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The critic who cried wolf… or perhaps not…

Impressive upsides, and the occasional downside…

TO BE HONEST, I am finding it extremely difficult to keep up with Ruroc!

You may know of the British-born brand which began by manufacturing snowboarding apparel back in 2010. Recently branching out into motorcycle helmets, it has established itself as one of the fastest growing brands in the UK.

And thereby lies the problem. As soon as one particular style is launched, in a particular colourway which you find attractive, and go ahead with a purchase, more colourways follow, equally, or nicer than, the one you have shelled out for (pardon the pun).

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Fenrir

The Atlas 4.0 range is a case in point. I liked the look of the Fenrir, and not having tried the brand before, opted for the rather garish styling. But then there was the Ruby Carbon and the Emerald Carbon and the Liquid Carbon and the Harley Quinn and the Core and the Komainu and the Daimyo and the Horus and the Nomad… you get my drift…

Interesting names, all, so let’s break this down a bit more. Komainu, often called lion-dogs in English, are statue pairs of lion-like creatures either guarding the entrance or the honden, or inner shrine of many Japanese Shinto shrines. Daimyo were feudal lords who, as leaders of powerful warrior bands, controlled the provinces of Japan from the beginning of the Kamakura period in 1185 to the end of the Edo period in 1868. Horus, the falcon-headed god and son of Osiris and Isis, the divine child of the holy family triad, is a familiar ancient Egyptian god and has become one of the most commonly used symbols of Egypt, seen on Egyptian airplanes, and on hotels and restaurants throughout the land.

So, I am sure you are wondering, what of Fenrir? Well, I can help you there, too. ‘He Who Dwells in the Marshes’ is the most infamous of the many wolves in Norse mythology.

RurocAtlas 4.0 Fenrir

A child of the demoniac god Loki and giantess Angrboða, Fenrir was born as an abnormally large and powerful wolf with great intelligence but an evil temperament. Fearing Fenrir’s strength and knowing that only evil could be expected of him, the gods bound him with a magical chain made of the sound of a cat’s footsteps, the beard of a woman, the breath of fish, and other occult elements. He was destined to lie bound to a rock until Doomsday, when he would break his bonds and fall upon the gods. Fenrir figures prominently in Norwegian and Icelandic poetry of the 10th and 11th centuries, and the poets speak apprehensively of the day when he will break loose. Well, he has done, thanks to Ruroc.

All the brand’s helmets are now manufactured by Ruroc’s team in its own purpose-built factory in China, which is headed up by members of its production team from HQ. The ATLAS 4.0 is Ruroc’s answer to a lightweight carbon-fibre full-face helmet and is one of the first motorcycle helmets to ship with the impressive ECE 22.06 safety rating, exceeding all testing standards by a minimum of 20 per cent.

Rurual Atlas 4.0 Fenrir

I appreciate that styling will always divide opinion, but I was drawn to the particularly radical look of the Atlas and was keen to try one. My first mistake was in following the somewhat strict measurement system advised by the manufacturer to obtain that perfect fit. Having measured and remeasured my head, I fell nicely into the SM (Small-Medium, 55.5cm-57.4cm) bracket… apparently. When the helmet arrived, there was no way it was going to fit my head. (Ruroc does offer a 14-day return or exchange policy.) I exchanged the lid for an ML (Medium-Large, 57.5cm-60.4cm), and this time we were good to go.

According to James Campbell, Head of Engineering, the refined fit of the new liner is built around anthropometric analysis and kinematic studies of helmet impacts, ensuring maximised impact attenuation with premium comfort. And do bear in mind that the ultra-tough Carbon fibre shell construction boasts the world’s first road helmet to integrate RHEON™ impact technology.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Fenrir

I hadn’t come across it. RHEON LABS partnered with Ruroc to develop a high-performance energy-absorbing super polymer liner. Utilising algorithmic design techniques and state-of-the-art test facilities, the company engineered 48 unique RHEON structures to behave like reactive suspension beneath the shell. Designed to control all types of impact energy, both linear and rotational, by shearing and strengthening on impact.

Back to the helmet, and first off I decided to swap the clear visor for the dark one (for track use only, tut tut!) supplied in the box and inserted the anti-fog Pinlock insert (sold separately). And here, Ruroc must be applauded. Removal of the visor is simplicity itself, taking mere seconds. All you need do is give the plastic attachment on either side of the helmet a quarter turn anti-clockwise and the visor lifts off. Reverse the order to clip it back in place.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Fenrir

Once on, the visor offers an excellent field of view, with six stages to the visor’s position in total. However, the one issue that caused me some frustration was the ‘Fidlock’ fastener at the chin strap. I’m used to either ratchet or double-D ring fastenings. The ‘Fidlock’ sees the two halves snap together via a powerful magnet and latch design. Should be simplicity itself. Having adjusted the strap to the required length, which proved a real fiddle in itself, I tried the system several times whilst holding the helmet with no issue, but once on my head, could I get it to latch… nope! So I removed the helmet, made a cup of coffee, ruminated, and tried again. Bingo! First time, no worries. So what the hell was that all about? I unclipped it and tried once more. Bingo! Sorry Ruroc, I had at first thought this was going to prove to be a pain I could do without, and worth mentioning. Part of the problem might have been the fact that I was wearing a neck tube and this might have bunched up, making the strap even tighter, but who knows, we got there in the end.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Fenrir

As to the Atlas 4.0’s comfort standing, Ruroc has introduced new cheek pads constructed from a premium sweat-wicking fabric with multi-density foam layers. Once I had the helmet on, it felt comfortable and snug, and I thought, ‘This is nice, no pressure points to speak of.’ Sadly, I was wrong. The first couple of outings I had no issues, but then I took on some longer rides and noted discomfort under my lower left jawline. Having stopped for a brew, I took my time in getting the helmet nicely secured, and, continuing the journey, the pressure and discomfort had returned, which was a real shame.

Ruroc has also looked into sound dampening, with ear inserts and the streamlined shell intended to provide a quieter acoustic experience. Airflow comes in pairs, with vent holes at the chin, on the top, and two open exhaust vents on the rear. Access to the chin vent is opened and closed from the inside. The first time riding in the helmet, I was a tad disappointed with the wind noise, as I had expected it to be quieter than it was. Then, over a weekend, I went on some longer rides. I had chosen possibly the most blustery weekend of the year to date, with brisk north-westerlies sweeping across the country, and even with earplugs which I always wear, I was hoping for a favourable experience. Yet even with the wind behind me, the wind noise was a real distraction.

Ruroc Atlas 4.0 Fenrir

Should you fancy riding with music and comms, you can always upgrade to Ruroc’s Shockwave™ Bluetooth insert with sound by harman/kardon and sold separately at £150. The main unit with battery is installed into the rear of the helmet and comes with a small microphone and low-profile speakers. Yep, there is an issue here, too, in that the controls are managed from the rear, which can prove a tad clumsy until you get accustomed to it.

So, despite a few questionable design choices. Ruroc continues full steam ahead. Just don’t go jumping in before you have viewed the complete range! And on the other hand, if you think I might be crying wolf, don’t pay any attention to me, try one for yourself!

Mike Cowton

 

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