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Helmet Advice?


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OK, I know I'm opening a can of worms, but here is my situation. I have been riding for 7 years. I have gone through three HJC helmets (one 3/4 helmet, and two full-face CL15). I would like to move up the food chain so to speak and go to a nicer helmet by a more "high-end" manufacturer like Shoei, Arai, or Schuberth. I tell myself that if I spend 3x the price of the HJC helmets, it will be better, but I have no way of knowing if that will be true. I tried a Shoei RF1100 and I like the way it fits, but there are more helmets on the market than Carter has liver pills. So, here goes...Is there a difference betw HJC 120.00 helmets and other brands' 400.00 helmets? If so, what is the difference?

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Could totally hose this up but didn't Motorcyclist magazine did a test on several helmets in 2005. The results were not kind to expensive helmets and they lost a bit of marketing. Of course that's if you put stock in a magazine testing helmets (or contracting it out). The Shoei RF1100 is pretty high-end, at least for me. Considered it but don't have a Shoei head. I have a Nolan head and like that hat (N100 & N103) a lot. I think that's what really counts, a hat that meets some measurable standard and fits well enough that you like to wear it properly. Well, of course that doesn't count those little beanies.


Currently I have the 2 Nolans, an HJC SyMax, and a Jarrow MonoX2

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I haven't owned too many helmets myself, so take it for what it's worth....


I was always told to go in to several stores, try on a variety of helmets, and then buy the one that seems to fit the best. And don't look at the price tag. Personally, I look at the price tag. I like a nicer helmet, but I don't have money to throw away.


The big difference between cheapies and expensive lids will be weight, fit and finish (how well the parts fit together, not necessarily how it fits your head), wind noise, SNELL or DOT, and various bells and whistles. To me - if you don't spend a lot of time on the bike, you're less likely to lose your patience with something that's not quite right. If you're an Iron Butt type, you'll appreciate a nicer lid.


I tend to hang on to stuff longer than a lot of people (I think the 5 year replacement schedule they recommend is a joke!), so my philosophy is to buy something a little nicer and I'll be more likely to be happy with it longer. YMMV.

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The Motorcyclist article, as I recall, was not about whether a more expensive helmet was better than a cheaper one, but whether a Snell-rated helmet offered better protection than one that met simply the DOT spec (FMVS standard).


I'd say to the OP to look for a helmet that meets, or exceeds, relevant helmet safety specifications and standards, that fits his head well and is comfortable to wear. Beyond that, you can pay more to get better features etc. I currently have three helmets: a Shoei Qwest; a Shark Evoline Series 2; and, an HJC Carbon fibre. I like the Qwest, particularly its relatively light weight (especially when compared to the Shark). As for a helmet's safety performance, you might also want to check the UK's helmet safety ratings of helmets they've tested (the name escapes me at the moment. SHARP, I think). You might also want to check out helmet reviews at WebBikeWorld. You might also want to consider how easy it is to change faceshields on the road (clear to tinted etc.). The Shoei and HJC are easy, and the Shark has a built in sunshade, so no need to change shields. However, I'd never buy another Arai (after having owned one a few years back) because of their byzantine shield-changing system.

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I went from a HJC to Arai and was amazed by how much more comfortable it is. It's nine years old now and in fantastic shape despite lots of long commutes in the Seattle area and hot summers in Savannah. The overall fit and finish and dramatically improved ventilation and noise reduction make it vastly superior and worth the money. When I got my new RT recently I got a fantastic deal on a Schuberth C3 and communicator setup and like it but for the short quick trips the Arai is just the ticket. Of course their styles are targeted for three basic head shapes so you need to try them on for best fit.

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A couple of years ago I went from HJC Symax II to Shoei Multitec. I always liked my HJC. I liked that I could take out all the pads and wash them, I liked that it had separate little pads that fit in the ear wells..leave them in or out, I liked the weight.


My Shoei...I like the ventilation as significanly better. I like it is overall quieter except when the top vent is full open. What I don't like is the weight. Noticeably heavier as the day goes on. I like the shield as I can put it in nearly any position I want at freeway speed and it stays there. If fogs more than by HJC. .



Overall like them both....

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I also had a number of helmets including HJC and some other brand I forget. I bought my first Schuberth about 7 years ago and never looked back. I just bought a new Schuberth a couple of weeks ago and am waiting for my new comm system to be installed.

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The best helmet is one that fits properly. This is one that you cannot twist or rotate on your head.

The UK government have funded an independent review body that tests helmets and that also gives advice of fit etc. This can be found here: SHARP.


SHARP gives star ratings for the majority of helmets on the market - be aware however, that not all helmets listed are available in the USA, and some may appear with different model designations, or even different maker's names Nitro for instance trade under another name in the USA.



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The research I've seen indicates there is absolutely no correlation between cost and safety as it relates to crash-worthiness. The $80 helmet is going to protect your head just as well as the $800 helmet.


So you're really paying for comfort and convenience. That being said, comfort and convenience can be directly related to safety. If a helmet doesn't fit properly and pinches your head, that will be distracting and increase your fatigue. Same I suppose could be said about the ease of changing shields -- although I've never changed a shield in my life: I wear sunglasses under my shield, and take them off when the sun goes down. (but that's just me)


In my mind, this makes buying a helmet easy: find one that's comfortable and fits well, and you're good to go.


WebBikeWorld is a great resource for this. I have an HJC CL-SP, which is one of the highest rated helmets they've ever tested -- and it's relatively inexpensive (under $200).


Good luck!

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Nice n Easy Rider

Mark, you didn't say why you're going through helmets at a pretty good pace. Even accounting for the style change, I'm wondering why you went through two full-faced helmets in probably what, 4-5 years? Are the liners the issue? In the top end helmets they can be replaced when needed. A good quality, good-fitting helmet should be good I'd think for 4-5 years. My Arai still feels great after 4 1/2 years but is starting to look a little beat up from "super bug" strikes. I like their new hi-vis helmets but they don't offer that color in the Signet Q series which best fits me so I'm still waiting & looking.



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Guest Kakugo

Hit my head twice while wearing two different helmets (one Arai and one Shoei). Both times not even a very minor concussion. My brother landed right on his head while wearing a Bell. Again, no consequences whatsoever. My friend Alex had a major off at Misano and hit his head while wearing an Arai. No consequences. Another chap I know banged his head pretty hard twice while wearing two different Nolan helmets. No consequences (he was off his rocker before and after, no change whatsoever).

Don't listen to all those people saying brand X is safer than brand Y. All reputable manufacturers are as safe as they can be, whatever people say.


What set helmets apart is all the rest: ventilation, paint, lining quality etc. I had a pretty vast selection of helmets in my life and generally speaking you get the quality you pay for. Very high end helmets (Arai, Nolan, Shoei etc) tend to be better put together, have an higher level of finish and be more durable than the rest.

If I wanted I could still use my seventeen years old Arai RX7RR. I cannot say the same about my seven years old carbon fiber Premier.


For me a very crucial difference is ventilation. The only two brands satisfying my needs are Arai and OGK. There was a period when I changed more than an helmet a year looking for the same ventilation as Arai used to give me. I just didn't want to spend the money. Then I bought another Arai and an OGK for daily duty and all made sense again.

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Sorry for not clarifying reason for so many helmets. I went from an open face to a full face. The first full face I had developed a crack in the chin piece (HJC CL-15). Found another one just like it on clearance at MC Superstore for 1/2 price. My shields were still good, and I felt like that since I liked the helmet ok, I would just replace it and continue to use the face shields I had. I'm replacing that helmet after two years because I've lost about 40 pounds, and it is now too loose.

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Over the years there have been many helmet comparos. I like Motorcycle Consumer News' best, and not just because I write for them, but because they get to the point and focus mainly on the functional aspects. You can review those tests for ideas.


I've owned many helmets including Arai, Shoei, HJC, Bell, and others. I can tell you without question, that in my opinion the fit and finish of my last Arai (Quantum/f) was worth not 2x, but 10x the cost of a second rate helmet. It was so comfortable, I didn't even know it was on, and so well made, that it looked like brand new when I retired it. I bought a Shoei Multitec to replace it because I was intrigued with the Modular idea, but after 5 years, I've come to realize I never use the flip up feature, and whenever I put my Quantum/f back on, I am reminded what comfort is.


I plan to retire the Multitec next year, and buy another Arai. I will gladly pay whatever extra an Arai costs because in my experience, it is absolutely worth it.



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I've been through a bunch of helmets over the years, and because I'm blessed with a long, narrow skull the majority of them sat on the front and back of my head. I got used to 'skull burn' after riding for 30 minutes, and chalked it up to a necessary evil if I wanted to ride a motorcycle.


A few years ago I bought an Arai Signet and was overjoyed to finally find a helmet that fit my head shape. However, I also discovered the Arai was very delicate. The slightest touch would mar the finish, and six month after I bought it the lower trim piece started to peel away. Arai did offer to fix it, but only if I sent in the helmet and gave up several weeks of my limited riding season. I ended up yanking the trim piece off and using the helmet as it was until it reached the end of its five year shelf life.


After that, I decided I would try on everything until I found a helmet that:

1. Fit my head shape

2. Had a removable liner

3. Had an easy to change visor system


I tried on a bunch and it came down to a Shark or a Scorpion EXO-400. The Scorpion can be had for under $150, and replacement liners are easy to order. Right now I own two, and two additional sets of liners so I can switch off often. That makes my scalp and forehead very happy, especially during the hot months of the year.


My advice would be to try on everything. Find out which brands are carried locally and try them all on, and pick one based first and foremost on a good fit, and then on the features you want.

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I'll also add: Always wear a balaclava/helmet sock/scull cap. I will add to the comfort of the helmet, and make the liner last longer.

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Peter Parts

Helmets are amazing: I've "used" three. Gosh, I have spills about every 20 years... sure, just like clockwork.


All open face. Can't say as I like full-face at all (OK, use one in weather when I crank up the Gerbings but then a whole bunch of different safety issues when you go for a spin at 10F).


So that is the first question: full or 3/4? If you go with 3/4, the helmets aren't all so different in comfort and features and, to me, any one is a whole lot more agreeable than full.


Elsewhere, several times, I've dissed the AGATT point of view. I supposed if I had said that first in this post, many would have felt no interest to read any more of what I have to say. Of course, I am something of a safety professional.



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You really need to go and try the different manufacturers helmets.

We discoved that Deb and I both have "Nolan" heads and so we've worn their flip-ups for years. We find them comfortable, well ventilated and well built. As far as durability goes, Deb had a bad "off" a few years back and totalled her bike. The only salvageable part of her motorcycle clothing (Rev'it suit and gloves) was her boots (BMW) with the helmet (Nolan N100E) "sacrificing" itself.

All did as they should. However, in her case, it was extremely fortunate that she WAS wearing full face helmet.


Being a good looking guy, I wouldn't wear anything else ;)

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