Nine year old Junior Road Racer, James 'Rocket' Weaver checks out the Kabuto RT-33 helmet with some help from former-racer dad Mark. Review written by Mark Weaver
The Kabuto RT-33 is a lightweight, good-looking helmet that fits well and offers good vision, comfort and safety, particularly for younger riders who may struggle to find the right option.
Kabuto is the Japanese word for a combat helmet worn by Samurai from the fifth century and OGK Kabuto have been making the motorcycle version since 1982. That’s 35 years of expertise and while the name is less known here in Australia but they are certainly popular and can be seen in all kinds of places.
Kabuto are particularly proud of their patented Single Action Shield System, which is the easiest, most straight forward visor changing mechanism I’ve have seen. Unlike most helmets, the release button is easily accessible on the outside of the visor, rather than under the visor and inside the ratchet mechanism.
This means connecting a dark visor is not nearly as complicated on the Kabuto as it is on any helmet where you need to see through the visor to get the connections right. It really is very straightforward, with dark tinted and iridium visors available (the RT-33 comes standard with a clear visor).
Our helmet tester was James ‘Rocket’, a nine-year-old junior road racer, currently competing in Damian Cudlin’s MotoStars.com.au race series. This is James’s second road helmet, having already progressed through three dirt bike helmets in his five years of motorcycle riding to date, and he was extremely happy and excited to receive the Kabuto RT-33.
The black, white and grey design looks fast and sharp, and the red inner lining also looks great. He particularly liked the fact that the Kabuto was ultra-light, the padding was nice and soft, yet firm and supportive, and didn’t squash his ears like his previous road helmet.
The visor even features posts for tear offs as standard, and while we haven’t used these to date, it’s great to have the option. The RT-33’s field of vision is also very good, being both wide and high.
Helmet size and fit is always extremely important, but especially for a junior, because a helmet too loose or too large can slip down over the eyes and impede vision, or fail to do its job in an incident on the track or road. Figuring out the correct helmet size for a child is a pretty straight forward process of measuring their head with a tape measure to find their hat size.
Helmet sizes are standardised, but the fit will of course vary from brand to brand, and sometimes between different helmet models. Appropriate child sized road helmets are also still pretty rare and difficult to find.
The Kabuto small adult shell adapts all the way down to an XXS, using a removable crown liner and cheek pads. This is the equivalent to a Youth Large helmet, however, the adult size shell of the Kabuto RT-33 weighs approximately a third of James’ previous youth-sized shell helmet from a different brand. The crown liner and cheek pads can also be washed carefully in a washing machine, and it doesn’t get any easier than that.
James uses his road helmet for training, coaching and racing several times a month. For racing, safety is paramount, but state laws now require minimum ages for pillion road riders – and correctly fitted, approved helmets. You can’t just put a too-large adult helmet on a child pillion and be safe.
We purchased James’s previous road helmet simply because it was all we could get, but he complained that it squashed his ears. An international racer friend gave his new Kabuto helmet’s fit a good checking and gave it the thumbs up for safety.
The RT-33’s visor interior posts also take a Pinlock brand anti-fog lens, but the breath guard worked well to prevent fogging in the extremely cold temperatures at the August MotoStars Round in Albury. The lining even has a slit for glasses, for those who wear specs or sunglasses when riding. None of James’s previous helmets had vents, but the chin, forehead and rear vents are simple to use and James grasped their purpose and use right away.
For a junior road racer, the two major concerns of the purchasers (their parents or sponsor) are going to be safety and vision. Price point and value for money are also major considerations, as children can outgrow their helmets in under a year.
The weight of the helmet is also particularly important on a wee racer as it reduces the load on their small neck, and the RT-33 really excels in this department with its weight coming in at 1.47kg.
We recently met some kart people who had also just purchased a Kabuto helmet for their daughter who is racing speedway karts. They said they were extremely happy with their choice, because it can be difficult to find road helmets for children and the Kabuto’s light weight was great for a mini competitor.
Her Kabuto helmet also had a drop down tinted visor, which was great for daytime racing and avoiding being blinded by changing light conditions. They rated their Kabuto helmet, ‘five stars out of five.’
About Mark & James
Mark Weaver raced in Formula Extreme and St George from 2009 through to 2015, and is now focusing on his son’s road racing. He was also a long time motorcycle tester for Rapid Bikes Magazine.
James ‘Rocket’ Weaver is a nine-year-old road racer who has been riding and racing dirt bikes for five years. You can follow his adventures on Instagram @JamesRocketRacing
The Kabuto RT-33 comes in sizes XS to 3XL in a variety of colour options including: Flat Black, Flat Gun Metal, Flat Black/Silver, White/Red/Blue, Green/orange, Flat Black, Matt Black/Red, Red/White/Blue, for $579.96 RRP as tested.
Special thanks to Moto National www.motonational.com.au