“Testing, one, two, three!”
IN NEARLY THIRTY YEARS the sole remaining British manufacturer of open face motorcycle helmets has carved out a quite niche for itself.
The Wirral (near Liverpool) based manufacturer have always chosen their own path guided by the founder David Fiddaman (a.k.a. ‘Fiddy’). He describes it as “a genuine and relentless pursuit rewarded by a worldwide reputation for the quietest, most comfortable, and well-made open face motorcycle helmets available.”
The success of the company has been helped by the world wide resurrection of the caféracer scene over the last two decades. Among the many aficionados of this style of motorcycling, Davida has created a loyal following of ambassadors of the brand. And yes, once worn, a Davida lid also gets stuck inside your head.
“Always ride in style”
This has been our motto for many years. Looking the part on a vintage or retro styled bike is important. The picture has to be as perfect as possible. Indispensable elements to achieve this are the right bike, fitting garment and a lid to top it all off.
However, style is one thing but safety another.
Adhering by the rule of ‘no pain, no gain’ works well in the gym, but may really hurt when hitting the deck as a result of an unexpected turn of events.
The Davida solution to the problem was simple: “becoming the smallest but probably most certified helmet maker in the world” says David. This is actually a major feat. The big manufacturers spend millions of research funds in designing and testing new head protection.
Being a small outlet in Birkenhead and managing to still hold certifications from: BSI (UK), DOT (USA), ECE (Europe), CN (China and Taiwan) and ACU Gold (for UK racing) indicates that they mean business.
As a proper entrepreneur, Fiddy started his business in his mother’s garage and the first Davida helmet that saw daylight was the replica of the ‘50’s classical helmets. The team decided on learning their trade the hard way, by manufacturing everything in house. Not the easiest way, as there are a lot of elements you have to take into account when building high class helmets.
From finding the best shapes for the outer part to stitching the now signature leather lining. But they got it right and the helmets were soon a hit.
With the growing popularity of the retro styled motorcycle market and an upsurge in popularity of vintage bikes there was soon a demand for jet helmets as another open face alternative to what other manufacturers were pouring out. From day one Davida decided not to go for mass production and low prices. High quality and completely handmade helmets for a decent price was their aim. And with their will they succeeded in creating masterpieces that are among the best helmets a rider could wish for.
Choices, choices, choices
We were offered to test the full face ‘Koura’ helmet which was introduced in 2018. As this was such a major step forward for the British company, Bikebrewers decided to go all out and test the full range.
In spite of the fact that the Davida Classic Helmets are not compliant to current safety standards, they look very cool and are a constituent part of Davida’s history and a regular choice for a day out on the bike.
The jet helmet has been our favourite for years and the Koura was the one we had been looking forward to experiment with. A big enough selection to get us excited.
With 26 different designs the ‘Classic Helmet’ is slightly reminiscent of the Heinz ketchup claim to fame, offering 57 varieties. But that where the comparison stops.
Looking at all those magnificent retro fashioned lay outs, this head protector invites the aficionado to just start collecting the whole series.
We opted for a simple black and white design for this occasion.
Having worn the comfortable jet helmet for many miles we expected the classic version to be quite a lot louder and a lot less pleasant to wear. No such thing!
The lid fits like a glove and the leather sides cover your ears sufficiently to be able to ride longer distances without going deaf for a living. It is important to point out however that while testing all three helmets proper ‘in ear’ protection was worn. But it goes without saying that this is something you need to do anyway if you don’t want to have tinnitus as a permanent visitor in your brain.
Completing the look with ‘Aviator’ goggles was comfortable and looked dandy, but we think an ‘Aviator retro special’ pair would do even more justice to the design of the helmet and move the overall appearance into the ‘hunky dory’ realm.
At jet speed
We can get completely carried away while describing the quality of the ‘Jet Helmet’.
This is a head protector that is the apex of quality. It is simply the best open face helmet money can buy.
In this model there is again a wide selection of colours and designs available. There will certainly be one to suit the look of any retro styled rider. The overall looks and design of the jet helmet are phenomenal and the paint job is of the highest standard. The same goes for the all leather interior. It will give you, your head and your ears the protection your mother says you deserve.
The noise reduction of this helmet is pretty close to that of an full face version of any other manufacturer. But people will still be able to fully enjoy the rider’s grin while enjoying the pleasures the open road has to offer.
There are other brands around that will offer an equally marvelous demeanour, but when it comes to overall character and quality, their only option is to value their position as runner up.
The jet helmet sits comfortably on your head and will allow a rider to cover larger distances on a naked bike, cruising around legal speed limits without having energy drained due to the constant humming and hissing of the wind. We have tested it on a five day road trip leisurely nibling away at 2.500 kilometres of tarmac.
The weight of just under one kilogram (984 grams/2lbs. to be exact) is sufficient to keep your head safe and allowing your splenius capitis and trapezius muscles to keep it in place without giving you a hard time between riding sessions.
Hoorah for the Koura
It was quite the occasion when Davida’s first full faced helmet was presented at EICMA’s 2018 show in Milan. A major step forwards (or sideways If you will) for the renowned manufacturer of open faced helmets.
The Koura is a retro inspired, high performance helmet, clearly identifiable as a Davida. We think the team of designers have done quite the job in delivering a brand new helmet styled in the way that fitting the differentiating characteristics of the UK manufacturer. It comes with an exceptionally low profile and a strikingly bold styling that will be impossible to go unnoticed on the streets or on the track.
The first full face helmet from Davida, Koura is the result of boosting the proficiency of their own in-house technical team with the expertise of Italian MotoGP & F1 racing helmet designers. This crew was already involved in delivering the smallest-profile road-legal open face helmet (the Davida Speedster V3) in 2016.
The Koura is certified to ECER22-05, DOT FMVS 281 & ACU Gold and is available in both road and race versions.
When launching the new model Davida claimed the Koura would “deliver everything you’d demand from a high performance motorcycle helmet together with the level of quality and integrity Davida helmets are known for : compact and close fitting , exceptional ergonomic s, high quality paintwork, supremely luxurious interiors; and unrivalled fit and product longevity . It’s beautiful, yet aggressive.”
And it does.
They have managed to produce the smallest dual standard full face in the world.
Pudding and proof
Passionate press reports and tantalizing news bits are one thing, but Bikebrewers wanted hard evidence.
As with the other models, the range of designs to choose from is wide enough to force the buyer to think twice. Once you think you have made your mind up, you will want to go back to the catalogue and look again. They are all equally alluring. With quite a bit of going back and forth we decided on the ‘Cosmic Flake Silver/Red Flame’ version, fully in line with the overall retro composition of the helmet.
First thing you notice when putting on the helmet is its tight fit. It will take you a bit of getting used to before you will be able to put it on and taking off without tearing your ears off. But once you’ve got the hang of it, you will be happy Davida decided to synthesize a nice tight outer shell.
When riding it becomes immediately clear that a team of racing helmet designers has been involved. It is absolutely lightweight at only 1550 grams. It is a helmet with roots firmly planted on the track. The smart aerodynamics prevent the wind getting too much grip on the helmet.
You can ride in a racing position easily without getting worn out.
The jet helmets are known for their absence of noise. The Koura being a full faced helmet, we expected it to take it a step further. To be honest, the difference is not as big as we anticipated. The comfort is absolutely up to Davida standards and the noise is certainly within limits, but the ventilation slots in front allow the wind to enter the helmet, making the noise level higher than we thought it would.
The upside of the ventilation is that definitely helps the visor from fogging up.
Our love and appreciation of the brand has only grown further.
Davida is a manufacturer that just maps out its own route and has been moving forward in a direction set by the compass of its bold owner. We applaud that.
Each of the helmets we tested deserve their own place on the shelf in the motorcycle shed. It depends on your mood, style of bike and road behavior which one to select to accompany you on a ride out.
Each one will be the personal guard of your health in times of trouble. Invariably all three models will make you look good and have people making positive comments about it. When riding a retro styled or vintage bike, a Davida will put the dots on the i’s.
Remember to ‘always ride in style‘!