Biltwell retro Gringo helmets have been around for about six years and have only now received Euro approval that allows them to be sold in Australia.
The American motorcycle helmet manufacturer sent me their Lane Splitter urban/enduro helmet last year which was their first to be Euro approved.
Gringo bargain lids
We loved the helmet, so Biltwell’s Australian distributor, Monza Imports, sent us an antique white visorless Gringo ($249.95) and a gloss black Gringo S ($299.95) with a clear flip-up visor to review.
Like the Lane Splitter, the quality of finish is beautiful.
The gloss paint is thick and lustrous like much more expensive helmets than these bargain lids.
And if you can’t find a colour or graphic to suit your taste, then you really are fussy as there is a big selection.
We did have a problem with the clear visor delaminating on the inside after fogging up.
Monza said they had a faulty batch of visors, so they sent me clear and tinted replacements which have had no such problems.
In another bit of good news, there is a host of scratch-resistant visor styles and colours available and they won’t cost you a fortune like some other brands.
Standard Biltwell visors in clear, tint or iridium are just $49.95 and the trendy bubble visors are $59.95 no matter whether they are clear, tinted or iridium.
While the base model doesn’t come with a visor, it has five press studs to attach a fixed bubble visor which will only cost you $39.95 for clear, tinted or iridium.
Otherwise, you can wear it with goggles.
We found motocross and ski goggles were too big for the visor aperture and even some of our other goggles were a tight fit.
Unless you can find some slimline units like our Aviators Retro Pilot T2 goggles or the special Biltwell goggles at just $54.95, you may prefer to wear riding sunglasses such as Barz Optics.
You can also fit black or white sunshade peaks to the Gringo for a mere $19.95.
We loved the interior of the $459 Lane Splitter and didn’t expect these helmets at half the cost to be quite as plush, but we were wrong.
The removable, washable and hand-sewn and diamond-stitched liner has a nice suede look and feel.
Sizing is a little askew.
Our Lane Splitter was small (55-56cm), so we ordered the same in the Gringos.
While the Lane Splitter feels a bit loose, the Gringos are very tight.
We always recommend trying on a helmet in store, so we suggest you try a size up in the Gringo.
The helmets don’t have any vents, but you don’t need it on the Gringo unless you have a visor fitted.
They also allow a lot of air on to your face through the gap between the visor and the aperture, plus there is no chin spoiler so you get plenty of air.
The liner is also breathable and the cheek pads have open-cell foam for air flow.
It’s not great in winter, but they are quite cool in warm conditions.
The seamless shell is Biltwell’s proprietary Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic which has no true melting point and is the strongest of all plastics.
Its impact resistance doesn’t vary with temperature and it ages well. It can also be recycled.
They also feature a very thick shock-absorbing EPS inner shell and a secure double D-ring chin strap.
Biltwell hasn’t been assessed by the UK’s SHARP helmet rating system, so we can’t vouch for its safety level.
As expected, the Gringo without a visor is noisy.
The Gringo S also has a large gap that allows air on to your face, but I was surprised at how quiet it was.
Ok, it’s not super-quiet, but a lot quieter than I expected.
Biltwell has been making helmets in Temecula, California, since 2005 for the midrange market.