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  1. #1
    Member fatman's Avatar
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    Why are bike helmets so expensive?

    Compare a Motorcycle Helmet with a bike helmet. Motorcycle helmets can go as high as $500 or more but those are full face with shields and nice helmets made by composite material and without a bunch of holes.

    Aren't bike helmets overpriced? I think so, A top of the line bike helmet can cost up to $120 dollars but what you get is compacted foam covered whit a thin plastic cover and plastic and vinyl straps. For that same price you can get a Motorcycle helmet that covers your hole head and back of the neck and includes face shield. I'm not saying that I'm going to ride my bike with a motorcycle helmet I just saying that companies are abusive with their prices. "oh you are not forced to buy one" you can say, but here you have to wear a helmet by law. Again the construction and materials that you are getting on a bike helmet does not cost more than $40 and I'm talking about a top of the line Gyro or Bell.

  2. #2
    Senior Member demoncyclist's Avatar
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    If you look around a little, you will find plenty of good helmets for a LOT less than $120. Besides, isn't your brain worth the money? I've been in enough crashes to know where I need to spend my money. So far, no noticeable brain damage.

    DEMON

  3. #3
    Passing!
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    How many of those motorcycle helmets will be replaced for free if you have an accident in one of them. Been awhile since I wore a motorcycle helmet but don't recall them coming with a warranty that would replace them like my bike helmets have!

  4. #4
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by demoncyclist
    Besides, isn't your brain worth the money?
    That's certainly what the marketing people tell us. Personally, I have no idea what the market value of a slightly abused, second-hand brain is these days.

    What you're really buying is a styrofoam hat and a false sense of security. How much is that worth to you?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatman
    Aren't bike helmets overpriced?
    The answer is simple economics. Prices only go as high as the market will bear. Clearly there's a market for expensive helmets however much they're actually worth. I'd never go for the more expensive ones myself - it seems the rule is: the less foam in the helmet, the higher the price.

    Of course when they've got a captive market such as exists with mandatory helmet laws, they'll gleefully push the prices a little higher. If they can use guilt marketing typified by the above comment, even better.

    And I think your estimate of $40 of materials is out by an order of magnitude. I'd say it's more like $4. Bear in mind however, that materials make up only a very small proportion of the costs in getting a product to market.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  5. #5
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Shouldn't it be the other way around. A bicycle helmet will protect your head in a fall and only weighs a few ounces and has plenty of ventilation, a motorcycle helmet uses a pound of material to do the same thing and cost five times as much. As a more direct comparison a full face down hill helmet will protect your head(sixty mile an hour crashes in rocky terrain) as well as a motorcycle helmet with better ventilation, half the weight and a third of the cost.
    You can also buy an cpsc or snell aproved helmet for less than $40, and it will protect you as well as a $120 helmet, it just weighs more and has fewer vents.
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  6. #6
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    Bike helmets are overpriced and probably cost 50 cents to make in China or Taiwan.

    I found a thin light Kevlar blue helmet on Ebay for around $20. I think it's used for roller skating or blading. Now, I look like someone from Delta Force riding around

    Regards.

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    I recently had to buy a new helmet following a bad crash that destroyed my old one, so I sympathise with you. My new helmet cost $47 dollars, however while looking at the hlemets with a salesman at the LBS I tryed on a Giro, it fit like a glove (important for me since I have a big melon) and looked really good too. I was all prepared to buy it when the salesman told me that it was on sale for "only $130" which he claimed was a steal because it retailed for $225. So I told him that was just a tad too steap for a poor young guy like myself and bought some crappy Bell helmet that looks stupid and is not as good fitting, but it only cost me $47 so I live with it.
    Hello :) Come visit my BLOG at www.bentupbike.blogspot.comwww.bentupbike.blogspot.com

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  8. #8
    Member fatman's Avatar
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    I trust and beleive in helmets and I will never ride my bike without one. I truly beleive that a helmet will protect my head in most accidents but that is no reason to sell them so expensive. I'm using the Gyro E2 I didn't know that Gyro will replace my helmet if it get broke on an accident.

    By the way ventilation is really good with this helmet but I fall once and I get hurt by a tip of a branch that pass throught one of the holes.

  9. #9
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Helmets are more than a marketing scam I know I tried one out last March and walked away from a serious accident. For 120 bucks you better be getting more than vinyl and plastic straps in fact you won't see that on $40 helmet go and try some out. If they are snell approved it doesn't mater if they ar $15 0r $200 the protection is the same the difference will be in weight, air ventilation and adjustment systems. There is a lot more engineering to those puppys than $.50 in Taiwan. The thin plastic and foam does what it is designed to do, protect ones head. Check out Bell they have helmets in all price ranges and a really good warranty for more info on helmets check out this site

    http://www.bhsi.org/

    Watch for sales at the online bike store but I also got a good deal on a helmet a couple of years ago at overstock.com they don't always have them so you might want to check periodically
    Matthew 6

  10. #10
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatman
    I trust and beleive in helmets and I will never ride my bike without one. I truly beleive that a helmet will protect my head in most accidents but that is no reason to sell them so expensive.
    I admire your faith, but you'd be better served to do some research and get yourself a more realistic expectation of what a bike helmet can and can't do.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  11. #11
    Carbon Fiber Nazi!
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    First off, motorcycle helmets can cost more than $500.00. For example, Arai RX-7 Corsair Racer $694.95 and Shoei X-Eleven $571.99. So top of the line Giro at $120 vs top of the line Arai at $694.95.

    Next, as someone else stated you are getting protection with a bike helmet that motocycle helmets take substantially more weight and material, not to mention much worse cooling to do.

    Then as far as safety is concerned, a nice expensive Giro is safer than a $20 wal-mart special. Look at the "secondary impact" tests for proof.

    You have to remember that costs of materials and manufacturing are only part of the costs of any object. You have to pay R&D costs, electricity, sales forces, etc etc. When a customer pays the company I work for $100 for me to fix a computer problem that takes me 10 minutes to fix you have to figure in all the costs, not just $100-my pay=profit. My hourly wage, gas, shop electricity, additional taxes, liability insurance, theft insurance, property insurance, tool costs, training costs, telephones, office personel to man the phones and take in machines, advertising, sales people, worker's comp, etc etc.

    Recapping, the $120 is actually a bargain for all the technology you get. Additionally a more expensive helmet is lighter, safer, and cooler (temp) than a cheaper one. Just because you dont know what the difference is, does not mean there isnt one.

    Allan
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  12. #12
    Kev
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    Honestly the price of a helmut is based on what the market will bear and is also adjusted by the research that goes into the helmut.

    I actualy agree with rev, a motorcycle helmut for $400 covers more but is actualy simpler since they don't worry about weight as much or ventilation or even aerodynamics. Which they do take into consideration when designing a bike helmut. Now is that extra bit of ventilation and weight worth the extra $100? THat is a personal decision, if you are like Lance it's worth the money to have a helmut specificaly designed for you and tested in a wind tunnel. This hobby is full of personal choices, helmuts.. pedals.. clothing.. frames.. forks.. tires.. you could make the exact same argument about almost every item. FOr example why does a bike tire cost as much as a car tire? We all know there is more rubber/product in a car tire then a bike tire, but there is more then just the material costs going into producing something.

    A porsche uses less metal then a Ford F-150 pickup truck so it should be cheaper right? This might be a extreme example compared to the helmut but still along the same lines.

  13. #13
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    That's why we see $100 shorts and $80 jerseys and $150 and $200 shoes.

    Now look at custom wheels... This year non of them are on sale... Hmmm...

  14. #14
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    I would have to disagree with the statement regarding motorcycle helmet designers not worrying about weight, ventilation, and aerodynamics. All of the high end motorcycle helmets (some good examples were mentioned earlier) are pushing the envelope in these 3 areas as much as the current safety regulations will allow.

    As a former superbike racer, I can attest to the following:

    Light weight and good ventilation keep you less fatiqued, which helps keep you from making a mistake and getting killed, and or killing others. Aerodynamics keep the wind noise down, and keep the airstream smooth over the top of your back, which cuts down the buffeting/lift/drag we encounter at speeds up to 170mph+

    Most race worthy models are made by hand out of fiberglass and kevlar composites, and are able to withstand tremendous forces of impact, be fire proof, and not seperate/grind through while you are sliding on your head at triple digit speeds. I actually slid along on my face shield one occasion.

    But getting back to the cycling overpricing issue. You are paying $159.99 for several ounces of styrofoam that comes shipped in several more ounces of styrofoam. But the packaging,and the shipping and handling is only $8.00........

    I would tend to believe that the high prices are due in some part to potential liability. If a judge or jury rules that the Manufacture is at fault becuase someones helmet didnt prevent them from dying, your looking at a pretty big bill. But its mostly It is what the consumer is willing to pay. If someone came out with some new helmet that retailed for $250.00 I think we all know at least one of those "I have to have all the cool stuff first" people who would buy it. Assuming it can be produced for a similar cost as other helmets, the manufacture makes a killing.

    But Helmets aren't the worst injustice, Its the shoes that get me.....

    $200.00 plus for a pair of plastic shoes with velcro?
    No crash replacement, doubtful potential liability, R&D? I don't care if it has a carbon sole, throwing a few fibers in some resin and having them molded by a machine doesnt cost that much more, especially if they are made in Taiwan. I figured if I might as well make a statment and get something that entertained me, so I bought these. http://www.excelsports.com/new.asp?p...ajor=5&minor=1

    The other day I saw a Rain Jacket, made of white ripstop nylon for $95.00, C'mon! for $30.00 less you can buy a whole tent.

    There are a lot of cyclists who like to spend, and the Manufactures have figured this out. Hence all the Marketing fluff. Campy has some new shorts out, with silver threads in the chamois, because.......get this..... silver is naturally anti-bacterial! Guess what.....So is soap, go wash your non-sliver lined shorts.

    Assos has some bib shorts that retail for 219.99 yeah.... 219.99 "Using technology from Formula One seat manufacturing, the insert uses a revolutionary foam compound with dynamic memory that conforms to your body and provides better impact absorption that a standard pad."

    All Im waiting for now is some schmo to tell my on the next group ride "I was gonna get those Campy shorts with the silver in them, but I heard that they were 5 grams heavier than the non-silver ones"

    But these "marketers wet dream" consumers are actually very important to the industry. They keep the LBS in business, and the manufactures too. Windtunnel time is expensive. Come to think of it...Perhaps instead of chuckling, I should thank them........
    Last edited by Smoothie104; 11-05-03 at 02:42 AM.

  15. #15
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    You kind of need to think in reverse in regards to the cost of bicycle helmets. The top of the line helmets have more vents right? Well that means that the mold was that much more difficult to make. I'll bet you some of these molds cost $500,000 or more. That's alot of money to recoup.

  16. #16
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    lets see. i pay $450 a year for $750,000 life insurance on myself, $600 every 6 months for car insurance for our 2 cars, $750 a year for my homeowners/wife jewelry, etc. $50 for accidental dismemberment, $200 for malpractice insurance, just spend almost $1,000 on a will as insurance against a probate proceeding if we die....

    yeah... $75 for my Bell Furio that i wear when i can come close to death on each and every ride i take (275-300 times a year) seems about right.....It's $75 worth of insurance.....all of the above insurance i will hopefully never use.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  17. #17
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister
    I admire your faith, but you'd be better served to do some research and get yourself a more realistic expectation of what a bike helmet can and can't do.
    Like everything out there they do not stop all injuries but your chances of walking away from a serious accident increase substantially with a helmet. If you want to study up on the safety research that is and has been done with helmets I suggest you visit the site that I provided the link to in my post earlier.
    Matthew 6

  18. #18
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    I dont think there is any evidence to show that a expensive bike helmet gives any more protection than a cheaper helmet from a reputable brand.
    I use a low-end Met helmet which costs == $40. The materials and construction quality are the same as a $140 one, but it does have more styrofoam and less air. In a temperate climate with plenty of winter-time, I dont need extra ventilation.
    I wear it all the time, but dont "trust" it to do any more than protect against low-speed falls. It's my last line of defence.

  19. #19
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    While I have very little faith in a helmet's ability to do me any good in a crash, I see no harm in wearing one. It's a nice elevated place to attach more reflective tape, anyway. I do think kids should wear them, they being more vulnerable to skull damage and more accident-prone as well. Years ago when my son started riding, I started wearing a helmet when I insisted he do the same, and the habit has stayed with me.

    That was a $30 helmet, and I paid the same for my current Giro Stelvio. I don't even notice it's on my head (which makes me forget about it sometimes).

    $30 seems fairly reasonable for something that's well-ventilated, easy to adjust for a perfect fit, and protects me from scalp lacerations when the kids in certain neighborhoods I ride through on my commute decide to throw rocks at me.

    RichC
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  20. #20
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    I dont think there is any evidence to show that a expensive bike helmet gives any more protection than a cheaper helmet from a reputable brand.
    I use a low-end Met helmet which costs == $40. The materials and construction quality are the same as a $140 one, but it does have more styrofoam and less air. In a temperate climate with plenty of winter-time, I dont need extra ventilation.
    I wear it all the time, but dont "trust" it to do any more than protect against low-speed falls. It's my last line of defence.
    consumer reports stated that if it had one of the approved safety endorsments (snell, etc) there is no difference in protection from inexpensive to expensive when it comes to protection. The difference lies in weight, ventalation etc.
    Matthew 6

  21. #21
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngateguy
    Like everything out there they do not stop all injuries but your chances of walking away from a serious accident increase substantially with a helmet.
    I guess we define 'serious accident' differently then. I've had quite a few crashes where the helmet did it's job, but I wouldn't consider any of them serious, even though on one occasion I had to pay a visit to the hospital to get checked over after a particularly severe impact.

    In a truly serious 'accident', your head isn't the only thing you've got to worry about, and damage to the head isn't the only thing that will kill you.

    All I'm saying is, wear a helmet if you wish, but at least have some idea of the level of protection they afford. My observation is that most people, including the people marketing the things, grossly overestimate their protective abilities.

    In other words: Wear one, but ride as if you aren't.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  22. #22
    sch
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    Molds for helmets are expensive but with so many helmets now
    sourced in east Asia, mold making is also done there as well so costs
    are probable 10% of your estimate ($50k versus $500k). Mold and
    die shops all over the US are losing business to the Chinese: a design
    can be emailed to China, fabricated and airfreighted back in only a
    little longer than a US shop can do the same thing and costs are
    30-80% less. What happens next is that a next door manufacturer
    in China then submits a quote for the forging/stamping/molding product
    and another factory gets shut down in Pennsylvania.

    Certainly liability costs are a significant part of helmet cost but probably
    not more than $10-20. The largest component will be LBS markup, not
    jewelry store class but a good bit more than autos. Steve

  23. #23
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    P.S. Don't think that when that plant in PA is shut down that those 100+ workers were replaced by 500+ chineese.

    Chances are the new factory in China only has 50+ people running state-of-the-art (finaced by the state) computerized machines that simply take the CAD file that was mailed over and spits out the mold.

    China has lost more manufacturing jobs as a percentage of population than the US.

    Just like when the US lost the steel industry to Japan. It wasn't the cheap labor, tho that was in the mix, it was that when Japan was rebuilt after WWII they had all brand new state-of-the-art furnaces and could make better steel with cheaper cost of materials/fuels than the 100 year old US furnaces/foundarys.

    Now we are finding this to be true for other upstarts without the baggage of older machines and near-sighted management not willing to retool the factories because it will cause the stock to take a hit while they rebuild... Solution... Rebuild some place else... New factory better and faster than older factory... Close the older factory...

  24. #24
    newbie newbie georgesnatcher's Avatar
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    Fatman, get the best helmet you can afford. Thats the bottom line. More money equals less weight and better ventilation. Where I am the ventilation is key. Maybe where you are its less important. The bottom line is WEAR A HELMET.

  25. #25
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Comparing the markup on a twentythousand dollar car and a hundred dollar helmet is hardly fair. Markup on accesories is between 67% and 100% so $50 cost= $83.50 to $100.00 retail price with a profit of $33 to $50. Even a 5% markup on a twentyG car nets you $1000 and, while it depends on the person, I have spent more time selling many a person a $40 helmet(profit:$16-$20) than I spent buying my last car.

    P.S. If you don't think a helmet does any good, have somebody whack you in the head with a baseball bat with and then with out a helmet on. Compare results.
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