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Old 08-14-05, 02:48 AM   #1
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How much of a difference does your helmet make?

I don't want this to be a debate about helmet laws. This is for people who are wearing a helmet, regardless of reason.

A couple weeks ago I did a 3-day charity ride and noticed that the majority (70%+) of riders had Giro helmets. Aside from looking pretty cool, Giro claims to have the most aerodynamic all-purpose helmets on the road while still providing good ventilation.

I'm riding in my $20 Schwinn helmet for really one reason: safety. I've had quite a few times where it's saved me from injury (mostly from tree branches lower than I thought).

Seeing so many people with $100-$200 helmets made me wonder: What about it makes it worth it? Sure, the pros use them, but they are also sponsored to use them. Are they actually effective in shaving off time on a ride?

Generally, I ride casusally, and giving myself shortcuts will only mean longer distances without any real effort gain. But, then again, I'd like to be able to say that I can easily handle 50 miles a day.

I'm getting off topic, so i'll repose my question: What difference, performance-wise, does a good helmet make?
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Old 08-14-05, 06:47 AM   #2
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The only thing the more expensive helmets do is

a) look cooler
b) lighter
c) dent your wallet
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Old 08-14-05, 06:52 AM   #3
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Hopefully you will never have to find out.
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Old 08-14-05, 07:03 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by phillybill
Hopefully you will never have to find out.
What do you mean by this? I'm not curious of the difference in safety because it would be very marginal at best. I'm wondering about the aerodynamic perfomance differences and if they too are marginal or effective.
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Old 08-14-05, 07:13 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by InfamousG
I'm getting off topic, so i'll repose my question: What difference, performance-wise, does a good helmet make?
The biggest difference would be the weight and ventilation of the helmet and the materials used. Then there is the cool-factor and price.
If you ride in a hot climate then you may benefit more from a helmet with more ventilation if you can find one that fits comfortably.

Also, the retention system will, or at least should, work and fit better then a helmet that cost less and the pads/liner in a higher end helmet can usually be removed for cleaning and are easier to replace.

As for fit, you may find your 20$ helmet to fit better then a lot of 100$+ because of the shape/size of your head.

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Old 08-14-05, 07:26 AM   #6
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So where do you buy your jeans?

There is no doubt in my mind that the more expensive helmets are better ventillated and that the strap systems stay adjusted much better. That last one to me, by the way, is a biggie.

That said, the more expensive helmets are much more stylish and I suspect that's the biggest feature in favor of their sale. It's pretty much like buying jeans, what's wrong with that?
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Old 08-15-05, 04:55 PM   #7
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I'm also a casual rider and found that a lighter helmet with more ventillation makes the ride much more comfortable and enjoyable. I started with a no frills $20 helmet which I thought was fine. I then read something saying that it's a good idea to replace your helmet every few years. I bought a new one on sale for $50 that was much lighter. It's a night and day difference. Now the old one feels like it weighs me down and I hardly even notice the new one when it's on. I'd focus on the fit, weight and ventillation rather than the price.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:59 PM   #8
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The helmet i used until june was a 25 dollar Bell. Well now i have a Giro Eclipse, the biggest difference I felt was the temperature of my head.
With the Bell i would get very hot, cranky and would stop frequently to take off the helmet.
Now I forget the Giro is there, i feel like it fits better, better adjustment and best of head never overheats
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Old 08-15-05, 06:48 PM   #9
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The more expensive Bells, have a nice little wheel that insures a perfectly snug fit. I like it. They also havve move vents.

Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.
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Old 08-15-05, 06:58 PM   #10
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Even inexpensive helmets can have good ventilation. In terms of impact-resistance, there really isn't much. The cheap helmets meet the same ANSI standards as do the most expensive. How much protection does any helmet give you? Only a little - but any is better than none, IMHO.
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Old 08-15-05, 07:05 PM   #11
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I wore my new Giro Eclipse for the first time today. It felt much better than my old hulking Specialized. I was at first skeptical about buying an $80 helmet but then it just felt so much better on my head after about an hour.
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Old 08-15-05, 08:28 PM   #12
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Most all name brand helmets meet the same safety standards, so for more money you get lighter, better vented, better looking, and better fitting helmets. Although I guess any could be argued. As for Giro's, like Bell's or any other helmet mfg, they come in a broad price range. Nashbar and Performance regularly have big sales on last years helmets making the prices very affordable. I think about the only time someone notices a helmet is if they are looking to buy or just bought a new one. Buy the best fitting helmet, and pay whatever you feel is fair for something you don't mind wearing. I've had lots of helmets over the years, and they just get better and better. The high end continues to increase in price, but the benefit is three years from now the high end will be middle of the road, and you can buy a very nice helmet for very little.

Time to Ride...
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Old 08-15-05, 09:13 PM   #13
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More expensive does not mean safer but if chosen correctly means more comfortable. After damaging a $40 dollar helmet I tride on quite a few helmets to see which one felt best. I found most Giros fit me the best. I use a Monza and the wind tunnel venting does keep your head cooler even tho the helmet has fewer vents just better design. The weight saving takes some strane off of your neck which is nice on longer rides. As for safety, all helmets meet the same standards.
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Old 08-15-05, 09:55 PM   #14
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Seems like a rule somewhere... Helmets are only good for 3 years.
If you fall, it is no good anymore.
Let's see... I have fallen 4x where the Helmet hit the ground.
Same Helmet after 10 years.... Guess it's time for a NEW one?

Been looking at the Bell Metro. Haven't seen much about these.
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Old 08-15-05, 11:49 PM   #15
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I have two helmets, a Giro and an Specialized (sorry - don't know models). I trade them back and forth all the time. The Specialized has reflective stickers on it and it's my dark/stormy commuter helmet. The Giro is noticeably lighter and seems to have less of a mushroom-head effect when I wear it, I almost forget it is on. The Specialized is heavier and I am a lot more aware of it while it's on my head (I think it may ride higher on my head so I feel it more, but I have no way of proving this). Both are comfortable and well ventilated, so to me the main difference is the weight and how aware of the helmet I am.

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Old 08-16-05, 07:34 AM   #16
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I had a cheaper bell helmet w/little ventilation for safety. Then, after a few weeks, psoriasis broke out in may scalp and forehead. (for those that do not know--psoriasis is a skin condition in which your skin cells over produce. On the scalp--it is like having one MAJOR case of dandruff.) I went to a pricier, well ventilated helmet and the psoriasis mostly cleared up! So, for me it is directly tied in w/a medical condition. The other benefit is that I have found the increased ventilation more comfortable.

I've used Specialized King Cobra, Queen Cobra and recently purchased a Las b/c of the vents and air circulation as well as the fit. Giro is too wide and never fit my noggin correctly.

Now to find a decent pair of shorts and/or bibs made of wool. Any suggestions?
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Old 08-16-05, 08:32 AM   #17
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I bought a time trial helmet this year for tts. It is noticeably faster than a regular helmet. As far as other helmets go, just get one that fits your head, and has good ventilation.
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Old 08-16-05, 06:54 PM   #18
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Q: Why do helmets cost more when they have more holes???

A: Gouging. Basic materials are the same.
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