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Helmet Quality

Discussion in 'Track Time' started by brandocommando, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. So I want to hear what you guys think about wearing low end helmets on the track. The last helmet I wore on the track was a Bell Star but after going down at The Ridge I scuffed it up and need to find a new one for next year.

    The Bell obviously did its job but I didn't feel 100% safe with it because the fit always seemed a tab bit loose to me even after switching out the inner cheek pads. In my crash there was an impact to the head and I think I may have suffered a minor concussion because I had random sharp pains in my head for the rest of the afternoon and I packed up the bike immediately after coming off the track. Anyways... what brings me to the question is that I will never forgot the first helmet I had was a scorpion exo-400 and it fit like a dream. It was my favorite helmet but was replaced because it was well aged and was dropped dozens of times :shock:

    Even though it was only a $100 helmet it felt safer than any helmet I have worn yet (except for the Arais that I have tried on in store but cannot afford to shell out that kinda $$) So would it be stupid to strap on a cheapo helmet even though it is DOT/SNELL/ECE etc. approved?

    I don't really care about helmet weight and breath-ability all that much but I hate loose fitting cheapo helmets that feel like junk and make a sheit ton of noise.
  2. I'm a proponent of buying a high quality helmet. Your head is the most vital body part in a sport that can and will have accidents. My last helmet was a Shoei rf1100, and I thought it was real nice at first. But shortly thereafter stuff started wearing out on it. I've since replaced it with a high end AGV, and it makes the rf1100 seem cheap in comparison. It's comfortable and feels like the expensive helmet it is. While it's only Snell and Dot certified, I know its the exact same helmet that meets European standards, which are higher than ours. Would I trust a cheap helmet in an enviroment of extremely high speeds and vastly different skill levels? Nope.

  3. KevinD

    KevinD Modulator Staff Member

    Did you try the next size smaller?
    I've always worn Bell helmets, and they fit fine. But not everyone has a head that a standard size will fit.
    If I raced would I still wear a Bell? Probably. I've bounced my head off the pavement a couple of times with a Bell helmet on, to no detriment.

  4. NoQuarter#121

    NoQuarter#121 WMRRA #2 Overall Points Champion

    Good helmets are expensive.
    You get what you pay for.
    Is your head important?

    Seriously, you gotta look at your personal protection as a "consumable" cost if you are going to spend a lot of time riding near your limits.

    I have crashed too many times to count.
    Boken bones and concussions?

    Arai for me.
  5. Basically everything I've come across and from what I can see myself says that the difference in safety between a high end helmet and a cheaper, name brand, DOT/SNELL rated, full face helmet is negligible.

    Emphasis on name brand, SNELL rated, and full face. We're talking a $150 Bell helmet, not some off brand made in china skull cap.

    I'm of the opinion that the main differences between a baseline, well made, but cheap helmet and a Shoei or an Arai is in comfort and features. The more expensive helmets will have a better fit, better ergos, better ventilation, better visors, better mechanisms, and a big one: removable/washable liners (when your bell starts to smell like old socks you basically have to throw it out.)

    The way I see it, all the reputable manufacturers are generally producing a similar standard of helmet as far as the impact absorbing material, outer shell etc go. It's the features and quality of everything else that are the main differentiators. A high standard of crash performance seems like the cost of doing business. All the companies can buy the same resins and carve similar molds to inject them into. Nobody will buy a helmet if it crashes half as well as one costing twice as much.

    I personally have a Shoei RF-1100 and I love it, it fits me very well, breathes well, and comes apart for cleaning. I don't necessarily think it can absorb more energy than a decent but cheaper Bell helmet. Also, re: Bell in particular - that company has been making helmets forever. My first bicycle helmet was a bell helmet twenty years ago. They may be inexpensive but I think they'd be the last to cut corners on safety, it's their entire business.

    To throw a curveball at this whole discussion, there's even some evidence that for road use, DOT but not snell rated helmets may be better. The reasoning is that SNELL helmets are very rigid since they are designed with the race track in mind whereas DOT helmets are designed for lower energies. This means that the shell is less rigid and thus actually absorb more energy in low-mid speed collisions (verified by drop tests,) resulting in less shock to the brain. Now am I going to go out and find a cheap DOT helmet for street use? Hell no. But it goes to show it's not as simple as buying the toughest helmet on the market.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  6. This, except its Shoei for me. When I bought my first lid I put them on starting with the most expensive. It happened to be an Arai which didn't fit my head shape at all. After blowing through a few Shoei's I got frustrated with the cost and went cheap (HJC and THH) The THH dirt stuff was tolerable, but I missed my Shoei in a bad way. Now I have 3 or 4.

    Oh, and as for the concussion, wear a mouth gaurd. They help a bunch....
  7. My rule of Thumb is DOT/SNELL never cared about brand.
  8. I don't think that a good/quality helmet has to cost $600. That said, the more expensive helmets do tend to be very, very good. Personally, I like AGV stuff. They tested really high - I think that there was either a Euro or UK study where they were way up at near the top in terms of protection - and they at around $250, they don't cost an arm and a leg. I've owned 2 and replaced my first one after a crash. Although many would argue the point, I think mine did its job.
  9. I like KBC except you cant find them in the stores anymore.
  10. Well, this is a subject near and dear to me---having just crashed about a month ago at the Ridge with my carbon fiber HJC (no longer available--sh-t!). Here is my understanding, it does not matter if you are going 180mph or 30mph when you crash typically---unless you hit a tree or something. It is the vertical drop that causes the injuries, typically----street or racetrack. Now, I am sure there are some exceptions, but I am totally convinced----the best helmet is one that fits you well and has the new 2010 Snell standard ---because they softened their shock absorption material to relate to size of helmet and potential head weight--something they did not do b/4. They did this because of a motorcycle magazine test showing DOT helmets actually had less injuries than Snell 2005 and b/4 standards. Again, it is the vertical drop that nails your brains---unless you hit a stationary object a high velocity, which even on the racetrack is rare---me thinks. So, go with a good fit with Snell 2010 standards---regardless of brand---and I think you will have the best protection.

    CB 8)
  11. I really liked my carbon fiber HGC, because of light weight and if seemed to do a good job in my crash. I did not think a few ounces could make much difference but it seemed to, in real use. Also aero design seems to give less stress at high speeds on the track.

  12. I have found that my scorpion exo400 held up very well when I crashed going close to fact it was one of the few things that held up well(better than I held up,lol)...since then I have tried many others, and yet I'm now back to having another scorpion exo400...the fit is the best I have found for my skull.....I have 6 helmets of diffrent makes(shoei,AGV,etc.)...and will 9 times out of 10 grab the scorpion....ok, there is my 2 cents worth....
  13. I am of the belief that 1) your head is very important and 2) the best fitting helmet is very important. Unfortunately for me, the Shoei X-12 ($$$$$) fits me the best. I have crashed multiple times in this helmet and each time I walked away without any head injury whatsoever. I highsided out of turn 7 at Pacific Raceways years ago and clearly remember landing on my knees, flipping to my back, then my head slamming down on the pavement. I also highsided at the Ridge this year and I'm pretty sure I landed on my head/shoulder. Below is a picture of the helmet. I had no head injuries at all from either crash.

    tl;dr; get a helmet that *fits* the best

  14. Well, that is a pretty amazing record for one helmet. However, I know they say the crush zone inside should be a one use only in a hard fall---not that I have ever followed those instructions---but, it does make sense. I guess, just don't fall that same way each time. :mrgreen: I think I need to wind back the clock---my recently busted thumb and rib might be related to my Methuselah age---at 59---or just an unlucky fall on very hard pavement.

  15. KevinD

    KevinD Modulator Staff Member

    Is there such a thing as soft pavement?


  16. Yeah, ok, probably not. But I could have used some awhile ago. :shock:

  17. I landed face first on my shoei x-12. Walked away, after high siding, flying about 8ft in the air... and I'm not a small dude.

    I replaced it with an X-11, but am looking for an x-12. I trust it.
  18. Thanks everyone for your responses. I guess I should have rephrased the thread from low quality helmets to inexpensive helmets because that is the real question. Does price=safety. Anyways I have enjoyed reading the responses, my guess is that no matter how well a $150 helmet protects there will always be those who feel that expensive is safer. Heck even I can't help but feel that way I just can't afford it! lol. Well I better get back to scouring the interwebs for closeout high end helmets for the $200 price range. crackup:
  19. Seems like the place is called helmet city. down on sandy blvd as I remember.
    that's where I get my arai's from at about half off of msrp. Still like 400 bones but every minute of my ride is how much i like it.
  20. NoQuarter#121

    NoQuarter#121 WMRRA #2 Overall Points Champion

    I'm sure some of the less expensive helmets are pretty good.

    When I buy my helmet I buy the best that fits me.
    For me its an Arai model (signet GT?) for racing and a Shoei model for dirtbiking.

    Part of the expense is R&D/development and manufacturing.
    I think these are 2 companies (I'm sure there are others) that have alot of experience and continue to R&D for improvements in design and manufacturing techniques.

    Just don't buy a el cheapo budget helmet unless your scottish.
    On second thought, probably not even a good idea even if your cranium has its own planetoid system.
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