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Is there a difference in helmets?

Old 08-03-14, 10:24 PM
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yashinon
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Is there a difference in helmets?

I have been looking at a new helmet. Helmets (just like anything else these days) are priced anywhere from $300 to $40. Is there a difference between high and low end?
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Old 08-03-14, 11:05 PM
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High end helmets will usually be lighter weight, less bulky, better ventilated, comes in multiple sizes to fit you better, easier to adjust. Personally, I've never spent more than $100 on a helmet and I've always been happy. Try a bunch on to see what fits you best and is more comfortable on your head. Better fit means it will hang on to your head better and protect you better in a crash.
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Old 08-05-14, 12:04 AM
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Helmets: Bicycle Helmets has good info. I had a drone in LBS attempt to sell me an expensive helmet that didn't fit. It rattled on my head without the rear lock and chin strap. He insisted that it was fine. I replied with "and you would think a size 14 shoe was a good fit by tying it tighter?". And I walked away. I have a small head and am fussy about help fit. Until my recent $100 Giro Saros helmet, I had found $45 Bell helmets that fit well. A $20 Xmart helmet that fits will will provide the same level of protection as a $300 helmet.
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Old 08-05-14, 12:11 AM
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I'm buying my next helmet at Walmart.
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Old 08-05-14, 09:29 AM
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Protection wise, no difference..... Buy the one that fits the best and wear it/
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Old 08-05-14, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
Protection wise, no difference..... Buy the one that fits the best and wear it/
I disagree. The higher end helmets (>$160) typically have a kevlar exoskeleton molded into the foam core of the helmet. On impact that kevlar acts like rebar in concrete preventing it from blowing into several pieces (i.e. useless). Thats added protection in a bad crash.

I never really understood people who buy the cheapest helmet, saw it all the time when I rode motorcycles. Do you really put a price on your head? Personally I consider mine priceless.
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Old 08-05-14, 12:22 PM
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MHO - do more research..............................
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Old 08-05-14, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
I disagree. The higher end helmets (>$160) typically have a kevlar exoskeleton molded into the foam core of the helmet. On impact that kevlar acts like rebar in concrete preventing it from blowing into several pieces (i.e. useless). Thats added protection in a bad crash.

I never really understood people who buy the cheapest helmet, saw it all the time when I rode motorcycles. Do you really put a price on your head? Personally I consider mine priceless.
I would respectfully disagree.

Check out this site: Bicycle Helmet FAQ


A quote from the site:
Prices are low at many stores now. The big box discount stores have smooth, round, helmets meeting the CPSC standard on sale regularly starting at $10, with better-fitting designs for about $15 to $30. Local bike shops have major brands for $35 to $200, with discounts available on the Internet. They all have the same CPSC certification for impact and strap performance. Cheaper helmets are plainer, have smaller vents and may lack a rear stabilizer, but some perform better in impact tests than the most expensive models with huge vents and less foam. We still recommend buying your first helmet at a bike shop, for help with fitting.

In past helmet articles, Consumer Reports has rated the most expensive helmets they tested below most of the cheaper models. We don't have lab test data on all the helmets out there. In the US, all of them are required by law to meet the same CPSC impact standard. If money buys you a better fit, with more stability on your head in a hard crash, then the more expensive helmet is worth it. If it just buys you a spiffy-looking, squared-off, poorly-rounded exterior with excessive vents, foam that is too hard trying make up for that, and points to snag, definitely not.
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Old 08-05-14, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 1Treky View Post
I would respectfully disagree.

Check out this site: Bicycle Helmet FAQ
That article is VERY vague, and does not speak to the differences in technology and construction techniques from various helmet manufactures. If you think a $10 helmet is as good as a $200 one, well more power to you!
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Old 08-05-14, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
That article is VERY vague, and does not speak to the differences in technology and construction techniques from various helmet manufactures. If you think a $10 helmet is as good as a $200 one, well more power to you!
That's kind of like saying that $200 blue jeans are better than $30 jeans. Even Consumer Reports tests confirm that most of the expensive helmets tested worse than the cheaper ones. But I suppose, technically speaking, that a $200 helmet could have "better" construction than that of a cheaper one. But my point is that ALL bicycle helmets sold in the US have to meet the CPSC standard: CPSC Issues New Safety Standard for Bike Helmets | CPSC.gov

That's good enough for me.
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Old 08-05-14, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 1Treky View Post
That's kind of like saying that $200 blue jeans are better than $30 jeans. Even Consumer Reports tests confirm that most of the expensive helmets tested worse than the cheaper ones. But I suppose, technically speaking, that a $200 helmet could have "better" construction than that of a cheaper one. But my point is that ALL bicycle helmets sold in the US have to meet the CPSC standard: CPSC Issues New Safety Standard for Bike Helmets | CPSC.gov

That's good enough for me.
My local bike shop has cutaways of each helmet, it's pretty clear the construction differences on the ones that use kevlar and carbon reinforcing.

But hey to each their own, personally I don't put a price tag on my head. Jeans on the other hand, $39.99 Levis all day long!
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Old 08-05-14, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
Jeans on the other hand, $39.99 Levis all day long!
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Old 08-05-14, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
I disagree. The higher end helmets (>$160) typically have a kevlar exoskeleton molded into the foam core of the helmet. On impact that kevlar acts like rebar in concrete preventing it from blowing into several pieces (i.e. useless). Thats added protection in a bad crash.

I never really understood people who buy the cheapest helmet, saw it all the time when I rode motorcycles. Do you really put a price on your head? Personally I consider mine priceless.
Somebody fell for the marketing hype. From helmets.org: There is no verifiable impact performance advantage in any of the helmets that have these materials, since they are mostly used to make the helmet thinner and lighter or open up bigger vents.

Unless you have a study suggesting otherwise (and not just what the salesperson told you), please don't encourage others to waste their money.

From the same website, here is what actual science demonstrated: We submitted samples of six helmet models to a leading U.S. test lab: three in the $150+ range and three under $20. The impact test results were virtually identical. There were very few differences in performance among the helmets. Our conclusion: when you pay more for a helmet you may get an easier fit, more vents and snazzier graphics. But the basic impact protection of the cheap helmets we tested equaled the expensive ones. Just look for a helmet that fits you well.

I've yet to see a study to the contrary. I find it interesting that those who insist that more expensive helmets are safer have yet to produce a study to back up their claim. Those people expect you to believe that NO study is more reliable than the uniform conclusion of the studies that have been done. Unless you believe in magic, it's pretty obvious which argument is more persuasive.

Just use your common sense. As bikers, we tend to forget this.

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Old 08-05-14, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
My local bike shop has cutaways of each helmet, it's pretty clear the construction differences on the ones that use kevlar and carbon reinforcing.
You are correct. The construction is different. Your mistake was the unfounded assumption that this method of construction results in increased safety. There is no scientific evidence that it does. It does, however, suggest that the helmet is lighter. That alone may be worth paying extra for.
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Old 08-05-14, 03:49 PM
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I didn't speak to any salesperson at the LBS, or drink any marketing kool-aid despite your implication otherwise. I've been building and racing motorcycles and cars for 15 years. Over that time I've probably spent tens of thousands of dollars on various safety equipment, much of which has been tested in real life and I'm still here to talk about it.

Rest assure anytime someone doesn't have any real info to back up their argument they break out the dictionary and thesaurus to make their posts look more "intelligent".
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Old 08-05-14, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
I didn't speak to any salesperson at the LBS, or drink any marketing kool-aid despite your implication otherwise. I've been building and racing motorcycles and cars for 15 years. Over that time I've probably spent tens of thousands of dollars on various safety equipment, much of which has been tested in real life and I'm still here to talk about it.

Rest assure anytime someone doesn't have any real info to back up their argument they break out the dictionary and thesaurus to make their posts look more "intelligent".
And I know many people who have not had injuries wearing cheap helmets. What is your point? My question was quite simple. Can you produce any study to back up your claim that more expensive bicycle helmets provide greater protection?

I'm shocked that you don't consider the results of actual studies to be "real info." Shocked indeed.

Last edited by VTBike; 08-05-14 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 08-06-14, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Anthony.L View Post
I didn't speak to any salesperson at the LBS, or drink any marketing kool-aid despite your implication otherwise. I've been building and racing motorcycles and cars for 15 years. Over that time I've probably spent tens of thousands of dollars on various safety equipment, much of which has been tested in real life and I'm still here to talk about it.

Rest assure anytime someone doesn't have any real info to back up their argument they break out the dictionary and thesaurus to make their posts look more "intelligent".
Against how much you've spent on your equipment vs my manufacturing various "flavors" of foam, I'll state that polystyrene is polystyrene. It has a very narrow density range and thus is pretty much all the same. Expensive helmets that have less polystyrene because they are lighter and have more venting in my opinion would be less safe than heavy Bell helmets at Walmart.

If the difference was the cheap ones made of polystyrene and expensive ones made of polypropylene, then I would think the expensive ones were better in the safety aspect. As far as I know, there are no bicycle helmets made of polypropylene. I did do the R&D manufacturing of polypropylene military helmets though.
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Old 08-06-14, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by VTBike View Post
You are correct. The construction is different. Your mistake was the unfounded assumption that this method of construction results in increased safety. There is no scientific evidence that it does. It does, however, suggest that the helmet is lighter. That alone may be worth paying extra for.
Spot on. A more expensive helmet may indeed be lighter. It may also be more aerodynamic and offer better ventilation. But it is not any safer. And that latter point the fundamental fudge factor most often used by bike stores to get you to buy the more expensive helmet.
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