LS2 Pioneer MX436 Helmet Review: A helmet made for trail riding
Following hot on the tails of the burgeoning Adventure bike market, helmet manufacturers across the world are producing a staggering array of similarly rufty-tufty Adventure style helmets to tempt would-be globe trotters. From top end brands like Arai and Shoei to the budget marques in the internet superstores, the choice is wide. With a new adventure bike in the Ride Expeditions garage it seemed time to get on board, so we decided to try the all new and rather pleasing LS2 Pioneer MX436.
THE LS2 PIONEER MX436 ELEMENT IN ALL ITS GLORY
So ignoring all safety advice regarding choosing bright and highly visible colours, we went for the ELEMENT option, resplendent in matt black and titanium with detail in a very KTM orange. The LS2 Pioneer looks pretty good to start of with, but out of the eight colourways – as the Americans would say – this option buttered our parsnips the most.
The look is of course much like the competition – a combination of motocross helmet visibility and wide aperture married to a big visor. If anything, the look is a tad more MX than some of the others in the showroom, and when it comes to using the helmet, this trait continues. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s keep with the appearance.
The visor is adjustable from high to very high, there are vents underneath and exit vents at the back. The chinpiece also has a vent system inside, but given how far away from your face the helmet sits, this may be somewhat superfluous. If we are to be totally OCD about things, the asymmetrical grid on the front does not get our vote – we just want it to be symmetrical!
The liner is a combination of the black and orange used on the outside, mirroring the trend for bright liners in off-road helmets, Again like the grid, we’re not a huge fan of anything but black as light colours show the dirt really quickly, and if you’re riding an off-road bike, then dirt is a strong possibility.
THE STYLING IS AGGRESSIVE AND THE QUALITY IS GOOD
The first caveat to make clear us that despite the Adventure look of the helmet, LS2 state on their website that the Pioneer was “developed for professional off-road use in collaboration with our LS2 riders from the Cross, Enduro and Supermotard Championship Series”. This seems a little odd as few enduro or motocross riders take to the dirt wearing a helmet with a visor, although it is definitely common for dual sport and adventure riders. This may catch out would be buyers …
This established the LS2 Pioneer MX436 has a number of great features that will please most riders away from the track. There’s an integral tinted visor operated from a lever at the base of the left side of the helmet, and the fastening system is an easy to use and fast release ratchet system.
The liner is fully removable and washable, and the cheek pads are quick release to aid removal should you be unlucky enough to have a serious accident.
THE PIONEER LOOKS GOOD FROM ALL ANGLES, BUT THE PEAK IS VERY HIGH
Returning to the visor, the LS2 promises scratch resistance, UV resistance, fog resistance and the ability to fit a Pinlock anti-fog secondary visor.
With three different shell sixes, the LS2 Pioneer MX436 comes in sizes from XXS pinhead right up to 3XL buckethead. The shell is termed a ‘long oval’ which should make putting it on easier.
ON THE TRAILS AND ON THE ROADS
So putting on the helmet for the first time, the fit is snug but not over tight. As the LS2 was brand new the cheek pads push a little bit but these will slacken off over time.
The comfort is good and despite the big peak, the helmet does not lift thanks to the firm fit of the lining. The visor lifts using a tab at the front, which is fine when opening, but when closing it goes right up under the peak and it’s far too easy to grab the peak rather than the visor – it needs moving, simple as. As previously mentioned, the inability to close off the upper vents means that this is not a warm helmet to wear in cold weather – if you are deficient in the hair department, you’ll feel the cold air very quickly without a helmet liner / skull cap.
The other drawback for road use is that the wind noise is quite loud. We tend to use ear plugs most of the time which reduces the effect, but without it’s more than a conventional road helmet, but bearing in mind it’s pitched as an off-road model is fair enough. As the side air vents are right in front of your ears, we tried taping over these but it made little difference, and somewhat bizarrely, the wind noise increased with the visor closed.
FOR TRAIL RIDING< WE LIKED THE LS2 WITH GOGGLES
The internal dark visor is a useful addition, but it could do with coming down slightly further to avoid the kind of bi-focal effect when you look down. The mechanism is positive but you do feel it would be prone to getting mud clogged in snotty conditions. Both this and the outer visor benefitted from additional anti-fog spray, despite LS2 stating they were pre-treated – not a particular issue but still a pain if what’s there doesn’t quite do the job it was meant to.
THE VISOR WILL CLOSE OVER A GOGGLE STRAP
Away from the blacktop and out on the trails, the helmet comes into it’s own and many of the road disadvantages of the LS2 Pioneer MX436 become off-road advantages. The increased air-flow allows you to keep cool when you are fighting up the technical stuff, and the visor tucking up under the high peak is good when you are stopped and taking a breather. Motocross style goggles fit in easily and the way that the visor comes down means you can close the outer clear visor over your goggles on the road sections.
Overall we liked the way the Pioneer performed out on the trails, and the ability to shut out the wind as you move between trails is something we’ve never had with a conventional off-road helmet. We can’t see it ever being used for enduro or motocross riders, but as a trail riding helmet it’s pretty damn good.
The LS2 is nicely padded and cradles your head like an affectionate grandmother. The liner is easy to remove and as it’s full washable it will be easy to keep clean and fresh.
As a helmet around the £100 mark, then to expect Arai levels of longevity is clearly unrealistic, but The LS2 is well made and will put up with all the abuse you give it.
You can’t fault LS2 for the price point of this helmet. The Spanish manufacturer has produced a helmet that looks like it costs over £200 and made it cost half that, which is always a nice bonus.
As with the pricing. LS2 have nailed the look of this helmet with a good selection of plain and patterned options from hi-vis yellow to American football helmet style. The Element option works well for image conscious KTM riders!
ON THE TRAILS AND ON THE ROADS
We like the LS2 Pioneer MX436 – it’s a well made, well priced and stylish looking helmet that performs well in the correct environment.
For trail riders that have to cope with the necessary evil of tarmac sections to connect the muddy bits, it’s ideal. And at a smidge over £120 for the Element model that we tested, and less for other colour options, it’s a great addition to the helmet shelf in the garage.
What it’s not is a helmet for adventure riders that do not go off road – if that’s you, then the LS2 will most likely frustrate with it’s off-road bias – buy yourself a road helmet and benefit from reduced wind noise, streamlining and less air around your face. Horses for courses …
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A CHEAP AND VERSATILE TRAIL RIDING HELMET, THE LS2 COULD BE THE ONE