Why you might be better off with a cheaper helmet.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Suffers From Binge Biking
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    Why you might be better off with a cheaper helmet.

    From some recent riding experiences, I've come to the conclusion that it might be safer to buy cheap $30 helmets rather than $130 ones. For the sake of the argument, I'm just going to assume that the actual safety doesn't vary too much, but the higher price is for the engineered lighter weight, comfortable fit, and adjustability. I've read many threads on here about cheap vs. expensive and this is usually the verdict.

    I have been biking for about 5 years now, supporting my habit with very limited funds. Therefore, when I decided I needed a helmet, I went to my lbs and bought the cheapest one they had- a $30 basic Bell. A few months ago however, I decided to treat myself to an upgraded helmet, so I went out and picked up a $115 Uvex on- quite a beauty! It's feeling great and fits well, BUT it has already had to protect my head to two separate occasions. The first time it just hit a low solid tree branch, and the second time it bounced off a tree when I went OTB. Now I know a helmet is supposed to be replaced after impacts like this, but after JUST stepping up and getting this helmet, I am extremely reluctant to just toss it. I do all my own wrenching and consider myself an pretty good judge of the mechanical condition of something, and so I still use this helmet. Had I still been using my cheap original helmet, it would not be quite as hard for me to go out and get a new helmet after impacts like these.

    Point is- given your biking budget, buy a helmet that you are going to be ok with throwing out and re-buying should something happen where it is put to use. I don't want some rookie biker on here to get talked into buying an expensive helmet and then crash and say "Wait, now I need to buy another $100 helmet? F that." 'cause that biker is me Obviously for some people buying a new $115 helmet is no big deal, but for me and other beginners- it is.
    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is.

  2. #2

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    I agree, i ride with a 5 year old Schwinn helmet from Target, looks decent and the price was right

  3. #3
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    That is why you buy last year's expensive model at a greatly reduced price. never spend more than $50 on a helmet and I get some nice ones.

  4. #4
    AKA Dr.Nob
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    From motor racing - "If you can't afford to write it off - DON'T race it.

    This actually works well for helmets (and derailleurs) if modified to "If you can't afford to replace it after the next ride - DON'T buy it.
    Not that all teenagers are evil mind, just most of them.

  5. #5

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    i think 50 bucks is a great price point for helmets. much less and you tend to lose adjustability. a helmet is useless if it doesnt fit. any more expensive and you really dont gain anything.

    even though theres a minimum standard for helmets, i dont believe for a second the 12 dollar plastic helmets from target will protect you to the degree of a 50 dollar bell or giro. the toy helmets can hardly stay on your head.

    i agree though.. buy a helmet at a price point you're comfortable replacing within a year. if it lasts longer, great! if not, it doesnt hurt too bad to toss a broken helmet you can afford to replace.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tulsa
    I agree, i ride with a 5 year old Schwinn helmet from Target, looks decent and the price was right
    I'm with you, I hit the local K-Mart to pick up a cheap Helmet 15 dollars for a adult Schwinn Helmet which has passed the same government safety tests as much more expensive helmets. The adjustments on it are all your need from the chin strap to having a knob for adjusting the fit on your head. The reason why other helmets are so expensive is because of the lighter materials, more aerodynamic design and better venting, simple as that.
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  7. #7
    Pretty in Pink
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    Most helmet companies have a crash replacement program, if you mess up the helmet in a crash they will send you a new one at discounted price.
    Bell is interested in your safety and in advancing the state-of-the-art in
    head protection. If your helmet is involved in an accident you may obtain
    a replacement from Bell by doing the following:
    For U.S. Customers:
    1. Send the following:
    a. The damaged helmet (prepaid);
    b. A copy of your dated cash register receipt;
    c. A letter describing your accident in as much detail as possible; and
    d. A check for $35.00 for Fusion In-Mold helmets or a check for $20.00 for non-Fusion helmets
    Send to:
    Bell Sports, Inc.
    Consumer Service
    1924 County Road, 3000 North
    Rantoul, Illinois 61866-9512

    The crash replacement program is available to U.S. and Canadian customers only. Customers outside the U.S. and Canada should call 1-800-456-BELL for
    information on the crash replacement program applicable to them. If you have any questions about this policy call Bell at 1-800-456-BELL. Remember: NEVER wear a helmet thatís been involved in an accident.
    Giro's is similar, not sure about the rest. I have replaced 3 Bell helmets on this policy.
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    To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it."
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  8. #8
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    Agree and disagree...

    I agree that when you're learning to ride, a less expensive helmet makes sense. The same way less expensive almost everything makes sense.

    This opinion applies generally for cross country: As you gain more riding fitness and skill, you're more prone to staying upright and riding for longer distances. When you're in the saddle for 4-6 hour epics, a lighter helmet that vents well and keeps your head cooler is a nice luxury. Not having the extra weight on your neck and upper back is a benefit of a more expensive helmet.

  9. #9
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    It's too hot to ride cheap helmets. I agree with the other posters who say to buy last year's model @ a $50 to $60 price point.

  10. #10
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    Ok let me say this. Last January I was riding, headed down a sweet down hill, hit mud and flipped over my bars, was thrown 10 ft, as I landed I smashed my head on a huge rock. I still remember like it was yesterday, I truly thought it was the end of my life, so did the rider behind me. What saved me and my brains from scattering all over the woods? A $18.00 Wally World helmet. I still have it as a spare for people who show up on rides without them. I do now own a really nice Giro, and i do like it
    The difference between the cheap and the expensive is how well they breath, how light they are, and how cool they look. If you cant afford a $$$ one, the cheap ones will protect your head just fine. Just make sure you are wearing one!!!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tulsa
    I agree, i ride with a 5 year old Schwinn helmet from Target, looks decent and the price was right

    What is the deal with the "replace after 3 years" rule with helmets?

    Is it akin to the 3,000 mile oil change?

    I only ask because I replaced my 15 year old Giro this year. I still can't bring myself to dispose of it though.

  12. #12
    Rod
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    I agree and disagree with some of your statements. I agree with Ken that a cheaper helmet would be good for beginners, but if you ride for long periods of time, especially on hot days you need proper ventilation. Most of your heat loss goes through your head. With a more expensive helmet you should be comfortable because it has more ventilation. I don't want to do a 3 hour 20 or 30 mile mtb or 50 mile road ride with a Wal-Mart helmet. My body would definitely over heat. Also cheaper is not always better because some 20 or 30 dollar helmets cause pressure points. If you can find an affordable helmet that fits well with proper ventilation for a fraction of the price that's fantastic, but they're few and far between. There's just a big difference in comfort, fit, and ventilation between helmets, which reflect in its price. There's a big difference at my lbs between a 20 and 30 dollar helmet in terms of ventilation.

  13. #13
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vtolds
    I'm with you, I hit the local K-Mart to pick up a cheap Helmet 15 dollars for a adult Schwinn Helmet which has passed the same government safety tests as much more expensive helmets.
    Not necessarily true. Just passing a tests doesn't mean they are the same. (Highly obvious in government auto crash safety)
    If a test is graded 1-100. And you need a 70 to pass. A score of 71 & 99 both technically pass the test. Doesn't mean they are both just as good. Would you rather have a 71 or a 99?

    It's also possible that a cheap helmet offers more protection than an expensive one.

  14. #14
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    The deal....

    Quote Originally Posted by jonw9
    What is the deal with the "replace after 3 years" rule with helmets?

    Is it akin to the 3,000 mile oil change?

    I only ask because I replaced my 15 year old Giro this year. I still can't bring myself to dispose of it though.

    The deal is this: The foam used in helmets breaks down over time and with exposure to UV light (the Sun). In addition, many people store their helmets in cars when they're not riding, which also contributes to their break down.

    If you look closely at older helmets, you'll see small cracks in the foam. Usually this means it's time to replace them.

    Regarding people crashing and reusing their helmets or using them as loaners or spares: Don't do it. Foam helmets are a single crash item. When you compress the foam in the area of the crash, it doesn't return and helemt will no long meet the minimum safety rating in the area of impact.

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