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Where and what helmet to buy

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by bugeater, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. I'm thinking about getting a new helmet. My old AGV has lasted me about 5 years now, so I think it's time for a change.

    I went to Peter Stevens on the weekend and was rather shocked by how expensive they all are. So I'm still looking. The primary reason for the visit was to get my g/f her own helmet for when she pillions (rather than my spare old helmet). I did get away okay on that (about $170). I could have gotten a matching helmet for me, but I thought that would be a bit naff.

    What I'm wondering is just why there is such a difference in price. I mean why is a carbon fiber shell so much better than plastic? After all it's the foam inside that does the protecting. From my experience with composites I would have thought plastic would have been somewhat better (less brittle). After all they all pass Australian Standards. There is also this interesting article: http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/gearbox/motorcycle_helmet_review/
    It suggests the DOT standard may be better than the Snell as far as deceleration forces on your head. Yet Snell rated helmets typically cost more. I know I want my brain experiencing the minimum number of g's if I crack it off something.

    Has anyone had any issues with the cheaper brand helmets? And does anyone have any thoughts about those helmets with the chin section that hinges backwards?
  2. cheaper ones are usually, to me anyway, poorly constructed, heavier and noisier. And I think some look ugly.
    One of the issues I've had was some of the venting ports or whatever they're called come off. eg My Nitro helmet, the glue or tape holding on to the helmet kinda melts and loses it's stickiness. In the wind it starts to peel off.
    can also feel the plastic snappy things tha attatchs the inside foamy thing to the helmet. These snappy thing work its way through the foam on a long trip and leave an impression in my face.

    As for those chin things I don't think there any benifit. might help reduce wind going to your face via the opening..
  3. Yup, noise, weight and aerodynamics.. ie resistance to buffeting etc.
  4. but on the flip side some expencive helmets are WAY over priced due to the 'brand' name and/or the graphix.

    they all must comply to Snell/Dot/ASA regs, get one that fits and is comfortable, weight and nose are also a consideration.
  5. Me thinks he be talking about the flip face helmets.
    They seem very practical I don't own one but tried one on felt a bit heavier. but not uncomfortably so. Probably just a subconscious thing.
  6. For the first impact yes - but with any subsequent impacts with anything solid the foam ain't going to do much if the outer shell has cracked open and fallen apart . Aus standards do only require a helmet to survive one impact however in a real world crash the chances of hitting the ground more than once, or hitting another object like a car/fence/whatever are very high. Simple fact is that no amount of fancy graphics or brand name can ever make plastic as strong as fibreglass/CF - this is why personally I'd always choose a cheap and/or plain coloured compsite helmet over a fancier plastic one.
  7. Get one that's made in Japan. Not China.

    Then you can't go wrong.

    If Shoei fit you well grab one of them.

  8. Interesting read first thing in the morning that Motorcyclist online article....
  9. I hope you read the entire article, including the response from Snell. I did some time back, and from memory, both sides had something to say, and some things to be embarrassed about.

    Anyway, I bought an Rjays GP1 Fugitive a few months ago. RRP $250, for a plain colour. It uses a fibreglass and polyester shell, and is made in China by KBC, who make their own range of cheap helmets.

    It's not a bad helmet, but it leaves something to be desired in the details. Actually, this is my third Rjays. The first had no standards sticker on it, so it had to go back. The second had finger prints in the shell. Someone had obviously touched it with solvent of their hands. The third, which I am using, had what I thought was a paint defect in one of the stick on plastic vent covers. After a bit of use that defect showed itself to be a crack in the vent cover plastic. So the finish of the Rjays isn't so good.

    Oh, I'm not sure the vent covers, stuck on with double sided tape (it's not noticeable), will stay there for as long as I want to use the helmet, but we'll see I guess.

    Since I bought it the cheek pads and linings have compressed a lot. Perhaps this is normal for all helmets. Certainly I'm lead to believe that modern helmets all do it, and way back in the old days mine did it, but they were never a tight fit like current models anyway. So, my helmet has gone from as tight as I could bear brand new, to firm pulling it on, but just tight enough not to move now.

    The Rjays web site says the lining is removable and washable. Only the cheek pads come out, unless you want to unglue the rest. False advertising.

    I also started to have trouble with air leaks around the visor, so I pulled the plastic visor mounting mechanism apart, worked out it is held in position by just two screws and friction between the plastic mount and a paper/plastic sticker stuck on the helmet. I put double sided tape in between (the really thin stuff) to stop the mounting mechanism slipping forward again. However, it is adjusted as far back as it will go, and that is only just enough.

    Otherwise the venting seems okay, although the holes to let air in seem pretty small. It's hard to tell how much good they do, given that I don't use a chin guard, but on hot days I guess I notice the difference. Chin, 2xcheek, and a head vent. The head vent switch is dodgy.

    The aerodynamics aren't bad, but the wind noise could be better. Lots better. I wear earmold ear plugs as it is just too loud to be comfortable on an extended ride without them.

    Comes with a breath guard, which works. Good solid chin strap, using double D rings. Visor seems okay, but getting a bit scuffed up now. The no tool visor removal is easy to use.

    So, do I feel safe in this helmet? Yes. Would I buy one again? Maybe, if I was looking for another mid price helmet. Rjays were only just getting into helmets when I bought mine, and so I would expect some teething problems, although the makers, KBC, should have had their act together. But I might have another good look at Shark, AGV, and even KBC. Oh, and I'd check it out in detail while still at the store. Actually, my next helmet will be in the high price range, a Shoei, or a Nolans flip up with bluetooth sound system. Maybe.

    I hope the above helps you, and others, in evaluating helmets. You shouldn't just look at the standards, comfort, fit and noise.
  10. Helmets used to be easy. There used to be 2 different types of shells. These days there are basically 4 different types:

    Polycarbonate: Basically a plastic shell. Advantages are that it’s cheap, light and tough. It can handle multiple impacts. Disadvantages are that it flexes. So basically it’s good for a few medium level impacts, but questionable in heavier impact.

    Fibreglass: Technically a composite, but for simplicities sake we’ll refer to it as fibreglass. This was the old second type of helmet. The shell is harder than polycarbonate, but not as tough. So it can handle one big impact, but its performance in a second decent hit would be questionable. These helmets tend to be heavier then polycarbonates. This, and given you can’t treat them roughly, then they are probably not the best for kids.

    Impregnated Polycarbonate: A relatively new type of shell this involves impregnating the polycarbonate shell with a fibres’ mater to give it more strength. To be honest I don’t know a lot about these, but theoretically they should be stronger than Polycarbonate, but not a brittle as fibreglass. From what I have seen they are tending to be cheaper Chinese imports and I would probable avoid these for other reasons.

    Composites: These include Kevlar and Carbon fibre helmets and may include complex composites that use a combination of the two and fibreglass. The obvious advantage is they possess the potential to be both tough and strong. The disadvantage is they are expensive. The rest depends on the helmet construction. They may be light, but they may be heavy. The may also, due to complex construction, have a structural fault. It really depends on the design and manufacture. I would only buy one these from a reputable name.

    As the names, I own a Shoe TZR and to be honest it’s not worth what they ask for them. Only get one if it’s on sale for $300 or less. The Vemar helmet I had was good. It was very comfortable and quiet in clean air and looked to be good value for money. It held up well in an accident and I wish I had of gone to more trouble to find a distributor when I bought my latest lid. They do have a new range so all that may be better or worse now. I’ve had AGVs in the past and they are good value for money, but the new ones are too small in the chin for me. A mate swears that Aria’s are good value in their cheaper helmets (unlike Shoei).

    Be sceptical about the “you get what you pay for lineâ€, because you can pay more for a lesser helmet and the last $1000 in the helmet price range only gets you from 98% to 100%. The previous $400 gets you from 95% to 98%.
  11. Yeah I'm rather sceptical about differences in price. As far as head protection goes, they all have to pass the standard. I also don't believe in the arguement that a cheaper plastic shell means a worse helmet. Quite the contrary - composites can be strong, but often are brittle as well (having been into electric model planes and gliders, I've seen many an impact of various construction airframes - carbon shatters). I suspect it's more about marketing than anything else. And besides the foam does most of the protecting. Maybe you want to handle two concentrated impacts in the same spot (then buy a Snell rated helmet), but I want a helmet that protects my brain better in 95% of accidents (which aren't multiple impact). I'm rather attached to my brain :p

    But the issues about shoddy workmanship are of more interest to me. My current AGV was the most expensive helmet I've bought, and has lasted me 5 years. I do like the construction, but it's getting a bit loose and some of the leather lining is cracking. Oh and the visors are terribly easy to damage. But I was shocked when I looked at the prices. Inflation cant account for the huge increase in prices over the last 5 years?!

    Previous helmets I've owned include Nolan and Vemar, both when they were new on the market (and cheap). I never had any problems with them and they protected my head fine. I do recall the Vemar visor didn't fit quite right and it whistled somewhat :shock: so I suppose I did have a problem....

    I'm also a little concerned by the fanboyism that seems to revolve around helmets as well.
  12. The thing is helmets are way overengineered. They are very unlikely to come apart. The other point is that most accidents involve one full force impact - your head hitting the road surface. Specifically designing a helmet for multiple impacts or for extreme force impacts can compromise the level of protection you get for most real-life accidents.

    But just because it is stronger doesn't make it better. You could consider a helmet like a crumple zone for your head. You want it to "break" (rather than your brain). Additionally, though carbon fiber is very strong, it is also quite brittle. I still haven't seen any evidence that a plastic shelled helmet provides less protection. I am open to seeing any such evidence however.
  13. Nolan do really good cheap helmets, I saw one Nolan was the one I was orginally going to get, Matt black finish, and a mix of other coulours, good wasy to use air vents that dont get stuck, and a good comfortable removable padding(Lining) for only $200, hard to go by that. So have a look at Nolans
  14. Yep, I bought a plain-colour Nolan N61 a couple of years ago for <$200.

    It is still comfortable, the fittings still work perfectly, and I've been very happy with it. Excellent value for money.

    Having said that, although the helmet meets Oz standards I have no idea whether it exceeded them comfortably or just scraped through. Nor whether a helmet costing double or triple the price would exceed the standards by a greater margin. To a large extent I relied on an assumption that Nolan know a thing or two about building helmets and haven't released a shoddy product.
  15. No I want the outer shell to stay intact and let the foam absorb the impact like it's supposed to. Biggest problem with polystyrene is that it breaks down with exposure to UV radiation (ie sunlight) - making it UV stable significantly reduces its impact strength. The impact toughness of polymers is measured by Izod impact testing - the test data below clearly shows that fibreglass actually performs best in this regard - and that CF is certainly no worse than styrene. Whether composites are brittle or not is irrelevant since due to their increased strength the force required to fracture them will also easily destroy a plastic shell.
    -UV Stabilised Styrene - 0.3 Kj/m
    -Unmodified Styrene - 0.4 Kj/m
    -Glass Fibre Epoxy Resin Composite - 0.65 Kj/m Lengthwise, 0.43 Kj/m Crosswise
    -Carbon Fibre - 0.26 to 0.4 Kj/m
  16. I did read the entire article and subsequent replies etc.....

    It took a good 3 hours on and off between work, heaps of info and a bit of net searching on particular items, well worth the effort and time to read, i am impartial on the results and i guess i am looking forward and always interested in new technologies with safety in mind rather than $$$
  17. HOWEVER...

    Details? :shock: geez Roderick, you sure are one forgiving soul! [/quote]
  18. Personal view... I have a Lazer which I love for the pinlock system in the rain and its fit... a KBC composite which was the best value and fit, although I have since heard some people having issues with KBC visors unattaching but have never experienced it with mine...
    have previously had agv, shark and pretty much all composite. My fave is the KBC and I would definitely buy one again - unless I found another brand that fitted better :)
  19. Why thanks Wheels. It never hurts to be understanding. :grin:
  20. The figures you quote assume standard thickness of flat material. I doubt helmet shells are standard thickness, plus they are curved. Additionally composites in any given helmet could vary dramatically in thickness, weave, percentage of resin, type of resin, fillers, weight of cloth, layers, direction of weave in different layers and combination of different types of cloth (carbon, glass, kevlar). They aren't standard.

    The other assumption is that the shell breaking is somehow bad, though the foam and the shell are doing their respective tasks almost simultaneously. The report I linked actually found the fiberglass helmets tended to crack, while the polycarbonates don't, which further questions the applicability of the figures above.
    They also found the polycarbonates tended to transmit less g's to the head. Their guess was that the flexing of the polycarbonate was an advantage compared to the brittleness of the fiberglass. If they are right you don't want something that is brittle, you want something that is flexible.

    But the UV stability issue is definitely something to consider. I wonder how many plastic helmets compensate or protect against this?

    Clearly I'm still not convinced of an inherent superiority of composite helmets :p I'm sure they could be better, but that means very little. I am playing devils advocate :twisted: There is some evidence that the cheaper, plastic helmets might actually do a better job (the article I linked), yet a lot of people seem to think composites are superior without any evidence. I think it's a discussion worth pursuing and something worth thinking about.

    And ultimately what is important is the energy your brain absorbs, no matter what it is made of.
    It's really worth reading the article.