Are any helmets safer than others?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Are any helmets safer than others?

    Over the past 9 months I've fallen head-first on two different occasions and broken my helmets on impact. Both times I walked away with a serious headache but no significant damage to my head (possibly a concussion - never went to the doctor to have it checked out). And both helmets were Giro Gila's.

    I am looking to replace my broken Giro helmet (which is an '01), and I did not like the fit of the newer Giro helmets. I liked the fit of the '03 and '04 Bell's much better. But is there a significant difference in terms of safety? Or do they all just need to be SNELL certified?

    Given my penchant for going down head-first, I'm concerned about safety first...comfort second.

    Thx...Doug

  2. #2
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    Wear a full face any time possible.
    Yeah I gotta question. You got any excuses tonight Roy ? -Antonio Tarver

    There is room for it all, just ride what you like to on what you like to...that's freeriding. -rbn14



  3. #3
    Jm.
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    There's probably not a significant difference between the XC offerings from Giro and Bell, if there was it would have to be done by a 2nd party, and have some sort of quantative assesment, which SNELL doesn't have.

    If you fall and break helmets a lot, you should probably wear a full face, but helmets are designed to break upon impact, that's how it saves your head, and a full face becomes obtusive, very hot, and heavy, depending on how much "safety" you want, MX helmets offer even more and some mountain bikers choose to use them instead of "mtb" helmets, but the ability to "absorb" energy by breaking shouldn't be disregarded, mtb helmets are designed to do this, and it has saved many heads. Personally, I like giro helmets better and they fit me better, but it's a personal thing. I've used both extensively and not notice any significant difference in terms of strength.

    Remember, helmets are supposed to break.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgangi
    Over the past 9 months I've fallen head-first on two different occasions and broken my helmets on impact. Both times I walked away with a serious headache but no significant damage to my head (possibly a concussion - never went to the doctor to have it checked out). And both helmets were Giro Gila's.

    I am looking to replace my broken Giro helmet (which is an '01), and I did not like the fit of the newer Giro helmets. I liked the fit of the '03 and '04 Bell's much better. But is there a significant difference in terms of safety? Or do they all just need to be SNELL certified?

    Given my penchant for going down head-first, I'm concerned about safety first...comfort second.

    Thx...Doug
    As far as safety, any certified helmet will essentially protect you just as well as another. The main difference is really in fit, style, and cooling. If a helmet does not fit you comfortably and sit properly on your head, however then no, it is not as safe. So, if you don't like the fit of the Giro's, I would definitely recommend looking elsewhere. I've heard great things about Giro's, but they don't fit me either, so I wear Specialized helmets, which have always seemed to fit me best. The safety of the Bell helmets should be just as good as the Giro's, so I wouldn't have any hesitation going with the more comfortable helmet.

  5. #5
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    Just wanted to say that bell owns giro so I wouldn't worry about bell being lower quality.
    I remember hearing some where that the people at bell have made it so you will either fit a Giro or a Bell.

  6. #6
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Wasn't sure about technical differences

    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    There's probably not a significant difference between the XC offerings from Giro and Bell, if there was it would have to be done by a 2nd party, and have some sort of quantative assesment, which SNELL doesn't have.

    If you fall and break helmets a lot, you should probably wear a full face, but helmets are designed to break upon impact, that's how it saves your head, and a full face becomes obtusive, very hot, and heavy, depending on how much "safety" you want, MX helmets offer even more and some mountain bikers choose to use them instead of "mtb" helmets, but the ability to "absorb" energy by breaking shouldn't be disregarded, mtb helmets are designed to do this, and it has saved many heads. Personally, I like giro helmets better and they fit me better, but it's a personal thing. I've used both extensively and not notice any significant difference in terms of strength.

    Remember, helmets are supposed to break.
    Yeah, I realize that helmets (XC anyways) are supposed to break. That's definitely what saved my noggin on the last 2 endos. Just like a car has "crush space", the helmet is designed to "give" upon impact so your head doesn't take all the forces.

    But that's what led me to ask this question in the first place. Just like cars have "better" designs in terms of crush zones and safety, do helmets have this same variance between vendors? For example, the description of the T-Bone on the Louis Garneau web site talks about how they specifically designed their helmet to have a stronger "safety cage". So they are obviously implying that their helmet is better than other vendors' in this aspect.

    Thx...Doug

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgangi
    Yeah, I realize that helmets (XC anyways) are supposed to break. That's definitely what saved my noggin on the last 2 endos. Just like a car has "crush space", the helmet is designed to "give" upon impact so your head doesn't take all the forces.

    But that's what led me to ask this question in the first place. Just like cars have "better" designs in terms of crush zones and safety, do helmets have this same variance between vendors? For example, the description of the T-Bone on the Louis Garneau web site talks about how they specifically designed their helmet to have a stronger "safety cage". So they are obviously implying that their helmet is better than other vendors' in this aspect.

    Thx...Doug
    The Giro Xen has more rear coverage & is sold as a hybrid XC/ freeride helmet - may want to check one out. They were on sale for $99 last month. I just replaced my Giro Gila w/ a Giro E2 - the helmet appears larger in structure.

  8. #8
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Found some interesting articles

    I found some interesting articles about helmet safety when I was looking for an on-line shop to buy a helmet:

    http://www.bhsi.org/helmet02.htm
    http://www.helmets.org/helmet04.htm

    It is interesting to note that the Giro Gila was rated so highly for protection by Consumer Reports in a 2002 article. That is the same helmet I have crashed with on both occasions over the past year (different Gila's, of course).

    It is also interesting to note that the company recommends AWAY form the Louis Garneau T-Bone, which is a helmet I was considering buying. I never thought about the fact that exposed foam is a bad thing compared to plastic (plastic slides better on hard surfaces vs. foam, which could snag and torque your neck).

    Anyway, I just thought I would post this information in case anybody else was interested.

    Thx...Doug

  9. #9
    I'm feeling dirty, you?
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    If a helmet does not fit you comfortably and sit properly on your head, however then no, it is not as safe. So, if you don't like the fit of the Giro's, I would definitely recommend looking elsewhere.
    That was exactly what I was going to say. Since Giro's are considered high-end helmets, would you consider a MET 5th Element helmet. It has the craziest vents and shapes I've seen, the vents are massive but the helmet is still extremely stiff. I think it's better than having the same helmet pretty every other pro MTBiker is riding on.

    MET 5th Element



    Giro E2

    Giro Animas


    But that's my personal choice, most important, Choose a helmet that fits you.

    Respect, jonowee

  10. #10
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    I don't know how much of a concern weight is, but there is a helmet company that produces helmets to be multi-impact, and they supposedly help reduce risk of concussion (most helmets are designed to prevent major head injuries). I got one for skiing, but it looks like a bike helmet on 'roids. I'm hoping to slow mental degeneraton (a few too many concussions). The url is www.whelmets.com (the website isn't working right now).

  11. #11

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    All helmets sold in the US must pass the CPSC impact tests, which are the older Snell tests. I think the test protocol adopted by CPSC was the Snell B94. There is a newer Snell standard, but it's so rigorous that nobody makes a helemt that can pass it.

    Before the CPSC adopted Snell's testing, there was the voluntary ANSI standrad, and the much tougher Snell. Snell certified helemts could command a higher price because they were demonstrably safer. Now that there is a minumum standard that everyone has to meet, nobody bothers to exceed it. This explains the lack of Snell-certified helmets in bike shops now, and also indicates that all helmets are equally safe.

    If you can't charge more for a safer helmet, there's no reason to make one.

    --Shannon

  12. #12
    I'm feeling dirty, you?
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    Snow, fresh powder or frosty hard pack, is very different from most MTbiking conditions which is dirt, logs, rocks, mub, water, gravel, sand, "slickrock".
    A "multi-impact" for MTB may be a very bad thing, because if one crashes on the ski slopes and doesn't damage the helmet too much.
    This is where the problem starts, people will became reluctant to replace their helmet as 'it can take just one more crash'. The multi-impact helmet gets weaker and weaker, unlike all cycling helmets: 'once you crash on your noggin, you replace it!', you get a much weaker helmet than it was brand new and when you meet 'the big one' (the big crash we'll all one day meet eventually), you is a goner. There's a good reason why certain manufacters offer crash replacements at lower prices for a very good reason.

    Moral of the story is: Replace your helmet once you land on your noggin, any force, angle or terrain.
    Respect, jonowee

  13. #13

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    Try Catlike or Limar

    The safest helmet is the one that fits you best. I am not going to go through the basics of helmet fit but I have run into fit problems with Giro and Bell recently.

    I switch to some Eurotrash stuff with better results. The Catlike Kompact2 is the best fitting helmet I have ever tried. It has an adjustment system that rivals (IMHO) Giro. In short, it allows you to adjust the fit to your occipital bone (the bone just above the back of your neck) in the x, y, and z axes. The helmet also "floats" on pads about 1mm above the surface of your head which increases venting. Hands down, the best helmet that I have put on my head. BTW, Tyler's team uses them as well as Kelme and Orbea.

    Check them out here:

    http://www.catlike-usa.com

    Get them here:

    http://www.excelsports.com/new.asp?page=1

    Limar has a similar fit but I don't think the venting is nearly as good as the Catlike or Giro or Bell.

  14. #14
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    Catlike - this is scary

    Quote Originally Posted by Serac
    The safest helmet is the one that fits you best. I am not going to go through the basics of helmet fit but I have run into fit problems with Giro and Bell recently.

    I switch to some Eurotrash stuff with better results. The Catlike Kompact2 is the best fitting helmet I have ever tried. It has an adjustment system that rivals (IMHO) Giro. In short, it allows you to adjust the fit to your occipital bone (the bone just above the back of your neck) in the x, y, and z axes. The helmet also "floats" on pads about 1mm above the surface of your head which increases venting. Hands down, the best helmet that I have put on my head. BTW, Tyler's team uses them as well as Kelme and Orbea.

    Check them out here:

    http://www.catlike-usa.com

    Get them here:

    http://www.excelsports.com/new.asp?page=1

    Limar has a similar fit but I don't think the venting is nearly as good as the Catlike or Giro or Bell.
    I did a search on Catlike to find a dealer near me. But then I came across this scary recall about Catlike helmets for 2003:

    http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml03/03132.html

    Apparently, their helmets failed the CPSC test. I would hope the vendor (Catlike) would do their own testing and know this ahead of time. I don't like seeing this kind of stuff...

    Thx...Doug

  15. #15

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    When ever i try something beyond my limit i use a fullface helmet. I just bought the sixsixone FF helmet for $45 at www.jensonusa.com its a closeout item, you might want to check it out.

  16. #16

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    Recall of Catlike...

    Doug,

    I looked into this issue before purchasing. You are correct, the earlier model Kompact DID fail the CPSC standard but the newer Kompact2 has passed the CPSC standard just fine. In fact, I just double-checked the sticker on the inside of my helmet sitting above my desk .

    B.

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