KEP Italia E-LIGHT
I feel absolutely compelled to shine a spot light on KEP Italia's new E-Light range of helmets which they released recently. I think KEP may have secretly been working with NASA!
First I want to speak a little bit about KEP Italia. To be honest I could probably never run out of superlatives to describe KEP and what seems to be an endless search for perfection. While other helmet manufacturers produce perfectly nice and sometimes even stunning helmets, KEP produces memorable helmets, helmets that are unforgettable. For me their helmets are a bit like the Ferrari Enzo or the Lamborghini Diablo, while other car makers were making great cars Ferrari and Lamborghini were making unforgettable cars. Helmets that push the limits of what is possible. Their use of precious materials as far as I know is a first in the industry and the unique finish in doing so is omnipresent here in these exquisite models one with inlaid mother of pearl and the other with beautiful Lapis Lazuli. I believe these are the Diablo's and the Enzo's of the helmet world.
The KEP model above with inlaid mother of pearl will set the discerning rider back a cool €1,342.00 and the model adorned with Lapis Lazuli a meager €5,073.00!
Moving on to their latest contribution the E-LIGHT, does it satisfy? oh yes it does! Once again KEP Italia push the boundaries of possibility and produce a helmet that weighs just 396 grams whilst still meeting ALL global safety certifications. I mean seriously though! my conscience after a cheeky Friday night out is heavier than that!! The investment in research and development of this model is mind boggling I truly believe that passion must have ruled over profit when I look at models like the E-LIGHT. The entire cap of the E-LIGHT is 100% carbon fibre and is made using a process called autoclave, the process for each helmet is very long and complex specialized artisans stratify the carbon fibers by hand to obtain phenomenal results in terms of quality and high mechanical strength. This is the same process that is used by the aerospace industry for example on the black hawk helicopter and UAV drones it is very, very high tech.
The Science Bit
In the production of composite aerospace and aircraft components, autoclave curing has traditionally been used to achieve the desired fiber content (resin-to-fiber ratio) and the absence of resin voids to produce light weight and strong components. Autoclave curing achieves this by placing the part under vacuum in an autoclave and then pressurizing the autoclave during the heated cure cycle. The high pressure on the part (within the pressurized autoclave) helps to minimize resin voids and to achieve the desired resin/fiber ratio.
Autoclaves are utilized where the highest of material performance standards are required such as a void content of less than 2% and high glass transition temperatures. Aerospace autoclaves normally operate from 120 to 230 degrees Celsius within a nitrogen environment at 7 bars of pressure. Liquid nitrogen is injected into the heated autoclave to create the internal pressure. Most common materials cured in an autoclave are advanced composites such as carbon fiber and epoxy resins. Curing cycles range from 90 minutes to 12 hours.
OK you made it through the science bit, well done :-) I want to go through each variant of the E-LIGHT as they are available in a few different trims, first the "NAKED" model has no inserts at all in order they say to better highlight the carbon fibre shell and natural lines. The helmet comes in either Shine or Matt finish.
Here she is below as naked as they day she was born:
KEP Shine E-LIGHT Naked - €772
and KEP Matt E-LIGHT Naked €830
Now if you prefer to add some ventilation assistance to the helmet you can opt for either 2 or 3 additional inserts and choose to have them in black, green or Bordeaux, I have to say I looked at the Bordeaux colour and immediately thought about the Qatar Equestrian team, they would compliment their Bordeaux jackets like wine & cheese. Having spoken to a few customers about the NAKED models and the models with inserts their opinions are split down the middle, some want the added inserts saying that they like the look of them and some stating that they prefer to increase air flow as much as possible. So it really is down to personal preference, I spoke to a customer who has ridden in a NAKED helmet and a helmet with inserts and she said that she could feel the difference in air flow in canter after riding for a while in heat.
Here below we have the NAKED Shine model plus 2 vents in black.
KEP Shine E-LIGHT 2 Inserts - €965
As you can see from the image here below the 2 inserts are mounted over the ventilation holes in the front and back of the helmet forcing air down into the holes when riding.
Finally we have the NAKED Shine with all 3 inserts also in black, 3 inserts is the maximum you can add to the helmet. This is very different to the NAKED helmet and the helmet with 2 inserts because KEP have added additional ventilation to the front grill on the helmet and overlaid the insert as pictured. This helmet is providing maximum ventilation to the head during riding, we think it also looks pretty cool. Having said that we are having internal turmoil at Just Riding because half the office love the NAKED helmet with no inserts and half love the model with all 3. So lets call it a tie.
KEP Shine E-LIGHT 3 inserts - €1025 (add €60 for matt)
Here below is a good representation of what the helmet looks like with either Green or Bordeaux inserts. We love that KEP also coloured the peak to match the inserts.
KEP Matt E-LIGHT Bordeaux - €1065
KEP Matt E-LIGHT Green 3 Inserts - €1130
KEP E-LIGHT models are made to order and take around 6 to 8 weeks to produce.
At the time of writing this article I have just two NAKED models in stock. One is in Matt and will fit sizes 55, 56 or 57 (US 6 7/8 US 7 US 7 1/8) and one is in Shine and will also fit size 55, 56 or 57.
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