Biltwell have developed a new helmet, so we asked the company's co-founder, Bill Bryant a few questions about it, and life in general. Gary Inman
We saw a helmet at the Bike Shed show with new vents, tell us about the Gringo replacement? This isn’t a replacement for the Gringo or Gringo S, we’ve still got those old favorites and they are about to come back to Europe in ECE 22.06 versions as well. This new helmet is called the Gringo SV. The V stands for vents! It’s got four of ‘em; two closing ones up top and two in the chin bar. We love the body line creases in the new shell that feather out from the vents. The Gringo SV boasts three different shell sizes (instead of the previous two) and has a refined anti-rattle shield closure like our Lane Splitter, and improved Gen-2 hinge hardware with strong detents for open and closed positions.
How long does it take to design a helmet and get it approved for the EU Market? Some brands just pick off the shelf helmets designed by a factory and then put their logos on them. We don’t. Biltwell is a small company so it takes quite a bit of time to develop our own unique designs. Throw in hiccups like COVID, supply chain issues, travel restrictions, an ECE regulations update and it complicates the process exponentially. The Gringo SV was in development for about four years and what we learned during that process got poured into the new 22.06 Gringo and Gringo S helmets so there wasn’t as much lead time required for those.
Do you think Biltwell helmets would be as good if you just concentrated solely on the US market? Are they better because of EU regs, or are DOT regs as tight? It would be way easier for us to make helmets only for the US market. Our DOT still has strict guidelines, but they apply to the whole country so it’s very consolidated and easier to comply. The ECE regs are much more complicated and there is a ton of time spent on multi-lingual owners manuals and such. If you add in the fact that different countries interpret the rules slightly differently, that adds nuance to the process where DOT seems more straightforward to navigate. The actual ECE testing is unique and in some ways more realistic and better. Back when we only made DOT helmets it was simpler, but we got a lot of requests from EU and Australian riders who really wanted the helmets, but of course needed them to be legal in their countries. So we took on the challenge and figured it out. We want to build the safest helmets possible - our customers, friends and family ride in these things - so we think it’s paramount to put the time and effort into the process and get it right. I’d like to thank my business partner Harold 'McGoo' McGruther, our product manager Erik 'Westy' Westergaard and our friend and partner in Taiwan, Sherry Hsu. These are the guys who swim through the red tape and test results to bring safe, comfortable and stylish Biltwell helmets to the world. I just pick paint colors, design the boxes and do all the fun stuff.
When will we be able to get it, and how many colours is it launching with? The Gringo SV's will be landing mid-summer, so keep an eye on your favorite retailers. There will eight colors; the usual Flat and Gloss Blacks, Gloss White, Gloss Storm Grey and then the flashy stuff – Metallic Grape, Sea Foam, Cherry Red and Sierra Green.
On a wider note, what is on Biltwell's horizon - products and events? Events are a never ending cycle for us! We’re headed to Revzilla’s Get On ADV Fest in Sturgis, then headed to Colorado for the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally. Then in early October, we’ll be hosting our 8th annual Kernville Kampout for about 1200 of our closest friends. Good times, every time! As for products, we are weeding out some old stuff, making room for these new Gringo SV helmets and another one coming later this year – the 395 Off Road helmet. That one’s gonna be fun. Think basic, good looking moto helmet without all the crazy over the top doo-dads that most modern MX helmets have. We’re also working on some more cut-and-sew casual apparel. Plenty of good stuff on the horizon…
Tell us one event, person, product or new bike that is exciting you right now. I recently rode an electric bike for the first time– the DSR/X from Zero Motorcycles. I was shocked how fun and how capable it was to ride. We did a little blog about it here: https://www.biltwellinc.com/blogs/wtf/welcome-to-the-future
Give us one piece of advice. Advice is worth what you pay for it and mine is always free! Last good book read was Die with Zero by Bill Perkins. Most self-help financial books just nag about saving every penny for that magical 'some day'. Spoiler alert, this one recommends spending it on fun shit and enjoying life so it’s a much better philosophy.
Find out more at Biltwellinc.com