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  1. #1
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    Helmets - Where to buy? Brands to look for/avoid?

    My daughter needs a new helmet. I know there is a considerable difference in quality between LBS bikes and Xmart bikes...does the same hold true for helmets?

    Are the Xmart/Target helmets good enough in safety terms, just perhaps heavier than they need to be or something? Or should we avoid them. How much should we be spending on a helmet for a medium sized child?

    NOTE: Not trying to start another Xmart Bike -vs- LBS Bike discussion as that has been covered here and elsewhere. Just talking about helmets.

    Any advice appreciated.

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    I tried on about 10 helmets when I bought mine and none compared to the Xen by Giro...granted it was $169 at the LBS but I went and found it online much cheaper. My girlfreind wears a Specialized helmet and likes it a lot and it was 1/3 the price of mine so it all comes to fit.

    With things like helmets...you try them on until you just know its the right helmet...price is second.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Stubacca's Avatar
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    All helmets have to pass the same safety standards, so there's really nothing wrong with a helmet from x-mart. For a 6yo, I'd either get one from x-mart or get one of the cheapest helmets at the LBS. It is worth having her with you when you buy so you can make sure the fit is right.

    Basically with helmets the more you pay the less you get - a more expensive helmet typically has more cooling vents, lighter weight and a more aerodynamic design.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    All bicycle helmets MUST meet the same CPSC certification to be sold in the USA. No matter if it's $12 from Big Lots or $230 from the LBS. My son fell and broke a $45 Specialized helmet on Thursday. I replaced it with a $20 Bell skateboard helmet, the type with the hard ABS shell. The little ones learning to ride won't go for more then 15 minutes.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PedalPop
    Are the Xmart/Target helmets good enough in safety terms, just perhaps heavier than they need to be or something? Or should we avoid them. How much should we be spending on a helmet for a medium sized child?
    Any advice appreciated.
    The xmart/target helmet is actually more likely to be safer than your $329 lance helmet. (Exaggerated price). The helmet with zero vents, and completely round shape is actually the safest if not the most fashionable. (Assuming CSPC certified).

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    Back in black cydewaze's Avatar
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    Try a bunch on and see what fits you head the best. No sense in being uncomfy.

    I have a big fat head, and only a Bell will do. A Giro is too "round" in shape for me. Your head will inevitably be different.

  7. #7
    Deported by koffee allgoo19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    My son fell and broke a $45 Specialized helmet on Thursday. I replaced it with a $20 Bell skateboard helmet, the type with the hard ABS shell.
    Good move!

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    The best helmet for a kid around age nine and up (with an average size head) is the Specialized Deuce for $32. It is a BMX style helmet, with extra protection for the sides and back of the head.

    Kids younger than nine or so would like the Specialized Kid Cobra for $32 or the Specialized Air Force Youth for $37.

    The Specialized helmets have Snell Foundation Certification that require actual testing of production samples, and further tests samples purchased in retail stores. The are the BEST helmets for children, and currently Specialized is one of the few companies currently investing the significant funds that Snell certification costs. Specialized deserves our gratitude and our support.

    Other brands settle for the CPSC sticker, which is a "promise" from the factory that the helmet meets certain safety standards. There is no follow-up testing of helmets that reach stores. The retailer must accept the "word" of the factory that each helmet that reaches the store meets the minimum standard.

    Because most of the factories that produce the CPSC "honor system" helmets are in communist China, a dictatorship with NO concept of "honor", parents should insist on a Snell certified helmet. NO parent should EVER trust the health and safety of their children to the greedy and immoral executives of Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and their communist business partners. Insist on Snell certified helmets for your kids.

    The best place to buy is at a good neighborhood bike shop that will take the time to carefully fit the helmet for your child. Kids have heads in a variety of shapes. Sometimes model "A" is uncomfortable, and model "B" fits like a glove.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    The xmart/target helmet is actually more likely to be safer than your $329 lance helmet. (Exaggerated price). The helmet with zero vents, and completely round shape is actually the safest if not the most fashionable. (Assuming CSPC certified).
    What makes you say that? Do you have some data that says no air vents and a hemisphrical shape equates to lower injury rate or are you just theorizing?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PedalPop
    My daughter needs a new helmet. I know there is a considerable difference in quality between LBS bikes and Xmart bikes...does the same hold true for helmets?

    Are the Xmart/Target helmets good enough in safety terms, just perhaps heavier than they need to be or something? Or should we avoid them. How much should we be spending on a helmet for a medium sized child?

    NOTE: Not trying to start another Xmart Bike -vs- LBS Bike discussion as that has been covered here and elsewhere. Just talking about helmets.

    Any advice appreciated.
    I have a philosophy about kids bike helmets. My basic thesis is that the helmet has to be on the kids head when they fall for it to do any good.

    The first part requires that the kid actually use the helmet. If they think that it looks too dorky, you're likely to be fighting a losing battle once they get out of your sight. I think that this is a case in which style points have actual value.

    The second part is that the helmet has to stay on the kid's head while they are in the process of falling. I think that the better helmets have superior strap systems that stay tight better and retain their adjustments better.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    My son fell and broke a $45 Specialized helmet on Thursday. I replaced it with a $20 Bell skateboard helmet, the type with the hard ABS shell.
    It might make you feel better, but it's probably not any safer. The way that a bicycle helmet works is that the foam compresses and slows down the decelleration rate of the skull. That minimizes the impact of the brain on the inside of the skull. Since the foam doesn't spring back after it's been compressed a bicycle helmet is really designed to protect the brain for only a single impact. After it's taken one good lick, it has sacrificed itself and done it's job and it needs to be replaced.

  12. #12
    Embrace the weirdness. primaryreality's Avatar
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    Just noticing the kids I see both riding in the neighborhood and on the bike trail--where they are often accompanied by fully tricked-out cycling parents whom you'd think would know better--it seems to me the thing most often lacking is good fit. I see lots of kids with helmets that are obviously way too big, kids riding with straps loose and dangling or even unfastened, as if people just are willing to clap any old thing on just to comply with the law but don't really care whether their kid's head is actually protected. Please take the time to find a helmet that is the right size, and make sure it is fitted and strapped on properly and snugly so that in an accident, it will stay on the kid's head and do its job.

  13. #13
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    Get the helmet that your daughter thinks is good looking and matches the colour of her bike. Then there is more chance of her wearing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kritter
    I tried on about 10 helmets when I bought mine and none compared to the Xen by Giro...granted it was $169 at the LBS but I went and found it online much cheaper.

    With things like helmets...you try them on until you just know its the right helmet...price is second.
    That's a pretty crappy thing to do. Were you honest enough to tell them you were using them as a try on center just to order it online? Hopefully, you did not waste the staffs time. I guess that your LBS exists for you to get small cheap stuff and try stuff on so you can order it elsewhere since it is cheaper...

    Actually, it sounds like fit is the same as price in your book....

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    All bicycle helmets MUST meet the same CPSC certification to be sold in the USA. No matter if it's $12 from Big Lots or $230 from the LBS. My son fell and broke a $45 Specialized helmet on Thursday. I replaced it with a $20 Bell skateboard helmet, the type with the hard ABS shell. The little ones learning to ride won't go for more then 15 minutes.

    While they must all MEET the standards, some do a better job at keeping the rider better protected with stronger straps, internal supports, and better ventilation to keep the rider cooler.

    Also, there is no one at the local Big Lots who can actually make sure it fits, is adjusted properly, and handle any warranty claims. BTW Dan, if you had taken the time to look beyond the almighty dollar and gone back to the Specialized shop, I believe that Specialized still offers a crash replacement program.

    The ABS shell, as pointed out by another poster, is still only a 1 shot helmet.

    Over the years, I have found a few things to be true when dealing with kids helmets: If you want your kid to wear it, make sure they think the color looks cool TO THEM. Have it fitted by a professional so that it will be comfortable to the child so they can't use that as an excuse. And, as a father of 4, I would spend whatever my kids want when it comes to helmets if it means them wearing it. After all, it is only their brains they are protecting. I figured since we bought the better minivan with the better safety rating and air bags, and I buy them good shoes so their feet don't hurt, and the $$$ i am spending on braces...I'll spend the extra $20 because, in his words, " I like that one better because it looks cool with the flames."
    He actually likes it, and wears it with pride....priceless!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by The1
    That's a pretty crappy thing to do. Were you honest enough to tell them you were using them as a try on center just to order it online? Hopefully, you did not waste the staffs time. I guess that your LBS exists for you to get small cheap stuff and try stuff on so you can order it elsewhere since it is cheaper...

    Actually, it sounds like fit is the same as price in your book....
    I do not agree its crappy at all...I bought a new bike from them...they showed me the helmets. I had 5 day stil my bike was ready and looked around for the helmet online. I found it and with a coupon got it for HALF of that...If I were to go back and pay 170 I would be an idiot as would anyone else.

    I do try on local and then ask them to match online prices with most of my stuff I use for racing dirtbikes. The shops that dont choose to match online prices...I use just for fit and then order online. Good shops match online prices...especially when people buy as much shiat as I do. I am just getting back into cycling and I will treat it the same way I treat the shops that back me for racing motorcycles...one chance to match it.

    Price is not the important thing...FIT IS...once you find the one that fits..its up to you if you want to pay retail or not. I do not pay retail for ANYTHING. If I didnt find that helmet online I would have gladly paid the $170 -20% they offered it to me for at the LBS...smart shopping IMO.
    Last edited by kritter; 06-06-05 at 04:19 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member shoerhino's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=The1] Were you honest enough to tell them you were using them as a try on center just to order it online? [QUOTE]

    Do you think it is dishonest to try something on or look at something in a store and buy it online? I would agree that you need to support local shops but I'm not sure that it's a dishonest practice, unless you would say that going into a store obligates the consumer to purchase any items they see at the first store in which they see them.

    There are ups and downs to buying local and buying online. It's up to the consumer.

    Do you own a bike shop? You're really going for the throat with sentences that say "almighty dollar" and "dishonest".

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoerhino
    You're really going for the throat with sentences that say ... "dishonest".
    You're the only poster who has used that word.
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  19. #19
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    see http://www.bhsi.org/index.htm . They generally are favorable to the x-mart helmets.

  20. #20
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    If you're in a larger city with a big bike club, see if there are any kid's bike helmet programs. Here in Seattle, during certain "bicycle weekends" (where they close a certain street to cars so bicyclists have safe use of that street), a local bike club and medical center offer very inexpensive helmets for kids ($10 each) at certain places in the city. I think they offer the program other times too. Could be that other cities have similar programs you could take advantage of.

  21. #21
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Target, Wal-Mart, Dicks Sporting Goods etc. all sell the same certified Giro and Bell helmets as the "real" bike shops, and they're usually cheaper. I bought Bell helmets for my entire family at Dick's for around $29 apiece.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    The xmart/target helmet is actually more likely to be safer than your $329 lance helmet. (Exaggerated price). The helmet with zero vents, and completely round shape is actually the safest if not the most fashionable. (Assuming CSPC certified).
    In theory perhaps. But most of the cheap helmets I see on the street are being used to protect the handlebars of the kids bike.

    Kids with *cool* looking helmets actually wear them (well more often, anyways).

    I think the whole "buy your kid a round styrofoam helmet without vents for maximum safety" movement has never actually watched kids ride bikes.

  23. #23
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Hey if having less vents makes it safer than I guess the aerodynamic tt helmets are the safest... hmmm...

    (But the point rear is not the most fashionable)

    But in all seriousness, my first helmet was one of the cheep giro helmets that they sell at x-mart, paid I think 39 for it. They sell the same helmet at the bike shop. That was my favorite helmet until it was desroyed when I was hit by a car 7 months ago. I ended up buying a white giro helmet again because it just fits and looks nice but was 90 dollars.

    Then we have our team green and orange helmet, fits well, but not as well as the giro but is part of the team "kit"... hmmm!
    Just your average club rider... :)

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