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  1. #1
    Lawman
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    extra safe helmet

    All bike helmets seem to be made of a styrofoam-like inner material and a thin plastic outer shell with lots of holes for ventilation. I understand that helmets with more holes are supposed to be made of better foam to make up for having less material. Are there helmets that are made of stronger material that have fewer holes in order to provide more impact protection? or, are all bike helmets designed to have the same ANSI required impact protection with only a little extra strength for manufacturing variance? I would not mind wearing a little extra weight for a little more impact protection.

  2. #2
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhglaw
    All bike helmets seem to be made of a styrofoam-like inner material and a thin plastic outer shell with lots of holes for ventilation. I understand that helmets with more holes are supposed to be made of better foam to make up for having less material. Are there helmets that are made of stronger material that have fewer holes in order to provide more impact protection? or, are all bike helmets designed to have the same ANSI required impact protection with only a little extra strength for manufacturing variance? I would not mind wearing a little extra weight for a little more impact protection.
    Bell helmets used to make the V1 Pro, a very nice helmet with holes with ventilation and a HARD plastic shell. The rest was pretty much like any other helmet. BTW the ANSI rating has been dropped for CPSC rating.

    Helmets used to be ANSI and SNELL rated... but no longer true for bike helmets.

    All your answers can be found here: http://www.bhsi.org/

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    The foam isnt there for strength but to absorb the shock of impact through crushing. Therefore a stronger foam may not be better since it may transmit the shock rather than absorb it.

  4. #4
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    The foam isnt there for strength but to absorb the shock of impact through crushing. Therefore a stronger foam may not be better since it may transmit the shock rather than absorb it.
    The helmet I mentioned had the same foam, but rather then the thin skin shell that today's helmets have, it had a thicker tougher shell. So the action of the foam is still the same, but the hard outer shell offered more protection against puncture type failures.

  5. #5
    Warning:Mild Peril Treespeed's Avatar
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    You could always go with a motorcycle helmet if you wanted more protection.
    Non semper erit aestas.

  6. #6
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    Having hit a ditch and pile-driving myself at 35+ mph, I can tell you a helmet that meets the ANSI/SNELL standard is pretty safe. Mine was a Limar F105, so a lightweight racing-style helmet. Like it was said before, the foam is there to dissipate the impact, which is why the helmets are designed for one crash only. They're actually supposed to crack on impact. The thin shell is actually to prevent foam degradation due to UV rays nothing more.
    Rubber Side Down

  7. #7
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhglaw
    All bike helmets seem to be made of a styrofoam-like inner material and a thin plastic outer shell with lots of holes for ventilation. I understand that helmets with more holes are supposed to be made of better foam to make up for having less material. Are there helmets that are made of stronger material that have fewer holes in order to provide more impact protection?

    From

    http://www.helmets.org/helmet05.htm

    it will not surprise you that it is advantageous to have lots of thicker, less dense foam in a helmet, leading to our recommendation that you find one with no more vents than you need.

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treespeed
    You could always go with a motorcycle helmet if you wanted more protection.
    How about something in between... like the old Bell V1-Pro.

    Here is the V1-Pro for comparison:


    It is no longer available. The hard shells have given away to the "microshell."

    There are other helmets available, like the BMX style full face helmets.


  9. #9
    Warning:Mild Peril Treespeed's Avatar
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    There are also the full-face snowboarding helmets. Living in Los Angeles I can't imagine giving up any ventilation.
    Non semper erit aestas.

  10. #10
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Or a regular hardshell BMX / Skate helmet, many models to choose from...

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    In general, helmet manufacturers certify only that their helmets meet the current CPSC standards. Nobody, to my knowledge claims any of their helmets provides better protection than that (however you would define 'better').

    However, as I recall, Consumer Reports did a test a few years ago to determine which of a representative sample of then-current helmets provided the greatest impact protection. Not surprisingly, the less expensive (more material, less vents) helmets did better in many cases than the expensive helmets.

    Perhaps CU has done tests since then, but alas, I have no access to the magazine any more.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    In general, helmet manufacturers certify only that their helmets meet the current CPSC standards. Nobody, to my knowledge claims any of their helmets provides better protection than that (however you would define 'better').

    However, as I recall, Consumer Reports did a test a few years ago to determine which of a representative sample of then-current helmets provided the greatest impact protection. Not surprisingly, the less expensive (more material, less vents) helmets did better in many cases than the expensive helmets.

    Perhaps CU has done tests since then, but alas, I have no access to the magazine any more.
    A mountain bike magazine published a list of helmets that meet the MUCH higher standards of the Snell Foundation. The only bicycle helmets sold widely in the USA with Snell approval were from Specialized. Contact Specialized or the Snell Foundation for a list of the helmets that are currently approved.

  13. #13
    'Mizer Cats are INSANE Mentor58's Avatar
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    The scary part... I used to ride with one of these...


    The good old leather hairnet helmet.

    Steve W.
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  14. #14
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Ever see a Skid Lid helmet? Wasn't much more then the leather hairnets except it was made of fiberglass... it had 4 "paddles" that came from each side but didn't meet in the middle center of the helmet. Had a nice chin guard though. Very open helmet. Dorky as all heck though.

    I think they might have been made in San Diego county.

  15. #15
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Helmets with a lot of vents don't use any "special" foam. They have an inner cage of carbon fiber to keep everything together. During a hard impact, the foam cracks to dissipate energy, much like the carbon also will if it's real bad.

    The ideal helmet would actually include a small flap to go over the ears to protect from wind noise (next time you're riding, try cupping your hands over your ears, you'd be surprised at how much more you can hear). It will have a hard outer shell, a foam shell that's 1/2 the thickness of current helmets, then a layer of viscoelastic foam to spread out the energy around your head.

    Unfortunately, judging by the prices of helmets nowadays with the given features, such a helmet would cost about $5000.

  16. #16
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Helmets with a lot of vents don't use any "special" foam. They have an inner cage of carbon fiber to keep everything together. During a hard impact, the foam cracks to dissipate energy, much like the carbon also will if it's real bad.

    The ideal helmet would actually include a small flap to go over the ears to protect from wind noise (next time you're riding, try cupping your hands over your ears, you'd be surprised at how much more you can hear). It will have a hard outer shell, a foam shell that's 1/2 the thickness of current helmets, then a layer of viscoelastic foam to spread out the energy around your head.

    Unfortunately, judging by the prices of helmets nowadays with the given features, such a helmet would cost about $5000.

    I donno about that... after seeing the comment regarding the SNELL ratings on some helmets, I checked the Specialized list and found that their SNELL helmets went from about $36 to about $150... no difference in protection rating... just looks and style. So it doesn't cost much more to make a better helmet... it's just that you are charged more for "style."

  17. #17
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I meant cost US more, not them...

    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    I donno about that... after seeing the comment regarding the SNELL ratings on some helmets, I checked the Specialized list and found that their SNELL helmets went from about $36 to about $150... no difference in protection rating... just looks and style. So it doesn't cost much more to make a better helmet... it's just that you are charged more for "style."

  18. #18
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    I meant cost US more, not them...
    Yeah but even with all the bells and whistles if it is not "stylish" it should not cost an arm and leg.

    And regarding "stylish," some of those helmets would look better on martians... no way I would pay $150 for the "style."

  19. #19
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    A 'stylish' bike helmet is an oxymoron.

  20. #20
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    How can this not be stylish?

  21. #21
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    A 'stylish' bike helmet is an oxymoron.
    Agreed... but apparently some folks are willing to pay an extra $110 for some pretty odd shapped helmets.

  22. #22
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    Here are some helmets that are both stylish and safe.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
    crankin^max
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    i like the purdy white one....


    'Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind'

  24. #24
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Look up "crazy helmet" on google images..

  25. #25
    Drive the Bicycle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    All your answers can be found here: http://www.bhsi.org/
    --- Good site, thanks.
    "The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well." Ivan Illich ('Energy and Equity')1974

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