The X-Lite X-551 crash helmet is made by Nolan and aimed at supermoto on/off road adventure riders. It’s an interesting combination of full-faced helmet with an integral slide down sun visor as well as a removable/adjustable peak.
- 1.6Kg (medium weight)
- ECE approved (but not SHARP tested)
- Great for ventilation
- Pinlock anti-fog visor
- Only average for noise supression
- Integral sun visor
- Typical price range: £230-£330
Note. X-Lite X-551 is now discontinued. Take a look at our adventure helmets section for some great alternatives.
If you’re after something a bit different from the usual full or open faced helmets, you might fancy giving the X-551 from X-lite a try. Plus if you’re riding something like a GS12 or a Multistrada and want something that suits the look, this could be the baby.
The X-551 has been ECE 22.05 approved for sale in the EU, however it hasn’t been SHARP tested yet so we’re not really sure how well it’ll perform in the real world (or as close as we can get without headbutting an A-road!). However, looking through all previous SHARP tests, no X-lite helmet has scored lower than 4 out of 5 and they came 5th in our review of the safest crash helmet brands, so the X-551 is hopefully going to perform well too.
Reports are that the X-551 is about average for sound proofing. The peak, vents and underside of the helmet all add a bit of turbulence which is always noisy, and the amount of noise does of course depend on the sort of bike you ride and your riding position (a naked at 110 is going to be a tad noisier than stuck behind a barn door fairing). But that said, it’s not a particularly noisy or quiet helmet – bang in the middle according to most riders.
The helmet is made in three different shell sizes – which is a good thing. Manufacturers of cheaper helmets try and get away with having to create fewer physical shells, instead padding out a larger helmet with more lining to fit smaller heads. X-Lite using three different shell sizes means that the X-551 will fit more optimally, and stop you looking like a lollipop if you wear smaller sizes. They’re also arguably safer. The X-551 is available in sizes XS – XXL.
The X-lite has great ventilation from multiple chin vents and three forehead/crown vents. All vents are pretty easy to use even in gloves. The top vents use a swivel plate – press down at the back to open and the front pops up to act as a little scoop. Simple and effective. Users rate it as really good for ventilation – both to keep the head cool or keep it from misting up in cold weather.
It’s got two visors – the main visor that users say is particularly optically clear and gives a nice wide view – and a drop down sun visor, operated with a slider on the side of the helmet. The main visor comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert (these are bang on if you ride in the cold or rainy weather) and the ratchet is nice and firm, locking the visor in four positions that stay there in the wind blast. The sun visor is optically pretty good too and it’s easy to use with a slider. If you’ve got a big hooter, some riders reckon the sun visor can catch on it though as it’s set quite far back.
Good quality lining with removable cheekpads so you can micro-adjust the helmet if you find it’s not fitting quite right. Provided you give the helmet a trial so there aren’t any pressure points, users reckon it’s a really comfy place to be.
Peak, Aero, Finish
Onto the rest of the stuff. The peak’s really useful for keeping the sun out. It’s adjustable and removable too if you don’t need it. With all that plastic stuck up front, you’d expect it to create a real racket in the wind. But apparently not. It does make some noise of course, but folks reckon much less than you’d think. They also say the finish of the helmet is great – the water based paint gives a lovely glossy and lacquered finish that’s up there with the best.
It’s a reasonably cool looking helmet that’s got some great features such as the sun visor and easy-to-use vents. It performs well in pretty well all respects and is a reasonable buy at the price point. If you’re into adventure helmets and like the look, we reckon you’ll be pleased you took the plunge.
For other helmet reviews check out either our Crash Helmet Reviews or SHARP 4 & 5 Star Crash Helmet reviews sections! And, as always, if you have experience of the X-551, please add your thoughts in the comments section below – cheers!
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