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Old 01-22-13, 12:28 PM   #1
Steve Sawyer 
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So...talk to me about helmets

Not whether or not I should (I always do), but I'm really unclear what the difference is between the $200+ helmets and the $50 helmet I'm wearing now.
  • If it's weight - not an issue IMO.
  • If it's safety - well, I think it's worthwhile investing in safety
  • If it's fashion - c'mon, really??
  • If it's durability - I've never "worn out" a helmet, but have replaced a couple because they got kinda beat-up looking. But you can buy a lot of replacement helmets for $200

Is there something else that would account for a four-fold price difference that I'm missing?

Thanks.
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Old 01-22-13, 12:33 PM   #2
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$150
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Old 01-22-13, 12:37 PM   #3
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My experience (yours may be different) has been that it's mostly fashion.
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Old 01-22-13, 12:39 PM   #4
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•If it's weight - not an issue IMO. - It's an issue, to a point
•If it's safety - well, I think it's worthwhile investing in safety - Look for the sticker inside the helmet to see which standard they meet. A $50 helmet can be as safe as a $200 helmet.
•If it's fashion - c'mon, really?? - For some, this is a BIG issue. As in "How can you wear a $50 helemt on a $4000 bike?" And the color has to match.
•If it's durability - I've never "worn out" a helmet, but have replaced a couple because they got kinda beat-up looking. But you can buy a lot of replacement helmets for $200 - I got no answer for this, except to say I'm in the same boat as you.

There is a price point where you get lighter weight, and better ventilation, how much these are worth to you, is up to you. I paid about $65 for my current helmet, it's fairly light, very well vented, and easy to adjust. There is no need for me to spend any more. When this breaks, or get too beat up, I'll replace it with the same thing.
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Old 01-22-13, 12:48 PM   #5
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From my experience, helmets are like a lot of other things bike -- you get more than one advantage when you go up in price, some you value more than others. Chiefly, more expensive helmets are lighter but also better ventilated. The latter can really come in handy in the summer when you're on a tough, sun-baked ride. Higher quality helmets also often have better adjustment systems and don't just rely on the chin straps to get you a good fit. Personally, I'd rank this feature as one of the best of my Louis Garneau helmet that cost about $150.
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Old 01-22-13, 12:59 PM   #6
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Your style of riding may determine whether or not you notice a difference. For me, climbing a 20 mile mountain road is far better with a well vented nicely fitted $150 helmet vs a $50 budget special. Not o mention the weight is noticable on strenuous rides, let's say a century and/or long climbs.

With a $50 helmet, I can ride flat terrain all day but when the teps hit 100, the lack of vents will allow me to sweat and drip like a faucet. A well vented helmet won't. On a mtn bike climb up a mtn trail, a $50 helmet will feel like hell. A well vented light well fitting helmet is nice!

Like this MTB climb consisting of 26% grades. A warm summer day, jersey covered in sweat, 2500 ft gain in 5 miles or so, a well vented helmet is a no brainer. Wearing a poorly vented $50 helmet maybe decide whether or not you make it to the top that day falling prey to heat exhaustion.


Also must add. I have purchased Giro helmets over the years and they have sent me free replacement pads and free retension systems over the years as parts wear out. That is about $80 of free parts. Try that with a $50 helmet.

If you don't do rides like this, then yes, the $50 helmet will suit you fine.


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Old 01-22-13, 01:02 PM   #7
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My theory is that there's a point of diminishing returns. As in the difference between a $50 helmet and a $100 helmet might be big but the difference between that $100 helmet and a $200 helmet is not as great.
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Old 01-22-13, 01:03 PM   #8
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I have a $46. Bell that is lighter than my $125. Bell. The cheaper one is poorly vented and feels good at this time of year. The more expensive one is my summer helmet. As long as the helmet has the Safety sticker, its as good as any.

Its good to know that you are wearing one. I am alive and mobile because of one, never leave home without it.
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Old 01-22-13, 01:42 PM   #9
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Thanks. I hadn't thought of the venting, so that's something to think about, though I'm a glutton for hot weather, and haven't seemed to notice a problem with the $50 Bell. I even did a quick 12 miles on one of our 101-degree days last year, and I was pretty comfy until I stopped and was putting the bike on the car, when suddenly I was drowning in sweat!!
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Old 01-22-13, 01:47 PM   #10
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I switched from a bottom end Trek branded helmet to the Specialized Propero model, $110.00 MSRP, LBS sold it for $80.00, fits good and feels very light with good ventilation, no problems with it so far.

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Old 01-22-13, 01:59 PM   #11
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IME it's about 40% weight, 40% ventilation and 20% fashion.
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Old 01-22-13, 01:59 PM   #12
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I have had several different brand helmets. The latest was a LG until last July Went and bought a Specialized S3 and it is excellent. It was on sale for about $110. Really nice for weight and vents. I'm happy with it. In fact, any gear I've ever bought from Specialized has been money well spent.
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Old 01-22-13, 02:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Sawyer View Post
Thanks. I hadn't thought of the venting, so that's something to think about, though I'm a glutton for hot weather, and haven't seemed to notice a problem with the $50 Bell. I even did a quick 12 miles on one of our 101-degree days last year, and I was pretty comfy until I stopped and was putting the bike on the car, when suddenly I was drowning in sweat!!

That's what I mean, if you had done a long ride at 100 degrees you even appreciate the increased number of vents even more. The wife and I did a 70 miler, max temp 105, average temp 94 and she has issues with riding in heat. A less vented helmet would have been murder on her.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/209387187

The lighter helmet is also very comfy for her. On a 100 miler, you really notice the weight and lack of vents, I know she does! We did a 100 miler a week later. One thing I do know is wearing a helmet sure helped her as protection from the sun. i had a hard time convincing her into wearing ahelmet till she did on a hot summer day. It shielded her head from the sun and actually kept her from heat exhaustion. Now she won't ride without one. Of course, another related factor to comfort and lite weight benefits.


http://connect.garmin.com/activity/212696548

Yes, she wears less vents ($70) in the cool weather and more vents ($140) in hot weather. She now has several helmets.

Less vents heavier for cool


More ventilation for heat

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Old 01-22-13, 02:02 PM   #14
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I use the higher end BERN cycling/skate/ski helmets that offer more protection on the back of your head and are very light. They are also referred to as New York City Messenger Helmets. They have the snap in skiing liner for those cold days. These are generally $75 retail and better deals can be found on Amazon. The cycling models offer good ventilation but not as much as some Bells or Giro that are full of holes. I like these for the colder weather this time of year and use it almost year round. I'm not sure where the $200 price tag comes from on some helmets. It must be a fashion thing. Hard to imagine slightly lower weight and vents costing that much more.
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Old 01-22-13, 02:48 PM   #15
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Some people with larger heads often have problems getting cheaper helmets to fit.

Luckily my head is only figuratively too large...
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Old 01-22-13, 02:56 PM   #16
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I bought a Giro Ionos helmet about six months ago for around $170. Most comfortable helmet, by far, that I've ever worn. It was way worth it at the time.

A cheap little plastic part on it broke, rendering the helmet unservable. I sent Giro (owned by Bell, it turns out) a note for a replacement. I received a note saying they were thinking about it. I never heard back after that, and it chapped my hide.

So, an expensive helmet is worth the money if you save every scrap of paper (which I do now) and are prepared to go to war when the cheap little plastic part breaks.

PS I have a large head literally, and as said above, expensive helmets would be worth it if they held up better.
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Old 01-22-13, 03:39 PM   #17
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Expensive/less expensive helmets with the ANSI label all pass the same crash test.
Some are lighter/heavier, more/less vented and come in different colors with/without a visor.
Living in the desert southwest color/vents matters; our summer temps exceed 100 degrees for about 90 days of the year.
So light colors and more vents are preferable for us.
Style? Really nothing stylish about bicycle helmets in our book!
Been weating helmets (from the old leather hairnets to today's plastic bubbles) sine the early 1970s.
Saved our skulls a couple times in some crashes.
Well worth the investment!
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 01-22-13, 04:00 PM   #18
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Go to the helmet thread under Safety. You will find out far more than you want to know about helmets. Both pro and con.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:00 PM   #19
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My better vented helmet is heavier than the cheaper less vented helmet. The materials to pass the crush test are more dense in well vented helmets.

We have a postage meter in the office. It drives my wife nuts when I drag bike stuff in to weigh it.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
One thing I do know is wearing a helmet sure helped her as protection from the sun. i had a hard time convincing her into wearing ahelmet till she did on a hot summer day. It shielded her head from the sun and actually kept her from heat exhaustion. Now she won't ride without one. Of course, another related factor to comfort and lite weight benefits.
This brings up a question I have been wanting to ask. It doesn't apply to you or your lovely wife but you might know anyway. (Mild thread hi-jack here) For those of us who are follicularly challenged, does a persons head burn in patterns from the vents in the helmets. I was thinking I might need a do-rag in the Texas sun this summer.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:31 PM   #21
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You're forgetting function.

More expensive helmets also provide some aerodynamics. And not just Time Trial helmets.

Others are more vented to keep you cool

And some supposedly are quieter than others.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Sarge View Post
This brings up a question I have been wanting to ask. It doesn't apply to you or your lovely wife but you might know anyway. (Mild thread hi-jack here) For those of us who are follicularly challenged, does a persons head burn in patterns from the vents in the helmets. I was thinking I might need a do-rag in the Texas sun this summer.
YUP-my first Century was on a warm October day and took 8 hours. The whole time the left side of my body and head were in the sun. My left leg and side of my head were burnt. Right side was white. Do-rags are helpful as is sunscreen.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:37 PM   #23
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You will need one ... unless you want your head looking like a flesh-colored watermelon.

The do-rags also help absorb perspiration, and some can be quite stylin'.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:38 PM   #24
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Helmet choice and the main thing for me is comfort. I start at the cheaper end of the helmets in the shop and work upwards till I find a helmet that is comfortable. Then the next item is air circulation and the straps. I want good ventilation and I want straps that will adjust the helmet to my head. Not all these criteria come with the cheaper helmets and I normally finish up around the $80 to $100 mark. And like most there are makes that I like. Yet to find a Bell helmet that fits comfortably- Giro I find a bit heavy and my last couple of helmets have been Rudy's.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:42 PM   #25
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Before this thread escalates to either A&S or P&R level: if you do any organized rides, such as cookie rides, charity rides, or club rides, proper helmets are mandatory. These rides, BTW, are usually a heck of a lot of fun.
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