Type to search


Garage Finds | SparX Racing Firestorm Helmet


Garage Finds | SparX Racing Firestorm Helmet

Presented by Backyard Design

Long-time TransWorld Motocross readers will remember this one, as it’s a story I’ve told before. However, after spending yesterday morning at the 6D Helmets offices, I came home and dug this baby out of my cabinets…

A little over a decade ago, four large boxes showed up at our offices. SparX was a new helmet manufacturer out of Asia at the time and they signed a big, monthly advertising contract with TransWorld Motocross Magazine and followed up by sending all of the staff editors two helmets each, a jacket, a hat, and some t-shirts emblazoned with their logo. The presentation was really impressive, but when I took the first helmet out of the box I could tell that it was made of plastic. I checked the literature and saw that it carried a $100 price tag.

Some years earlier, I had been enticed into wearing a mid-level helmet that had a custom paint job by my friend Brian at List Designs. As luck would have it, the bike I was riding at the time had a faulty ignition that year and the bike cut out on the face of a triple jump. I endoed violently, landed face first in the third jump, and the bike hit me in the back of the head. The impact broke the chin bar on both sides and I suffered a broken eye socket and a serious concussion. Since that crash, I’ve always had the habit of checking the rigidity of a helmet’s chin bar by holding it upside down with the back of the helmet against my chest and squeezing the mouth guard towards me. Not very scientific, I know, and there are also arguments that an overly rigid chin bar can transfer too much force to your neck. Still, it’s something I like to do since a collapsed chin bar on a helmet once cost me my vision in my left eye for the better part of a year…

I immediately grabbed the SparX helmet and did my personal squeeze test on it. While most helmets flex a bit and will even creak, I was shocked with the entire mouthguard of the helmet buckled inward because the plastic chin bar was so flimsy. I popped it out, then bent it inward again…and the front of the helmet snapped off! In disbelief of what I had just done, I did the same thing to the second helmet in my care package, then again to one of my assistant editor’s helmets. 

The product review that I ran in the magazine caused a shit storm of epic proportions. The brand obviously canceled their ad contract and my ad salesman who lost his commissions was mad at me, but what I didn’t expect was for a rival editor at another magazine to stick up for the helmet and criticize our report. (Yes, SparX had a 12-month advertising contract with them, too.)

Internet message boards lit up about the helmet, and the SparX brand answered all of the posts, saying that my squeeze test was not real-world and that there’s no way I could have actually broken the helmets in that manner. They also wrote that a retraction from TWMX was in the works. Funny, at the Indy Trade Show that next year, all of their employees sure looked nervous when I entered their booth and picked up a helmet… It was hard, but I resisted the urge to snap one in half to prove it.

As best I can tell, SparX isn’t around anymore, but I’m not really surprised. Motocross is a dangerous sport, friends. While a massive price tag does not necessarily guarantee the best protection available, I can promise you that a $100 price tag certainly does not. Motocross bikes are more powerful than ever and riders are going faster and jumping higher and further than ever before…now is not the time to be settling for a cheap helmet with sweet-looking graphics. 

There are countless designs and safety features built into all of today’s high-end helmets: do your research and decide which technologies you believe in, and invest in protecting the most important part of your body: your brain. 

A year or so before TransWorld Motocross was put to rest by its ignorant new owners, I wrote something similar to this preaching against settling for a $100 helmet. It cost us a long-time advertiser who chose to advertise exactly that in the same issue. Again, it stung my salesman who lost his commissions, but I slept ok that night knowing that I will never personally mislead one of our readers into putting themselves in danger by strapping an ignorant helmet on their head…

Backyard Design Graphic Kit of the Week

Custom Graphic Kits Starting At $179.99

Backyard Design was founded in 2010 by two privateer Supercross racers: Jared Hicks from Alabama and Philipp Klakow from Germany. What started off as a project to fund their Supercross racing efforts has now grown into a worldwide graphics manufacturer, with dual headquarters in the United States and Germany. Backyard Design is known for being one of the first custom graphics makers to have a completely interactive website, where customers can design their own kits with a few clicks on a computer mouse.

A couple of weeks ago, we shared the artwork that Backyard Design whipped up for our 2020 Honda CRF450R test bike, and this week we’re stoked to share a photo of the finished product! The kit fit perfectly, installed easily, and looks even better than we imagined when seeing the initial computer rendering. Want something a little more wild? Backyard Design USA’s web site has a wide selection of baseline designs to start with for all brands, which can be customized with your sponsor logos, etc.


Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

  • 1

You Might also Like