The club members who are racers or track rats will know that a new helmet standard has been published (SNELL 2015) recently which, over time, will mean most people will have to buy a new helmet to do track days or club racing. I have been using an Arai GP-6S for the last two years and I have to say it is a great helmet, but with the new SNELL 2015 spec I decided it was time to try something else.
I wanted a helmet that met the new standards, was relatively light, had communications built in, would be appropriate for open cockpit cars and GT cars, and would not break the bank. I looked at all the great helmets out there (Stilo, Bell, Arai, Simpson, and Sparco) but I found that either the helmet had not been updated to the new standards, had limited features, or was extremely expensive.
I came across Roux which is a new helmet company but one that was built by racers for racers. From my research it doesn't seem they manufacture the helmets themselves, but rather they do the design and leave the manufacturing to someone else. The result is a loaded helmet at an inexpensive price compared to the big brands. Roux makes three models (fiberglass, composite, and carbon fiber). The fiberglass version is their entry model but that is not to say it is an entry helmet. It is SNELL 2015 certified, comes with a built in communication system, drink tube with a quick disconnect, HANS mounts, and an emergency release system. The composite and carbon fiber versions have everything the fiberglass version has PLUS it is FIA 8859 certified, and it has a COOL-X cooling system (ya that's right a water cooling system that hooks up to your COOL-X shirt). You might see on their site they offer a matte carbon fiber version, but after talking to some distributors it seems the matte version is being discontinued due to lack of demand (sad as that would have been my personal preference).
While I have not used the COOL-X system yet I hope to give it a try soon. I have been able to test the communication system, drink tube, and release system and I have to say it is nice to have everything built in and integrated. For the communication system you can choose between ear cups or ear buds so no matter what type of car you drive you can make the system work for you. I am in an open cockpit Radical PR6 and in most helmets I need ear buds, but with the Roux the ear cups worked great to protect my ears from the 10,000 RPM engine mounted right behind my head. The release system are two tabs that tuck away but when you need them in an emergency (which I hope to never test) the emergency team can pull on the tabs and lift the helmet off your head without putting stress on your neck. This is a nice system I hope to see other brands adopt.
So with all those features what about the most important aspect of a helmet....the fit? If possible I recommend trying on any helmet before you buy it, but since Roux is so new with limited distributors I was forced to buy before I try. Roux comes in four sizes, with three different check pad thicknesses, and three different ear cup thicknesses. So with all those options it should fit just about everyone. I will admit that while I got the small size it could have been a bit tighter but the fit is tight enough with no pinching. The quality of the liner and other materials are top notch which is impressive considering Roux is so new to the game.
Something less important for GT drivers is the aero, but for us open cockpit drivers this is critical. There is a rear spoiler, top air vent, and aero/style lines which is a good package all around......but I did experience a small amount of lift. The lift is not of much concern as it is rather minor but ideally there would be none. Others might not experience the lift as I do have a rather small sized head, but I do think Roux could fix this if they added a front (chin) aero kit. This could come standard on a future version or it could be an add-on accessory which is what I hope Roux considers. A simple chin gurney would likely do the trick. Roux, I would be happy to work with you developing this :)
All three versions come with a clear shield, but the composite and carbon fiber versions also come with a dark smoke shield. In addition to all these included options and features you can also buy other shield options (amber, iridium blue, or light smoke), a visor peak, forced air scoop, COOL-X hose, various communication cables, and a drink tube. It is great to have various optional accessories, but the "included" accessories are what is truly impressive and is where you end up saving a ton of money. A comparable set up with the big brands would cost you $500 - $1,000 more.
So what is the price? The fiberglass version costs $500 while the composite version costs $900 and the carbon fiber version costs $1,400. So the way I look at it the Roux is a high-end helmet priced as if it was a mid-level helmet. I have not done a widespread weight comparison but compared to my last two helmets I would say the Roux helmets are very competitive when it comes to weight, especially once you consider the features that come standard with the Roux.
In short I am thrilled with my carbon fiber Roux. I wish it was a bit tighter and I wish there was zero lift but both things are minor improvements and likely specific issues to me. For the money, you can't find another helmet on the market packed with as much features and safety standards so I would recommend taking a look at a Roux. I should mention that Roux also makes bags (helmet bags, a backpack, and some roller bags) and they are wonderful. I have their H&N (helmet & neck restraint) bag and their backpack and I have to say these are the best driver bags I have seen or used.
If any club members want to check out my Roux helmet or bags let me know, I would be happy to have you take a look.