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One of the best parts of starting a new season is getting some new gear. Especially if it is something brand new on the market. Enter the 2013 Fly Racing Three.4 helmet.

I had already planned on purchasing a new helmet this year anyway. At the 2012 Grands I took some time to stop by the Fly Racing booth and check out some of their current offerings. I was pretty sure that I knew what I was going to order. Then when talking with our Fly rep he said hold off for a couple of weeks that they had a new helmet that wasn't out yet but that would be the one I wanted.

The new release is Fly Racing's Three.4 helmet. Outside of the cool graphics (I picked the Green/Lime one myself) I was really looking for something light and comfortable. That is a big issue here in the Midwest where 100+ degree days are commonplace in the summer. Just as important, a helmet that doesn't break the bank.

When I first took it out of the box I was really impressed with the weight. My previous helmet seemed fairly heavy and bulky. I never really realized how heavy it was until I had to borrow another riders helmet for practice and was surprised at how much lighter it was than mine. My concern whenever something is really light is strength, and in a helmet, protection. The Three.4 is plenty strong and the reputation that Fly has in protection is well known. With Snell and DOT certifications along with a slew of others this helmet lives up to that reputation.
So after oogling my new safety gear for a moment I had to put it on. I'm always a little concerned about making a purchase before actually trying it on. Even though I know what size my old helmet was (not a Fly product) and they have a sizing guide right on the web page I was still hoping it fit. Probably more concerned with it being too big rather than too small. I had tried a couple of other helmets while at the Fly booth and hoped their sizing was consistent. Fit was great out of the box. A bit more snug than my previous one, but I'm sure I'll get used to it quickly.

While fit is important, you can't ignore comfort. Granted, it's a piece of safety gear, but as a BMXer I may have it on for two or three hours while riding. I certainly didn't want something that feels like it's sanding a hole in my cheeks or compressing my skull into a point. Again, I'm impressed with the comfort right out of the box. What have I adjusted? Nothing. That is awesome in my book.

So how does it work in the real world? Just a good as Fly says it will. The venting allows plenty of air through. My first night at the track it was about 45 degrees and I could feel the cold air circulating. Didn't need the vents, but glad to know they work when we get into July and August. Peripheral vision is about as good as one would expect froma full face helmet. Since I wear goggles when I ride I'm already used to limited vision on the sides.

It may sound odd, but it's got a good shape to the shell. Not just from an asthetic point of view, but in function as well. When you're in the gate you have to be able to be able to look all the way forward, which since the gate is sloped, looking up. My old helmet was alright, but I due to the curve on the back of the shell I found it tough to tilt my head back and keep it there. So for most of the cadence I've got my eyes on my bars. This can be a problem, as you can imagine. So I really like how the back of the Three.4 is not restrictive in any way.
Now before I start sounding like a paid endorsee, there are some things that while I can't say I don't like, I can say I don't need or feel can be done better.

Probably the most annoying is this small piece inside the mouth guard. It is something like a cover over the mesh vent with four small holes for airflow. I have never seen this on any other helmet. Granted I haven't tried dozens of other helmets so maybe others have it as well. Why does this bother me, you ask? Because when you breathe after a hard lap it causes your hot breath to be directed right on your goggles. When it's cold like it is now, it fogs them up. So the last straight you may have some diminished vision due to that small piece. Probably won't be a problem once the weather gets nicer so I don't hate it. Oh, and it's not removable.

The second thing would be the small nose protector on the mouth guard. According to the instructions it is to help protect you from small rocks being roosted into your face. Now I know that most of the helmets are actually designed for MX riding. They have just been adopted for use in the BMX world. That I can think of I have never had a problem of flotsom being kicked up from the bike in front of me. But it does get in the way when putting on my goggles. So, thankfully, it can be easily removed. It just presses into the seam on the mouth guard.

Last minor complaint would be, well, the vents. While I love the fact that you have fantastic air flow, when it's cold I'd like to be able to choke that off a bit. Maybe some small press-in covers for a couple of the vents to reduce the wind tunnel over the head. I don't if other helmets offer that, but it would be nice.

In summary, it's a great helmet and was worth the extra couple of weeks that I had to wait. It has all the features that you could want and looks great as well. At a suggested retail of only $159.99 it is worth at least taking into consideration. You'll be hard pressed to get more for your money. Thank you, Fly!