Michael Krumm: “For a racing driver their crash helmet is a very personal, piece of equipment. Some are literally in ‘love’ with their helmets and its design, while others don’t seem to care too much about it, it is simply an essential tool of our trade. I generally belong to the latter group, so it is kind of unusual for me to feel compelled to write a piece on the new Stilo ST5 Zero Helmet.
As you may be aware my company is the official Stilo importer to Japan, so I do have a commercial interest in the ST5 being a success for Stilo. Fair enough. But I think my reactions as a driver to this new helmet really sums up why we became the importer for this exciting company, which is pushing helmet development, in the first place.
So let’s take a look at what is so magic about this new helmet. I remember my manager Mike Perry seeing the helmet in real life before me and his first comments to me were: “This is a game changer!” Yeah, sure. Let me try it in real life first was my answer.
I collected my Stilo ST5’s for 2015 from the factory and was immediately impressed with its lightweight and finish, it really is a piece of art.
I then used the ST5 Zero for the first time in the car at the Le Mans test day and for the 24 Hour race.
In Le Mans the drivers need to get their weight checked with all equipment worn all the time, and all drivers strive to be as light as possible. My pure helmet and HANS weight was 300 grams lighter compared to my colleagues. Now that sounds not so much in general, but when I put the helmet on my head, I can immediately feel the lightness when I move my head around.
Now while driving that 300 grams become suddenly much more when adding the lateral g-forces. It was very quickly clear to me that the loads on my neck and shoulder area are much less compared to usual. This allows me to focus much longer on my driving rather than fighting some fatigue and distractions caused by muscle strains.
That alone is a great and valid point for the ST5 but there is more to it than just the sheer weight saving. The ease of putting the helmet on and off, the incredible closing mechanism all guarantee that I can ‘gear-up’ much faster than ever before. And that is unfortunately sometimes necessary in long-distance racing as your teammate might drop into the pits unannounced for a driver change. And you need to be ready very quickly…
Another thing that has changed from the previous ST4 model is the field of vision. Usually racing helmets restrict your field of vision, but with the ST5, the field of vision has been greatly improved, which allows you to have much bigger visual cues while racing. And you can actually look down at your belts and do them yourself if necessary. Now you can also move the visor up much higher, to get it out of your field of vision completely, and in a closed car you can use this perfectly as a moveable sun visor. Not to forget the very cool opening and closing mechanism of the visor. No more struggles to open your visor quickly to get some air when you are oxygen deprived.
Finally for me the most impressive thing is the noise cancellation performance of the ST5. I know there are drivers that like to hear lots of noise. In order to feel the engine and car better. I personally like to have it quiet in the car and I don’t depend on audio cues much. So I use the special Stilo ear cups and would never want to race without them ever again. The quietness in the car gives me much more room to keep my concentration at a high level for a long time. The interesting fact about the ST5 was that the first time in my career I had to turn the radio volume down by 50% every time I got into the car. As my hearing is not that great (as most drivers), I always had the radio volume set to maximum in the past. But not with the ST5!
I could go on about the special carbon material, safety features and all the other cool stuff like the drinking system, aero, cooling etc. But you can find that information on the Stilo websites anyway. So to finish off I have to say Mike was right it is a Game Changer and I am very proud to be the Stilo Importer for Japan. My compliments to Ludovico and his whole team at Stilo for developing this incredible helmet. I know they do not rest now and like real racers are continuing to develop new solutions daily, but for the next few years the ST5 is the one to beat.”