Gear: Scorpion EXO-900 Snow Ready

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There was a time when I saw Scorpion helmets and turned up my nose, assuming it was so cheaply made I’d invariably break a lid just by trying one on. However, the EXO-400 I purchased for our Labrador expedition opened me to a brave new world. Somehow, that $130 Scorpion managed to be nearly as comfortable and functional as the much more expensive AGV GP-Tech I was wearing at the time, except I didn’t panic every time the EXO-400 got dinged. Scorpion’s $320 EXO-900 Snow Ready is a modular helmet that may be meant for snowmobiling, but it also might be the best damned helmet for any winter riding, regardless of price. 

Sure, but you look like a wannabe cop. What’s so great about it?

I’ve been all over the west coast this winter in all kinds of conditions and the EXO-900 Snow Ready never once got uncomfortable and never came close to fogging or icing over. That includes hooning Urals in the snow-covered fire roads of Mt. Baker, taking a Diavel at night up through the freezing cold San Bernardino range, spending a 30-degree day on the Honda Rubicon in the forest trails surrounding Lake Arrowhead, riding the KTM 990 Adventure above 8,000 very icy feet in the Sierras as well as the dusty Angeles range, plus the gritty hot canyons and bitter cold nights of Death Valley.

Built like a tank, the Snow Ready is a beefier adaptation of Scorpion’s street model, the EXO-900 TransFormerHelmet. The differences are all within the face canopy. The Snow Ready canopy comes standard with a vented visor, fitted breath box and EverClear coated anti-fogging electric shield, but retains the TransFormerHelmet’s ECE-22.05 and DOT-approved shell with inflatable pads and a communications door for connecting chatterboxes.

You know what happens to the visor when I try deliberately fogging it up with heavy breathing? Sweet nothing. Know why? The Snow Ready’s breath box sports a 1/2″ of foam liner on top of the stretchy neoprene that can be shaped to your face. Even better, the breath box is replaceable. Between the breath box and the shield’s EverClear anti-fog coating, the system works so well you only need to heat the shield under the most extreme conditions. In fact, I haven’t needed to plug the shield in since the Mt. Baker trip with Andy and Thor on the Ural M70s.

All the mechanics of the the modular EXO-900 platform are incredibly simple, with elegant solutions that make other modular helmet designs I’ve fiddled with feel downright dumb. Opening or closing the air-vents while wearing heavy winter gloves is the easiest I’ve experienced. Opening the hinged chin vent and forehead vent requires pushing the upper section in like a button. Want them closed instead? Sure, just push the lower protruding side back down. Opening the rear vent is even easier- push out the rear wing and you’re done.


Once you’ve opened the vents, airflow is immediately noticeable even at lower speeds. My AGV GP-Tech isn’t that good.

The canopy removal system is rugged, simple and fast, unlike my older, much more expensive Shoei Multitec that requires tools and considerably more time to remove the canopy. I never fumble the latch to flip up the Scorpion’s modular face canopy. No matter what glove I’m wearing, I immediately hit the latch every time, which I certainly can’t say about that Multitec now gathering dust in the garage.

The slide for the Scorpion’s sun visor is intelligently located on the left, just behind the canopy hinge, and is about as difficult to operate as combing short hair.

This love-fest is great and all, but the thing can’t be perfect. Fess up, now.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Now that I’ve taken the Snow Ready with me everywhere through torrential rain, sleet, flurries and even dust clouds, there is one teensy, tiny nagging issue I have. The shield doesn’t offer a huge field of vision and causes light refraction under certain circumstances that can be a real pain. This is most annoying at night in heavy traffic while there’s moisture in the air. Even a heavy mist turns the 405 into a giant kaleidoscope like one of those silly drug scenes in Easy Rider. Is that kind of vision impairment a safety issue? Not really, but it does mean I have to bring it down several notches on the lane-splitting.

Also, riding into the sun on really dry trails can suck if the dust has time to build up into a thin film on the shield. If that happens, going fast on tight twisty tracks is next to impossible, but it doesn’t get so bad that I ever have to stop because I can’t tell where I was going.

That said, keep in mind the Snow Ready wasn’t designed for use under either of those conditions in which I’ve had problems, so I can’t really fault Scorpion since it offers the EXO-900 TransFormer for the street, sans breath box.

Also, Snow Ready is by no means an ultra-light, but also doesn’t feel any heavier than the Multitec. Personally, I’ve never felt the weight to be an issue while riding. Then again I don’t really care, because if I’m cruising on I-10 with the 990 or the SuperTenere, the flat black version makes me look like a futuristic riot cop. Which is great for scaring the bejeezus out of dullards in traffic taking up too much room between lanes. Superficial perhaps, but totally effective at clearing a path like Moses parting the Red Sea.

  • oldblue

    I would buy this lid immediately if the breath box made my voice sound like Darth Vader.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Ha, no. But it is exceptionally good at frightening 3 year old girls.

      • JC

        Since when do you guys ride ATVs?

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Since always. They’re awesome.

          • JC

            Hmmm, I guess I thought you guys would ride something more bad ass than a Rubicon

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

              You mean like this or this?

  • GoFasterPB

    Scorpion seems to do a good job avoiding visor fogging across the line. My old Exo-700 is the most fog-free helmet I’ve ever owned.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Really wanted a Scorpion because I’ve heard great things and the price…the price! So cheap.

    Unfort. didn’t fit my head right and I found the liner in the 700 to be scratchy.

  • equ

    After returning two agv’s for the same build fault (visor inside peeling off), got an exo-700. No fog and fits me right. It is also a wonderful solid neon green that friends say is visible a mile away.

  • nick2ny

    Country of origin?

    • nick2ny

      Says here they’re made in China. Anyone make helmets in the USA? I imagine there are Japanese and Italian helmets… http://www.webbikeworld.com/r2/motorcycle-helmet/scorpion/

      Either way, that’s still a totally sweet helmet.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Nick, you’re so innocent sometimes. It’s charming.

        • nick2ny

          I’m officially laying off asking about country of origin until… June! And that’s a promise. But I would love to know country of origin when the reviews come along, if for no other reason than to reward SIDI, Shoei, Arai, Aerostitch, et les autres, and to let people know in advance what they’ll see on the label when they open the box. I’ve been disappointed before by otherwise excellent gear tainted by its country of origin. I know it doesn’t matter to everyone, but it does matter to me, and it seems like a useful bit of info in a review–it’s more important to me than price.

          -Golfing Grandparent

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

            Uh, you might want to recheck the labels on some of those brands you listed.

            Just sayin’.

            • nick2ny

              What I know off the top of my head (may be wrong)

              SIDI: Italy (top end) and Romania. Potentially with foreign components, but I don’t know.
              Shoei: All made in Japan
              Arai: All made in Japan (may be outdated)
              Aerostitch Roadcrafter (made in USA, potentially of some foreign components)

              If you know something I don’t let me know, or I’m going to have to start motorcycling naked on a bicycle just in case

              • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

                Just because parts are pieced together in a given space for a particular product does not account for the origin of those components used in that product, the raw elements to make said components nor the energies expended to transport those components in their various states, in some cases multiple times, across global expanses.

                • nick2ny

                  The wowd is getting too compwicated for my addode widdle bwain.

                  You’re right, of course. There’s the same problem with watches labelled “Swiss made.” 50% of the value (not quantity) of the components that go into the watch must be from Switzerland. Of course, the value of swiss components is probably 20x that of Chinese made components, so you could wind up with a 1:20 ratio of Swiss to Chinese parts and still be called “Swiss Made.” Globalisation makes it terribly tough to figure out what the heck is made where.

                  Let me live in my little world where I just check the label and fire off a quick email to the manufacturer before a purchase. :)

                  http://www.tractionink.com/watch_wiki/index.php?title=Swiss_Made

      • HammSammich

        I think the thing to keep in mind is that China has a vast and varying base of manufacturing capabilities. Just as we’ve seen here with Cleveland Cyclewerks, it’s very possible for Western Companies to work with Chinese Manufacturers to produce high quality products exactly to their specifications. Just as it would with domestically manufactured products, this simply requires testing and verification for Quality Assurance. Having seen the quality of Scorpion helmets first hand (my wife’s, not mine since their shell doesn’t fit me) I am confident that they have good procedures in place for ensuring their products are being manufactured to the quality levels they expect.

        I am all for buying products that are designed and manufactured domestically for a number of reasons, including the economic and environmental benefits. But if you’re willing (or as is the case with motorcycle helmets, essentially forced) to buy imported gear, doesn’t it seem kind of xenophobic to avoid certain products strictly based on the country of manufacture?

        • nick2ny

          It’s based on working conditions and environmental pollution, the ease of planned obsolescence when manufacturing is so cheap, and lack of spare parts availability. Also a series of bad experiences with Chinese-made products, and a series of good experiences with Japanese-made products.

    • Ankur V

      I have an EXO-400 that says it’s made in China. Having seen some other Chinese helmets, I wouldn’t have known it unless I checked.

  • Campisi

    It was snowing on the ride home from work this evening. Anything that won’t fog up with the shield down would be a godsend.

  • robotribe

    HALO-inspired?

  • Sam

    I’ve had an EXO-900 for about 9 months, if I hadn’t gone gravel surfing recently I’d still use it. It’s a great modular helmet for the price, a tad on the heavy side but that’s it. I love it, probably going to pick up another one if I can’t find a Multitech on sale somewhere.

  • Ankur V

    I have an EXO-400 right now that I use daily and only have a few complaints with it. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but that’s only a problem when I’m carrying it around, not when it’s on my head. The ventilation on my helmet doesn’t work very well. Other than that, best $150 I’ve ever spent in my life. The shield doesn’t fog up and it’s relatively stable at highway speeds too.

  • Tim

    I have a 3+ year old EXO-700 and really like it. I tried a Shoei Qwest and it fogged like mad. I had to open the chin vent to clear it up but then had to deal with the cold air. Sent it back and kept on with the Scorpion.

    Tim

  • aristurtle

    I like the idea of modular helmets but always worry that the hinge will break if I slam my chin into the asphalt at sixty miles per hour. Anyone have any actual crash-test data on the subject?

    • Devin

      I think that is why you don’t see any Snell approved modular helmets. Not sure if the Euro standard has the same restriction.

      • Sam

        HJC IS BT Max is a snell approved modular helmet.

    • HammSammich

      I’ve felt the same way…I’ve been eyeing the Roof Boxer for a long time, but just can’t get over the snap-down chin bar.

    • Sam

      Several modular helmets have done very well in the sharps report.
      http://sharp.direct.gov.uk/

  • Tony T.

    My 400 works well enough, but the anti-fog has the curious affectation of causing gradual distortion as the moisture builds up inside. Eventually fog forms on top of this moisture and you have to remove the visor entirely to clean it. I was caught in a weird hail/rain storm (40 miles from home) last weekend and found myself without a cotton cloth. I was able to kind of push the moisture to the sides. It’s still miles better than my old Arai Vector.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    I’ve got two Arai’s that have been sitting on a shelf in my basement since I bought my EXO-400. It’s THAT good. One the other hand, my friend has an EXO-900 that he says is the biggest piece of shit he’s ever put on his head. Heavy, loud, etc.

    I tried on the the entire 2012 line at one of the recent IMS shows. The EXO-500 feels better on my dome than any other helmet no matter the price.

    • Aienan

      That is the thing though, you have to buy what fits. My head is weird, and my Arai is the best I found that fit. That said, I have tried on a few Shoei (spelling?) helmets since then and they arn’t bad so when this one needs replacements…

      Personally, my head is shaped weird and the scorpions have a pressure point just above my forehead. Anyone else have this?

  • zero

    I love my EXO-400 I picked up on clearance for $80. Great helmet and I bought my girl a scorpion because of it.