THIS BIRD LANDED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CUCKOO’S NEST!
At a time the world population is fighting invisible killers aiming for our lungs, Konrad Kwietniewski decided the time was right to enter the market with face masks that would not only help motorcyclists preserve their health, but look stylish at the same time.
The Rare Bird London egg was hatched out in the winter of 2016-2017. As soon as the online nest was populated with a lively set of stylish masks Bikebrewers started following the London manufacturer. We were immediately smitten by the looks of the motorcycle apparel and decided we wanted to do some extensive testing.
As we are all about riding in style, the preferred method to apply head safety is an open face helmet. It is always hard to find the right way to cover your nose and mask. Choosing between tubes, scarves and bandanas we wold prefer the latter in a silk version. However, the material may be soft an comfortable, but the smoothness will often cause the cover to slide down when riding. Having a knot at the back of your head is not pleasant either.
The London boys and their girl designer Paulina managed to construct a mask that is modelled in such a way it just covers what it needs to cover and will sit on your face exactly the way you want it.
In their search of excellence they created anti-pollution masks that are developed to both look good, and provide a UK Ministry of Defence military-grade air filter.
The user-replaceable filter is a 100% pure activated carbon cloth with sub-micron filtration capability to block out particles down to the 2.5 micron size range. It’s been tested by the UK’s Health Protection Agency and shown to block out PM 2.5, PM 0.3 viruses, bacteria, and gas pollution.
It was already back in the early nineties we spotted pedal bike couriers in London riding around wearing face masks to protect their lungs. Those were mainly made out of neoprene. Those masks also had pollution filters, but did not come close to looking as awesome as the Rare Bird ones do.
Rare Bird London have two main product lines – winter masks and summer masks. The winter masks are designed to keep your face and neck warm when the mercury drops and the summer masks are designed to keep you cool while still offering the safety of a pollution filter as you make your way through traffic.
We tested both versions. The dark blue one is the Winter mask and we decided on a very retro chequered design for the Summer.
It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, the mask will stay in place when putting on the helmet. They are fashioned to cover your nose and mouth and to stay in place irrespective of the speed at which you will travel or the movements a rider needs to make with his head scanning traffic.
It’s held in place under your helmet with a black adjustable elastic band, it has a slim fit adjustable neck warmer, and it comes with an exchangeable anti-pollution filter.
To each its own
There is an enormous variety of styles to choose from, all of which are far better looking than the average Hannibal Lecter-style anti-pollution mask for sale at most motorcycle gear stores. Those will make people look at you all right, but is it the sort of attention you are looking for?
Having tested both versions for over a twelve month period, we feel confident to state that the editors have all fallen in love with the brand. The masks are just a wonderful addition to the elements you need to ride in style.
However there are few minor issues we need to point out; having tested the masks for such an extended period we obviously had the opportunity to ride in the pouring rain too. When we say ‘pouring’ we mean those really huge ‘cats and dogs’!
Under those circumstances the filter of the Summer edition occasionally had the tendency to clog up when saturated with water, making it very hard to breathe through it. We’ve had a few hairy moments when we had to keep full focus in those weather conditions on the road an traffic, but were distracted by the lack of oxygen entering our brain. The thicker winter mask did not have those problems. After using a water repellent spray we managed to solve the problem.
Using protective spray is to be recommended anyway, as it will keep your mask clean longer. Having washed the chequered version a few times, the black has started to fade a bit.
Another minor thing is the variety of masks available. There are so many styles to choose from and they all look equally good! There a mask to suit every style and it makes us wanting to collect them all!
If you are looking for a perfect Christmas gift, you should definitely check out the Rare Bird London online store. The way the masks are presented is 100% in line with their quality. Using beautiful gift boxes, it may well be the ultimate Christmas experience under your tree.
While you are at it, you might as well add a nice Davida helmet to the list.
Check out our recent post on those handmade British lids.
Photography: Sjoerd Schenk & Roman Betist