Freetown Roughneck and Revlr:   Not all Helmets are Created Equal

by John Bending, PCI #1683-B
Hoffman Estates (IL) Police Department

If your department does not have a full time bike patrol unit, like mine, and if officers have limited opportunities to ride, bike equipment isn’t something they think about on a regular basis.  I am fortunate to be assigned to our Community Relations division, which enables me to ride more frequently than our patrol shifts.  It also makes me the department’s “bike guy.” I love when officers come to me with questions, but I don’t love it when they come to me thinking I’m the quartermaster and have new gear for them every time they ride.  One of their most commonly asked questions is, “Hey, do you have a spare helmet I can use?”  I’m sure many of you have run into that situation.

Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to review two helmets, which enables me to give “those officers” more options when it comes to a new helmet purchase.  These two helmets are the Freetown Roughneck (at right, top) and the Freetown Revlr (at right, bottom). I had the opportunity to wear the helmets on- and off-the-job, during bike patrol and Bicycle Response Team training/callouts, and while casually riding in my local area as well as on some trails.  After wearing both of these helmets, I can honestly say all helmets are not created equal!

Both helmets are available in a matte black finish and have a very professional look.  I was initially skeptical about the Fidloc magnetic buckles (right).  I thought these “new-fangled” buckles would be a problem.  I envisioned them unclasping very easily and having to make adjustment after adjustment.  Freetown did their homework on this one because, as much as I tried, it just didn’t happen.  However, as someone used to the standard type buckle, there was a learning curve.  I found myself trying to unclip it the old way.  It didn’t take long to get used to it and after time, I found it easy to clip and unclip with one fluid movement.

They also have an incorporated chin pad that provides a barrier between the chin and the buckle.  The pad was helpful, but I found myself adjusting it regularly.

Like most helmets, these are easily adjustable.    

I had no trouble dialing in the retention system (the size range on both is 58-62 cm) or adjusting the straps.  The Revlr came with yellow straps, as opposed to the black straps on the Roughneck, which I preferred.

The Roughneck sat lower on my head than the Revlr and had a “molded” feel to it.  It seemed it would provide more protection in the event of a fall. The retention system pinched the back of my head behind my ears, which was annoying but not unbearable.  The Roughneck is a bit heavier than the Revlr (advertised at 330 grams as opposed to the Revlr at 260 grams).    I could definitely feel the extra weight on my neck after an eight-hour shift.  The 18 air holes provided plenty of ventilation and kept my head as cool as possible.

The Revlr sat higher on my head, more like I am accustomed to.  Even though it sat higher, it didn’t slip or become a problem at all.  It stayed right where it was supposed to and provided plenty of protection.  At the advertised weight of 260 grams, it was noticeably the lightest helmet I have ever worn.  I didn’t experience any pinching or discomfort at all. This helmet has 23 airflow vents which, like the Roughneck, did their job perfectly.  The only thing I didn’t like about the Revlr were the yellow straps, which is only an aesthetic issue, not a functional issue.

The way a helmet feels on your head is as individualized as the way you set up your bike…everyone does it differently and you can quickly tell when someone has messed with your equipment.  Both the Revlr and Roughneck fit very well and were comfortable to ride with for an extended period of time.  If I had to choose between the two, I would opt for the Revlr because of the lighter weight and the more open design.  However, I will continue to wear both, depending on the type of riding that I will be doing.

The price point on both of these helmets is also a plus.  I was able to find the Revlr at $49.99 and the Roughneck at $59.99.  Discounts are also available through the IPMBA Product Purchase Program.

Photos courtesy John Bending.

John has been a police officer for 20 years and an IPMBA-trained police cyclist for 12 years.  As a member of the Hoffman Estates (IL) Police Department, he is assigned to the department’s Community Relations Unit and the NIPAS MFF (Northern Illinois Police Alarm System Mobile Field Force.)  As a member of the Mobile Field Force, John acts as Team Leader for the Bicycle Response Team and Protestor Device Extraction Team. He can be reached at john.bending@hoffmanestates.org.  

(c) 2018 IPMBA.  This review appeared in Vol. 27, No. 2 of IPMBA News 2018.

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