Bicycle Helmets for the 2000 Season
This is history!
Here is the current year
Summary: Our review of helmets being sold in 2000. Trends first, then individual models. See this page for more recent years.
Trends for 2000
Helmet lines for 2000 continue last year's trend to fewer new helmet designs, reflecting flat consumer
demand and thin profit margins in the industry. All helmets manufactured for the US market
after March 10, 1999 must meet the national CPSC standard, but a few of
the older ones are still on sale. We recommend looking for a helmet that:
1. Meets the CPSC standard.
Some of the better ones are identified in the most
recent Consumer Reports
helmet article, but most models on the market were
not tested for the article.
2. Fits you
3. Has a rounded, smooth exterior.
4. Has no more vents than you need.
A major theme for the last two years has been more and
larger air vents. Manufacturers tout the number of
vents in their helmets, a meaningless parameter that we
will not even mention in the descriptions below. If all
else were equal, more vents would be a Good Thing, but
as usual, all else is not equal. Opening up
larger vents usually requires harder, more dense foam
and squaring off the edges of the remaining foam ribs
to squeeze out the most impact protection possible from
the narrower pieces still there. Since we believe that
rounder shells and less dense foam are virtues in a
crash, we don't recommend hyper-vented helmets unless
you can't live without the added ventilation. See our
rant on this subject titled Vents and Square Lines: Problems
with some designs.
Vents are still big!
The fashion among helmet designers in recent years has
favored squared-off edges of the foam remaining around
the vents, and the addition of sharp lines in the
exterior plastic just for style. The elongated "aero" shape has
continued to dominate in the upscale models as well.
This is a less than optimal design for crashing.
Fortunately we see some moderation of this trend in the
helmets for 2000. Rounder shells reduce to a minimum
any tendency for a helmet to "stick" to the surface
when you hit. They also eliminate the aero tail that
can shove the helmet aside as you hit, exposing your
bare head. Here is the symbol of the campaign we have
been conducting for rounder, smoother helmets:
Fewer designs are squared-off
We are not so naive as to believe that is has worked,
but in fact the newer models for 2000 seem to be a
little more rounded than last year. Our reasons for
avoiding helmets with squared-off lines are also on our
page titled Vents and Square
Lines: Problems with some designs.
Other trends this year include a continued but very
slow movement toward brighter colors, mirroring what is
happening in bike colors and clothing. Visors continue
to lose ground, as manufacturers use them to promote a
difference between visorless "road" helmets and visored
"mountain bike" helmets. They want to sell you two
helmets. The distinction is entirely artificial, since
both are designed to the same standard and in many
cases both will be used at times for the other type of
Another continuing trend is packaging helmets with
other accessories, particularly in the skate market,
where a number of manufacturers including PTI and
Troxel have knee pads and wrist protectors with their
"multi-sport" helmets. We were surprised to find that
most of those multisport helmets are certified to the
same ASTM F-1447 bicycle helmet standard as a normal
bicycle helmet. The list of those certified to Snell's
N-94 multi-purpose standard is still very short.
The most radical thing on the market for 2000 is the
Sport Scope helmet, made with sections of foam bound by
an inner mesh. We have comments
on it below. Several new designs are coming, but
not yet on the market, including helmets that glow,
more helmets with blinkers in the back, and perhaps an interesting new design by a
Canadian teen with internal LED's that light up when
the helmet is fitted correctly. Otherwise there
were no exciting new materials or major advances in
technology evident yet in this year's helmet lines.
Rumors persist that we will see new closed-cell, cross-
linked polymers and other "magic" foams to replace the
standard EPS, EPU and EPP, but it seems that nothing is
ever quite ready for the market.
As we noted last year, Bell introduced in late 1997
their Kinghead helmet, a very large lid that fits up to
size 8 1/4, with a maximum circumference of 29.5
inches. Most people can turn it sideways. It meets the
need of a small but desperate group of riders with very
very large heads, who have been finding it increasingly
difficult to ride on club events and have even been
riding unlawfully in some jurisdictions because they
could not find a helmet large enough. We salute Bell
for producing this helmet as a service, knowing that
due to the very small market it will not make money.
They have also updated it for 2000 to meet the CPSC
standard, again without prospect for covering the cost
through sales. The Kinghead is a beautiful helmet, with
the smoothly rounded exterior we consider optimal. But
due to the limited demand for this special interest
item we have yet to see it in any of Bell's ads, and
you have to go to a local bike shop to see one. It can
now be ordered by mail order from Nashbar and other
sources, and the price is under $40.
Bell Still Covers the Largest Heads
In March of 1999 the new CPSC bicycle helmet
standard became law.. Helmets manufactured for the
US market after March 10, 1999 are required to meet
that standard by law. That took most of the steam
out of the standards issue during 1999. There are still
a few older models out there manufactured before March
1999 that do not meet the CPSC standard, and can still
be legally sold. We have seen $85 list price 1998 Bell
Evo Pro's at $30, for example. Some of those older
helmets may be good buys. If they meet the ASTM
standard they would be very close to meeting CPSC.
Since the CPSC standard applies only to bicycle helmets
there may be others on the market that don't meet the
it, but just omit any reference to being a helmet for
bicycling. They can be for skating, skateboarding,
surfing or tiddlywinks, as long as they are not labeled
for bicycling. They can even be sold in bike shops or
in discount stores on the same shelf as the bicycle
helmets, with the same packaging and only the wording
on the box different. So a measure of "buyer beware" is
still required, but that issue is fading rapidly as
inventories turn over. We recommend that you look for a
sticker inside the helmet saying it meets the CPSC
standard, and if it is not there, look for an ASTM
standard instead, and don't pay more than $20 for the
In addition to the legally-required CPSC sticker, the
independent Snell Memorial Foundation's Snell B-95
sticker is an even better indicator of quality, but
most of the "Snell" helmets on the market meet only
Snell's B-90 standard, comparable to CPSC. Snell's N-
94 multipurpose standard is even better, but only two
models certified to it at present. We can't explain all
those B-numbers to most consumers, so we no longer make
a big point of telling people to look for a Snell
sticker. You can find more info at the Snell website if you
The Safety Equipment Institute is another independent
organization certifying bicycle helmets, this time to
the ASTM and CPSC standards. So you don't have to take
just the manufacturer's word for it any more if there
is an SEI sticker in the helmet.
In their June, 1999, issue Consumer Reports
awarded its highest impact protection rating to the
Globe model from Louis Garneau (Canada). They had
previously rated the Globe as a Best Buy. But the top
rating went to a Bell model, the EVO-2 Pro, now
discontinued. We would favor the helmet with the best
impact protection, if it fits you well and the
ventilation is adequate. We were more impressed with
some of Louis Garneau's other models, but apparently CU
did not test others. We did like the very bright yellow
that is one of the Globe's available colors.
Consumer Reports Picks
You can find the helmet
article on the
Consumer Reports website, but it will cost you a
paid subscription. Otherwise, read it in your local
library, or check out our brief
Abus is best known as a manufacturer of high-security
padlocks. But they also have a line of bicycle helmets including
seven for kids or toddlers, and nine for adults. They are made in
The Hard Head line of helmets is produced for Action
Bicycle by Strategic Sports in Hong Kong. Their models
Acclaim, an otherwise standard adult helmet with
visor and rear stabilizer that has an internal headband
for size adjustment and retails for $35. Other models
include a full face BMX helmet for $80, a child helmet
at $20, and a skateboard helmet that retails for $36 or
$40 in full chrome.
We have not actually seen the Advent line since 1998.
At that time they had a line with four ASTM/SEI
helmets, including the z-Jet, Z-Fire with rear
bop and the child's Peekaboo. We do not yet have any
info on their 2000 models.
AGV SpA has two models under the Fox Racing banner: the
Flite and the Fox Pilot. Both appear on Snell's B-95
certification list. The Flite is a standard BMX helmet
with no vents, a chin bar for face protection and a
bolted on visor. We did not find them on the AGV website that came
up in December of 1999.
Alpha helmets are made by Mien Yow Industry
in Taiwan. They have a line of well-rounded models led by the
complex-looking Vortex and including one model with a
flashing led taillight built in. Alpha helmets are made
of EPS foam, rather than the EPU generally favored in
Taiwan. The manufacturer says their retail prices run
$30 to $50, but that seems impossibly high in today's
market for a Taiwanese helmet. They did not have CPSC
stickers in their helmets at Interbike in September of
1999, but of course they could not sell their helmets
here unless they met the CPSC standard this year. Alpha
also makes skating, hockey and batting helmets.
Answer Racing has two BMX racing helmets for 2000 with
hard, unvented shells. Their top of the line M-8 has
carbon fiber and Kevlar in the shell, while the M-6 is
a polycarbonate and fiberglass shell. Both have
chinbars for facial protection and bolted on visors (a
potential snagging hazard). They have removable liners
for cleaning, and come with a three year free crash
replacement guarantee. They are certified to the Snell
Foundation's M-95 motorcycle helmet standard and the
DOT motorcycle standard, far exceeding the requirements
of any bicycle helmet standard. Retail pricing for the
adult models runs $200 to $280, and for the juvenile
model it will be about $150. The Answer line is
produced in Korea by KBC for Performance Bicycle
Apex is located in Finland. We have not seen their
helmets, but they have nice photos on their website
showing a child model and an adult model they say is 40
per cent vent. We did not see any info on standards
their helmets may meet. Their English language website
said in December, 1999, that they are looking for a US
distributor. In March of 2000 the link above was
Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. They have an XS child helmet that fits heads
as small as 17.8 inches in diameter that they say will fit children as young as
six months (not recommended!--see this page). We have not seen them in the US and
their website does not indicate they meet the CPSC standard, so they may not
be available here. Their Hot Shot adult helmet appears to be a very nicely rounded
design, with a taped on shell, that they say meets the ASTM standard, but again
without mention of CPSC. Their Sport model appears to have a rigid visor, which could
be a potential snagging hazard. They managed to add a rear ridge on their otherwise
well rounded skate helmet, and do not mention ASTM on the page describing that one.
Azonic/Santa Cruz/O'Neal Distributing has two BMX
helmets in their line for 2000. Both are hard shell, no-
vent full face helmets with removable inner liners for
cleaning. Both have large, sturdy, bolted-on visors, a
potential snagging hazard. The 540 model has a
polycarbonate shell and meets the Snell motorcycle
helmet standard (M-95), therefore exceeding by a wide
margin the DOT motorcycle helmet standard and by an
even wider margin any bicycle helmet standard in the
world. It weighs 3 pounds and costs $120. (We could not
find it on the Snell list, however, and would have to
assume that it is made by another company who had it
certified by Snell under their own name.) The other
model is lighter, with construction described as
"fiberglass and a space age blend of Carbon-Kevlar."
It will retail for about $150. Azonic has matching
goggles and glasses available under their curiously-
named "Blur Optics" brand.
Bell is the dominant company in the bicycle helmet
market, with perhaps as much as 70 per cent of the
world market, almost certainly over half. They have
introduced three new models for 2000 and updated the
rest of their line to meet the CPSC standard. Of equal
interest, they have dropped the Evo Pro, which we had
panned because of its alternating strips of plastic and
bare foam on the outer surface, but which had been
rated excellent by Consumer Reports in their June, 1999
helmet article. Bell also dropped the Intercooler, a
complex helmet to produce, and one that did not sell
well due to its high price and impression of bulk.
At the top of Bell's line are their molded-in-the-shell
models, called the Fusion Series. For the 2000 year all
are hyper-ventilated and all have rear stabilizers.
- Phi Pro: Bell's newest addition for 2000 has
a thin plastic shell on both top and bottom, a feature
pioneered by Louis Garneau about five years back. It is
a hyper-ventilated model with long vents and an angular
outer surface designed by someone who never heard of
rounder-smoother-safer. This one is advertised as a
"road" model, so it has no visor. Colors are red, white
and blue. The retail price is $125.
- Rubicon Pro: a new "mountain bike" (with
visor) design for 1999. Better rounded than some of
Bell's models, but the rear shelf has large potential
snag points. This one also has the inmolded bottom
shell. Suggested retail is $100, down $35 from last
year. Colors are drab red, blue, silver and green.
- Envy Pro: The "road" version (no visor) of
the Rubicon, at $90. Comes in a very bright yellow or
in white, making it much more visible on the road than
- Image 2000 Pro: A complete redesign of the
old Image Pro, apparently required to make it pass the
CPSC standard. The shape is marred by one of the worst
rear shelf points in Bell's line, but the price is
considerably below the top models at only $75. Has a
visor with mounting points that "snap" into the shell.
Comes in highly visible white or dark green, red and
blue with darker stripes that are almost a camouflage
- Esprit Pro: The Image 2000 without the visor
at $65. Brighter colors for the road.
- Nemesis 2 Pro: A 1998 design with huge vents
and the unfortunately squared-off ribs and large rear
go with them. For 2000 the Nemesis 2 has some very
bright colors that should make it show up well on the
Bell's lower-cost helmets are produced with the shell
glued and taped on rather than fused in the mold.
Since that design gains less strength from the shell,
the vents tend to be a little smaller, but should be
entirely adequate for almost all riders. Prices are
- Paradox Pro: paradoxically has the lowest
weight of any of Bell's models by about one ounce at an
advertised 9.3 oz. Also has large vents, and a nicely
rounded shape except for a pronounced rear shelf point.
Suggested retail with visor is $50, down $5 from 1999.
Paradox has Bell's pinchguard buckle, a nice design
with a tab behind that keeps the skin from getting in
while you push the two pieces together. There is a nice
bright yellow model, plus blue and silver.
- Forza 2 Pro: Another rounded design with
another moderate rear shelf. White, blue , black and
red. $40 retail. Pinchguard buckle.
- Vita Pro: Bell's "budget-minded" helmet
based on the Forza 2 without a visor. Pinchguard
buckle. Retails for $30.
- Kinghead Pro: This $30 helmet has a
beautifully rounded exterior, with full CPSC protection
for 2000. Highly recommended for those who fit it: it
is made only in Extra Large for riders with head sizes
up to 8 1/4 (25.9 inches around). It is still the only
bicycle helmet made for those with very large heads. We
had asked numerous manufacturers to make this helmet,
but only Bell stepped up to the plate. This is Bell's
contribution to consumer safety, not corporate profits,
since the helmet will fit only a very small number of
riders, and is never expected to make them any money.
If you know somebody who needs a very large helmet,
tell them to contact their Bell dealer, or check out
mail order outlets on the Internet, since we have yet
to see any Bell ads for the Kinghead.
- Mischief Pro: A youth helmet selling for $40
with visor. It has the nicely rounded shape of Bell's
non-inmolded helmets, with moderate rear snagging
points. The graphics are flamey, but the colors are
dark gray and blue. Pinchguard buckle.
- Frenzy Pro: the Mischief without visor for
Has a bright pink "in bloom" model and a part-orange
"fire dragon" Pinchguard buckle.
- Amigo Pro: New for 2000, a helmet for kids
that is built like the one their parents use. The very
nicely rounded exterior is better rounded than Bell's
adult helmets. Has a rear stabilizer. No visor.
Pinchguard buckle. Yellow or black.
- Boomerang Pro: Another new for 2000 model,
somewhat like an Amigo for toddlers, with the
additional rear coverage required by the CPSC toddler
helmet standard. Cartoon graphics with a bright yellow
visor. Pinchguard buckle. Retail is $30.
- L'il Bell Shell Pro: a toddler helmet with
vents known last year as the Half Pint Pro. Has
the best- rounded shape and best coverage of any helmet
in Bell's line. The June, 1999 article in Consumer
Reports said the Half Pint Pro was "the clear
choice" for toddler helmets, but of course they had not
seen the Boomerang.
Bell has BMX and downhill racing models in their line
for 2000, all with fiberglass shells imported from
China, all vented and all with the beautifully rounded
shapes that are traditional in BMX helmets.
Unfortunately they also have bolted on visors, so the
rear "shelf" snag point has been traded for the
potential snagging of the rigidly-mounted visor. They
all resemble motorcycle helmets with vents, and weigh
about two pounds. The downhill model is the
Bellistic, a fiberglass model with a full
chinguard. Some Bellistics were recalled in 1999 for
strap problems. The BMX models are the Rhythm Pro with
chinguard (the Bellistic in different graphics) or the
Qualifier Pro with an open face design. Prices are $125
for the chinguard models and $90 for the Qualifier Pro.
Bell's entry into the skateboard field is the Vert XT
pro, with the rounded, smooth exterior favored by
skateboarders and an expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam
liner that is rated for multiple impacts. Colors are
bone, red and black. Unless we missed some tricky
renaming, this is the only helmet that Bell markets
through both bike shops and the mass merchant channel.
It is also marketed in a box with only "Aggressive
Skate Helmet" on the outside. Unfortunately this one
also has a sticker inside that says " Bell Sports
certifies that this helmet complies with the
requirements of ASTM Helmet Performance Standard F1492-
93 except for Section 8.0 Clause 8.5- Area of Required
Coverage." Helmet standards are standards: you meet
them or you don't. The manufacturer is admitting that
this one does not, but still has the standard named on
the sticker. Bell has broken new ground here, and
another manufacturer has since followed suit. ASTM
responded to this outrage by adding language to the
standard specifically prohibiting partial compliance, a
clause previously thought to be unnecessary. We don't
know why a consumer would buy a helmet that says it
does not meet the relevant standard, and can only hope
that whatever its other merits this one bombs and
results in lawsuits!
Consumer Reports did not test bike helmets for the 2000
season. Among Bell's 1999 models they liked the Evo Pro
2, now discontinued.
Bell has another entire line of 18 low-priced helmets
sold at discount stores and mass-merchant outlets. They
are sometimes discontinued models from their bike store
line, and generally have low-end graphics, chintzy fit
pads and cheaper packaging. But the ones made in 2000
meet the CPSC standard, so they provide fine impact
protection, able to meet testing that goes about a half
inch further down than in the older ASTM versions. (If
you find one of the old ASTM-only models it would be a
lot cheaper, but the extra coverage is worth the higher
cost to most consumers, since a significant number of
impacts can be expected below the ASTM coverage line.)
The rounded profiles we consider optimum will persist
in this line for years to come, since they are cheaper
to produce, and the thicker foam may actually provide
better impact protection than some of the sexier,
thinner, more expensive Pro models. This line sells
for low prices: $8 to $30. Safe Kids sells them to
their chapters for $7.50 each. Because of Bell's name
recognition, they are among the best sellers in the low
end market. Check our
page on inexpensive helmets
for further info on sources for low-cost helmets from
Bell has discontinued their 53-foot tractor-trailer
display, so it will not be coming to an event near you
On January 25, 2000, Bell announced that riders can
trade in their old helmets and get $20 off the price of
a new one. The details are available on Bell's
In sum, Bell is still the largest and most successful
bicycle helmet manufacturer. With their brand
recognition they are still the one to beat. We are
pleased that certifying the Kinghead to the new CPSC
standard during the past year shows that their
corporate culture still retains some of the "our job is
to protect the rider" flavor the company grew up with.
is an Italian company who began breaking into the U.S.
market in 1998. They have an innovative rear stabilizer
design with stickers inside showing an adjustment
scale on each side, making it easier to balance the two
sides. Only their top model is inmolded.
Their helmets are not available in the US this year.
For comments on their line please see our writeup on Helmets for 1999.
Byke Ryder helmets are the former All American line,
which was purchased by KR Industries some time ago.
The once extensive line has been reduced to two, including one toddler model
and one adult model available in Football logo graphics, an earth map and more.
Both have a smoothly rounded exterior shell and minimal vents. They are marketed through
discount stores at prices of $19 to $30.
Cateye will again not be selling their helmet line in
the U.S. in 2000, but they do offer it elsewhere,
primarily in Europe. They still have six models on
Snell's B-90 certification list.
Concord Arai Pvt. has few bicycle helmets, but still
has two models on Snell's B-95 list: the Concord adult
and youth helmet and the PD-800. As far as we know they
will not be marketed in the US this year.
Cyclelink comes from Cycle Acoustics, who make a
wireless intercom for bicyclists that can be mounted on
the helmet. Or you can buy a Snell-certified helmet
from them with the two-way radio built in. The
microphone boom arm has a breakaway mount, the helmet
has an exceptionally smooth outer profile, and one of
the models has a range up to two miles. Could be just
the thing for parents towing kids in a trailer.
This German company with an Italian name has an
extensive line but is concentrating on fewer models for
the U.S. market. They advertise that the "soft shock"
liner on some models "can absorb 25% more impact than
the material used in 1996," whatever that means. They
use it on the Maniac, Twister, Mountain Champ and V1.
Some models have a suspension system called the Head
Ring with an adjustable head band similar to the old
Bailen of the 1980's to adjust sizing.
Diamondback has a full line for bike dealers, including
a BMX helmet similar to the Bellistic with vents and a
full chin bar, in sizes extra small through large,
retailing for about $70. They also have a very well-
rounded freestyle skating helmet with CPSC
certification retailing for about $30. Their helmets
are made in China.
- Mountain Maniac and Road Maniac: A hyper-
vented helmet with sharp shell lines and the usual rear
shelf projection. Inmolded. The same helmet,
with a very short road visor or a longer mountain bike
visor. Protection in the rear comes down low enough to
require an arch cutout for neck clearance. Bright
yellow, orange and white, along with black. Retail is
$140. The catalog says: "What are you -- CRAZY? We hope
so because this helmet was designed for you...The
Maniac encourages you to push the limit and should not
be used by people with weak hearts."
- Twister: A much better rounded helmet with
fewer vents than the Maniac. Available with a visor as
the Mountain Twister. Inmolded. We are not
fond of the "lip" in the front that looks like a tiny
- Mountain Champ: Next down in Cratoni's
lineup is not inmolded, but has the angular
shell lines of the hypervent helmets and large rear
vents. It also uses the "Soft Shock" liner and has
Cratoni's "Quick Turn" adjuster on the rear
stabilizer. Has a visor, comes in part-black, with the
other part either red, yellow or blue. has mesh
protecting the front vents from insects.
- Champ: Appears identical to the Mountain
Champ except for the visor, but the catalog says it
does not have the Soft Shock liner, and it has the
internal Head Ring adjustable fitting system. Has mesh
protecting the front vents from insects.
- Tourismo: A youth helmet with elongated
lines and a rear projection. Has mesh protecting the
- Tourismo Evolution: We would call it
evolution, but to some it will appear to be a
throwback: a very well-rounded smooth-shelled helmet
with the Head Ring adjustable internal sizing ring.
Would be well suited for a spare "guest" helmet.
"Affordable." Has mesh protecting the front vents.
Unfortunately, the Cratoni catalog does not list CPSC
among the standards it passes, so it may not be
available in the US market.
- Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents
and the adjustable Head Ring one-size-fits-all
suspension. Rounded shape but with a molded in visor.
Has mesh protecting the front vents. Sells for $30.
- Fun: Another child model. This one has some
nose protection from a molded-in visor. Has the Quick
Turn rear stabilizer adjustment. Has mesh protecting
the front vents. The catalog does not list CPSC among
the standards it passes, so it may not be available in
the US market.
- V1: Cratoni's downhill racing model with
full chinbar, a fiberglass/kevlar shell and a visor
bolted on. It comes in some screaming colors and a full
chrome version, has mesh protecting the front vents and
sells for $295 (down $35 from last year). The catalog
does not list CPSC among the standards it passes, so it
may not be available in the US market.
For 1998, Ecko had BMX racing and skateboard helmets
with ANSI stickers but no ASTM certification. The
shells were fiberglass, with reasonable prices for BMX
at $129 and $139 for the full-face model. Visors are
snap on, and designed to pop off in an impact to avoid
a snagging hazard. Sizing is U.S. 6 to 7 3/4. Ecko also
distributes the RAD, billed as a multisport helmet. It
has very small vents and a very well-rounded exterior
surface, but we don't know what standards it might
meet. We have not seen their 2000 line yet.
We have not seen the Edge line for 2000.
They had the Odyssey for 1999, with Snell B-95
certification. It is a hyper-vented helmet with a nice
round profile similar to the Giro Helios, produced by
US Foam Co. It is inmolded, and retails for
$85. The others in their line are BMX helmets by Troy
Lee Designs, with hot graphics and the signature Troy
Lee bolted-on visors. The TL COMP-RF has a removable
chin bar and retails with a chrome finish for $250,
while the similar non-chrome model is $150. The TLCOMP,
a BMX helmet without face protection, retails for $120.
Epsira Oy Epsira Oy is the Finnish manufacturer of
Knock helmets, advertised as CE approved and supplied
to such organizations as the Finnish postal service (in
very visible yellow). Their 1998 designs appear to have
nicely rounded contours. One model has reflective chin
straps, a new feature we have not seen before. Epsira
Oy has other EPS products and some info up on EPS. We
are not aware of a U.S. distributor for their products,
and have not seen their 2000 line yet.
See AGV above.
Free agent has one model, a very well-rounded
skateboard helmet that comes in one size shell with
three different sizes of liner. It was said to meet the
CPSC standard for bike helmets. It is distributed to
bicycle dealers by KHS Distributors and retails for $30
in standard colors or $35 in chrome.
Gear Helmets is located in Malaysia, and has a line of
six helmets, mostly for toddlers or youth. They do lots
of cartoon character graphics, including Looney Tunes,
Thomas the Tank and Winnie the Pooh.
In its third year as a subsidiary of Bell, Giro's
production facility has been moved to Bell's plant in
Rantoul, IL, and the two have built a new deluxe joint
test facility taking up part of Giro's factory. Giro
still seems to have retained its independence in
design, and their helmets still have a unique fit.
Almost all Giro models show the same tendency toward
squared-off lines that we moaned about in the
introduction. Every one except the two toddler models
has the "shelf" effect in the rear posing a potential
snagging point in a fall, although they sharpness of
the shelf varies, and the newer models have it less
pronounced. Last year Giro dropped its hook-and-loop
visor mounts, which we considered ideal, in favor of
short plastic pieces that plug into the shell and
should pop off when needed. This year Giro has
reflective surfaces on the rear stabilizers of some of
its models, an ideal place because the surface is more
likely to be pointed directly back at the cars behind
than the surface on the helmet itself. This year Giro
dropped the Helios model that started the "hyper-vent"
trend in 1997, but added four new models.
In all, Giro continues to offer an impressive line of
high end helmets, and continues to promote them with
- E2: The new top of Giro's road line, with
squared off lines and huge vents. It has inmolded
construction. The lines are somewhat more rounded than
Giro's 1999 models, but they have used one very
pronounced rear "shelf" projection that looks as if it
were designed to hook something in a fall. This one
sells for an eye-watering $160 retail. It comes in very
visible yellow and white or in dark green.
- Exodus: Formerly the top of Giro's road
line, essentially a more squared-off Helios, with a
pronounced shelf projection at the rear. It has inmolded
construction and sells for $125 retail ($25 less than
- Boreas: hyper vents create a skimpy interior
foam contact surface, and this one unfortunately has
rear "prongs" that stick out about 30 mm, which should
not be allowed under the ASTM or CPSC standards, but
is. Inmolded construction. Retails for $150. The white
and yellow/orange models are very bright and visible.
- Hammerhead: Basically the Switchblade
downhill helmet without the chin guard option. It has
sharp lines, but it is nicely rounded in the rear,
unlike many Giro models, without the aero shelf. Inmolded construction. Retail
price is $100.
- Gila II: Redone for 2000, this one now has
inmolded construction. It has some of the rear shelf
effect, but is much more rounded than some Giros.
Retails for $75, the same price as the 1999 Gila with a
taped-on shell instead of inmolded. It also has some
reflective material on the rear stabilizer.
- Eclipse: A new 2000 design, Eclipse a
rounded exterior that ends in a severely pointed shelf
projection in the rear. Inmolded, retails
- Stelvio: Top of Giro's taped-on shell line
(not inmolded), this one was introduced in
1999. The construction method means the vents are a
little smaller and the contours a little more rounded,
but the Stelvio still manages to have a moderately
pointy rear shelf. Retail is
$50, down $10 from last year. (Giro's lower end helmets
are very similar in appearance, so some of the "2000
models" could be just shuffled from the 1999 line.)
- Mojave: Became Giro's $55 helmet as the
Torero was lowered to $45. Better rounded profile than
most Giros. Among other colors is something described
as "reflective white."
- Torero: Similar to the Mojave or Gila, with
fewer vents, a taped-on shell and a more rounded
profile. Comes in a nice bright yellow, among other
colors. Retail is $45.
- Laguna: Reasonably rounded, with the minimal
rear shelf and a $35 price tag.
- Riviera: A rounded design without a visor
and selling for $30, Giro's lowest price.
- Livewire: A very stylish helmet for
juveniles 8 years old and up, shaped like Giro's adult
models and selling this year for $40 ($45 in 1999).
- Wheelie: A kids helmet for those who are old
enough to pedal. Has reflective graphics on some models
and a normal visor. $30 this year ($35 in 1999).
- Minimoto: A toddler helmet, but vented. Has
a foam visor and retails for $30 this season ($35 in
- Mad Max: An all-out downhill racing helmet
with a carbon fiber layer on its chinbar, lower shell
and a beautifully rounded exterior, marred only by the
bolt on visor. Weighs over 2 pounds, costs $350.
- Switchblade: Giro's lighter weight helmet
for downhill racing with the optional chinbar lets you
use it on the road without the face protection. It has
larger vents than other downhill helmets, and an in-
mold shell. The rear is squared off but does not have a
"shelf" projection. It retails for $180.
- Ravine: Giro's ski helmet, which they
believe will meet the ASTM ski helmet standard when it
is published (Hopefully this year. We said that last
GT has merged with Schwinn but their helmet lines are
still separate this year. GT incorporates some helmets
made by Troxel into its full line of bikes and bike
shop accessories, offering dealers additional discounts
on bikes if they also carry the helmets. The line is
extensive, and all are ASTM/SEI certified. GT's mid-
priced helmets have nicely rounded profiles, and may be
worth a look for that reason. GT's visors are attached
with hook-and-loop material so they flip off easily in
a crash. All GT models have at least some reflective
material in the back and front. For 2000 the company
has a $10 crash replacement guarantee.
- Pegasus: GT's flag-bearer is a co-molded
(inmolded) helmet with vents everywhere and
the kind of sharp lines and projections in the rear
that we don't appreciate. Still, it's comparable to the
Bells and Giros, and the price is only $80, down 20%
- Teros: A much more rounded helmet
than the Pegasus, with fewer vents and a more
reasonably rounded rear "shelf." inmolded.
- Prowler: At $40, a nicely rounded design
with very little rear shelf and a visor, molded in the
shell and made of EPU foam rather than EPS. (Very
likely made in Taiwan, since that is where EPU is
used.) There are not many inmolded helmets
at this price point. EPU has a very fine cell structure
with a little less impact "bounce" than EPP, which is
good, but it is also a tad heavier.
- Orion GT's entry level helmet, and one of
their best-rounded designs, introduced in 1999.
Retails for $30.
- Lightning: A youth helmet that looks slick
but has a visor that is part of a single integrated
shell, preventing it from flipping off easily in a
crash. $35 retail.
- `LiL Thunder: A toddler
helmet with vents, Disney graphics and a very nicely
rounded shape. Has a rear stabilizer done in cloth
rather than plastic to respond to parents'
unwillingness to put a plastic stabilizer on a small
tot. $30 retail, down $5 from last year.
- GT Stunt: The hard-shell round design
pioneered by ProTec in the 1970's and beloved of
skateboarders. Demonstrates that with the right foam
and shell this design can meet the CPSC standard. The
roundest helmet in GT's line. Heavy compared to their
- Dyno BMX: A standard BMX design at $90 with
a chinbar for face protection. Visor bolts on. No
With the exception of the Pegasus it seems to us that
the GT's line is still more rounded than some others,
and offers some interesting helmets.
Hallbay's line is mostly Snell B-95 certified,
007 Sphinx, 951, 961 and 961g. The
111 and 111 LX are certified to B-90.
This brand is seldom if ever seen in the U.S. market.
Hallbay Pty Ltd
Hamax is a Scandinavian company whose line we first saw in
1997, but they were not at Interbike this year and we
don't know if their line will be marketed in the US
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of
Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets that are Snell B-95
or B 90 certified. Some are fully inmolded
models, while some have glued-on shells, but prices are
the same at about $40 retail. Adding a rear stabilizer
or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a half
each. Although the EPU makes the helmet a little
heavier than a Giro or Bell, if this company had more
name recognition it would be a real contender. Happy
Way sells mostly in Europe, but here they sell to
importers and OEM's with their own brands, and are
looking for distributors in the US. Their Snell B-95
models include the H-102, H303, H-305 (size medium
only), H-506 and the Little Pal toddler
Happy Way Enterprises
This Canadian manufacturer of EPP helmets has
a number of models on Snell's B-90 and B-95
certification lists. Their B-95 models included the
180, 380, 480, 580, A180, A280, A380 and
Infant Bicycle. Price points for the line are
low, and the EPP makes them multiple-impact helmets.
Headstart Technologies (Canada)
This Headstart is located in Malaysia, and should not
be confused with the Canadian manufacturer called
Headstart Technologies. Malaysia's Headstart is
represented by Damar in New York. They have seventeen
models on Snell's B90 list, and thirteen more on the B-
95 list. Many are graphic variations, including cartoon
Century is a West Coast distributor of bicycle
products, and has taken on the Zhuhai Safety lines
labeled T-Star and Celuk to sell to dealers or non-
profits at very low prices. They will take small
orders. The taped-on models go for $5 each, with
skateboard helmets at $6.50 and downhill mountain bike
helmets that look identical to major brands for just
$30. See the writeup below on Zhuhai Safety for
descriptions. They are certified to Snell's tough B-95
standard. We have a page up on inexpensive helmets with
information for contacting Century.
Helmets R Us (formerly Century Cycles)
HKS has fifteen helmets on Snell's B-90 list, and two
certified to B-95, including the HMT-105, HMT-201
(medium only), HMT-J08 (small) and the V-01
(small only). They manufacture for a number of U.S.
brands, including Schwinn, but we do not have any info
on their own branded line, if they have one.
J&B's line for 2000 has models beginning at about $7
retail to $40 tops. One has a full lower shell at $15,
unusual at that price point. A new inmolded
model runs about $40. Most of the profiles are the well-
rounded ones we favor. Colors are solid, with some
metallics, including a skateboard helmet in full chrome
for $40. Their toddler helmet goes for $15. Their BMX
model has bolted-on visor and full face protection. J&B
has an active program for schools and non-profits
either through a local shop or direct. Their helmets
are made in China.
Hong Kong Sports
A supplier of low-cost helmets to toy and discount
stores, Kent has 18 models on Snell's B-95 list.
Knucklebone sells accessories and clothing for BMX.
Their fiberglass-shell BMX model has a full chinbar, no
vents and a price tag of $110. It has the requisite
bolted-on visor, and the catalog says it meets the ASTM
and CPSC bicycle helmet standards. Their Jumper
model is the familiar skateboarders profile,
exceptionally smooth and round, with a painted and
clear-coated shell that includes a chrome model and
another in "black chrome." It retails for $40.
Lazer is produced by a Belgian company, Cross S.A.,
with a full line of bike helmets seldom seen here in
the US. Their helmets are interesting, and their
advertising is a little different: "..Quick Grip
System" allows everyone to adapt the helmet to his
morphology, even when riding your bike. Loosening a bit
during hill climbing and come back to a firmer grip
during down hill can be done in a snap."
Lazer's replacement program has some drawbacks. It
provides for replacement at 30% of initial cost only
during the first two years of use, and does not cover
the BMX helmets "because of the risk inherent to their
- Millennium is a new model for 2000,
retailing for $125. It has a reasonably rounded
profile, marred by strap anchors that project above the
shell and one vent that has an arrow-shaped upper lip.
It is inmolded with large vents. One of the
colors is a nice bright yellow.
- Protex is another new model for 2000, and is
also inmolded. It has a very nicely rounded
profile, but again is marred by hard strap anchors that
poke out above the plastic.
- Revolution is another 2000 design, again
with the external strap anchors, but otherwise a well-
rounded design with large vents inmolded.
- Performance is an $80 inmolded
model with fewer vents and the external strap anchors.
It is new for 2000.
- Ultrax has an internal aluminum ring to
reinforce the foam, since it is not molded in the
shell. The profile is admirably rounded, and the strap
anchors are internal, so this helmet has one of the
most desirable profiles available. It retails for $65.
The Ultrax 240 model has mesh covering the vents
to keep the bees out.
- Compact a nicely rounded profile that
unfortunately has Lazer's external strap anchors. It
retails for $45
- Tonic is a $35 nicely-rounded design, but
again has the external strap anchors. It comes in extra
small to extra large sizes covering youth through
- Max is a toddler helmet with nice graphics
and a molded in visor that sells for $25.
- Kid Phoenix is an $18 toddler helmet,
matched by the Phoenix Senior for adults at $30.
The senior is a very well rounded design with no
external strap anchors.
- Excalibur is a vented BMX model with bolted-
on visor that sells for $200, or in carbon fiber with
an aluminum reinforcing ring as the Factory
Rider for $300.
This was our first real look at the Lazer line, and we
found the helmets interesting. You will not see their
aerodynamic Chronos model for time trialing
here, since the catalog says: "Don't wear this helmet
for impact protection: it does not meet any safety
Limar is a European brand marketed in the US by
Trialtir. Their models all have bright colors
available and nice graphics.
- F-107 and F-107+: The F-107 was introduced
in 1999, followed by the plus in 2000. For this year
both are inmolded, which they call a "micro-
fused outer shell." Both are typical hyper vented
models, more rounded than most, although with a
pronounced rear "shelf" point. Unfortunately both have
an external bump for the strap anchors typical of the
Lazer models described above (but the F-107 is not one
of Lazer's models). The plus model has a shell on the
lower section where most helmets are just foam, and
includes a detachable visor.
- F-104: this one is nicely rounded but still
has the rear shelf effect. It has moderate ventilation
and is not inmolded. It retails for $70.
Limar's F-40, Quack and Downhill helmets no longer
appear in the Trialtir catalog. Trialtir will replace a
crashed Limar for the first two years for $20.
Louis Garneau is a Canadian designer whose helmet line
has grown over the years to a very impressive
collection, with the exception of the new 2000 models.
Some of their helmets are inmolded. On
others they use polypropylene lower sections, and some
have a lower shell to protect the foam from nicks
(reducing sliding resistance as well). Visors are
mounted with hook-and-loop fasteners to facilitate
flipping off easily in impacts.
For 2000, Louis Garneau has added two new models with
only partial shells, leaving EPS foam exposed in a
technique pioneered by Bell some years back and
dropped by them this year. Why any responsible helmet
designer would do this is beyond us, given the evidence
that plastic slides better on pavement in an impact
than foam. (Check this link for more on that) We would
recommend steering away from those two models, Le Mask
As usual, Louis Garneau has cut some models from the
1999 line, including the Rock and Road, Ozone, Space,
Space V, Saturn and Saturn V. Unfortunately they were
among the roundest, smoothest models.
- Genius: The top of the line, introduced in
1998, it has a multitude of vents, too many ribs on the
shell to suit us and a price tag of $119. It is molded
in the shell. Small sections of the outer shell have a
rippled washboard effect, which can only be for
styling. But the rear shelf effect is better than most,
and as other designs have appeared with even more
squared-off lines and sharper ribs the Genius has
become relatively less objectionable.
- Le Mask: A throwback to the days when
helmets had no shells, a look that Bell introduced with
their Evo Pro and dropped this year. Large areas of
foam are not covered in plastic, and if you hit on one
of those areas it will not slide as readily as plastic
would. A good design to avoid, retailing for $70.
- Globe: A much better rounded design than the
upscale models, although the ribs are still pronounced.
Chosen by Consumer Reports as a Best Buy in the
December, 1997 supplement to their 1997 article
on helmets. It was the only helmet in the June,
1999 Consumer Reports article that achieved the
highest impact rating. Taped-on shell, retails for $50.
- Roller: Garneau's new 2000 model for in-line
skating helmets is inmolded and has a
beautifully rounded profile. The vents are skimpy for
hot weather, and the colors are drab or black, but if
you are crashing at high speed this is the profile you
- Buzz: Garneau's downhill helmet, like all
their models, is their own unique design. It is molded
in the shell with Kevlar reinforcing and has vents
covered with mesh to keep the bees out. It has a full
face guard with vents and mesh of its own. The visor
attachment is hook-and-loop. The price is an eye-
- Wings: Somewhat similar to the Genius, but
styled for mountain bikers. Hyper vents. Molded in the
shell. No shelf in the rear. Unfortunately it has foam
areas on top that are raised above the plastic shell,
an unnecessary style feature that could increase
sliding resistance in a fall. Garneau's best seller at
- Alien: Sharper lines and more but smaller
vents, again for Mountain bikers and again with a taped-
on shell. Retails for $60.
- Century and Century V: Introduced in 1999,
with a very nicely rounded profile. Reasonable vents,
taped-on shell, very light weight. The V model has a
visor. Retail is $40, or $35 without the visor.
- Pro-Am and Pro-Am V: New for 2000. Has lots
of ribs, including some that are not even associated
with vents but were just thrown in for style where a
smooth section would have been better. Retails for $45
with visor or $40 without.
- Le Tour and Le Tour V: New for 2000 and
nicely rounded, although it still has some of the
"washboard" ripples in the shell where they are not
functional. Retail is $35 with visor and $30 without.
- Grunge: For the juvenile crowd aged 6 to 16,
this one has a very well rounded shell and graphics
including flames and stripes of all stripes. Retails
- Terrible: Toddler helmet no doubt named for
the French phrase "l'enfant terrible." Has a molded-in
visor and taped-on shell. Graphics include VW bugs,
cows and a police car. Designed for kids 5 to 10. The
retail price is $35.
- Baby Boomer: Toddler helmet for the 5 and
under crowd, round and smooth, with a few vents and
cute graphics, including the black and white Felix
graphic that is styled after Louis' own Dalmatian, and
Felix-driving-a-Volkswagen. Is this model named for
"baby fall down go boom?" Retail is $35.
Louis Garneau still has a free replacement guarantee.
An offshore manufacturer for whom we have no info. They
have three models on Snell's B-90 list, the Aerogo
338, Aerogo 339 and Aerogo 388. The Aerogo
368 is Snell B-95 certified.
This Taiwanese firm makes a line of five helmets in
Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU). They have been making car
parts for ten years and recently branched out into
helmets. Colors are mostly drab, but there is a white
or stars-and-stripes model available for most models.
The profiles are nicely rounded, and prices are down in
under-$10 range FOB Taiwan. Her Sheen was looking for a
US distributor when we last talked to them.
We missed Mongoose at Interbike, so these comments are
based on their 1999 line. The Mongoose line is made for
Brunswick and Service Cycle in China. All models have
nicely-rounded shapes, taped-on shells and visors. They
range around $20 to $25 retail, and include the Air
Flow, Echelon, Rage, Small Wonder (child), and two BMX
models, one full chin bar version at $80 and an open-
face model at $75. Both BMX models have bolted-on
Her Sheen Enterprise
In 1997 Motorika introduced its folding helmet called
the Snapit. This is a true hard shell helmet made with
GECET foam and a nylon glass-reinforced shell. The
shell is made in two pieces and designed to fold one
half into the other in a crescent-shaped form much like
a piece of cantaloupe. It comes with a hip-hugger belt
so you can wear it after the fold. It has ASTM
certification, and we don't know if it is certified to
meet the 1999 CPSC standard or not. It weighs 16 oz,
not bad for a hard shell, but about 6 oz more than most
of the helmets on the market today, and it feels heavy.
The introductory retail price was $79, which seemed
high to us for a niche product. We did not like the
ridge where the two pieces meet when the helmet is
unfolded in the wearing position, which we feel could
present a potential snag point For that reason alone
would not recommend this one. We have not heard from
Motorika what their 2000 plans are.
Nuovo Meyster is an Italian company hoping to bring its
helmets to the U.S. market. Their line will sell in
mass merchant outlets, but when we met them at
Interbike in 1997 they had not yet certified their line
to any U.S. standards. They had a Stelvio model with a
very well-rounded profile, but almost no vents that
will sell for $30 to $40, and a child helmet called the
Flash. We do not know their marketing plans for 2000.
Nuovo Meyster, SPA
Odyssey is a BMX products company. Their BMX helmet is
the Apache, with a fiberglass shell, full chin bar,
some vents, and (unfortunately) a bolted-on visor. The
helmet is made in Hong Kong, and retails for $95 in
normal finish or $130 in full chrome.
See Qranc below.
Oryx has one model on Snell's B-90 list, the Vertex. We
are not in contact with them.
This Portuguese company has one basic helmet shape sold
in four different levels of graphics, visors and trim
for $15 to $36 retail. They all have well-rounded
contours but a modest rear bump in the shell for a
fitting that holds the strap. The models we saw at
Interbike in 1999 had CE (European) certification but
had not yet been tested against the more stringent CPSC
standard. They were not at Interbike this year, so we
don't know their plans for 2000.
ProRider is a supplier of BMX and bicycle helmets from
China and is also the home of the CNS (Children - N -
Safety) National Helmet Program, selling directly to schools and
non-profit organizations. They have a multi-purpose
helmet certified to Snell's N-94 multipurpose standard.
They also have eight bicycling-only models certified to
Snell B-95, all with nicely rounded profiles. Their BMX
helmets have a full chin bar, the usual fiberglass
shell and the usual unfortunately bolted-on visors.
We have not seen a Pro-Tec catalog or company rep from
its current owner, Mosa Sports, but there were at least two
of their models shown by others at Interbike in
September, 1999. One was their classic round
skateboarder's model with squishy foam, the second had
an EPS liner. The shape is round and smooth, and the
style is the classic skateboarders helmet introduced by
Pro-Tec under other ownership back in the 70's.
Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of
helmets in EPU foam, two of them appearing on Snell's B-
95 certification list. Several of their models are molded
in the shell and have a very high quality appearance,
seeming solid (if a bit heavy) in the hand, including
the new F-22 in their 2000 line. Their Raptor has a
spring-loaded read stabilizer. Most of Prowell's
models retail for about $30. The company is actively
seeking distributors in the US for their products.
Originally known as Protective Technologies
International, PTI is a very large producer of bicycle
helmets, mostly marketed through discount stores such
as the Sports Authority and Toys `R Us. We have not yet
seen their 2000 line, but we find PTI helmets in
discount stores at prices in the $10 to $20 range.
We have not seen OGK's Qranc line for
2000. The 1999 line featured the ReaQtor, a thoroughly
updated, hyper-ventilated, helmet with extensive rear
coverage and a shell covering the lower portion. The
exterior has squared-off, sharply-defined lines and the
rear shelf projections that we hope the ASTM standard
will eventually prevent. It retails for $140 and has
Snell B-95 certification for the Large and Medium
sizes, while the Small is only Snell B-90. There is
also a downhill model called the
Kamaquazi, with facial protection, Snell B-95
certification in all sizes and a retail price of $269.
Ritchey's Tomahawk model is Snell B-90 certified, and
should be of interest primarily to people who ride
The European manufacturer is new to the US helmet
market for the 2000 season, although they have been
doing sunglasses and sporting attire under founder Rudy
Barbazza since 1985. We are not sure which models you
may find in the US market, since some of their racing
helmets could not meet the CPSC standard and would not
be legal here. In general their models have flowing,
graceful lines in the rounded contours we favor. Most
have no extreme shelf effects in the rear, although
some do. As you move toward the lower end of the line
the shapes improve to rounder, smoother, safer designs.
Some are inmolded. Visors are attached with
hook-and-loop. Rudy Project has some interesting
innovations, and we hope they will find US distributors
Although this company has six models on Snell's B-90
list, they apparently do not market in the U.S.
SCS (London) Ltd
Schwinn helmet brand returned in 1999, represented by
new models made for Schwinn in China, probably by Hong
Kong Sports. Visors are hook-and-loop mounted. Some or
all are Snell B-90 certified, so check the sticker
There is a youth model and a toddler helmet as well,
both Snell B-90 certified, retailing for $30 or $35.
There is also a skateboard model, with an EPS foam
liner, for $40. Schwinn packages sun glasses with some
of its youth helmets.
- Typhoon 1.0 has the most vents, comes in red
or blue and retails for $50. For 2000 it is molded in
the shell, unfortunately with some raw foam showing
that is not covered by plastic shell.
- Typhoon 2.0 has smaller vents and lacks a
rear stabilizer but retails for $33. Colors are red,
blue and silver.
manufacturer located in mainland Shenzhen. We have
not seen their line, but they have informed us that they
produce 15 models, including some BMX style with fiberglass
shells and some rated as bicycle/skate helmets. They say
they already export to 20 countries, including the US.
Shenzhen Hezhen Bicycle Inc.
Although we have seen their 2000 line, this Taiwanese
manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU
helmets are inmolded, and are offered with
or without a plastic shell (EPU will form a "skin" in
the mold similar to a shell in any event). The styles
are well-rounded, and venting is not extreme. They have a
fiberglass BMX model. Dealer prices for the standard
bicycle helmets in quantity were under $5 for the 1998
year, but we don't have current pricing. You may see
their helmets with other brands on them.
Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development
Shih Kwang makes a helmet with a reading light molded
into the front foam, fitting flush with the front lip
of the helmet, and a rear led flasher embedded the same
way. It retails for $40.
Shih Kwang International
Specialized is one of the major U.S. helmet
manufacturers and a supplier of a wide range of bicycles and
components. Their 2000 helmets are all still certified to Snell's B-
90 standard (none to B-95). There were at least some
changes in all of their helmets for the 2000 season, in
part based on wind tunnel research on vent shapes. The
Specialized catalog says that due to differences in
riding speeds their road (racing) helmets have more and
smaller vents than their "recreational" models with
fewer and larger vents optimized for slower speeds. But
whoever wrote that copy had not compared the Sub Zero
road helmet and the Enduro Pro dirt rider's helmet,
since they are exactly the opposite. Perhaps the
differences are too subtle for us to follow. All models
have reflective logos front and rear, but we were not
impressed with the degree of reflectivity.
Specialized is producing announcements: radio ads and
print samples, and has a $20 kit for teachers. The
Specialized catalog again features their "No-fault
Helmet Crash Replacement Policy," but tells you to call
them at (408) 779-6229 to find out what that means. One cyclist
who emailed them got a response that they are currently giving
you a 20% discount on a replacement helmet.
- King Cobra and Queen Cobra: The top of the
line has "mouth port technology" in the form of an air
vent in the front where it will channel air to a
sweatband. The shape is not smooth, although the
pronounced ribs are rounded, as is the moderate rear
projection. Inmolded, including the lower
shell, "which in turn lets us reduce weight and
maximize ventilation." Plastic rear stabilizer, snap-on
visor. Retail is still $140. Picked by Bicycling
magazine as the "Best Helmet" in their January, 1999
issue. The Queen Cobra is new for 2000, and features "a
tasteful blue floral design developed by women racers
here at Specialized for women racers everywhere."
- Sub Zero: another inmolded design, but
without the King Cobra's lower shell, this one has been
in Specialized's line for some time. Has a moderate
rear projection and the sweatband-level front mouth
port. Retail price is $80, Specialized's cheapest
- Enduro Pro: pitched as a King Cobra for the
off-road racer, with a pronounced rear shelf and a
visor. (We don't know why an off-road rider would want
the "aero" design, but maybe it's fashion.) Molded in
the shell, with a spring-loaded rear stabilizer.
Retails for $90.
- Enduro Comp: New for 2000, with a somewhat
more rounded profile than the King Cobra, although it
still shares with the Cobra a rear overhang that is not
very well faired. Taped-on shell. Retail price is $50.
- Mountain Man: Introduced in 1999, with a
taped-on shell and sharp lines on the sides. Has a
visor and that rear shelf, only moderately faired in.
Retails for $40.
- Airwave: a budget model introduced in 1999,
with a taped-on shell, fewer vents and reasonably
rounded lines and rear projection. It retails for $30.
- Airwave Mega: youth version of the Airwave,
again retailing for $30.
- Kid Cobra: Even the classic round, smooth
toddler helmet has been given squarer lines, but not to
an extreme. Taped-on shell, vents, cute graphics,
reflective material in the rear. Reflectors actually
make more sense in adult helmets, but we are glad to
see them anywhere they appear.
- Fatboy BMX Full Face: The title says it all
- a fiberglass shell BMX helmet with the unfortunately
bolted-on visor, no vents, and squared off lines
infecting the chin bar design. The retail price is
Sportscope has just one model, introduced in mid-year
1999, but it is radically different from any other
helmet in this review. Constructed of sections of foam closely
connected by an inner mesh, the Sportscope helmet can conform
to your head, perhaps solving some tricky fit problems.
We had some initial doubts about a flexible helmet, but
we have seen the lab test results proving that it meets
the ASTM, CPSC, Canadian, Australian and European standards with no difficulty, and
showing that the toddler size also meets the impact
requirements for the Canadian child helmet standard,
which has a lower permissible g level than U.S.
standards do, requiring a "softer landing." The helmet also meets the Australian standard's
requirements for point loading, so the edges of the foam
sections apparently do not dig into your head in an impact. We
don't particularly like the ridges on the surface of the helmet
between foam pieces, preferring a smoother shape for better
sliding on pavement. (See Rounder, Smoother, Safer above.)
And one of our testers found that the
Sportscope helmet he tried seemed comfy for about 20 minutes, then
began giving him a headache, evidently from pressure
where the edge of one of the sections of foam was
contacting his head. So this one may not be for
everybody, but if you have a particularly difficult-to-fit
head it may be worth a try. Available at Sears,
Sports Authority and other mass merchant stores for
Strategic Sports produces helmets for a number of U.S.
companies with the U.S. company's brand, and have
informed us that they shipped 1.5 million helmets
worldwide in 1998. For 2000 five of their helmets
appear on Snell's B-95 list and five more on the B-90
list, including a child model and a downhill/BMX
helmet. We have comments on some models under the
Action Bicycle brand above.
Tong Ho Hsing sends its line to the U.S. through
Sunbeam Trading Company of Vernon, California. For 2000
they have 11 bicycle helmet models in all shapes and
styles, including some very nicely rounded adult
helmets, a toddler helmet, two BMX models and a number
of others that appear to be equestrian, skate or hockey
helmets. One of their BMX helmets is actually certified
to Snell's extremely rigorous M-95 motorcycle helmet
standard. Three of their helmets are certified to
Snell's B-95 bicycle helmet standard. The graphics tend
to be plain, but these may be good values in the under-
$30 price range.
Time brought their helmets to the US in 1999. They are
generally an up-scale supplier of bicycle accessories
designed for racing or a racing image. We do not have
their pricing for 2000.
Time lists their warranty as 12 months, but they don't
say whether or not that covers crashes.
- Xirtes: the top of Time's line, molded in
the shell, many vents, very little rear overhang, some
pointy effect in the front, overall better rounded than
some. Unique plastic strap stiffeners on the sides.
- Kaos: for mountain biking, with a taped-on
shell that does not permit the vents to be as extensive
as the Xirtes.
- AKTA: has one of the worst rear projection
shelves we have seen. Comes in drab red or blue.
- Kador: for five years and up, has a molded-
in visor and taped on shell, with small vents.
Trek supplies a wide line of bikes and accessories to
dealers, and their helmet graphics are designed to
complement your Trek bike. Their Gary Fisher
subsidiary has the same helmet line with different
model designations. Their line for 2000 has five
Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed
- Photon: inmolded design with an inmolded lower
shell as well. Squared off ribs, but the rear is much
smoother than Trek's other models. Can be had in a
bright yellow, but may be phasing out. Retails for
- Himal: an inmolded design with moderately
squared-off lines and a small shelf projection in the
rear. It has a lower shell as well, molded on for 2000,
and one variation comes in blue EPS.
- Airphoria: Retails for $50.
- Tempest: Similar lines to the Himal, but
with a taped on shell and no lower shell. Retail price
- Vapor: Squared-off lines, some rear
shelf projection, taped on shell, "new internal shape"
and a visor for $35 retail.
- Scout: A youth helmet based on the Vapor,
with the addition of anti-pinch chin pads, selling for
$35 with a visor.
- Little Dipper: Infant-toddler model update
for 2000 with more vents, better graphics, a soft
rubber visor, an anti-pinch chin pad and a $35 price
tag (up $5 from last year).
Troxel sells its helmets under the Performance Headgear brand
exclusively through GT. Check the GT writeup above. Last year
Troxel also had a "multi-sport" helmet in the toy store
near us packaged with wrist guards, selling for $7.99.
It is certified to ASTM F-1447, which is the bicycle
standard, not a multi-purpose standard.
Troy Lee has dropped its Vapor bicycle helmets for 2000
and concentrates on their traditional BMX line. Their
carbon fiber shell Daytona BMX helmet has an
"aerodynamic fin" at the rear, another entirely
unnecessary interruption in the ideal smooth outer
surface of a helmet. With vents and chin bar it sells
for an eye-watering $490. Not including the optional
larger Stingray visor at $22. Troy Lee also sells
an add-on rear bump called the TLD Stabilizer, so you
can add a bump to your smooth helmet for only $18 to
$22! For their fans, Troy Lee graphics are second to
none, and are used on other brands as well. But they
continue to use bolted-on BMX visors, claiming that the
plastic mounts will pull out if the visor is snagged,
so if you wear one and crash, be sure not to catch your
visor on anything.
Troy Lee Designs
This German company was selling two models in the US
1999, both skate helmets. One is similar in shape to
classic Pro-Tec, and sells for $25. The other, the
Odin, has a more "bucket" shape and sells for $35. Both
are admirably round and smooth. We have not contacted
them in 2000.
We do not know this company, whose name indicates they
are probably a molder of EPS. They have one model, the
Edge, on Snell's B-90 list, and one called the Odyssey
on the B-95 list. (See Edge Helmets above.)
U.S. Foam Company
Vigor Sports (Hong Jin Cycle Corp.) is a Korean company
with a large and varied line of helmets, many of them
on the Snell B-95 and B-90 lists. They are one of only
two companies with helmets on the N-94 multipurpose
list. For 2000 all have taped-on shells. Their BMX
models mostly have bolted-on visors. Some of the 2000
helmets look like renamed models from 1999, but others
are completely new.
Vigor still has an extensive line, and most of their
helmets are still Snell certified. They have now
introduced four ski helmets, including three on Snell's
recreational ski and snowboarding list and one for
- V-Tec Sport: a reasonably rounded design
with moderately large vents and a squared off shelf
projection in the rear. Snell B-95 certified. Comes in
bright yellow and has a snap-on visor. Retails for $35.
- Slice Pro: Vigor's hypervent model has
nicely rounded lines spoiled by a pronounced and
unfaired shelf in the rear. Retail price is $35.
- Lexus: Updated and not as smooth and round
for 2000, this one is a "smaller size helmet for
women." It has a pony tail port, and comes in extra
small as well as medium and large. Retail is $35.
Very nicely rounded profile with large vents for a
taped-on-shell model. Retails for $30.
- Nitrous NOX:
Billed as an "all-weather helmet," but we don't know
why, unless it is the visor. Made of EPU and molded in
the shell, making it different from Vigor's other
models, and making it likely that it is produced in
Taiwan. Has large vents and an unfaired rear shelf.
Retails for $30.
- HPX: Nicely rounded profile, no visor, and
has Snell B-95 certification. It costs $30 retail.
- Duo: billed as a Multi Sport helmet, but is
not one of the models certified to Snell's N-94
standard. It does meet the tough B-95 bicycle standard,
however, and retails for $25.
- Cyclo-V: Billed as a "recreational helmet"
and priced at $22, this new for 2000 model has a round,
smooth profile and moderate venting.
- Avail: Probably the roundest, smoothest
model in Vigor's line, and it meets Snell's B-95
standard, but it comes in only two drab colors.
Retails for $20.
- Li'l Tyke: A toddler helmet certified to
Snell B-95. It has vents, a pinchproof buckle and an
adjustable sizing ring. Comes only in xxs and retails
- Zero G-1: BMX helmet with fiberglass shell
certified to Snell's N-94 multi-purpose standard in
both its full-face and open-face models. Convertible by
removing the chin bar. Retails for $110.
- Zero G2: Another BMX design with Snell N-94
certification, full chin bar, fiberglass shell and
- Zero G3: Another BMX design, but with an
open face and a rounder profile in the "shorty" style.
Fiberglass shell. Retail price is $80.
- Zero G-4: A youth BMX design with Snell N-94
certification and a full face chin bar. Plastic shell.
Comes in XS, XXS and XXXS sizes. Retails for $110.
- Vamoose: A downhill racing design certified
to Snell B-95 with a Kevlar reinforced fiberglass shell
and large vents. Retails for $95.
- Rebel: Full face BMX and downhill with a
plastic shell with vents and a bolted on visor. Retails
- Contender: A new 2000 BMX model. Has a
fiberglass shell with vents and a bolted on visor with
twin bolts. Retails for $75.
- 10-80: A skating helmet design with the
classic smooth, round exterior and an EPS liner.
- Extreme Five-Forty: A skating helmet design
with the classic smooth, round exterior and an
interesting liner that combines squishy foam for
multiple small impacts with EPS foam for the harder
hits, requiring replacement afterward. Vigor says it
meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, and list it as
a bike, snow and skate helmet. Retails for $30.
This Chinese manufacturer has an extensive line of
bicycle and BMX helmets. Most are sold by others as
house brands, including some of the best-known in the
US, with others labeled with the Caluk or T-Star brand.
Their numerous adult, youth and toddler models feature
both nicely-rounded and sharply-edged shells. Some are
inmolded, and some have lower shells. Two are on Snell's
B-95 list, the Series 08 and Series 08 9. You
can find their helmets at very reasonable prices for
helmet promotion programs through Century Helmets
Zhuhai Star Safety, located in Zhuhai, China but a
separate company from Zhuhai Safety above, produces
one child model certified to Snell B-95. We are not in
contact with them.
Zuhai Star Safety