Motorcycle helmets are safe, stylish . . . and hot as hell. Especially in the sun. Whether wearing an open-faced or full-faced helmet, every rider reaches a point on a sweltering day where no amount of speed is fast enough to cool off. Sweat rolls down your cheeks or into your eyes even as the breathing vents pump in hot air—and the bike you’re straddling pumps out heat like a BBQ grill in July. The entire experience can feel like someone is blasting a hairdryer in your face.
That’s where Los Angeles inventor Steve Feher comes in; he wants to turn down the heat. Feher made millions from his patents for the cooling technology used in the seats of luxury automobiles such as Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Bentley, and Lexus. Applying the same concept, the inventor has launched ACH-1, a full-face motorcycle helmet with integrated air conditioning.
The concept is decidedly compact. A small thermo-electric pump built into the back of the helmet dehumidifies the air inside the helmet and cools it by roughly 10 to 15 degrees to increase rider comfort. The unit is powered by a 12-volt motorcycle battery that the helmet connects to directly via a breakaway cable. And while the idea of an air-conditioned motorcycle helmet may bring up images of bulky window-mounted AC units, the entire ACH-1 helmet weighs just 3.2 lbs—about the weight of a modern carbon-fiber helmet, and it meets DOT and ECE certifications. Total price: $549.
I took the ACH-1 for a test ride on a steamy Los Angeles day as the heat shimmered off the pavement and the thermometer pushed 110 degrees. To make matters worse, a hot and dry wind blew across the dry brush and sand surrounding the Angeles Crest Highway. While these are normally the conditions that force a motorcycle rider to store the bike, the ACH-1 made a marked difference. Through a slight whirring sound (unnoticeable over the sound of a Ducati engine), the air inside the ACH-1 felt cooler and more tolerable.
Any doubts about the helmet’s efficiency were erased when I stopped, removed it, and felt the full force of the day’s heat hit me in the face. For once, I was eager to get a motorcycle helmet back on.