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kentfallen 9 Jan 2008 15:55

Helmets - An alternative to the Pricey Ones
 
I'm a firm believer that many of the cheaper makes of helmet on the market today are just as good as some of the more expensive helmets. I'm looking for a genuine alternative to the BIG 2 (both start with the letter S). I keep hearing good things about the NITRO make of helmets, is anyone able to impart some first hand experience in this respect? I don't want to spend any more than about £100 ($240) on a plain colour helmet and it MUST be a type A giving maximum protection. The big 2 must obviously pass on their marketing costs to the customer which must increase costs massively. Years ago the BIG 2 were AGV and Bell but they seem to have gone out of fashion for some reason (in the UK at least). Finally, where is the best place to get one from?

I read yesterday that the UK government is passing new legislation which will result in helmets going through a much more rigorous testing process. Rather than just advising the customer that the helmet meets a required minimum standard the helmet manufacturer will have to give detailed data about the type of tests and the result of these tests in fine detail. This will enable customers like me to make an informed judgment when looking for reasonably priced alternatives. I imagine that the BIG 2 might be worried by this development because their share of the industry might come under threat from helmets manufactured to the same standards but much less expensive.

peter-denmark 15 Jan 2008 21:33

I advise that you try to do some 80mph crashes on the freeway with cheap helmets and see how it goes...

The thing is that as far as I know there is no central database with helmet safety statistis.

I have a 300 quid (600$) Shoei helmet cause I feel that my head is worth at least that amount.

If you dont feel the same way, I wish you luck...

Until someone make a EURO NCAP for helmets I buy the best I can get my hands on.

Sorry if that doenst answer you question, but I wanted to give my opinion since I spent alot of time thinking about the same before buying my first helmet (which I still have and use, so the investment has been quite low looking over a period of time)

Also when you buy a good helmet, you get better aerodynamics which for me first of all means less noise. Secondly it is lighter and more plesant to wear all day. Thirdly the windshield doesnt wobble/make noise when driving with it open, even at 150Kph (yes I tried) Fourthly you can take the padding out and wash it.

MetusUK 15 Jan 2008 21:55

I wouldn't wear anything but an Arai anymore.... but i did really rate the Airoh Firefox.

kentfallen 15 Jan 2008 22:52

That is one of the points I raised above - the UK government are due to implement a brand new system of helmet testing which will enable users to make a better informed judgement. At the present time the helmets are certified to meet a minimum standard after undergoing crash/dropping/penetration tests. The data from these tests is NOT made public at all. The new system will ensure this data is available to all and sundry which is a massive leap forward for bikers health & safety.

I wish I could agree with you about buying the most expensive headgear. I don't because I genuinely believe that some of the "designer" manufacturers inflate their prices to allow them to undertake expensive marketing programs. The Big 2 (S+A) have only really come to prominence in the UK in the last 20 years before that I think I'm right in saying that the big 2 were Bell and AGV.

What is very clear is that there must be many Executives of helmet manufacturers who are waiting with baited breath what exactly these new tests will prove to their customers. Time will tell but I will not be at all surprised if a few of the BIG boys find their portion of the market under threat from cheaper manufacturers who sell their helmets at a much reduced profit level.

There are plenty of tests in M/C magazines that rate cheaper lids highly. "The Rider" magazine last month had a £78 ($140) NITRO N800V helmet in it's top 10 and it beat some helmets costing 5 times as much! That's a FACT.

I value my own life very highly and I can assure you that if I honestly thought I could obtain premium protection by spending more money I would gladly do so. Surely it is better to try and obtain the same level of protection for minimum cost? You insinuate that I'm somehow defective just because I refuse to spend maximum money on a skid lid! I refuse to be one of the "sheep" led to believe that the most expensive is always the best.

Time will tell but don't be surprised if you all find out you have been spending big bucks to pay for flashy marketing drives...

I understand it is not always just about protection either - comfort, noise and looks do come into it as well.

Is anyone going to agree with me or do you all possess these expensive helmets and do not feel inclined to admit you have been DONE good and proper?

NO MORE ONE LINERS PLEASE...

Walkabout 15 Jan 2008 23:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by kentfallen (Post 168650)
That is one of the points I raised above - the UK government are due to implement a brand new system of helmet testing which will enable users to make a better informed judgement. At the present time the helmets are certified to meet a minimum standard after undergoing crash/dropping/penetration tests. The data from these tests is NOT made public at all. The new system will ensure this data is available to all and sundry which is a massive leap forward for bikers health & safety.

I wish I could agree with you about buying the most expensive headgear. I don't because I genuinely believe that some of the "designer" manufacturers inflate their prices to allow them to undertake expensive marketing programs. The Big 2 (S+A) have only really come to prominence in the UK in the last 20 years before that I think I'm right in saying that the big 2 were Bell and AGV.

What is very clear is that there must be many Executives of helmet manufacturers who are waiting with baited breath what exactly these new tests will prove to their customers. Time will tell but I will not be at all surprised if a few of the BIG boys find their portion of the market under threat from cheaper manufacturers who sell their helmets at a much reduced profit level.

There are plenty of tests in M/C magazines that rate cheaper lids highly. "The Rider" magazine last month had a £78 ($140) NITRO N800V helmet in it's top 10 and it beat some helmets costing 5 times as much! That's a FACT.

I value my own life very highly and I can assure you that if I honestly thought I could obtain premium protection by spending more money I would gladly do so. Surely it is better to try and obtain the same level of protection for minimum cost?

Time will tell but don't be surprised if you all find out you have been spending big bucks to pay for flashy marketing drives...

I understand it is not always just about protection either - comfort, noise and looks do come into it as well.

Is anyone going to agree with me or do you all possess these expensive helmets and do not feel inclined to admit you have been DONE good and proper?


Well I would not disagree with you kentfallen (excuse the double negative!).

I have read many of the reports about helmets over the years that have been in the printed press; apart from your latest information about new testing standards, another factor that I recall is that most, if not all, helmets in the world are manufactured in either Italy or Japan - not significant in itself, but this leads to the deduction that many of the factories are producing the premium priced products right alongside the cheaper ones, using similar shells & other materials. It is little wonder that some brands of cheap helmets perform as well as the "quality" premium versions. The opposite is also true IMO, because of "badge branding" (Try on a Ducati branded helmet for instance).

Having said that, I use an Arai because it fits my head better than some others!

kentfallen 15 Jan 2008 23:18

Dave, I agree totally with what you say... Well that's 2-2 so far...
(better make sure my reply runs to more than 1 line!). I currently wear a NITRO helmet (£80)

scouse 16 Jan 2008 03:57

Neil

I can appreciate your position, as I was thinking along the same lines.

The craic is that if the lid bears the appropriate kitemark (depending on the country you buy it - eg the US is snell or summat), then it should offer the same minimum protection.

The fact that we're not really informed as to what testing consists of and the detailed results (excuse my ignorance if it's out there but I couldn't find it) means that it's really up to personal preference, and the marketing hype encourages that "well, £80 isn't much for a lid, so £200 should be better" feeling.

I bought a new shoei xf-1000 in the US for my trip down to south america, single colour coming in at USD $380, at that time around £190. It's really light, detachable washable padding, quiet at speed & fits great. Our lass bought one of those new BMW opening lids off ebay for £190 & she loves it, but it's not as light as the shoei.

Some shops sell via ebay & you can often go direct.
Buena suerte

Scouse

Dodger 16 Jan 2008 06:10

I'm going to jump in here and say that price should be a secondary consideration .
Fit and build quality should be the most important factors .
When I look at a helmet [ I'm searching for a flip front that fits me , haven't found a replacement for my old Nolan yet ] fit is the most important factor .If it doesn't fit ,then it goes back on the shelf .
Then I look at the way the thing is put together , quality of chinstrap ,lining , visor , visor replacement , ventilation , ease of cleaning etc etc .
I don't really care about the brand name ,but I will research the internet and see what other riders think of theirs and any problems they might have had .
All helmets sold in most developed countries will have to meet one standard or another , I don't have the info on hand to compare one standard to another so I tend not to worry too much about that , but if it's passed for racing then that's a good clue it' s a good helmet .
Most testing is done with new helmets and not sweat soaked helmets that have seen a lot of service and I think that this is where the build quality is very important , helmets made of better materials will last longer .
Given two helmets that meet all the criteria , I would choose the cheaper of the two .

I think that helmets like Shoei and Arai ,for instance ,are more expensive because they do more research but their baseline models are not all that expensive .
I haven't seen a Nitro helmet and therefore can't comment but I wouldn't dismiss it on price alone .

Some of the cheaper flip fronts are pretty awful with regard to build quality.

I'm always sceptical when governments get involved in testing safety gear ,because I believe independant testing agencies can do the work impartially and more efficiently . I don't think that the bigger companies will have much to fear and will soon adapt , if the need arises .
The more info that is available to the public - the better .

I have found that in the long run [ with many different types of gear ] ,quality counts - but not at any price .

stuxtttr 16 Jan 2008 11:09

Cheap ones can be good. Ive had all sorts of helmets but my current one cost me £37 for a full face helmet cant remeber the make but its identical to more expensive lids has all the right markings. Ive had this for 2 years now no worries it does everything I need and if I drop it loose it whatever it really doesnt matter because it was so cheap.

I can fully understand someone wanting a top of the range helmet but as long as my bonce is protected Im easy.

I think you are more likely to replace a cheaper helmet than a £300 one, if its damaged, which could make a big difference in a Fall.

JMo (& piglet) 16 Jan 2008 12:09

Dodger his pretty much hit the nail on the head (no pun intended) as regards to what to look for in a helmet.

To all you "why pay more?" brigade - I suggest going to a shop that has a wide range of brands on offer (including Shoei and Arai) and just compare the build quality - of the shell, the paint, the lining, the fittings, the optical clarity of the visor etc etc - and you'll see why an Arai costs as much as it does, it is simply better made than the budget brands.

Whether you decide to spend a little more to have that level of quality is up to you, but don't forget there are plenty of deals to be had on the premium brands if you shop around - I paid £240 for an Arai Tour-X in plain white (rrp £299), and £260 for a white Astro-R (rrp £329) - and that was over the counter, not mail-order internet shopping. At that sort of price, there really is no reason to compromise.

But ultimately, as has been said above - it's what fits you properly and feels 'right' - you've got to try them for yourself...

JennyMo xxx

MetusUK 16 Jan 2008 12:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by JMo (& piglet) (Post 168752)
Dodger his pretty much hit the nail on the head (no pun intended) as regards to what to look for in a helmet.

To all you "why pay more?" brigade - I suggest going to a shop that has a wide range of brands on offer (including Shoei and Arai) and just compare the build quality - of the shell, the paint, the lining, the fittings, the optical clarity of the visor etc etc - and you'll see why an Arai costs as much as it does, it is simply better made than the budget brands.

Whether you decide to spend a little more to have that level of quality is up to you, but don't forget there are plenty of deals to be had on the premium brands if you shop around - I paid £240 for an Arai Tour-X in plain white (rrp £299), and £260 for a white Astro-R (rrp £329) - and that was over the counter, not mail-order internet shopping. At that sort of price, there really is no reason to compromise.

But ultimately, as has been said above - it's what fits you properly and feels 'right' - you've got to try them for yourself...

JennyMo xxx

A while ago I used to work for J&S accessories (for my sins) prior to working there I wasn't really fussy about my helmets, now I am.. Arai, test there helmets far in excess of the testing requirements, offer a 5 year guarantee, and if you take a damaged arai to a shop that supplies arai, will x-ray it and check it to see if it is still safe to wear, they come in 5 shell sizes, opposed to the normal 3, or 2 on the really cheap lids, and finally Haga through himself down the road at over 120mph sliding on his head and didn have concussion. Nuff said for there quality...

Shoei's are equally as good, but the head shape isn't right for me, as if it doesn't fit right its not worth wearing...

I do think its worth looking at the PLAIN base colours of the helmet you are looking for, because that tells you how much the paint job is worth (its very expensive on arai's and shoeis) and a paint job is irrelavant to safety...

I used to sell the Nitro Helmet range, and I think they are actually a really good mid range helmet, very good indeed.

The bottom line is that if the really expensive ones don't fit you properly, and the only one that does costs £40 then the £40 helmet is better and safer for YOU regardless of how great the protection of the £300 one is.

Airoh helmets are very good, a similar head shape to Arai's, but a lot cheaper if you are looking for a decent mid range lid.

kentfallen 16 Jan 2008 15:56

This thread has turned into quite an interesting debate. It's clear from all your comments that the majority feel it is better to buy a cheaper alternative if it provides the same level of protection as the expensive designer makes.

I am very happy with my £78 Nitro helmet.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the likes of AGV or Bell both of which were Number 1 and 2 in the UK in the 1970's and 1980's.

Walkabout 16 Jan 2008 17:19

Sales assistant: If sir has a cheap head, we can sell you a cheap helmet!!!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MetusUK (Post 168758)
A while ago I used to work for J&S accessories (for my sins)

I bet you could tell some tales!!!!



I always buy a plain helmet because I prefer them; the plainer the better as far as I am concerned - I don't want to pay extra for loads of paint or look like a walking advert for some track racer or other, especially when the latter will be wearing some other brand and paint design just about every year.

I gave my "double negative" version of opinion in my last post because I agree with the general theme that is running here - basically it has to fit me and be comfortable, etc etc before price comes into the equation.

Arai also have a fitting/checking service (last seen doing the rounds of Hein Gericke shops before Christmas) and shop sales assistants are supposed to change the internal cheek pads to get a "perfect" fit at the time of buying, although they can be very un-informed about this, and that is being charitable to some sales assistants!

Yes, there are a wider range of basic shell sizes with the more expensive helmets - the "cheaper" ones (which includes Roof I believe) use a small range of shells and make up the various head sizes from XXS to XXL (or whatever) by varying the amount of padding inside.

Other helmets:
I did have an AGV some years ago, until the forehead padding wore out, fell to bits and the shell was pressing directly onto my skull - that got to be painful in the wind blast.

I bought a Lazer helmet a few years ago; it had a range of stickers on the back and I commented to the shop owner about the lack of an ACU gold sticker - he explained that the EU stickers had superceded all of that, but since I was "concerned" he got a gold one out of his desk and stuck it on immediately; he had a drawer full of stickers for attachment to any helmet that he felt like putting them on.
I sold that helmet after a while because I did not like its' weight - it had a built-in pulldown sunshield and it was a flip-up, which always adds to the weight.

I wish I had kept the report of helmets from some years ago; it identified who owned which factories and who was making what - I would not be surprised for instance if the Arai factory also make Airoh.

JimOD 16 Jan 2008 17:45

I'm sorry but that theory doesn't hold true. MY head is worth a lot more to me than £300 . So, by your theory I should buy a more expensive helmet than you? Helmets don't cost as much as your head is worth. A helmet should be bought on the fact that it has the proper safety marks and that it fits you properly and is comfortable in use. If an expensive helmet isn't comfortable in use you will hate it after a while it will also distract you while riding. If it doesn't fit properly then no matter how expensive it is it won't be protecting you. Buy what is best for your use and not what is most expensive. Mind you, buy what you like it is after all our own choices in life. :)
Jim


[QUOTE=peter-denmark;168625]I advise that you try to do some 80mph crashes on the freeway with cheap helmets and see how it goes...

The thing is that as far as I know there is no central database with helmet safety statistis.

I have a 300 quid (600$) Shoei helmet cause I feel that my head is worth at least that amount.

If you dont feel the same way, I wish you luck...

peter-denmark 16 Jan 2008 19:25

I agree that fit is important, but I will still gladly pay some more for a "brand" helmet than a "non brand" one.

I hope that someone will make an independent testing group one day, then I wont mind buying cheaper.

Buying cheap because of a good fit seems wrong to me, unless the manufacturer has some quality history behind the product.

But it is damn difficult to determine. I am just of the opinion that if I buy a cheap helmet and it kills me beause it is too cheap I am an ass. I cant speak for anyone else, but I wont take that risk...


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