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Old 04-04-12, 01:04 PM   #1
CptjohnC
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Helmet question

No, I'm not interested in your opinions on whether or not folks should wear them, or be forced to wear them. I choose to wear a helmet, and I respect your right to choose for yourself.

My question is this: There are name brand helmets that range in price from ~$25US to a couple hundred bucks or more. What are the differences and advantages to the higher priced models? I know it isn't safety, generally, at least as regards helmets that have ANSI or SNELL or similar certifications.

I can see that some of it comes down to weight, or ventilation or 'design' but at the end of the day, what separates a functional but merely adequate helmet from a great helmet (besides fit, of course)? I realize that like most gear questions, the ultimate choice comes down to personal preferences and taste, but I'm trying to decide if it is worth looking at the higher priced helmets, or if I'm fine sticking to my cheap, $25 or less at Costco helmets?
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Old 04-04-12, 01:25 PM   #2
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The industry seeks to profit from the highly selective visual taste of many world class cyclists. They therefore, look for certain novel and niche markets. Now you can get the futuristic-looking Giro helmet for $200 or you can get its functional equivalent at Costco or Walmart for $30.

It all depends on if you have adequate discerning class or taste?

PS.

Personally, I think all helmets are dorky-looking. I just wear them for safety reasons. I own several, but I wear the most expensive one the least. I'm not trying to look "cool" or make any kinda fashion statement.

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Old 04-04-12, 01:31 PM   #3
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At one time, the major technical difference was the way the thin plastic shell was attached to the styrofoam body. A cheap helmet would have the shell taped around the circumference. If you pressed down on the thin shell, you'd feel a gap at many points where the shell did not touch the styrofoam. This would result (after several months of use) in the thin shell cracking and flaking off, and the whole helmet looking pretty ratty.

An expensive helmet, on the other hand, used "in-mold construction," meaning that the thin plastic gets bonded directly to the styrofoam. There's no tape, and no gaps. This results in a helmet that resists pieces of plastic flaking off.

However, nowadays, just about all helmets use the direct-bonding approach. So the difference will more likely be style (coolness), number of vents (coolness), strength-to-weight ratio, ease of adjustment, etc. So your cheap, hot, unstylish, and heavy helmet will likely last just as long as the expensive one. I'm sure there are values to be found. Me, I just wait until the Bell Volts from last year go on sale online. I know exactly how they will fit, and what size I need (another advantage with the top-line helmets is that they are widely available and easier to find online). But if you're not sure, you'll just have to try them all at the LBS.

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Old 04-04-12, 01:54 PM   #4
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Higher price normally equates to better ventilation, less weight, better adjustment options and "cooler" looking...otherwise they all meet the same safety standards.
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Old 04-04-12, 01:59 PM   #5
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Higher price normally equates to better ventilation, less weight, better adjustment options and "cooler" looking...otherwise they all meet the same safety standards.
It will be interesting to see how many different ways people will find to say the same thing.
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Old 04-04-12, 03:13 PM   #6
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I paid a fair amount for my helmet because I like the way it looks.
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Old 04-04-12, 03:48 PM   #7
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It will be interesting to see how many different ways people will find to say the same thing.
Well, you see, the CPSC has made certain minimum safety standards, and all helmets sold int he US meet those standards. But some helmets are better at preventing super-dork helmet hair...

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Old 04-04-12, 06:53 PM   #8
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It will be interesting to see how many different ways people will find to say the same thing.
you want me to like read the whole thread before vomiting all over it? Blasphemy, I say!
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Old 04-04-12, 07:02 PM   #9
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Important points have already been made, so I'll just go retch off the side of my porch now.....
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Old 04-04-12, 07:39 PM   #10
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Yep. Stick with the price you're willing to pay and a style you like.
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Old 04-04-12, 07:40 PM   #11
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http://www.bhsi.org/
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Old 04-05-12, 11:23 AM   #12
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I've got a Bell Citi ($35), a Bell Alchera ($75), and a Giro ProLight ($150)

All equally comfortable. The two cheaper ones are more adjustable than the ProLight; but the ProLight weighs less than a fart.

I like my Citi for commuting until it's hot out. I like the Alchera for warm weather and distance riding. The ProLight is my race helmet.
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Old 04-05-12, 12:11 PM   #13
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Thanks to all. Esp. those who chose to extrude their partially digested meals in the interest of answering.

I take from this that, with the possible exception of the helmet hair issue, that I had not considered, the rest of it is about comfort, style and personal satisfaction. As such, I might try on some higher priced helmets to see if they make my helmet hair look better than a $40 haircut, but I probably won't bother investing much more than I do presently.
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Old 04-05-12, 12:12 PM   #14
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Buy the helmet you know you will wear and feel good in both looks and comfort...regardless of price.

If it's a $25 helmet, then good....if it's a $200+ helmet, then good.

I bought a Catlike Whisper off ebay for well under $200 and for my head, it's the best fitting helmet and looks good.

Initially, I couldn't justify a Catlike...but then I went through several cheaper helmets that never felt quite right and didn't like wearing them.

It was definitely worth it to me.
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Old 04-05-12, 04:49 PM   #15
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Thanks to all. Esp. those who chose to extrude their partially digested meals in the interest of answering.

I take from this that, with the possible exception of the helmet hair issue, that I had not considered, the rest of it is about comfort, style and personal satisfaction. As such, I might try on some higher priced helmets to see if they make my helmet hair look better than a $40 haircut, but I probably won't bother investing much more than I do presently.
Plan on the helmet hair. A helmet that fits you perfectly at every point of contact is gonna do that, and this is what you want. This isn't a Geico commercial. Comfort (to me) is everything. Adjustability is optional depending on fit; at the age of 52 my head ain't gonna change any more. For me, that's a Giro Xen - I prefer visored helmets - but generally Giros and Bells fit me nicely, so I know nothing about anyone else's lids because I stick with what works. I paid $70 for my Giro, but only because I liked the white camo scheme better than the (much cheaper) previous year's available units when it came time to do another one. Either way, I only remember I have a helmet on when I'm riding into the sun and the visor hooks me up.

As an aside, do certain manufacturers produce fits better-suited to certain head shapes, like some motorcycle helmet manufacturers?
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Old 04-05-12, 07:51 PM   #16
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As an aside, do certain manufacturers produce fits better-suited to certain head shapes, like some motorcycle helmet manufacturers?
According to the bike helmet website that I looked at when shopping for helmets a couple of years ago, the answer is yes, kinda. There are definitely helmets that will work better for pointy-headed or square-headed folks, but there's nothing manufacturer-wide. Just a model here and there.

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Old 04-05-12, 08:00 PM   #17
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folks should wear them? - In some circumstances, sure.
Should they be forced to? - no.
what separates an adequate helmet from a great helmet? - Mostly fashion, some say the more expensive ones are cooler, little if any safety advantage.
I'm fine sticking to my cheap, $25 helmet? I think so.
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Old 04-05-12, 08:26 PM   #18
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Some helmets come in multiple sizes, some are one size fits all

Some helmets are multi-sport: snowboarding and cycling, - which might be nice for the winter cyclist. They're more expensive but seem to a bit more durable than your typical cycling helmet. Some people prefer that look too, although I'm sure they can get on the warm side.

I've had one of those cheap helmets where the shell was basically taped on. The shell fell off after about a year and a half. Aside from the shell problem the helmet was hard to adjust and kept sliding around. Never again.

Because I ride in the winter too, I am often wearing some sort of hat or a balaclava and not always the same one so easy adjustment is a big plus.

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Old 04-05-12, 09:32 PM   #19
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Plan on the helmet hair. A helmet that fits you perfectly at every point of contact is gonna do that, and this is what you want. This isn't a Geico commercial. Comfort (to me) is everything. Adjustability is optional depending on fit; at the age of 52 my head ain't gonna change any more. For me, that's a Giro Xen - I prefer visored helmets - but generally Giros and Bells fit me nicely, so I know nothing about anyone else's lids because I stick with what works. I paid $70 for my Giro, but only because I liked the white camo scheme better than the (much cheaper) previous year's available units when it came time to do another one. Either way, I only remember I have a helmet on when I'm riding into the sun and the visor hooks me up.

As an aside, do certain manufacturers produce fits better-suited to certain head shapes, like some motorcycle helmet manufacturers?
I also use a Xen. I like the fit and style of it - a little urban.
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Old 04-06-12, 04:17 AM   #20
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Not to beat it to death but, consider the following:


This is a Schwinn ~ $30


This is a Schwinn ~ $17



This is a Giro ~ $250

I'm sorry...

I just can't see anywhere near a $200 difference there!
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Old 04-06-12, 04:29 AM   #21
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I have 2 cheap helmets, Bells I think and a pretty expensive Giro I got on blow out sale. I wear it a lot becuase it seems to have better ventilation I like being cool. I might be crazy but I think it is very loud, you know the wind blowing through the vents. I commute in very heavy city traffic and hearing is pretty important. Has anyone else noticed this or is it just me?
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Old 04-06-12, 08:37 AM   #22
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Not to beat it to death but, consider the following:


This is a Schwinn ~ $30


This is a Schwinn ~ $17



This is a Giro ~ $250

I'm sorry...

I just can't see anywhere near a $200 difference there!
The great part of a free enterprise is you can wear what you want and I can wear what I want.
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Old 04-06-12, 12:49 PM   #23
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The great part of a free enterprise is you can wear what you want and I can wear what I want.
I'm glad you feel that way. This is what I wear.

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Old 04-06-12, 01:04 PM   #24
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I'm glad you feel that way. This is what I wear.

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Old 04-06-12, 01:08 PM   #25
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Not to beat it to death but, consider the following:


This is a Schwinn ~ $30


This is a Schwinn ~ $17



This is a Giro ~ $250

I'm sorry...

I just can't see anywhere near a $200 difference there!
The Giro is soooo much more pro.
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