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Thread: Helmets

  1. #1
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    Helmets

    What is the real scoop on helmets? All seem equally safety approved, but range in price from the $20.00 (Walmart) to well over a hundred dollars. If all are equally certified for safety, then the difference must be in weight, looks, air ventilation, and fit, I suppose.

    On trail, I don't want to take any chances with my head when I do want to take a chance with going over a tree root or a log that might bring me down.

    If a more expensive helmet is indeed preferred, I will gladly buy it tomorrow!!!

    Thoughts and recommendations?

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    My opinion is you get what you pay for (most of the time), goes for helmets as it does with most other things.

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    +1 ^^^

    I played the go cheapish game, $40 lbs branded helmet. Fit like crap, always moved around, sweat always in my face etc. I thought that was how things were...then I spent $70 on a bell stoker, ya there is a difference!!!! Lol.

    Now don't go just by single opinions etc. Each company uses a different design. I have a head that's very round instead of the avg elongated shape. Bell was the only company that I didn't have to buy the limited option XL sizes. I was able to buy a large in the color I wanted and feel as if its molded for me alone.

    Cheap helmets will protect ur head, the internal foam is similar/same material as expensive helmets. But as u said, u get what u pay for. Safety my be there but ull regret wasting money in a cheap one once y finally buy a nice one.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by nrsmd View Post
    If all are equally certified for safety, then the difference must be in weight, looks, air ventilation, and fit, I suppose.

    Nailed it. I think fit is paramount though and for me there have been some cases where a cheaper model fit better than a high end one of the same brand.

  5. #5
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    +++1 to all above.
    I went from $30 wallyworld helmet. I mean it works and i thought it was ok. until i purchased a Fox Flux. i was surprised on the fit. and then got a Poc Trabec and omg while I'm riding, i don't even feel the helmet on my head as compared to the $30 helmet.
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  6. #6
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    I laugh when I hear people buying 20-50 dollar helmets.
    Hello people. It's your head! Why would you buy the CHEAPEST thing to protect your brain?

    Like buying a car without airbags, 'cause they cost too much. Yea they do.

    Buy the best fitting, most expensive helmet you can. Cheap out on your jerseys or shorts, or gloves or car pool for a week or whatever...

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    Quote Originally Posted by WA-CO View Post
    I laugh when I hear people buying 20-50 dollar helmets.
    Hello people. It's your head! Why would you buy the CHEAPEST thing to protect your brain?

    Like buying a car without airbags, 'cause they cost too much. Yea they do.

    Buy the best fitting, most expensive helmet you can. Cheap out on your jerseys or shorts, or gloves or car pool for a week or whatever...
    ^^^
    What WA-CO said.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nrsmd View Post
    If all are equally certified for safety, then the difference must be in weight, looks, air ventilation, and fit, I suppose.
    Pretty much it.

    There is also comfort which can come from the ventilation and/or more adjustments. However, comfort is subjective to the rider and one may find a $20 helmet more comfortable than a $200 helmet.
    Features like removable pads.
    Quality of materials (but these have nothing to do with safety).
    The area that the helmet covers. A good mountain bike helmet should cover the back of the head. (this doesn't really affect price).
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  9. #9
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    As the others said and you eluded to, you get what you pay for in terms of design and implementation. Cheap helmets normally have a very crappy retention system that doesn't work well at keeping the helmet where it should be on your head, hence fit sucks and the helmet will constantly move about and be useless in a crash. Ventilation normally sucks as they're just big foam blobs and trust me, the difference between a POS helmet and one that's design properly with good ventilation is tremendous. Also you get heavy with all this. From my experience I'd say look for a helmet in the MSRP range of $40> and you should be able to find one with a good retention system, good ventilation and good coverage - you can normally actually find last years models on sale for about that that were usually $80, if they have your size or preferred colour.
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    went OTB front flip headstand the other day wearing my $30 Bell helmet. my head is fine, the helmet is not damaged (visually). I like the fit and it doesn't move around on me. ventilation could be better.

    not to say a more expensive helmet isn't worth it, but with my basic beginner singletrack experiences, it does the job.
    I did bruise my hip though, sucks to wear a belt now.

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    keep in mind - its the basic beginner stage of singletrack that usually results in the most falls, bloodlettings, endo's etc - while you are learning the craft. and as it's been stated - this is your head - which controls everything else - personally - if you nailed your $30 helmet good - i'd go out and get something a bit more upscale - heck - the new Bell Stoker enduro model for $70 msrp will add to the head coverage and help ensure you do as little damage as possible to the control center ! Just saying - and you can prob find a coupon for Arts, Jenson, Pricepoint or go give your LBS the business - it wont hurt to ask them for their best price...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by nrsmd View Post
    What is the real scoop on helmets? All seem equally safety approved, but range in price from the $20.00 (Walmart) to well over a hundred dollars. If all are equally certified for safety, then the difference must be in weight, looks, air ventilation, and fit, I suppose.

    On trail, I don't want to take any chances with my head when I do want to take a chance with going over a tree root or a log that might bring me down.

    If a more expensive helmet is indeed preferred, I will gladly buy it tomorrow!!!

    Thoughts and recommendations?

    How are they all equally safe?

    Do you understand the testing?

    It's a pass fail test, so you actually have no idea if the $20 is as safe as the $80. All you know they both met some minimum, but that doesn't mean they're the same.

    Can't wait til this antiquated system is gone.
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  13. #13
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    I started with my Urban Giro, it worked fine but as summer came I needed more vents.
    This one was $50..
    My second Giro is cooler, many vents, looks more mountain bikeish and cost $70

    I spent time in the store making shure the fit was good on both. This is what matters to me.
    Also the dialable head strap on my second is nice to reset for my Halo head sweat band.

    I'm real good at falling so not worried about cracking my brain bucket...
    Tuck and roll, Tuck and roll, Judo classes will give u an edge ya know.

    Fit is everything...
    Wally world helmets don't fit me,, not even close.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    As the others said and you eluded to, you get what you pay for in terms of design and implementation. Cheap helmets normally have a very crappy retention system that doesn't work well at keeping the helmet where it should be on your head, hence fit sucks and the helmet will constantly move about and be useless in a crash. Ventilation normally sucks as they're just big foam blobs and trust me, the difference between a POS helmet and one that's design properly with good ventilation is tremendous. Also you get heavy with all this. From my experience I'd say look for a helmet in the MSRP range of $40> and you should be able to find one with a good retention system, good ventilation and good coverage - you can normally actually find last years models on sale for about that that were usually $80, if they have your size or preferred colour.
    I had a cheap Bell ($25) from Wally World when I first started riding. I crashed tested it a few times including once over the bars landing on my head on a granite trail. Since then I bought a nicer Bell that I got for free with some come back bucks and eventually upgraded to a Bell Super.

    The quality difference between each when you put them in your hand. However each one would do the intended job of staying put and protecting my noggin just as well.

    Now if it was some weird no name Chinese knock off that costs under $10 it might be different but I would bet that any name brand Walmart helmet will protect just fine because at the end of the day Bell's name is still on it and they don't want a lawsuit.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    How are they all equally safe?

    Do you understand the testing?

    It's a pass fail test, so you actually have no idea if the $20 is as safe as the $80. All you know they both met some minimum, but that doesn't mean they're the same.

    Can't wait til this antiquated system is gone.
    That being said, the cheaper helmet could be safer.

    The same held true with motorcycle helmets.
    Independent testers have run tests and sometimes the cheaper helmets tested safer.
    Also pretty many non certified helmets would pass DOT, Snell and ec22-05 testing and some even were found to be safer than the certified helmets.

    All certification does is say the manufacturer spent the money to have the helmet certified and it met minimum required safety standards.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    That being said, the cheaper helmet could be safer.

    The same held true with motorcycle helmets.
    Independent testers have run tests and sometimes the cheaper helmets tested safer.
    Also pretty many non certified helmets would pass DOT, Snell and ec22-05 testing and some even were found to be safer than the certified helmets.

    All certification does is say the manufacturer spent the money to have the helmet certified and it met minimum required safety standards.
    I know, that's what pisses me off the most, our antiquated system and our gov that is slow to react to tech.

    I've said in other threads, they could put heads in a helmet just like those used in vehicle testing, mount in a stand and use reproducible impacts to each helmet.
    Then give out real numbers, then you'd know if that $100 was really worth more money to you or not.

    It could force some innovation like IIHS did to the vehicle industry. Not saying TLD helmets are bad, just using it as an example, how many helmets do you think they'd sell at $400 if testing showed they did worse than a $200 helemt
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    And equally as important as the helmet is, is learning HOW to fall. Some people got it, others like to smack head first into everything they can find.

    Iv owned cheap and pricy helmets. I doubt I'd ever pay less than 100 bucks for a helmet again. Some of them do offer a lot, both feature and protection wise.

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    NEVER skimp on a helmet!

  19. #19
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    You should be able to fine some nice stuff under $100 fox transition is nice, bell has some good stuff as well

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    Quote Originally Posted by jc1surf View Post
    +++1 to all above.
    I went from $30 wallyworld helmet. I mean it works and i thought it was ok. until i purchased a Fox Flux. i was surprised on the fit. and then got a Poc Trabec and omg while I'm riding, i don't even feel the helmet on my head as compared to the $30 helmet.
    Same path I took, but I'm still using my Flux.

  21. #21
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    I disagree with a lot of what's been said here. Sure, some helmets are better than others but price isn't necessarily the defining factor.

    Most helmets are probably made in China and most probably cost about the same to manufacture. Some may have better quality straps and fittings etc but the general construction of most helmets is pretty similar. Helmets from bigger brands, like Specialized, Trek etc, might be well designed with nice features but they will also carry a much bigger mark-up. Go into a shop and look at a £40 helmet and a £100 helmet and see if you can identify the manufacturing differences that would justify the price difference?

    On the other hand, there is no reason why someone couldn't produce a helmet with similar features to a pricey one at a lower cost. It just so happens that I have a perfect example sitting in the house. I just bought my youngest son a Cannondale helmet which retails for less than half the price of the cheapest Specialized one, and it's fine. It's light, fits well, has one of those automatic adjuster knobs on the back, has very good ventilation and looks quite stylish. It cost less than a third of the price of my specialized helmet and I think it's better!

    There is so much snobbery about bike stuff it's unbelievable. Men are the same about anything they worship. The default position is to desire the most expensive example of product in question and to buy the most expensive you can afford. Seldom does the actual material value of the part in question enter the equation. Basically, men are egotistic morons who are led around by their willies! A lot of the time anyway, and I'm a man so I should know ;0)

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    It's a pass fail test, so you actually have no idea if the $20 is as safe as the $80. All you know they both met some minimum, but that doesn't mean they're the same.

    Can't wait til this antiquated system is gone.
    Truth.

  23. #23
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    Any helmet sold in the US has to meet one thing, it has to pass the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) test, end of story in that sense. Is one helmet safer than the other, that's debatable. Most of the current testing doesn't really match what is a human skull (a soft malleable viscous entity) vs an impact, but it's all we currently have. The test uses a steel headform which a helmet is placed on, they drop a metal anvil from a specific distance and the helmet must decrease the anvils impact by a set amount of G's onto the headform.

    Usually better helmets have a more functional adjustment and retention system, to help fit your head, and help keep the helmet in place during a ride and a crash. Additionally, some helmets are now using multi-zone EPS foam designs, different designs to adhere the shell to the foam, functional venting, etc. Does it make the helmet safer or better? That's a big unknown.

    To me the most important thing, does it fit your head properly and not deflect backwards off your head when the brow is pushed upwards. Fit is paramount. I think a good helmet from a reputable manufacturer is the way to go, and price is whatever you want to pay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pastajet View Post

    To me the most important thing, does it fit your head properly and not deflect backwards off your head when the brow is pushed upwards. Fit is paramount. I think a good helmet from a reputable manufacturer is the way to go, and price is whatever you want to pay.
    word^

    Try this experiment- try on a dozen or so different helmets without noting the brand or price, then put aside the ones that are the most comfortable and fit the best without moving around. A dollar and a donut says the ones you pick as best aren't the cheapest ones.

  25. #25
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    I found some great info on helmets. Here is a good article: LINK

    And further very extensive information can be found here if you follow the links on the page: LINK

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    When it comes down to it, there are different features and technologies that are used to justify the retail pricing of a helmet and, unfortunately, brand name can also play into that equation. The question that we, as consumers, have to ask is do we trust these brands enough to listen to their tech/marketing?

    I will admit that when I bought my last helmet (Lazer Helium), I immediately moved towards Lazer because of the overall fit. I considered some of the other obvious and not so obvious choices but they didnt stack up to the way it felt on my head. I'm not sold on MIPS, so I didn't pay they extra money for that.

    When buying a helmet- how do you guys prioritize buying factors? Price, Fit, Safety/Tech, look, brand?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastajet View Post
    Any helmet sold in the US has to meet one thing, it has to pass the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) test, end of story in that sense. Is one helmet safer than the other, that's debatable. Most of the current testing doesn't really match what is a human skull (a soft malleable viscous entity) vs an impact, but it's all we currently have. The test uses a steel headform which a helmet is placed on, they drop a metal anvil from a specific distance and the helmet must decrease the anvils impact by a set amount of G's onto the headform.

    Usually better helmets have a more functional adjustment and retention system, to help fit your head, and help keep the helmet in place during a ride and a crash. Additionally, some helmets are now using multi-zone EPS foam designs, different designs to adhere the shell to the foam, functional venting, etc. Does it make the helmet safer or better? That's a big unknown.

    To me the most important thing, does it fit your head properly and not deflect backwards off your head when the brow is pushed upwards.
    Fit is paramount. I think a good helmet from a reputable manufacturer is the way to go, and price is whatever you want to pay.
    This is what mine does its a cheap bell from walmart. I was down at Trek yesterday getting a new TLR tire and thought it was time to try on those more expensive helmets and see what the difference is. It was obvious that fit, weight is a factor for the cheap vs expensive helmets, so here I am thinking about which one to get. I tried on the giro hex which i liked it was $90 but then I tried on the $135 model from Giro IDR which one it was and really like that, lightweight and more cooling slots than I can remember. Not made of money so will probably get a giro hex or something that was last years model on a discount.
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  28. #28
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    Well again my helmet saved my noggin, if not for it I would surely have had to have been helped off the trail and back my vehicle with a concussion I think - haven't been riding in a few weeks, loads of rain, heading for a section with low hanging branches I can normally duck under, all be it very low, but it seems that the rains had caused it to drop, neck is still sore this AM and luckily it's only about a 3" thick, free hanging branch and so didn't crack my few weeks old IXS TrailRS helmet.

    While the TrailRS doesn't fit quite as nicely as my last Bell and is an over $100 US helmet, the retention system is very good, helmet stayed put - I had just cranked the retention knob down a bit to head down that section of the trail luckily, but that's so easy to do when you know you're approaching a tricky/tech section, that I love the helmet for that.
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    Well I got the Fox Striker off pricepoint. The fit is 100 times better than my cheap beginners bell helmet, I snugged it up tonight for the first fit and put it on, without the chin strap I couldn't easily push it backward. Its a keeper.
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  30. #30
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    Helmets

    POC Trabec Race. After trying many many helmets on this one felt the best. It also happens to be one of the most effective... And expensive. But as they say, "you get what you pay for".


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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by nrsmd View Post
    What is the real scoop on helmets? All seem equally safety approved, but range in price from the $20.00 (Walmart) to well over a hundred dollars. If all are equally certified for safety, then the difference must be in weight, looks, air ventilation, and fit, I suppose.

    On trail, I don't want to take any chances with my head when I do want to take a chance with going over a tree root or a log that might bring me down.

    If a more expensive helmet is indeed preferred, I will gladly buy it tomorrow!!!

    Thoughts and recommendations?
    Hi @nrsmd,

    You bring a valid point. All helmets meet the same standards, right? So they must all be the same.

    Other consumers have argued that you're right, but wrong, because while all helmets pass the same safety standards, more expensive helmets offer better ventilation, lower weight, and improved fit. They may even offer other technologies, like MIPS, or helmet cam and light mount integration.

    The interesting thing about our helmet safety standards today is how and why they were developed. It's a fairly long story, so the TL;DR version is that researchers developed our current standards in the 70s by dropping cadavers down an elevator shaft to determine at what impact the skull fractured.

    Our helmet standards are designed around this testing, and are intended to prevent catastrophic injury - e.g. a skull fracture. Interestingly enough, you can have a concussion at a mere 75-80g's, far below the skull fracturing threshold.

    So yes, all helmets are equally safe as all other helmets, except when they're not. That's why Kali uses geometrically shaped multi density foam liners combined with a layer of the softest foam in the industry, as well as a range of other technologies, to help better mitigate a full range of impacts.
    Smaller, Lighter, Safer

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    Hi experienced peeps.
    i've grown up (a bit) and realize I needa helmet.Problem is,it's a jungle out there.
    So I figured asking you guys was a good place to start.

    I had my first ever major crash a few days ago,resulted in 2 nights in the hospital and a major concussion.
    spent most of my money on bills and x-mas stuff for the family,so I need something on a budget.
    Is the best tip to go to my local bikestore and beg for a good price on a modell that fits my head?
    or is there a brand/model that's a "go to" product for most heads? that I can find online maybe?

    I feel kind of stupid for not already owning one,and for having to ask for pointers.
    but as I use my bike everyday and it's only getting colder and slipier I need a helmet like yesterday.
    and I want the best protection my funds alows.
    thanks..
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaliprotectives View Post
    Hi @nrsmd,

    You bring a valid point. All helmets meet the same standards, right? So they must all be the same.

    Other consumers have argued that you're right, but wrong, because while all helmets pass the same safety standards, more expensive helmets offer better ventilation, lower weight, and improved fit. They may even offer other technologies, like MIPS, or helmet cam and light mount integration.

    The interesting thing about our helmet safety standards today is how and why they were developed. It's a fairly long story, so the TL;DR version is that researchers developed our current standards in the 70s by dropping cadavers down an elevator shaft to determine at what impact the skull fractured.

    Our helmet standards are designed around this testing, and are intended to prevent catastrophic injury - e.g. a skull fracture. Interestingly enough, you can have a concussion at a mere 75-80g's, far below the skull fracturing threshold.

    So yes, all helmets are equally safe as all other helmets, except when they're not. That's why Kali uses geometrically shaped multi density foam liners combined with a layer of the softest foam in the industry, as well as a range of other technologies, to help better mitigate a full range of impacts.
    Just curious since you post on here. If you don't mind a direct question. You commented on one of my posts about the standards where I said I'd like to see testing like the IIHS tests cars and you thought is was a good idea.

    I know the equipment isn't cheap, but has Kali done any lobbing or anything to try and move the industry toward that?

    I've read several articles about MIPS and football helmets. The gist was they will not go beyond what is required because they are afraid of lawsuits. People will try to use any new tech that goes above and beyond as a grounds for the injury.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamplingSerendipity View Post
    Hi experienced peeps.
    i've grown up (a bit) and realize I needa helmet.Problem is,it's a jungle out there.
    So I figured asking you guys was a good place to start.

    I had my first ever major crash a few days ago,resulted in 2 nights in the hospital and a major concussion.
    spent most of my money on bills and x-mas stuff for the family,so I need something on a budget.
    Is the best tip to go to my local bikestore and beg for a good price on a modell that fits my head?
    or is there a brand/model that's a "go to" product for most heads? that I can find online maybe?

    I feel kind of stupid for not already owning one,and for having to ask for pointers.
    but as I use my bike everyday and it's only getting colder and slipier I need a helmet like yesterday.
    and I want the best protection my funds alows.
    thanks..
    I've been quite happy with my Kali Protectives "Chakra" model helmet. (and I'm not saying that because the guy from Kali literally posted in this thread.)
    I got mine online from the 'Giant Ama....." that sells everything- I think it was $35.
    As far as poerformance:
    It vents. I've never once thought "Gosh this helmet is hot" - and I live in Phoenix.

    It fits. -I have a ridiculously small head. Small like 6 3/4 hat size. I like that they come in XSM-SM, SM-MD, and MD-LG sizes so you can get a lid that has appropriate shell for your head, not just the same shell with more or less padding.
    I sometimes wish the padding was a little more generous, but the helmet doesn't put pressure anywhere, so I can't really complain- it just isn't 'plush' inside. I forget its on my head almost immediately, it isn't uncomfortable for me by any stretch.

    I have zero doubts that it'll protect my head adequately in a crash. I haven't tested this yet, but I'm confident.

    Honestly, even a walmart Bell helmet is better than nothing, but if you're gonna lay out cash, I'd say get the smartest choice your budget will allow.

  35. #35
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    Thanx.
    I found a noname BMX helmet that fits my head and is whitin my funds.
    it lacks ventilation,but I guess it don't matter that much during the cold months.
    Locak bike store is the best bike store
    I'll ride anything 'til it breaks

  36. #36
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Speed King's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    39
    I'm liking that Smith Forefront helmet. And seeing it in person really helped. Looks way different than in pics. I think I'm going to hold out for the MIPS version.

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