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Expensive road bike helmets, a marketing scam?

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Expensive road bike helmets, a marketing scam?

Old 10-16-14, 10:57 AM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
The question remains, does the expensive road bike helmet use a more head protective grade of material (whatever it is) than the relatively inexpensive helmets sold at department stores and discount stores, or is it the same stuff, perhaps shaped in a more stylish design?
Which raises the related question "Are there factors beyond materials that impact the relative value of helmets? Could it possibly be that there are multiple characteristics one might look for in a helmet (or choose not to) in deciding whether a given helmet is worth a given price? Is it realistic to assume that different riders might have different criteria for helmets just as we all have our own set of criteria for anything else we buy? Consider - a big mac happy meal and a steak dinner contain roughly the same calories. Is there any reason for them to cost different prices? Are steak dinners a scam?
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Old 10-16-14, 11:30 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
OK, I'll take your word for it, but I have my POC helmet right here, and I can squeeze the main body foam as hard as I can and I can't feel or see any deformation at all. I'd bet that in a rough collision I'd still get more benefit from crush than from compression.
What is your definition of "crush" because that is not a physical properties test that I am familiar with. You would test compression, rebound, and tensile. Crush is just a layman's term for compression I would guess. Compression is how much force it takes to compress or "squish" or "crush" the material. Rebound would be how much the material comes back to it's original form after compression. The tensile strength in the instance of molded foamed beads would measure how much force it takes to tear either the fusion between the foamed beads or to tear the foam beads themselves by a pulling force.

Last edited by mrodgers; 10-16-14 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 10-16-14, 12:18 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
Which raises the related question "Are there factors beyond materials that impact the relative value of helmets? Could it possibly be that there are multiple characteristics one might look for in a helmet (or choose not to) in deciding whether a given helmet is worth a given price? Is it realistic to assume that different riders might have different criteria for helmets just as we all have our own set of criteria for anything else we buy? Consider - a big mac happy meal and a steak dinner contain roughly the same calories. Is there any reason for them to cost different prices? Are steak dinners a scam?
If the two food items were principally promoted and marketed as survival enhancers due to their caloric content, taste would be a side issue.
Same applies to a piece of apparel marketed and promoted principally as personal protective equipment almost all made to meet the same minimal specifications, allegedly useful for reducing the risk of injury/death while cycling.
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Old 10-16-14, 12:49 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
Which raises the related question "Are there factors beyond materials that impact the relative value of helmets? Could it possibly be that there are multiple characteristics one might look for in a helmet (or choose not to) in deciding whether a given helmet is worth a given price?
Let's assume I have 5 helmets that all offer the exact same amount of head protection. 10 out of 1..10 and we'll only look at two other characteristics, weight and ventilation. (for the sake of this argument, let's assume they all use the same strap system) I picked those because I tend to think those two characteristic contribute the most to overall comfort when riding.

Helmet 1 cost $20, weighs 4 lbs and has 1/10 ventilation.
Helmet 2 cost $40, weighs 3 lbs and has 2/10 ventilation
Helmet 3 cost $60, weighs 2 lbs and has 4/10 ventilation
Helmet 4 cost $100 weighs 1 lbs and has 7/10 ventilation
Helmet 5 cost $200, weighs 1/2 lb and has 10/10 ventilation

Is comfort of any value to you?

I say yes, when I buy a helmet I am paying not only for protection, but comfort along with it.
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Old 10-16-14, 01:26 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
If the two food items were principally promoted and marketed as survival enhancers due to their caloric content, taste would be a side issue.
Same applies to a piece of apparel marketed and promoted principally as personal protective equipment almost all made to meet the same minimal specifications, allegedly useful for reducing the risk of injury/death while cycling.
I don't believe taste would be a side issue. In point of fact, if they both offer similar calories, calories become a side issue and the primary issue becomes taste. Given a choice between simply surviving or surving and being happy, too, I'll take the latter choice.

Similarly, if all helmets offer increased accident survivability, then matters of fit, ventilation, aerodynamics, visibility, durability, and yes, appearance all become more important, not less. Further, commuters, recreational riders, road racers, MTB riders, TT specialists, and other groups all have their own unique set of needs and desired carachteristics, making any given helmet more or less suitable for a specific rider and purpose. Throw in the fact that different helmets also offer differing degrees of protection and specific types of protection, and it makes perfect sense that there would be a broad range of prices.

I think some in this conversation are knocking down a straw man. By assuming that there is only one valid criterium for evaluating a helmet, they're basing their position on faulty logic.
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Old 10-16-14, 01:40 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
Similarly, if all helmets offer increased accident survivability, then matters of fit, ventilation, aerodynamics, visibility, durability, and yes, appearance all become more important, not less. Further, commuters, recreational riders, road racers, MTB riders, TT specialists, and other groups all have their own unique set of needs and desired carachteristics, making any given helmet more or less suitable for a specific rider and purpose. Throw in the fact that different helmets also offer differing degrees of protection and specific types of protection, and it makes perfect sense that there would be a broad range of prices.
As you point out there are several sets of needs and desired characteristics that various helmet models meet to different degrees. It has not been convincingly demonstrated that there is any reason why manufacturing or marketing costs should increase very much to meet those requirements; only justification appears to be profit motive and buyers willingness to pay more.
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Old 10-16-14, 01:45 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
It has not been convincingly demonstrated that there is any reason why manufacturing or marketing costs should increase very much to meet those requirements; only justification appears to be profit motive and buyers willingness to pay more.
At some point, the engineering requirements require that the shell go from plastic or fiberglass to a CF composite to meet the strength to weight ratio needed for a lighter helmet. That is certainly going to cost more with regards to materials and manufacturing costs.

Also, making retention systems with adjustable clicky bits is way more expensive. Set up costs for injection molded plastic parts can be tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That will be significant compared that to a threaded through the shell strap with off the shelf buckles.

If you think this stuff comes for free or even cheap, then you probably don't know much about manufacturing.

Last edited by andr0id; 10-16-14 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 10-16-14, 01:47 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
As you point out there are several sets of needs and desired characteristics that various helmet models meet to different degrees. It has not been convincingly demonstrated that there is any reason why manufacturing or marketing costs should increase very much to meet those requirements; only justification appears to be profit motive and buyers willingness to pay more.
More expensive helmets, less sales. Less sales, less helmets manufactured. Less helmets manufactured, higher unit costs for both manufacturing and marketing along every step of the manufacturing to consumer trail.
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Old 10-16-14, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
As you point out there are several sets of needs and desired characteristics that various helmet models meet to different degrees. It has not been convincingly demonstrated that there is any reason why manufacturing or marketing costs should increase very much to meet those requirements; only justification appears to be profit motive and buyers willingness to pay more.
I didn't realize it was necessary to document the specific inputs of each and every model. Given that wind tunnels, engineers, test facilities, etc. don't come free, nor does merchandise used for beta testing and review, it seems pretty reasonable to me to assume that some models do cost more than other models. Further, there's no obligation on the part of a company to maintain the same profit margin on every item they sell. It makes sense that some items carry a wider markup than others, and a company is well within their rights to set prices that generate the greatest profits for their owners.

But in the end, why do you care? If you believe the single important criterion is increased survivability, then you can save hundreds of dollars and still choose your helmet from a wide array of offerings from different vendors. Why should it bother you that someone else would evaluate helmets differently and pay more for a different model than you chose?

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Old 10-16-14, 04:05 PM
  #60  
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I'm not sure why this discussion comes up and stays alive regarding helmets. The more expensive helmets get a lot more management attention and that costs money. Obviously someone is paying. I don't think I have seen any claims about safety for higher priced helmets. They make claims about fit, airflow and air resistance and try to get attractive features built into the helmets, but not safety.

There are high priced versions of just about any consumer gear. The thing that comes readily to mind is audiophile cables. I'm sure we can get someone to argue that $600 for a usb cable is a good deal because it's carrying music, but it can't possibly cost that much more to make than the (overpriced) $10 cable you can buy at any electronics store.
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Old 10-16-14, 05:52 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
But in the end, why do you care? If you believe the single important criterion is increased survivability, then you can save hundreds of dollars and still choose your helmet from a wide array of offerings from different vendors. Why should it bother you that someone else would evaluate helmets differently and pay more for a different model than you chose?
I was answering the OP's question, not looking to justify boutique prices for high zoot brand helmets.

BTW, do you really believe all that jazz about the costs of wind tunnels, engineers, test facilities, etc. (if used at all for consumer grade helmets) adding more than a few cents to the cost of any bicycle helmet sold to the public? My guess is that most if not all the fancy design work for consumer helmets is done by artists/designers on computers with the chief criteria being esthetics. The engineering comes into play in manufacturing the product after it is designed by artists and marketeers.
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Old 10-16-14, 07:54 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The thing that comes readily to mind is audiophile cables. I'm sure we can get someone to argue that $600 for a usb cable is a good deal because it's carrying music, but it can't possibly cost that much more to make than the (overpriced) $10 cable you can buy at any electronics store.
So true. Trying to get Joe Blow to understand that what he's seeing and hearing has already travelled through hundreds of feet of 5 cent per foot cable and that anything different for the last few feet ain't gonna make any difference is surprisingly difficult. "But, but, the sales guy said it's better and they wouldn't price it so high if it wasn't that much better."
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Old 10-16-14, 08:23 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by mustang1 View Post
Not a debate about whether helmets are safe or not (wow, seems like always need this disclaimer when discussing helmets, or is it just me?)

Anyway.... expensive helmets are expensive because they're lighter, and they also have more air vents, which means they have less material, which means they are lighter, which seems pretty obvious to me.

So are companies making more money off us by encouraging us to buy the virtues of a well vented helmet which is lighter (duh, obviously, more holes!) but charging us more for it?
It is, due to those that don't check out the ratings on bike helmets. Also getting suckered in by the designs' and the salesman.

Go to Helmets: Bicycle Helmets and check out the ratings on helmets before you buy a new one.
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Old 10-16-14, 08:25 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I was answering the OP's question, not looking to justify boutique prices for high zoot brand helmets.

BTW, do you really believe all that jazz about the costs of wind tunnels, engineers, test facilities, etc. (if used at all for consumer grade helmets) adding more than a few cents to the cost of any bicycle helmet sold to the public? My guess is that most if not all the fancy design work for consumer helmets is done by artists/designers on computers with the chief criteria being esthetics. The engineering comes into play in manufacturing the product after it is designed by artists and marketeers.
Oddly enough, I do think those things cost money, and do contribute to the cost of helmets. Further, I think $100-400 for a helmet that suits my needs isn't that much to spend, particularly given the number of hours I spend on my bike each year, the value I place on my head, and the value I place on being comfortable.

Out of curiosity, do you own a business? Are you involved in product development, marketing, or finance?

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Old 10-16-14, 09:01 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
Oddly enough, I do think those things cost money, and do contribute to the cost of helmets. Further, I think $100-400 for a helmet that suits my needs isn't that much to spend, particularly given the number of hours I spend on my bike each year, the value I place on my head, and the value I place on being comfortable.

Out of curiosity, do you own a business? Are you involved in product development, marketing, or finance?

BB
I am happily retired living the good life, riding every day.
BTW, unctuous comments such as "the value I place on my head" are a good way to send this thread to Helmet Thread Hell.
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Old 10-16-14, 09:20 PM
  #66  
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Eschew obfuscation. Nothing unctuous about it. My head is arguably my favorite part.
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Old 10-17-14, 06:45 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post

There are high priced versions of just about any consumer gear. The thing that comes readily to mind is audiophile cables. I'm sure we can get someone to argue that $600 for a usb cable is a good deal because it's carrying music, but it can't possibly cost that much more to make than the (overpriced) $10 cable you can buy at any electronics store.
Yup and what people don't realize about cables, including USB, is that a $600 USB cable will not sound any better or carry more information than a $10 one! It's all about marketing hype, fancy words sell and a lot of wealthy for some reasons have fantastic brains for business and the such but when buying certain things have more money then brains. I have a decent home stereo system, I went to a place in town called Speaker World about 11 years ago to buy some speaker cables after going to another place that tried to sell me $12 a foot (that's cheap compared to some that cost upwards of $1,200 a foot!) and he sold me cable for $1 a foot and explained that electrical cable is just that electrical cable, they can't change the timing or the quality of the sound from a $1 to $1200 a foot cable, in fact he said plain old zip wire you would buy to make a lamp cord with would work fine except the cabling is not insulated well enough unless you had nothing along it's path that would possibly cause noise to enter in. He said the most important aspect in speaker wire is the gauge which would be determined by length and the insulated quality of the wire. He sold me silicone insulate oxygen free copper, the oxygen free simply ******* corrosion that copper will experience over time, I forget the gauge but I was only running 7 foot lengths. He also mentioned what is laughable is that expensive speakers use very inexpensive wire to run from the speaker to the jack box!

In fact I'm thinking when I retire is to make my own home speakers simply by using and choosing the correct car speakers and enclose them in a cabinet! As long as the ohms match and the bod is the right size I should be good. And doing this way would be far cheaper than buying new home speakers. I first build a small pair of bookshelf speakers to get a feel for it.
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Old 10-17-14, 06:53 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
More expensive helmets, less sales. Less sales, less helmets manufactured. Less helmets manufactured, higher unit costs for both manufacturing and marketing along every step of the manufacturing to consumer trail.
ILTB, please address.
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Old 10-17-14, 10:03 AM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
ILTB, please address.

Easy solution to the simplistic economic construct, lower the sale price of the helmets until it approaches the price of the inexpensive helmets = more sales.

More sales, more helmets manufactured. More helmets manufactured, lower unit costs for both manufacturing and marketing along every step of the manufacturing to consumer trail.
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Old 10-17-14, 11:02 AM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
Yup and what people don't realize about cables, including USB, is that a $600 USB cable will not sound any better or carry more information than a $10 one!
So a 250 gm helment with better ventilation is exactly the same as a 500 gm helment with no ventilation. OK...then.

I'm not bothered by expensive composite exoskeleton helments with nano-particle foam, silver microbial coatings, and hypoallergenic multi-fiber straps; rather, it's those nutcase thingamajigs that amaze me. Why the heck would one spend $70 to ride around with a brick with absolutely no ventilation on their nogggin???

Heck...put a spike on a black nutcase and you could be a german extra in a WW1 movie.

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Old 10-19-14, 06:36 PM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
So a 250 gm helment with better ventilation is exactly the same as a 500 gm helment with no ventilation. OK...then.

I'm not bothered by expensive composite exoskeleton helments with nano-particle foam, silver microbial coatings, and hypoallergenic multi-fiber straps; rather, it's those nutcase thingamajigs that amaze me. Why the heck would one spend $70 to ride around with a brick with absolutely no ventilation on their nogggin???

Heck...put a spike on a black nutcase and you could be a german extra in a WW1 movie.

I was responding to the person who was talking about cables and not helmets...ok then, next please.
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Old 10-19-14, 07:07 PM
  #72  
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I'm not sure what people consider expensive, but I buy uvex helmets for a few key reasons:

They have a retention system I like more than most others.

I have a large, round head and they fit me better than any others I've tried.

I like the ventilation design.

So yes, for my needs they're worth the cost.
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Old 10-19-14, 08:15 PM
  #73  
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Let me tell ya fella's that I plan on spending no less than FOUR HUNDRED BUCKS on my new helmet come next spring.

I want to be the guy with the coolest helmet on my block! Sadly, in all reality I'm the only adult who actually rides a bike on my block. Even the kids get rides from their parents, ride in golf carts or have those electric scooters they travel about on. No pedal power whatsoever.

I just want the fancy helmet so people know that I'm a doosh. A total doosh has the least chance of getting run over because even the most angst filled teen (or car full of em) will put down their phones long before they pass so that they can stare me down and comment to each other about what a "doosh" I am. It's a safety thing. I'll probably never fall and hit my head but if I wear a dooshey helm then everyone will notice and hopefully give me 3 feet instead of hit the gas and run me over.
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Old 10-19-14, 08:16 PM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post

I'm not bothered by expensive composite exoskeleton helments with nano-particle foam, silver microbial coatings, and hypoallergenic multi-fiber straps; rather, it's those nutcase thingamajigs that amaze me. Why the heck would one spend $70 to ride around with a brick with absolutely no ventilation on their nogggin???

Heck...put a spike on a black nutcase and you could be a german extra in a WW1 movie.

I use a Giro Surface that falls into that category, its even flat black.
The up side of minimal ventilation is my head stays dry in the rain, and the little visor that keeps rain and sun out of my eyes. Most importantly, I got it on clearance for $10.
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Old 10-20-14, 09:23 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I'm not sure what people consider expensive, but I buy uvex helmets for a few key reasons:

They have a retention system I like more than most others.

I have a large, round head and they fit me better than any others I've tried.

I like the ventilation design.

So yes, for my needs they're worth the cost.
You've mentioned a huge factor--shape. Even different models in the same helmet line will fit differently. No, this isn't some marketing driven scam to punish the buyers of cheaper helmets, it's just difference.
The Specialized S-works, for instance, didn't fit me last time I bought one but the much less expensive Propero fit like a charm.
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