Review: Nema Player Carbon Helmet
July 14th, 2013
Nema probably isn’t the the first brand that pops into your head when you think about top shelf carbon full face helmets, but preconceived notions aside, that’s exactly what they’ve done teaming up with Japanese helmet manufactures Kabuto to bring you the Nema Player.
While Nema might be a new name for some, they’ve been in the game since 1994 where they took the market by storm with their pioneering technical MTB short; the first real alternative to the standard spandex look of the day. Their product line up has grown over the years and with the new Player helmet in the line, things are moving for the Californian brand…
Manufacturing good quality helmets that meet and exceed all safety tests is a tough and expensive job, so it’s no surprise that some brands out-source their products when it comes to helmet manufacturing, which is exactly what Nema did when approaching the full face helmet market. Working directly with Kabuto, a leading Japanese helmet manufacturer, and like other leading brand collaborations, it’s a partnership that they’re proud to let there customers know too…
I think this is a good move as most people would have expected that a smaller company couldn’t manufacture there own helmet, but seeing that Kabuto logo on the Player gives you the confidence you need to know that you are buying a high quality helmet like the Player. Kabuto full face helmets have seen their fair share of world cup action protecting the heads of reigning world champ Greg Minnaar and pinners like Neko Mulally, Luke Strobel and Brook Macdonald to name just a few.
Out of the Box
The styling of the helmet lives up to its Player name; classy yet aggressive with good sharp lines that leads you to the front of the helmet. It only comes in one colour, which is a clear carbon finish with classic grey pin striping finished off with a white rubber trim around the edges. Certainly not a loud in your face looking number, but an understated and meaningful look all the same and one that tells the track you are hear to do business.
Extra note worthy features of the Player are that it comes with a spare visor – a very useful addition as this is the part that usually brakes when you have a bit of a tumble. A spare Visor screw (that is pre-drilled for extra speed!) and the all important helmet bag… The helmet bag is a bit of a let down in all honesty and compared to what you get with other high end helmets, its not much to jump about… It is worth noting that you do get that spare visor which you don’t get with similar helmets on the market like the Fox Rampage Pro Carbon or Bell Full-9. The only alternative that ticks the quality helmet bag and spare visor boxes is the Troy Lee Designs D3, which at £426 is a fair bit more than the competitively priced Player at £300!
The helmet also comes with some nice padded chin strap covers although while the ones that go over the buckle end has stayed put, I’ve had some issues with the cover that goes over the longer right hand strap – it can slip off very easily and I ended up losing it on the first day. I was using the helmet without even knowing it had escaped until someone found it on the track and gave it back to me… I then lost it again, so after finding it once more, I have since left it off and put it somewhere safe. A simple fix would be to just put a couple of stitches through the cover and strap to help keep it in place.
The helmet comes in three sizes: XS/S, M/L and XL/XXL. After putting a tape measure around my head I opted for the M/L size. One impressive feature of this helmet is how you can customise the interior so that it fits just right on your head. The helmet comes with two different thicknesses for the cheek pads and a selection on thin dense foam pads to adjust the inner lining. After playing with the options on offer I settled on the thinner cheek pads and no extra padding in the lining. The end result is a comfy and snug fitting helmet. Everyone’s heads are different shapes and sizes so it’s good to know that there are a good number of options to tailor the fit.
“Why make Armour out of Iron when you can make it out of Silk?”
The first thing you notice when wearing the helmet is how light it feels on your head, giving you the feeling that you head is free to move and isn’t weighted down by something overburdening it. Even though it’s light, it’s got a good strong feel to it that you know that its there to protect you head. Luckily I haven’t tested this helmet to its fullest, but I know when I put it on and point the bike down the hill, I’ve got a very well made and engineered helmet on my head that will protect me if things get a bit out of control…
You get a good range of vision out of the helmet too and having tried a few different brands and styles of goggles with the helmet, they have all fitted in fine with no issues. Ventilation is pretty good (actually been able to test this helmet in some hot UK dusty conditions!) on the Player and remained comfy all the way down to the end of the run, unlike some full face helmet that make you feel suffocated at the bottom! No need to whip this one off as soon as you stop and a good sign of quality helmet.
Overall the Player is good quality, high end carbon full face lid that holds its own with the rest of the big names in the carbon helmet game. With a price tag of £299.99 it is reasonably priced, especially with the Fox RPC coming in at £320, the Bell Full-9 at £350 and the TLD D3 at £426. While the lack of a good quality helmet bag seems like nit picking for faults, well it is as this is a pretty sweet helmet! It is also the only helmet of the aforementioned group that comes with a spare peak apart from the expensive D3 and as those of you who have smashed a peak in a fall know all too well, having a spare is pretty awesome. All in all, if you’re looking for a well fitting, high end and classy looking carbon helmet at a great price, the Player should be high up on your list. Recommended gear!
Nema is excluisvely distributed in the UK by Hotlines and for more info on the Player or other items in the Nema line, please click on the link below for more info. Happy trails, Tom.