Steelbird SA-1 Aeronautics Helmet Review

21 September 2019, 04:30 PM Anuj Mishra

Introduction

Anyone who rides a motorcycle in India is sure to be well-acquainted with the name ‘Steelbird.’ Such is the popularity of the brand that every second or third rider on the streets can be seen wearing their helmets. The reason for this is the wide range of affordable helmets Steelbird offers with a variety of design, decals and visors. However, the brand has been thinking beyond budget lately and churning out slightly more premium products. One such helmet is the SA-1 Aeronautics. 

The Aeronautics belongs to Steelbird’s flagship SA-1 line-up of products. An ISI (Indian Standard Institute)-certified helmet, it is available only in two sizes - medium (580mm) and large (600mm). From the eight colour options available, we received the attention-seeking Moon Yellow shade with matte-finishing. Steelbird also has multiple options of visors that include Iridium coated, night vision and smoked. However, the one at our disposal is the highly-purposeful photochromatic visor. And, purposeful it is, which we unfolded after spending significant time with the helmet. 

Is it comfortable?

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Yes, it is! The Aeronautics integrates inner paddings comprising of cheek pads and head liner that are easily removable. On top of that, the aptly cushy paddings are also sufficiently comfortable for not just short inter-city runs but also on long rides. Now, speaking of long rides, the Aeronautics feels stress-free even on the highways, while doing under-three digit speeds. This is courtesy of the four vents which includes two inlets on the front and two outlets at the rear. There’s also an air-vent on the chin section for fog deflection but it does a poor job of preventing the condensation of the visor in rains. 

Speaking of rains, we've been witnessing heavy showers lately in Mumbai and the Aeronautics proved to be a great companion this Monsoon. With the visor closed, it provides excellent water insulation, however, at the cost of a foggy visor. This can be dealt with by leaving the visor slightly open but as the speed increases, it shuts down due to the wind.

Steelbird claims that the SA-1 has been developed using the duct airflow technology adapted by NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). This involves a design with air-inlets for low drag which the helmet portrays by possessing a decent air-surpassing capability. While this majorly helps in keeping your neck from straining, the light weight of the helmet also adds to the comfort.

The aerodynamic efficiency, however, is only felt at a controlled speeds. As you enter into the three-digit territory, the SA-1 starts to shudder due to the resistance of air. 

Now, the party piece in the SA-1 we received is the photochromatic visor which is supposed to darken in bright conditions while turning clear in the dark. And, it works brilliantly! While the shade isn't entirely darkened during the day, it is opaque enough to prevent eyes from straining under the sun. Meanwhile, at night, it is as transparent as a conventional clear visor.

Quality

After unboxing the Aeronautics helmet, we were mighty impressed by its paint quality. After about two months of usage now, the finishing is still intact. Although dust and dirt settle easily on the outer shell, owing to the matte-finished paint job, a thorough wash with detergent is enough to wipe off the blemishes and make it squeaky clean.

The photochromatic visor, although functions as expected, already has minor scratches but that is negligible. Also, the stiff rotating mechanism makes the opening and closing of the visor quite a task while wearing it. The chin strap setup comprises of a clip-on harness which, being a metal unit, speaks of Steelbird's attention to quality. While this keeps the helmet properly snug, it is also easy to detach and fasten.

Should you buy one?

The Steelbird SA-1 Aeronautics, donning Matte Moon Yellow shade, costs Rs 3,629 with a clear visor. Considering the comfort, quality, ventilation and design it offers, the price tag can be termed as justified. However, opt for a photochromatic visor and you got to shell out Rs 5,999. Considering the convenience this visor offers, paying the premium wouldn't be unwise. 

On the flipside, at the same pricing, one can also choose from ECE and DOT-certified helmets which are globally-accepted standards and assure quality and protection a notch higher than ISI. But the trade-off would be the need of buying an extra visor and changing them as per the ambience lighting.

Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi

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