British born brand Spada are not a high-profile riding gear brand. They do however have a range of products that cover almost any type of riding at very reasonable price. We put their Intrepid Adventure styled helmet to the test by riding the length of Sweden in it.
Most helmets we review are at the high end of the spectrum. Pricey, top end, famously branded products. The Spada Intrepid sits almost as far toward the other end of the scale as possible. It’s cheap, pure and simple. Cheap however, does not mean bad. Spada have built their entire brand around the concept of creating ‘great value for their customers”. While a helmet with a price around £100 might lead to some preconceptions, one cannot judge the book by the proverbial cover, especially as Spada have cut themselves a reputation for good kit without blowing the bank account into the red.
On paper the features of the Intrepid aren’t ground breaking. It rocks a thermoplastic moulded shell with European approval ratings, quick-release ratchet-type fastening, standard upper and lower ventilation, a removable lining and an internal sun visor. There are plenty of helmets in the market with the same features. Some of them do it very well, with good looks and lots of polish. Most of them aren’t doing for less than a hundred notes, in fact it’s actually ridiculous to pack that much into such a low price point.
Living with it
Instantly a few points regarding the fit became clear to me. The chin straps, with a ratchet-type fastener, are sized appropriately and don’t flap around in the wind. That might seem an odd observation, but the previous model from Spada was awful for this. For the size small specimen I tested, the fit of the liner around my head is firm and good. The cheek pads pressed on my face a bit hard but they wore in a bit after a few days of riding. The fit of the polystyrene around the top of the head is good too. It’s not particularly odd shaped or uncomfortable in any way. It’s not going to set the world on fire with the levels of fit and comfort but it’s also entirely inoffensive. It’s doesn’t feel like it has the hold and precision you’ll often find in the high end helmet but in general there’s nothing to complain about.
While the general fit is good, the area around the ears, at least for my head, needs some revision. It was a problem on the previous generation too. The chin straps originate from an area that sits right around my ears. While this isn’t really uncomfortable in its own right, especially once its bedded, it does not play nice at all with intercom speakers in any way. Often, higher end helmets deliberately design small recesses for them. We tested it with our existing Scala G9 and Sena’s 10S and 20S. It’s a challenge to position the speaker earpieces right next to my ears and the slightest misalignment can lead to painful pressure on the ears. This obviously depends on the design of the specific intercom’s speakers; the Sena 10S I use has thicker speakers than the Scala G9x for example.
The Intrepid does have a small redeeming feature here. There are cloth strips behind the ear cutouts which you can tuck the speakers under so they don’t fall out due to lack of adhesive surface. This a problem bobecause of the chin strap placement. It also means your ears slide in easier due to not getting caught on the speaker edges. On the flip side the strips muffle the sound a little. The intercom fit might not be an issue for all. I love being able to converse with my friends when riding, talk to my pillion passenger or listen to my phone. It’s part of my riding experience. When compared to high-end offerings from, say Shoei or Schuberth, that offer delicately designed, comfortable pouches and cavities for intercom systems, there is room for improvement.
The new visor design and drop-down sun visor are a nice touch. The Intrepid has a strengthened system visor ratchet over the previous helmet. It’s great for keeping the visor up when riding through town or with goggles. It’ll never drop down on a bounce. to the point it’s almost too stiff when box fresh. The Spada Intrepid also comes with Pinlock studs on the visor. There isn’t a Pinlock included but for £100.00 that might be asking a little too much.
A big disappointment for me is the change in design that means the Intrepid isn’t as goggle friendly as its predecessor. You can still wear goggles, but the previous generation had an awesome slit at the back of the visor for the goggle strap. That was a great touch and it’s a shame to see it lost. The shell design does have a nice recess to help goggles stay in place however.
Drop down sun visors are really divisive, especially in the Brake offices. I personally like it, specifically the light blue tint which makes it dark enough for sunny days but not so dark you have to flip it up every time you ride into a darkened area. It isn’t the highest quality, with visible optical impurities in the mould of the sun visor. There is distortion at certain angles but it does the job. The slider to deploy the sun visor also happens to sit exactly where one would attach their intercom system. It’s less than ideal.
That said, there are some things the Spada Intrepid does well. It breathes well, never feeling overly hot. It’s something a lot of ADV helmets frankly suck at and the Intrepid is not one of those. Even in difficult riding, it allowed the heat to escape. Likewise, its on road, real world comfort is good. The wind noise is decent, and much better than the predecessor, as are the aerodynamics. The peak is far from ground breaking, with a very traditional design. It’s manageable on the highway and keeps the sun out of your eyes later in the day. There are other helmets on the market with incredibly highway efficient designs and the Spada doesn’t have any match for them. It is however perfectly useable and didn’t bother me. If you tried to hit 120mph in it you may have a different story to tell but on the whole it did a good job.
Spending two full weeks wearing a product, riding day in day out gives you a very good sense of what works and what doesn’t. As a complete package, I like the Intrepid. It’s not ground breaking but for the price you get a lot. There are obvious areas where corners have been cut, the sun visor for example, but they still do the job required. They’re built a helmet that has the necessary elements to keep you happy and on the bike all day, every day. I like that foams are removable, that it breathes well and that it has got the flip down visor. Spada have kept the weight reasonable too. The Intrepid sits square with the competition at a touch under 1600 grams. The Nexx XD1 is a slightly lighter and the awesome Shoei Hornet ADV is pretty much identical. It’s a weight that you can wear for a long time without bother.
Even though some aspects of the Spada Intrepid’s fit and finish don’t quite match up to the premium competition, it’d be rude of us to expect it to. After all, it’s outrageously cheap, providing a lot for its exceedingly low price. If you look past the difficult fitment of an intercom system, an imperfect but useable flip down sun visor and awkwardness of the goggles, you get a comfortable and well ventilated helmet. It’s suited for all-round usage and makes a great low-budget adventure helmet.
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