X-lite’s X-803 Composite, Ultra Carbon and RS Sportsbike Helmets.

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Chas Davies replica X-803

X-Lite’s top dog racing helmet: full review of the X-803 (Composite, Ultra Carbon and RS).

The X-803 is the successor to X-Lite’s X-802 and 802RR. They were great track helmets that were well liked, gave good protection and worked well on the track where riders from Chas Davies to Danillo Petrucci used them in anger in WSBK and MotoGP.

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Full carbon fibre X-Lite X-803

Well, now the X-802s have been shelved, replaced by the X-803s that’ve been developed alongside X-Lite’s current crop of MotoGP and WSBK riders including Danilo, Chaz and Ducati test rider Casey Stoner. So, X-Lite sportsbike helmets have certainly got plenty of racing and design know-how poured into them!

As we noted in our review of the outgoing helmet, the only thing the old X-802 was really missing was some of the latest features such as EQRS. But in all other respects, it was a stonking sportsbike helmet.

Having said that, if you’re after a new sportsbike or track helmet, then there’s lots of choice out there because this is where most of the top makers put most of their R&D effort; meaning there’s some fantastic helmets available. In which case you might wanna click through to our top 10 best track helmets.

So, the X-803’s got its work cut out to really bring anything new, different or better to the party. Let’s have a look what it offers.

Best places to buy an X-Lite X-803?

Please click below to visit the X-Lite X-803 helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShop

Overall/Summary

The X-803 range has built on the solid base created by the outgoing X-Lite X-802R, adding a few sensible improvements to make a great helmet even better.

In terms of impact protection, it is ECE certified and there’s even an FIM Racing tested/homologated version so it looks like it should offer great protection in an accident.

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Side view of the Ultra Carbon RS ‘Hot Lap’ showing racing spoiler

However it hasn’t yet been independently SHARP (or Snell) tested, though we’d be surprised if it doesn’t score either four or five stars in the SHARP helmet test (see safety section above)

It has an excellent visor system – including a Pinlock in the box and generous field of view for good all-round vision – vertical and horizontal – along with improved aero and internals and the addition of EQRS; the X-Lite X-803 may well have everything you need from a track helmet.

And owners say it’s really comfy, has excellent ventilation and feels super light weight when you’re wearing it. The only real fly in the ointment is that it’s loud too… but then most proper track helmets are.

One of the great things about the X-803 range though, is that it’s a MotoGP-developed helmet yet it’s available for a much lower price than pretty well all the premium competition.

So, if you’re after a new sportsbike/track helmet, like to get good value for money yet don’t want to compromise on quality and performance, then the X-Lite X-803 range may well hit the sweet spot. It’s a fantastic helmet.

OK, first up, there’s a few different versions of the X-803 to choose from. So here’s how they differ.

X-Lite X-803 – Composite Fibre standard model

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Plain gloss white composite fibre X-803

The standard X-803 is the entry level, composite fibre race helmet.

Having said that, it still features most of the race innovations of the more expensive models – including EQRS, Racing Air Flow ventilation system, their Carbon Fitting Race liner and Adjustable Stability Device rear spoiler. In fact, most of the features of the most expensive UC and RS versions, just at a cheaper price and with slightly lower spec composite shell.

X-Lite X-803 Ultra Carbon

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Ultra Carbon – same rear spoiler as the composite fibre X803

The Ultra Carbon X-803 has the same overall construction and feature set as the composite fibre helmet but uses a composite of what X-Lite calls carbon and aramid-glass set in a thermoplastic resin to produce a shell that’s lighter/stronger. A layer of carbon fibre is overlaid and shows through on most models.

X-Lite Ultra Carbon RS

This is the current top dog version of the X-803. RS stands for Racetrack Setup and it’s got the same lightweight carbon/aramid shell as the UC. The RS also has additional Racetrack Aerodynamic Spoiler that you’ll see on the WSBK and MotoGP helmets, along with an adjustable liner (called LPC) to let you adjust the internals slightly according to head shape for a better fit. Finally, the RS comes with a green tint track visor as well as a clear ECE compliant visor.

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‘Hot Lap’ Ultra Carbon RS with racing spoiler

*This is the X-803 that looks closest to the MotoGP and WSBK homologated helmet, though X-Lite doesn’t advertise it as the same helmet. Some X-Lite sources say it is the same though it’s not officially acknowledged and on the FIM website the racing homologated version has the suffix -P so there might be slight differences between the two.

Other than the fact the X-803 is ECE certified (DOT in the US) all we can do is look at the helmet’s construction and features to second-guess how much impact protection it’ll offer.

Obviously, there’s two different helmet constructions available. The first entry-level version has a composite shell. X-lite as a brand was set up by Nolan to focus on composite shelled lid production so it should be a good un.

Then there’s the slightly more trick full carbon/aramid Ultra Carbons range of X-803s which are a smidge lighter weight – and have carbon weave showing (depending on the design) so it looks cool.

The old X-802 composite helmet was independently safety tested by SHARP and scored four out of five stars – which is a great result. In fact, SHARP has tested nine composite fibre X-Lite helmets over the years and seven have scored four stars while two scored a maximum five stars.

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Rear view showing adjustable spoiler on an Ultra Carbon

So I reckon we’re on pretty solid ground expecting all variants of the X-803 scoring either four our five stars in the SHARP test, should they test it!

And of course, there’s an FIM tested/homologated version of the Ultra Carbon which means the FIM’s testing department are happy with the helmets submitted to them for testing (in sizes XS-L).

So, it should give decent protection. But there’s more to helmet protection than just impact protection.

As with most track helmets, X-Lite say the X-803 has a really wide visor; designed to give the best possible view when you’re elbowing your way past other riders on the track (or they’re trying to elbow their way past you!). Which is of course great for road riders too – the more peripheral vision the better/safer on the road.

It also comes with a Pinlock anti-fog in the box. Again, they’re awesome to keep your vision clear and mist-free and help keeping you out of trouble on the road.

One of the biggest upgrades to the safety of the X-803 over its predecessor is the inclusion of EQRS or Emergency Quick Release System. It’s probably a must for a modern track helmet and great to see the X-803 is getting in on the action too.

And finally, like pretty well all track-focused helmets, the X-Lite X-803 comes with a double-d ring fastener. Click the link if you want to find out more about them.

Noise suppression isn’t usually top of a sportsbike helmet designer’s agenda – so most out-and-out track helmets can be quite noisy.

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Front view of the Davies Replical X-803

The outgoing (outgone?) X-802 was about average for noise, which actually wasn’t bad for a sportsbike helmet.

The X-803 has a net interior to aid air flow, and an improved ventilation system which means it will let more noise into the helmet along with more air.

And most X-803 owners reckon it’s a pretty noisy helmet. So if you buy one, expect that you’re going to have to wear a decent pair of ear plugs if you’re riding in one for more than a few minutes.

If having a quiet helmet is a priority for you when buying a new helmet, you might want to look at our quietest helmets pages and choose one of those.

All versions of the X-803 feature X-Lite’s RAF or Racing Air Flow System.

That’s essentially lots of front vents, designed to keep riders cool during the most demanding days at the track.

There’s a pair of front chin vents with a couple of passive chin exhausts to the side of the chin bar.

Up top, there’s a twin forehead vent just above the visor and a pair of crown vents, each with their own sliders to open/close the vent.

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Internal view showing EQRS (red tabs) and mesh lining

Of course, to get a decent flow through any helmet, the front vents need to be married to a rear exhaust vent or two to help remove all that fetid, stinky air. Thankfully, the X-803 has a decent sized exhaust vent tucked underneath that adjustable rear spoiler.

Inside the helmet, you’ll find decent channels in the internal polystyrene lining to allow the air to circulate, backed by a mesh comfort liner, again designed to allow more air through to the scalp than conventional solid liners.

Overall, X-803 owners say their helmets vent very well – keeping them really cool on long track sessions.

And while some riders say that the sliders and switches do feel a bit cheap and plasticky, overall the ventilation on all X-803s is very good.

The visor’s a key component on every helmet, and the ratchet visor on the X-803’s no different.

Like any sportsbike helmet, the X-803 is designed to be used in a sportsbike tuck position. So the visor on the 803 gives improved vertical and horizontal visibility with X-Lite saying they’ve widened the visor still further from the X-802’s already wide visor port to give even better peripheral vision.

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Front view of the X803 RS Ultra Carbon in MotoGP graphics. Note all RS versions come with clear and tinted visors

And owners seem to agree that there’s very good vertical and horizontal vision on the X-803 with the forward view in a tuck position being especially good.

X-lite say they’ve also improved the silicon visor seal on the X-803 too to improve noise/water sealing. But other than that, it seems to be more or less the same as the 802. Which is not a bad thing since the 802R ticked pretty well every box going for its visor!

Those ticks included Pinlock anti-fog in the box with external Pinlock adjustment, quick release visor system, and visor lock with ‘cracked-open’ position for a bit more ventilation.

That quick release system is one of the easiest to use – just open up the visor and press the centre of the visor pivot and the visor pulls off.

And if you buy the X-803 RS you’ll get a tinted race visor thrown in too.

So, on the visor front, the X-803 has pretty well got it all covered.

X-Lite has increased the size of the chin area on the X-803 in response to owners of the old helmet moaning a bit about room being tight around the mouth. Good one for listening X-Lite.

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Rear view of the SBK Official version

The interior lining of the X-803 is, as usual, removable and washable (including the lining on the straps).

And X-Lite has used netting around the crown area to allow more ventilation to circulate around the head. That, combined with X-Lite’s ‘Racing Experience’ active carbon lining, which includes a carbon weave inner and was introduced with the old X-802RR, should help keep most riders pretty cool and wick away sweat nicely.

And if you do go for the X-803 UC RS helmet, that’s got the Liner Positioning Control mechanism in there which allows you to pull a ratchet strip at the back of the liner to adjust the fit of the liner for different head shapes.

The fitment shape of the X-803 is medium oval and overall, most owners say it’s a very comfortable helmet.

Looks & Graphics

The X-803 is following lots of other track helmets’ designs with its rear helmet shape and adjustable rear spoiler. The standard composite and UC versions are definitely less ‘out there’ something like than Shoei’s top of the range X-Spirit III or AGV’s Pista GP-R. Although the RS version with its large rear racing spoiler is very similar.

So if less extreme track styling’s your thing, then the X-803 or X-803 UC might well fit the bill.

Having said that, the X-Lite more than makes up for it with a range of race replica graphics including several from Davies, Melandri, Checa, Stoner, Petrucci, Bastianini, Pirro and Camier – most of them available in either the composite fibre shell or carbon fibre version.

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Leon Camier Replica

Other than that, there’s a stack of other classy designs in both versions with the good ole plain pure carbon versions as well as the Puro Sport and unusual tinted weave of the Nuance carbon fibre helmets catching my eye in particular.

We’ve tried to put as many as we can on this review – but we’ve run out of space!

So, if you want to see all the latest designs (and deals!) we suggest you click through to our recommended retailers below to see what’s on offer.

Best places to buy an X-Lite X-803 helmet?

Please click below to visit the X-Lite X-803 helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShop

X-Lite X-803 Video

Here’s X-Lite’s own helmet launch video featuring Ducati WSBK’s Chaz Davies at Mugello.

Other stuff – aero & buffeting, glasses, weight, breath guard, bluetooth, warranty

The first thing to mention here is that X-Lite has redesigned the aero on the X-803 to improve stability and air-flow. That includes an adjustable rear spoiler which you can alter according to your riding style.

And owners say it’s very stable at speed with that adjustable spoiler really making a difference.

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X-803 Ultra Carbon RS SBK with racetrack rear spoiler

If you ride in glasses, then unfortunately none of the X-803s have glasses grooves in there. Which doesn’t mean to say yours won’t work, but it’s a bit of a roll of the dice depending on your head shape and type of glasses.

All the X-803s use pretty trick composites so are light weight. Regular composite fibre versions weigh around 1.35-1.4Kg (3-3.1lbs) whereas the Ultra Carbons are about 100g lighter.

The X-803 comes with a large anti-fogging breath guard. Combine that with the chin vent which directs air onto the back of the visor and the Pinlock anti-fog insert and there’s no reports of fogging on the X-803!

If you’re looking to fit a bluetooth headset, you’ll be disappointed as there aren’t any speaker pockets. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not possible to fit one, just make sure you buy a bluetooth set with some very flat speakers otherwise you might find them pressing into your head.

Finally, the X-Lite X-803 comes with a 5 year warranty – that’s as long as you’ll get from any manufacturer.

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 X-Lite X-803?

There’s a stack of quality alternatives if you’re after a track helmet. You can see our top 10 rated sportsbike helmets here – this list only includes helmets that have been SHARP safety tested and score well in all our safety categories.

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Shoei X-Spirit III

But if you’re after a few names to check out here and now, then first up has to be the Shoei X-Spirit III. The X-Spirit is one of the best-loved and most iconic racing helmets out there at the moment. It’s SHARP 5 star safety rated (of course!) and highly thought of in just about every aspect (maybe with the exception of price!) and it’s a great track or sportsbike helmet.

Shark Race R Pro Carbon in blank red colours
Shark Race R Pro Carbon

Shark’s Race-R Pro is another superb SHARP 5 star safety rated helmet. The Pro carbon version is very light weight and prices end where the X-Spirit’s start, meaning it’s a much more cost-effective option.

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LS2 Arrow-C

Finally, how about the LS2 Arrow. It’s MotoGP-developed, SHARP 4 star safety rated; comes in either full carbon or fibreglass versions and works really well on sportsbikes. It’s much cheaper than both the Shark and Shoei too. Happy days!

Best places to buy an X-Lite X-803?

Please click below to visit the X-Lite X-803 helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShop

Definitely want an X-Lite?

Here you'll find all our X-Lite crash helmet reviews and previews including full face, flip-up and open face helmets.

Other full face helmets?

We've got lots of other ways you can find your ideal full face helmet. You can check out our Top 10 full-face crash helmets list to see our best rated helmets or head over to our Smartish Filters pages and zoom in on helmets with your 'must have' features. You can browse through all our full face crash helmet reviews as well as our safest motorcycle helmets page where you'll only find helmets that are SHARP four or five star rated - so you'll know you're wearing the best protection out there. Finally, check out our helmet gallery to find a lid that takes your fancy.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi

    Great reviews and a lot of good advice and information, so I have bought a X-Lite 803 RS carbon helmet from Sportsbikeshop, however after receiving my helmet yesterday I was shocked to find that the helmet does not have the ACU gold sticker which is what’s needed for racing/trackdays in the UK, I would have thought what is a racing helmet would have the sticker? Any information on this would be greatly appreciated as Sportsbikeshop have not got back to me yet, and a track day is looming.

    Regards

    Wayne

    • Yeah that’s a nuisance. According to the ACU it’s actually the distributor who has to put the stickers onto the helmet so you might be best to contact them. For Nolan/X-Lite helmets it’s a company called Motogear in Northants – 01536 485484. Might be worth suggesting if you send them a copy of your receipt, maybe they’ll send you a sticker in the post? Just a thought.

      Mind you, if you turn up to a track day with a brand spanking X-lite racing helmet, you’d probably be OK. It does depend on how picky the marshalls are on the day of course but I’m sure most would wave you past, though of course it is a bit of a risk that I totally get you’d rather not take. Good luck. Would be interested to find out how you get on with the distributor.

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