arai

First Lady Ana Carrasco

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I recently saw this post on Facebook from a gentleman by the name of Stuart Baker. He prefaced this post with the following text:

Since no magazine or website wants to publish this feature I've decided to forego my usual fee and publish it on here myself because I believe this woman deserves recognition for what she's achieving. Please share this post freely and perhaps, between us, we can reach a wider audience than a closed-minded magazine would anyway. -Stuart Barker

Since I totally agreed with him, I asked him if I could reproduce this article on my lowly website which makes absolutely no money but hopefully reaches a wide, female audience. I hope you enjoy his article as much as I did. GO ANA.

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August 8, 2018

First Lady Ana Carrasco

Words By: Stuart Barker, Photos By: Mdan Katana

She's 21-years-old, stands five-foot-one, and weighs eight stone, wringing wet. But don't let that fool you. Ana Carrasco is one tough little Spaniard. She's the first woman in the 100-years-plus history of the sport to lead a motorcycle road racing world championship. She was also the first woman to set pole position and the first to win a race and, with just two rounds remaining of the World Supersport 300 Championship, she has a healthy 16-point lead – against an entire field of men.

Oh, and she's also half way through a four-year law degree and trains six hours every day. Are you starting to feel a bit inadequate? You should be. Meet Ana Carrasco – the fastest female motorcycle racer of all time.

Women have not always been welcomed in the sport of motorcycle road racing. Original regulations laid down by the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) in the early days of racing dictated that competitors must be ‘male persons between 18 and 55 years of age.’ This ruling didn’t apply to Sidecar racing so in 1954 the intrepid German, Inge Stoll-Laforge, caused a sensation by entering the Isle of Man TT – the biggest motorcycle race in the world at the time. She finished in a highly credible 5th position but was tragically killed four years later in a crash at the Czech Grand Prix. 

By 1962 the FIM had changed its rules and allowed women to race so Beryl Swain became the first female solo rider at the TT, finishing 22nd in the 50cc race before the FIM did an about-turn and banned women again in 1963. 

Despite this historical backdrop of rampant sexism, a handful of brave, determined women have persisted in blazing a trail for female riders in one of the world’s most dangerous sports. Riders like Maria Costello have scored podiums at the Manx Grand Prix (the ‘amateur’ TT) and Carolynn Sells became the first woman to win a Manx in 2009 while Jenny Tinmouth (the fastest woman ever at the TT with an average lap speed of 119.94mph) recently became the first female rider to compete in the prestigious British Superbike Championship. Germany’s Katja Poensgen won the Supermono Championship in 1998 and women have even scored points in the Grand Prix world championships, the first being Taru Rinne with a seventh-place finish at Hockenheim in 1989. But while convalescing from a crash shortly afterwards, the Finn received a letter from Bernie Ecclestone (who, at the time had a heavy, but thankfully short-lived, involvement in motorcycle racing) informing her that she was ‘not qualified’ to compete the following season. 

Clearly, nothing had changed. Despite occasional outstanding performances by women in the male-dominated sport of motorcycle racing, by the start of the 2017 season no female had won a world championship race - perhaps unsurprisingly given the additional barriers they faced. 
But that all changed at Portimao in Portugal on Sunday, September 17, 2017 when a 20-year-old Spanish rider called Ana Carrasco came out on top in an epic drag race to the finish line in the World Supersport 300 Championship race. In doing so, she became the first woman in history to win a motorcycle road racing world championship race. And while the significance of the moment wasn’t exactly lost on Carrasco, she thinks like a racer first, and a woman second. ‘At the time I was not thinking about the significance of this’ she says.

‘I always just try to ride as hard as I can and try to achieve results – I don't think about being a woman. So, in that moment I was just happy because I'd won the race but after some days I start to realise what I had achieved. It's important that a woman can be fighting for the victory in the world championship because it's good for other girls to see that this is possible.’

After finishing the 2017 season in eighth place overall, Carrasco came out of the traps ready for a proper fight in 2018, setting pole position at Imola, winning the race, and taking the lead in the world championship. After another win at Donington Park in England, Carrasco now has a 16-point lead with just two rounds of the championship remaining. This makes her the first woman ever to lead a motorcycle racing world championship. 

Ana, Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Ana, Kicking Ass and Taking Names

It seems an incredibly young age for anyone – male of female – to be leading a world championship but Carrasco was practically born into the saddle.

‘I started riding when I was three years old because my family was always involved in the motorcycle world’ she says. ‘My father was a race mechanic since before I was born so when I was three I started riding my big sister's minimoto because she wasn't interested in it. So that was a good thing for me!’

Standing at just 5”1 and weighing eight stone-three (52kg) wringing wet, Carrasco cuts a diminutive figure in the racing paddock. Her slight frame would normally give her an advantage under acceleration but constantly-changing rules in the fledgling WSS300 championship (which is only in its second year) mean that even this advantage has been removed: because she is so light, Carrasco is forced to carry a weight penalty on her Kawasaki Ninja 400 race bike.

‘I now have to carry a 13kg weight penalty so I think it's actually worse to be small’ she says. ‘I have to move more kilos than the other riders through the corners and yet the overall weight of rider and bike is the same (because of the combined bike-and-rider minimum weight rule) so I don't have any advantage on acceleration.
‘The rules change every race so sometimes we have a good bike and sometimes no. It’s difficult for us to work like this because every Thursday of a race weekend they say “Okay, now you have to change this” or “Now you have to change that.” It’s difficult for the team and it’s also difficult for me to ride fast like this because every race I have a different bike. I hope for next year the rules will be more stable because I like to win, always, and with all these changes it’s not always possible to win. At the moment, Kawasaki is not always on the top because the rules are helping the Yamahas to be at the same level. But we just have to work within the rules Dorna gives us and finish the championship the best we can.’

Carrasco at least has a competitive bike and team for the 2018 season, which is something of a novelty after battling for years with uncompetitive and poorly-funded rides in various Spanish championships and even, for a few years, in the Moto3 World Championship that runs alongside MotoGP – the Formula 1 of motorcycle racing.

‘Yes, for me it's really good because in the past years I was struggling a lot because I wanted to be at the top but it was impossible with the bikes that I had. Now it is really good and I'm really happy with my team and with my bike and Kawasaki is helping me a lot so now I don't want to change my team because I feel so comfortable. I want to win, so I will stay in the place where I can fight for the victory.’

The World Supersport 300 Championship which Ana currently leads is a support series to the World Superbike Championship, meaning the young Spaniard has operated out of the two biggest paddocks in world motorcycle racing. So how do they compare in their attitudes towards women?

‘The people in the WSB paddock are more friendly and more relaxed’ Carrasco says. ‘You can speak with everybody. In the MotoGP paddock there's a lot more pressure so the riders have to always be thinking only about riding and they cannot do anything else. So, yes, the paddocks are different but I like both. I didn't notice any difference between the paddocks in their attitudes towards female riders. My job is the same and the people are good with me, always. But in the World Supersport 300 Championship it was more easy for me to find a good team and a good bike so that I can be fighting at the top. In the past it has been really difficult for me because I never had the equipment I needed to be fighting for the victory.’

Like every motorcycle racer, Ana Carrasco needs to have the mental capacity to accept the inherent dangers of her chosen sport and the ability to endure the pain caused by regular injuries. Although safety measures have improved radically over the last 30-odd years, people still die in this sport. Yet it’s clearly not a fact that Carrasco loses much sleep over.

'I broke my elbow in 2007 and I broke my collarbone in 2015 and also my shoulder. I’m okay with pain – I can handle it. I can ride with pain and don’t feel it so much. I’ve had some difficult injuries but I don’t worry too much about it. I know it’s a dangerous sport but many things are dangerous so we have to try and take part in all sports with as many safety measures as we can. We have to respect the dangers and just try to remain safe and do our job. For my mother it’s more difficult! I think this sport is difficult for all the mothers to watch!’

And before you think these are the words of a crazy and irresponsible young kid, consider this: when she’s not traveling the globe fighting for a world championship, Ana Carrasco is studying for a law degree. Half way through a four-year course, the girl from Cehegin in the Murcia region of south-east Spain must balance adrenalin with diligence and solitude in equal measure.

‘It’s difficult to do both things because I spend so much time away from home but now I’m in a sports university where many Olympic athletes study so they give me the possibility to change the dates of my exams if I am racing. So I try to work out my study and exams calendar according to the racing calendar. It’s a four-year course and I am in my second year now. I don’t know for sure if I will be a lawyer after racing but this is my Plan B! I want to be a racer and be riding for many years but, if not, then at least I have another plan to be a normal person and to have a job and a family and everything.’


Perhaps even more impressive – and certainly testimony to her determination and will to win – Carrasco also maintains a brutal training regime that would qualify as a full-time job in itself.

‘I train around six hours every day’ she says. ‘I go to the gym for about three or four hours and then ride dirt bikes for another few hours.’

It’s this kind of commitment that sees Carrasco regularly beating an entire field full of men and her reward is the sheer satisfaction that generates.

‘Yes, for me it’s good!’ she laughs. ‘This is a motivation to show the people that women can do the same. This is what I want – I want to win in a world championship so I can show that I can beat the best riders in the world in that class. So, I want to be always better and better and better and to arrive at the top.’
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It’s perhaps not easy for every male psyche to handle being beaten by a woman (in the past, they’ve also had to accept Carrasco’s own take on the brolly dolly – she had her own umbrella fella on the grid!) especially in a sport that has for so long been male-dominated. So how do her rivals treat her? Does she get the respect she deserves or does she get shunned by bitter, defeated rivals? ‘For sure they respect me because if you are fast, everybody respects you! I’ve shown them that I can win races and fight for the championship so I think everybody respects me now.’

Testosterone is not always a man’s best friend. Often it can lead to rash decisions out on track and crazy do-or-die lunges that have little chance of working and every chance of ending in crashes and broken bones. In the sport, this kind of aggression is known as ‘red mist’ and it’s the one area where Carrasco thinks female riders may actually have a slight advantage over the men.

‘Sometimes it helps to be a woman, yes. Women think more when they are on the bike! The men are more brave but they sometimes make dangerous moves without thinking and sometimes this is not so good! I think in my case I have a slight advantage here because I always stay calm and think a lot about what I have to do out on the race track.’

Female motorcycle racers are no longer a complete novelty but they’re still very much in the minority (there are none at all, for example, in the world’s two biggest motorcycle championships – MotoGP and World Superbikes) although Carrasco believes it’s getting easier for women to be involved.

‘Every year it gets a bit more easy. It's difficult for a young female rider to see how they can arrive in a world championship if they never see any other girls doing it. So if you are the first girl to do it then it's more difficult but once you can see that other girls are doing it then you can think “Why not? Why can't I do the same?” So, for the girls, it's important that I'm doing a good job in the world championship.
‘I think women can do the same as men in this sport. We are all just riders and we can all do the same thing. But it’s more difficult for women to find a good opportunity – a good team and a good bike. It’s more difficult for people to believe that we can win so we have many problems in getting access to competitive equipment to be fighting at the top. In this sport, if you do not have a good bike then you cannot fight to win.’

As to the future, Carrasco already has some options on the table due to her incredible performances this year. But for now, she’s concentrating on the job in hand.

‘I want to continue with Kawasaki because I am very happy with them and they are supporting me to be at the top. I would also like to continue with my team. But it will depend on what we achieve this year. I have some offers from the Moto3 World Championship and also from World Supersport 600 and World Supersport 300 teams. At the moment, I don’t know. I think around September time we will start to look more closely at next year but at the moment I just want to think about the championship.’

There are two rounds remaining of the World Supersport 300 Championship – at Portimao, Portugal, on September 16, and at Magny-Cours, France, on September 30. Carrasco has a healthy 16-point lead over Germany’s Luca Grunwald but with 25 points available for each race win, it’s still all to play for. One crash or mechanical breakdown could change everything, but Carrasco is confident.

‘We have a good opportunity, we are in a good position in the championship, so I want to try to win at Portimao because I like this place. The circuit is good for me, so I would like to finish on the podium and win the championship there. But if not, then we will wait and try again in Magny-Cours. For sure we have a good opportunity and we are in the best position to win the championship.’

The sport of motorcycle road racing has been around for well over 100 years but no woman has ever come this close to lifting a world title.

So what would it mean to the petite, highly intelligent, and multi-lingual Spaniard if she could put an end to all that and finally prove beyond all doubt that women have a genuine place in motorcycle racing?

‘For me it would be a dream come true because, for my whole life, my dream is to be world champion and this year I have the opportunity so I want to give my best to try to win.’

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I hope you enjoyed her interview as much as I did. Please take a minute and visit her social feeds to support her and share this story with everyone you know!

https://www.facebook.com/anacarrasco22/

https://www.instagram.com/anacarrasco_22/?hl=en

www.motogp.com/en/riders/ana+carrasc

New Arai DT-X Motorcycle Helmet and XXS Helmets

Side Profile of the DT-X Helmet from Arai

Side Profile of the DT-X Helmet from Arai

If you have a very small head, or know a woman (in my experience, 99.9% of XS fit women or small children) who may even need a XXS helmet, Arai Helmets has just released a new street helmet called the DT-X

This helmet will feature an intermediate oval shape (most common shape in the US) similar to the Corsair-X and Vector-2.

Supposedly it will offer a XXS size, per the website. However, they have the same information for the Vector-2 which was never offered in a 2XS that you could actually order. The only 2XS helmet available to order from them at this minute is the Defiant (although it's currently OOS). 

I miss my trusty Arai, but it didn't fit me small enough like my Shoei does. I'm hoping if they do offer a 2XS that it'll fit my head! I've always respected Arai and their design / protection philosophies. They defy mainstream expectations and always strive to deliver the most protective helmet even if it means not having the best selling helmet, or the one that everyone thinks is "coolest".

But if you are looking for a Full Face or Modular 2XS Helmet, these are the ones that I'm aware of: 

Full Face:

  1. Arai Defiant and Defiant Pro Cruise (certain colors) 
  2. Icon Airmada (certain colors)
  3. Nexx XT1 Carbon Zero
  4. GMax GM38
  5. Nexx XR2 Carbon Pure (currently OOS)
  6. Shoei Qwest (black only)
  7. Shoei RF-1200 (if you purchase the 17mm Centerpad, then it's a 2XS)
  8. AGV AX-8 DS Evo

I have to mention the Bell Star (Street Star, Race Star and Pro Star) Helmets, because they fit so narrow. I can barely fit my head into an XS (that I can fit into pretty much every XS helmet) and the S fits like a Shoei XS. I'll bet that an XS fits like a 2XS. 

Modular:

  1. Schuberth C3Pro Women
  2. Nolan N104 Absolute 

Getting Old SUCKS. Bad Feet, Shoulders and Vertigo.

February 2006. My first motorcycle trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on my trusty Ninja 250. 

February 2006. My first motorcycle trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on my trusty Ninja 250. 

It's been a painful last couple of months. Haven't been riding much and I feel completely out of it. 

A couple months ago I decided to visit a Podiatrist to see about my left foot. I have this painful bump on the top of my foot which I thought was a bunion. Nope, turns out it's probably a ganglion cyst. And turns out I have terrible foot issues that cause me to walk uneven and as a result puts undue pressure on the nerve inside the ganglion cyst. I also have a really high instep so that's not making the situation any better. It's already hard for me to find shoes to fit my feet into, let alone additional pressure on the top of my foot that makes it feel even worse.

Generally, I have to find shoes that aren't too tight around my ankles because of this. 

Good times. This makes wearing my motorcycle boots for 10+ hours a day difficult unless I wear them really really loose which isn't going to work either. So I did a little bit of physical therapy for my foot which has helped a bit, but hasn't completely resolved the cyst issue. I think I need to go back to the Podiatrist soon. 

Next on the list, is my right shoulder. I went to the Ortho the other day and I likely have Bursitis. I haven't done any long rides recently but it's hard to say whether it'll be affected by that. I basically need to keep working on strengthening my shoulder muscles (which I've been working on for almost 5 months now with Crossfit. LOVE IT. Shoutout to Fearless in Philly!) I'll probably need physical therapy too. 

Ok, what else? Oh doh, the main reason I wasn't riding last month is because I had a terrible case of Vertigo. Turns out my blood pressure is so low (~95-100/70) that it caused dizziness and lightheadedness. It took a few weeks, but my head finally came back to normal. The weather was pristine here in Philly too (low 70s) and I totally missed it. Now we're into high 50s, low 60s but I still want to try and go riding this weekend. 

I had several issues with dizzyness/lightheadedness in the past 5-7 years where I would feel that way for 2-3 weeks at a time and I never figured out what it was. My blood pressure has always read below ~120 so I suspect this is it. The solution per my doctor is drink lots of water (which I'm doing, going through about 60oz every day) and more salt in my diet! I'm totally ok with that, because I have a Savory Tooth. 

Chili Cheese Fries at  Tony Lukes . Their cheesesteaks are amazing too!

Chili Cheese Fries at Tony Lukes. Their cheesesteaks are amazing too!

New Reviews! Arai and Kriega

araivector2_white kriega_US10pack These are long overdue reviews that I'm finally posting. The first is of my beloved Arai Vector 2 Helmet. If you want to step up your game and invest in an incredible helmet, then you can't go wrong with Arai.

The second one is the Kriega Universal Tailpack System. I love this system because for those of us with tiny rear seats, saddlebag systems can be too wide or just not a perfect fit. They can also add width which interferes with swerve clearance and can redistribute the weight. I love these for my SV650 and I think you will too.

"Quiet" Motorcycle Helmets

Riding down Geary Boulevard in San Francisco back in 2013

Riding down Geary Boulevard in San Francisco back in 2013

I had a really difficult question this week emailed to me from a rider in Australia about which helmets are quieter, full face or modulars? 

Questions:

  • What is the quietest full face flip top (modular)?
  • What is the quietest full face?
  • And are the flip top (modular) as quiet as the full face?

Answer:

Generally speaking, perceived noise levels will vary depending on the individual. Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of clothing that is being worn. Also assuming that you are wearing the correct size/fit for your head, this will also greatly affect perceived noise levels We also always recommend wearing high quality ear plugs to minimize wind noise as well. One of my favorite resources for an exceptionally large selection is Earplug Superstore.

That being said, I am thrilled to share my personal experience with you, as well as that of many of our customers with our most popular helmets for overall noise reduction.

Many will agree that Schuberth makes one of the quietest modulars (also commonly referred to as flip up) starting with their popular C3 Pro.

My old Shoei Qwest Goddess

My old Shoei Qwest Goddess

Schuberth made the first modular helmet and they say that the C3 and C3Pro are the quietest models available. They have wind tunnel tested both of these models starting at “82db at 62 mph on an unfaired motorcycle”. If you search for reviews of these models, you will find many riders agree that the Schuberth helmets are very quiet, relative to other makes/models. I have a C3ProW (women’s specific model of the C3Pro) and can definitely tell a noticeable reduction in wind noise in comparison to the other two helmets I own, which are the Arai Vector-2 and Shoei Qwest. As a side note Shoei claims a 2.2db reduction in overall wind noise from it’s predecessor, the TZ-R. I definitely think my Qwest is quieter than my Vector-2.

Many will also argue that modulars are noisier than full face helmets. That is true with a few exceptions including Schuberth, who has mastered the design and engineering of their helmets to eliminate as much noise as possible. Since Schuberth introduced the C3 a couple years ago, there are more premium modulars that have been released since then to compete including the Shoei Neotec and HJC RPHA Max that also are trying to provide a quieter riding experience. However, if you compare something as premium as the C3Pro to a basic full face helmet at a <$100 price point then the C3Pro is very much quieter than that one.

Alternatively, if you compare the C3Pro to other premium, high end full face street helmets such as the Arai Defiant or Shoei RF-1200 which have both been designed to greatly minimize wind noise, you may find they all come somewhat close to each other. 

The Defiant and RF-1200 have been very popular models among riders who are seeking full face helmets that can greatly reduce wind noise levels. Since Schuberth greatly publicizes their perceived noise level in decibels, I think you can safely assume that the Schuberth models might be a hair quieter than it’s competitors. It’s difficult to say which one is the quietest, but these definitely fall into the ‘more quiet than others’ category.

You must also take into consideration the fairing / windscreen setup of your motorcycle. My bike has nothing, so even the quietest helmets will still be noisy because I have nothing in front of me. Depending on what kind of setup you have on your bike, that will certainly affect overall wind noise as well.

UPDATE 2016: 

Since this post, I've purchased a Shoei RF-1200 which I find to be almost as quiet as my Schuberth. However, I do think the windscreen on my old SV made a difference in reducing noise as well. My current Triumph has nothing! 

Most comfortable motorcycle helmet.

Arai Vector-2 Diamond White Motorcycle Helmet

Is this the most comfortable motorcycle helmet? For me, YES! 

For me, and my small, intermediate oval head (XS, 53-54cm), the Arai Vector-2 is a perfect fit. It cradles my head so perfectly and feels like it was made just for me.   I chose Diamond White, which is a pearlescent white with little sparkly specs when it's in the light. 

The Vector was designed for someone who's head is longer from front to back vs. side to side. If you aren't sure where to start, you should measure your head (see helmet fitment guide link below) and start from there. Figure out which way your head is longer, side to side or front to back. 

When searching for  a helmet, especially your first one ever, I know how difficult it can be to find something that fits well and falls within your budget. That's the #1 complaint I hear about helmets is how expensive they are. But isn't protecting your head/brain worth that investment? 

Think about something you spent $400-$500 on recently. Was it a fancy kitchen appliance? Fancy speakers? A new chair or a computer? Why is it so easy for us to drop money on superficial items, but when it comes to our delicate heads, the idea of spending a few hundred dollars is simply ridiculous?  You don't have to spend more on an Arai, but consider spending a little more than the bare minimum. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to helmets.

After sporting the Shoei Qwest for a year and a half now, I'm excited to wear an Arai again. When I first started riding, I remember trying on an Arai Quantum and knowing that it was the perfect helmet for me. But I just couldn't bring myself to spend the extra $ on my first helmet so I settled for something less expensive yet Snell certified.  I knew that I was an Arai girl and I still am. Woop!

Useful Links:

Helmet Sizing

Helmet Fitment Guide

SFPD, all geared up.

I guess you can only wear real gear if you're assigned to ride a DR650 for the SFPD. I recently spotted another officer on a DR, wearing what appeared to be an Arai XD helmet. Hope this means more protective gear for our police officers.  Generally speaking, the gear requirements seem to be mandated from long standing rules and regulations which apparently have taken a long time to get changed.

Although, for officers riding BMWs or Harleys, they still appear to be stuck wearing the same outfits they were wearing 20-30 years ago.  Let's Protect our police force, come on SFPD!

Show off those kicks, guys.

 

 

 

 

Girly Motorcycle Helmets

Let's update this post from 2010 about "Motorcycle Helmets for Women" aka Girly Helmets.

http://gearchic.com/2010/08/31/motorcycle-helmets-for-women/

I can't stand the phrase "Woman's Motorcycle Helmet", because there's really no such thing. However, there are certainly some very soft, feminine graphics and designs that we as women may be able to appreciate. :)

Now onto the helmets for 2011. Let's see what kind of softer, more subtle designs are out there for us to enjoy without the manly images of Guns, Skulls, Dragons, Swords, Fire, Naked or Half Naked Women violating our helmets. You may see some repeats from last year too.  You should see the names /manufacturers for each helmet on the image.  Some of them will come in different colors, like the Shoei Qwest Goddess so be sure to see what other options exist on the manufacturers websites. Here are the companies that I've posted images from:

You'll want to Google these to your heart's content to find the best pricing/availability. Feel free to post any that I missed!

Motorcycle Helmets for Women

shoei vermeulen I have often come across the term "women's motorcycle helmet". Is there such a thing? Do manufacturers categorize helmets that way? The simple answer is no, not really. Technically, every helmet is a woman's motorcycle helmet. The same goes for motorcycles, in my opinion. Every motorcycle is a woman's motorcycle.

So what kind of helmets are best for women? How do you make that decision? Some manufacturers have tried to do that for you by creating cute, pink helmets to distract you from the reality of how to properly choose a helmet. And, they're pretty good at it. Let's face it ladies, we're attracted to cute things. Pink! Glitter! Gold! Flowers! It can be overwhelming at times. But, when it comes to protecting ourselves, it's crucial to find a helmet that's real, has proper DOT and Snell or ECE certifications to show that it's been properly tested to ensure that it's going to save your head from serious injury.

I posted awhile back with a few full face options that were a little 'softer' in design and made to appeal to women riders/consumers. A couple of these might be discontinued designs, but manufacturers are continually trying to come up with more that women might like.

http://www.gearchic.com/blog/?p=621

Another one I want to add to this list is the Arai RX-Q Oriental. It's a gorgeous helmet with a very unique design. Arai seems to be getting back to more complex designs and this one is far more beautiful in person.

Remember that although many women do have smaller heads, not ALL women do. I've had to put a few women in Large and XLarge sizes before. For the most part though, I will say that the majority of helmets I've had to fit for women are between XXS and Small (and one time, XXXS). It's all about fit and shape. Any helmet that fits the shape of your head will be your helmet! Hopefully that manufacturer will have color schemes that fit your styles and color choices too. But if not, I hope that won't keep you from buying 'the one'.

(The helmet pictured above is a Shoei X-12 Vermeulen)