Biltwell Lane Splitter: a retro-cool but basic polycarb helmet

biltwell-lane-splitter-helmet-featured

Biltwell Lane Splitter retro motorcycle helmet review.

California-based Biltwell make just two full face helmets: the very retro Gringo and this very Simpson-inspired Lane Splitter.

The Lane Splitter’s aimed at road riders who want a mega stylish helmet but with a nod towards practicality. For that last point, it’s got a lockable clear visor, chin vents, double d ring strap along with some of the weather (and road) protection you get from a full face lid.

I say ‘some’ because you’ll have noticed those big chin bar vents? Well, they’re always open, so if it’s raining hard, let’s just say you won’t go thirsty.

Which gives you a hint at what the Biltwell Lane Splitter’s about.

Maybe don’t go expecting the last word in helmet performance or to be up there with some of the latest, non-retro full face helmets on the market. Because if you do, you might be disappointed… and missing the point.

The Lane Splitter’s more about offering a cool-looking and aggressive retro helmet that hits a sweet price point in the market for folks not necessarily wanting an all-singing all-dancing full face. But they do want it to look stylish.

So, now we’ve done the digging here’s the lowdown on what you can expect from the Biltwell Lane Splitter.

Looking to buy this Biltwell?

We only recommend places with great reviews and terms. Revzilla (PA) offer outstanding service and free shipping. Also 2 Wheel (CA) and J&P Cycles (TX) have great online reviews as well as offering free shipping and returns! Please click any link to drop onto their Biltwell helmets pages or see here for more info about our recommended stores, including their T&Cs.

biltwell lane splitter silver metallic motorcycle helmet front view
Front view of the Lane Splitter silver – those front vents are huge and always open

Safety

 (more about helmet safety)

The Biltwell Lane Splitter has a polycarbonate ABS shell with what Biltwell call a urethane chin bar. Again that’s a plastic chin bar.

But don’t worry, polycarbonate and plastic helmets are some of the most rugged and best protecting helmets around. Essentially, it’s less about the material used but how well the helmet’s designed and manufacturered that seems to be the most important part (read our definitive guide to helmet safety).

Depending on which continent you buy your Lane Splitter, it’ll either come as DOT certified (US) or ECE tested/certified (Eu). Which means it’s met some pretty intense safety standards to ensure it’ll do a decent job in protecting you.

But beyond those, it’s difficult to see how well a Lane Splitter will protect you since it hasn’t been independently tested by either Snell in the US or SHARP in Europe.

biltwell lane splitter factory motorcycle helmet side view
Side view of the Biltwell Lane Splitter Factory. Other side carries the graphics (see top picture)

It’s fair to say that it is a fairly basic helmet though, so there’s no more advanced safety features on the Lane Splitter – stuff like proper anti-fog inserts or EQRS.

It’s got an EPS polystyrene liner to absorb shock impact, a double-d ring fastener to keep it on your head and that visor is optically clear with a peg style lock to keep it closed.

But that’s about it. Like I say, reasonably basic.

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

OK, there’s a decent amount of padding inside the Lane Splitter plus it’s got a reasonably aerodynamic and smooth round shell.

But it’s also got always-open front vents in the chin bar and there’s mesh near the ears for speaker pockets.

On the road, most riders tend to find the Lane Splitter a bit noisy. Not deafening, just a bit noisier than most helmets. So if you’re looking for a helmet that’s quieter than most, you should probably check our quietest helmets pages.

And always make sure you wear a decent pair of ear plugs when you ride.

Ventilation

(more about helmet ventilation)
biltwell lane splitter helmet in gloss copper side view
Fantastic Gloss Copper Lane Splitter. If you want ventilation round your head, open your shield!

Yep, you can see the ventilation on the Lane Splitter just by looking at the pictures. Or at least you can see most of it.

Those cool-looking chin bar vents are exactly that – very cooling for the bits of your face that sit behind them. And they’re cooling whatever the weather because they’re always open and there’s no way to close them off.

Which is fine if you live somewhere that’s always hot, but not so much if you live somewhere that gets a winter.


A couple of useful links…

All our Retro Helmet Reviews
After a cool-looking helmet?


Mind you, if you’re after a helmet to keep your head cool too – and not just your face – then the Lane Splitter’s maybe not such a good bet there…

biltwell lane splitter rusty butcher helmet rear view
Rear of the Rusty Butcher colorway. Says it all really…

There’s a slightly bizarre setup of ventilation grooves cut into the EPS lining and running front to back towards a rear exhaust vent, but without any front vent to let air in!

Not unless you keep the shield open anyhow.

It’s a slightly weird setup that we’ve really not seen before.

There will be some head-venting going on as some air will be pulled through by the exhaust and from around the head, but the word is that it’s not great for keeping your head cool. Face yes, head no.

Oh, it’s worth mentioning that those chin vents are not so great if you live anywhere there’s loads of bugs or rain because, according to owners, those vents will let the lot through. Yuk.

Shield

(more about shields)

That faceshield does all the basics reasonably well – it gives you some dirt and rain protection – and being a polycarb shield it’ll give you 95%+ UV protection too.

Biltwell have made it optically-clear as well, and a few owners have said it gives a nice, undistorted view of the road. They reckon it gives a nice wide field of vision too which is always good for shoulder checks and general all-round awareness of what’s on the road.

biltwell lane splitter flat red retro motorcycle helmet side view
Flat Red paint version – plus better view of the hole-and-peg shield lock

Other than that, it’s a basic sort of shield.

It’s fastened onto the helmet with a couple of cross head screws so if you want to swap it out for one of the several tint shades available, you’ll need a screwdriver.

Plus, like many shields that rely on screw fasteners, it can come loose and that means it’ll struggle to stay open and drop shut when you don’t want it to. In fact that’s one of the main bugbears from Lane Splitter owners.

Some say the detent when it’s fully open isn’t strong enough to keep the shield up either. And others reckon it comes loose too often. Either way, sounds like you’ll need to keep on top of the tightness of those screws to keep it working right.

There’s a simple peg locking mechanism to keep the shield shut – you know the type – a small (brass) peg sticking out of the helmet that sticks through a corresponding hole in the visor to keep it closed.

biltwell lane splitter flat black motorcycle helmet front view
Gloss Flat black version.

Well, it works OK to keep things shut but apparently it takes a certain type of knack to open it again without pushing your helmet up and across your face. Some folks have got the knack, others haven’t and say it’s a pain to use.

There’s a couple of other niggles that’re worth knowing.

The seal against water ingress ain’t that great, with a few riders saying it leaks when it’s raining. Also, it’s possible it needs handling carefully because a couple owners reported it scratches easily, even though it’s an antiscratch shield – could be that there was a slightly sub-par batch out there?

Again, the face shield will do its job if you’re just after something to give you a bit of protection from time to time. But it’s not the all-singing, all-dancing kind of shield you’ll get on some of the best rated helmets out there.

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

The Biltwell Lane Splitter is widely thought of as a comfortable helmet with a nice quality internal comfort lining that includes soft, moisture-wicking material. It’s fully removable and washable too, using velcro tabs to secure it in place, and it features speaker pockets in case you’re wanting to fit some sort of comms unit in there too.

biltwell lane splitter rusty butcher helmet interior view
Inside there’s a comfortable liner with double-d ring fastener

Having said that, a few riders have said the cutaways for speakers are a little too far back to place them right over your ears. I guess that might slightly depend on how your head’s laid out too – but on the plus side there’s plenty of external surface to side- or rim-mount your bluetooth controller on without any problem.

On the whole, sizing seems to be about right, so just measure your head then order the correct size helmet. That’s as long as your head’s not too long or round shaped, because the Lane Splitter is a kinda neutral shaped helmet – which should mean it’ll fit lots of people’s pretty well.

If you do find the fit’s not quite right for you, worry not because Biltwell does sell different sizes of cheekpads so, if it’s only slightly out, you can always tailor the fit by swapping pads.

biltwell lane splitter helmet safe-t yellow side view
If you wanna be seen, the Safe-T Yellow Lane Splitter is a good bet

Looks & Graphics

There’s a stack of nice retro-style colorways available for the Lane Splitter; most of em unusual solid colors that perfectly suit a retro ride. There’s flat reds, flat tan, a lovely gloss copper as well as some subtle metallics like silver, titanium and bronze. Oh, and that gloss blood red’s to die for.

There’s also a couple of hipster graphics like the rusty butcher and the plain black factory. But there’s sure to be more colors available – some old, some new – if you click through to our highly recommended stores below (thanks!)

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Please click below to visit the Biltwell helmets pages at our recommended stores. It's available in all these stores - and if you buy from any, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).

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Click above to drop onto their Biltwell helmets pages or *quick view store T&Cs here.

Biltwell Lane Splitter Video

Here’s a 4m video (starting where he gets to the meat of the review) of a dude taking the Lane Splitter for a first 2h ride.

Other stuff – weight, aero, build quality, chin curtain, warranty

The Lane Splitter weighs in around 3.1lbs (1.4Kg) which is lighter than your average polycarbonate helmet but not mega light. Still, it’s light enough for one or two owners to say it feels light weight on the move and that’s all that counts.

Aero seems to be decent with folks saying it doesn’t lift at speed, though there are a couple of comments that turning your head sideways when you’re getting a move on can give a bit of air resistance due to the chin bar sticking out.

biltwell lane splitter bronze metallic retro helmet rear view
Photo doesn’t quite catch the subtle colour of the metallic bronze lane splitter

Even though it’s a relatively basic lid, lots of owners comment that it’s well built helmet that uses nice materials and has a quality finish to the paintwork. All important factors when you buy a new helmet so well done Biltwell.

Finally, the Biltwell Lane Splitter comes with a 2 year warranty.

Overall/Summary

Most folks really like their Lane Splitters because they looks so damn cool and don’t cost the earth. Which is a winning combo in most people’s book.

It’s a great helmet for cruising around but with the kind of protection you get from a full face. But if you’re going expect lots more performance from your helmet – like a ton of noise suppression and a watertight faceshield – then you might want to look elsewhere.

Which is not to say the Biltwell is anywhere near a novelty helmet. It’s a serious piece of kit. But with a few niggles going on – mainly regarding that face shield it has to be said – it’s let down in a couple of areas where some riders will demand performance.

Overall though, Lane Splitters come at a really competitive price point and, like many retro helmets, half the reason to buy one is gonna be because of the looks. And with its super aggressive retro style and dynamite range of colorways, it’s definitely a great helmet to be seen with.

Good Alternatives to the Biltwell Lane Splitter

Retro helmets are becoming more and more popular – and better and better quality. I mean, why have a dull old regular lid when you can have something that better suits your ride and your style. So here’s a few of the standout helmets we’ve reviewed:

biltwell lane splitter rusty butcher helmet worn
Here’s how you’ll look wearing the Rusty Butcher Lane Splitter…

Of course we’ve gotta start off with a Simpson because they’re the guys who began this style of helmet. And the Simpson Ghost Bandit is arguably the pick of the crop if you’re after a helmet that works like a modern helmet on the road. The Ghost Bandit has a quality face shield system, drop down sun visor, it’s SHARP 4 star safety rated (EU version) and has a Pinlock ready shield. It’s a quality modern helmet with Simpson’s famous retro style.

Bell’s Eliminator comes in fiberglass or carbon shelled versions, has an optically correct shield with ProVision antifog as standard. Looks mean too.

If you’re after a retro helmet that works with goggles, the Bell Moto 3 is the original 1970’s motocross lid made modern. It super comfy and comes with Bell’s 5 year warranty.

And we’ve gotta finish off with another Simpson – this time the Snell Certified Simpson Outlaw Bandit. It’s a fiberglass helmet with a nice wide face shield that’s got all that Simpson cool while being all day comfortable to ride in.

Looking to buy this Biltwell?

We only recommend places with great reviews and terms. Revzilla (PA) offer outstanding service and free shipping. Also 2 Wheel (CA) and J&P Cycles (TX) have great online reviews as well as offering free shipping and returns! Please click any link to drop onto their Biltwell helmets pages or see here for more info about our recommended stores, including their T&Cs.

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

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