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Is An Expensive Helmet a Safe Helmet?

Discussion in 'Research, Studies, and Data' at netrider.net.au started by ebf00, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. Hi everyone,

    Just wanted to share this article with you. There's an interactive chart on the direct link that lets you look at the brands all at once on a chart showing their safety rating and price, but otherwise it's all here:


    “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet. If your head is worth more, buy a Bell.” That was the famous ad that Bell ran in the 1970’s and it’s still often quoted today when people talk about motorcycle gear, especially motorcycle helmets. It sounds right – who puts their faith in something cheap over an expensive item, especially when it comes to safety? But how true is that today? Is that $700 Shoei really what you need to keep your head safe or can you get away spending only $150? We’ve collated as much data as we can and analysed the correlation between helmet prices and their safety and the results are pretty surprising.

    We took our data from the UK Government organisation SHARP, the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme. It provides by far and away the most comprehensive motorcycle helmet safety testing data available freely online. It’s obviously UK centric though, so we’ve stripped out the helmets that aren’t readily available internationally. We also removed all models that appear to be discontinued and finally only included brands that had at least three helmets rated once the above criteria was met.

    Below we have charted those remaining helmets, and you can them see by each helmet listed individually and by a brand as a whole. Hover your mouse over the individual circles to see the helmet name, its rating and its price. Note that the prices on the Y-Axis are in Pounds Sterling (£).

    Now let’s do some analysis.

    If we put a trend line through the graph like below, you can see that the trend is that the higher the helmet rating the higher the price, but only marginally. In fact the most expensive helmet in our data, the Arai RX-7 GP only receives a 4 star rating from SHARP, but costs £589, or around $1,000. Compare that to either the G-Mac Pilot or the Viper RS-33, both of which are the equally cheapest helmets in our data and cost only £40 or around $65. Like the Arai, they also receive a 4 star rating.


    To demonstrate it even more starkly, the Schuberth S1 Pro is listed at £450 and only received a 2 star safety rating from SHARP. It received ‘Poor’ results for both left and right side impact tests and yet it is more expensive than all the 5 star rated helmets except three.

    The cheapest 5 star helmet you can buy is the Nitro Aikido which costs £70 or around $120 on Amazon. The Nitro Aikido was first released back in 2011 and is still produced today. They’re a good example of why you shouldn’t take brands on face value either. If you’d previously heard about the Aikido and it’s great value for money, you may have assumed that the rest of the Nitro range was as good. And while the Aikido is damn good for the price, it’s the company’s only 5 star helmet – they even have a few 2 star rated helmets for sale. In fact, the safety of Nitro’s helmets almost increases as the price decreases:


    On the flipside, the most expensive helmet money can buy if you want a 5 star rated helmet is the AGV Corsa. The AGV Corsa is listed at £550, or around $750 at Revzilla. But if safety is your only concern and you really want to wear the same brand Rossi wears, you can save yourself $450 and buy the AGV Stealth. Again, this shows that helmet price doesn’t necessarily correlate with helmet safety.


    Of the major brands by far and away the most disappointing is Schuberth. Not only is the average price of their helmets the most expensive of all the brands featured here, they also have no helmets with a safety rating of 5. But they do have two helmets with a safety rating of 2. If there’s any example of expensive helmets not equalling safety then Schuberth is it.


    So how much is your head worth? Well, if you’re short on funds, about £70 for a Nitro Aikido. But while a helmet like the Nitro Aikido provides the same amount of safety as the AGV Corsa or Shark Race R Pro which cost up to seven times more, does it make it necessarily a good helmet?

    Of course not, and safety and price are just two of many factors you should consider. But don’t be fooled by the price (or brand) of a helmet. Never is the phrase ‘Buyer Beware’ more important than when it comes to protecting your head. If someone had asked you before reading this article if you thought a $700 Schuberth S1 Pro was safer than a $120 Nitro Aikido, I’m sure you would have gone for the former.

    In part two of this story which will be published later in the week, we’ll take a look at the best five helmets that are rated 5 stars, including comfort, noise levels and price.
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Safety, to sell here, they all have to pass the standards, but that isn't the be all and end all.
    Comfort can affect safety, not fatiguing mentally from excess noise helps safety etc. etc.
    In essence with higher priced brands you are usually paying more for the comfort lightness etc to make your ride that bit more enjoyable
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Do they (sharp or anyone else) test the impact of the helmets weight in an accident?
  4. Good point, that is definitely a consideration and generally where you pay the extra money. That being said, as the owner of a Shark helmet, their noise is crap, so again an expensive helmet isn't always the best.

    I'm not sure, they also apparently don't take into account head shape which would make a difference to. But it's the best we've got at the moment to use to help make a purchase decision on a helmet.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Look forward to seeing their top 5 then....
  6. Then comes the fitment of your head to said helmet, so you have to pick and chose your battles with safety.

    As if it does not fit you the right way, it is not as safe as the rating.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. As the owner of a Shark helmet, I concur. Especially when it also has no perceptible ventilation...
  8. Which Shark helmet?

    Price has nothing to do with noise levels either. Let's not replace one misconception (price = safety) with another.
  9. The Shark Speed-R review on the same website posted by the OP is making me question if "advice" should be in the website name at all.

    What a miguided load of shit.

    The Speed R sits smack bang in the middle of Shark's road focused helmets and their sportier/racier helmet. The bluetooth and glasses cutouts are also found on the Vision-R, which gets positive reviews for noise levels. Perhaps the Speed-R is loud because of the BIG fcukING SCOOP of an air vent on the top? Crazy, I know, but just maybe all the air it's catching is what you are hearing?

    And that visor you are having so much trouble with? It's a fcuking racing visor. Hence what I said earlier about where this helmet sits in Shark's lineup. The visor is the same as the one found on the Shark Race-R/Pro. Just like almost (Bell Star being an exception) any other racing style visor it is not a ratcheted system that can be opened and held in place incrementally. It opens and closes smoothly, without notches to keep it in place partially open, and is designed to lock in place when shut. The pin you are having so much trouble with is doing exactly what is it is meant to, and that is to keep the visor securely locked. Whoever wrote this review is strugglin because they are, as they said themselves, trying to use force to open it upward which is the very thing it is designed to resists. No doubt he will soon take it back to the shop he bought it from when it breaks from this constant abusive wear and tear. The visor will open with minimal force if you gently pull out and then upwards on the tab, instead of forcing it upwards against the pin.
  10. Schuberth are the folk that make the helmets occasionally sold in Oz as BMW, aren't they?
  11. The most protective helmet is not the safest helmet.

    For example helmets with the largest eye ports do not offer the most "protection".
    However because your vision is less restricted you will have less collisions.

    That is not the only confounding factor.
  12. Schuberth make the BMW System6 flip-up, yep yep, based off one of their earlier shells. Not sure who does BMW's other helmets currently - probably still Schuberth.

    I'm using a System6 at the moment 'cause of how quiet the helmet is in clean airflow. Much quieter than any other helmet I've had. I'm certainly not using it for its weight, price or utter lack of antifogging properties, that's for sure. XD