend SoloMoto in Nevada. At the time of writing, they score 9.5/10 on Reseller Ratings.

They are both recommended retailers (click here for more information on why we recommend them as well as info on shipping costs) and if you buy from either, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).

Click to visit Revzilla
Click to visit Biltwell helmets at Revzilla
Click to visit Biltwell helmets page at SoloMoto

Biltwell Gringo Videos

First up, a 3m video on the Gringo S (the one with the visor), followed by a 3m video of the visor-less Gringo.

Other stuff – weight, glasses, aero, warranty

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Vintage white Gringo S

Because the Gringo is so minimalist, it’s light weight too. It’s built in two shell sizes so there will be a slight weight variance between the two, but owners say it feels really light. It weighs in at just 1.3kg (under 3lbs) which is well below the average weight for a full face lid.

Guys who wear their Gringos with glasses seem to find it a bit of a pain. You can’t get the helmet on with your glasses in place and if you want to have a visor down, you’ll probably need to buy a bubble visor as there’s not much space behind the regular flat visors.

Buffeting and aero isn’t really an issue – as long as you use the Gringo as intended; i.e. go cruising in it rather than looking to break speed records. It’s got a nice smooth exterior but can lift at speed and obviously if you’re not wearing a visor, there’s a stack of visor aperture to catch the wind.

Finally, your new Biltwell Gringo will come with a 2 year warranty.

Overall/Summary

Like we always do, we’ve scored the Biltwell Gringo on a number of factors that most motorcyclists judge a helmet on.

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Limited edition Gringo Tracker

But with the Gringo and other retro helmets, that’s arguably a bit pointless.

I mean, let’s face it, you’re thinking about buying one because it looks cool and reminds you of the old days (whether you were actually there or not!).

And it probably suits your ride. OK, you want it to give you more protection than your open face helmet and you like the idea of being able to snap on a visor when you need it.

But it’s never going to give as good protection as one of our best safety-rated regular helmets. It’s not going to perform as well on a long ride either – modern helmets have more sophisticated ventilation systems and materials inside to keep you comfortable and cool. But then you knew that anyway.

Provided you know the limitations of a retro helmet like the Gringo, and you’re planning on using it for local rides and cruising, then we’re sure you’ll be very happy together. Though you might wanna check out one of the other retro helmet alternatives below first (which are both ECE certified so legal to use on the road in Europe).

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

Good Alternatives to the Biltwell Gringo?

There’s a couple of great alternative retro helmets knocking around – but they’re both more expensive than the Gringo.

First up is the Bell Bullet. Word is it’s better made than the Gringo and it’s both ECE and DOT certified as well as SHARP safety tested where it gained 3 stars (out of 5) – so it’s a serious helmet that just happens to look retro. It’s comfortable too, offers wide vision, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than the Gringo.

Secondly, there’s the composite-fibre Nexx XG100. That’s actually slightly lighter than the already-light Gringo, is highly rated for ventilation and comfort and is both DOT & ECE certified.

Looking to buy a Biltwell Helmet?

There are few places in Europe where you can buy US Biltwell helmets. So we recommend you buy from one of our US recommended retailers. It'll cost a bit more in shipping of course (so check out our recommended retailer links to find out more).

Revzilla are based in Philadelphia and are highly rated for outstanding service and a decent range of Biltwell helmets. Or try SoloMoto in Nevada who have a great rating on Reseller Ratings. Please click either link to see their full range and latest deals

Star Ratings

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Safety
Comfort
Noise
Features
Value
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