Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Base of the Rocky Mountains, Canada. Wonderous things!
Bikes: 2010 Cannondale Hooligan 3
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Pretty much as mentioned above. Helmets *have* to meet the same impact safety standards, but:
Some helmets may have additional back of the head protection (helmets with sticky-out back of the head sections as opposed to more rounded ones), and some helmets may come with a better back of the head strap thats easily adjustable, tough, and will keep your helmet more securely attached to your head. Both of these things are beyond whats considered a minimum standard, so saying they all meet the same level of safety isn't entirely true.
Then, anything extra you might pay for is pretty much aesthetics, venting, visor, and lower weight. Most people think these are all good things to have on a helmet, i'd agree with them. There are some helmets out there that might work, but certainly aren't pretty or comfy.
As for good brands, Bell and Giro are common picks.
My helmet is a 2007 Giro Animas. Has a lot more price tag than a helmet that will perform the same function for a lot less money (standard collision protection), but its comfy, good looking, versatile and light. The back of the head system on these helmets is great.