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Bicycle Helmets for the 2005 Season

This is history!

Here is the current year




Summary: Our review of helmets being sold in 2005. Trends first, then individual models. Index to manufacturers last.




Trends this year

There are some new helmets in 2005 that are worth a look if you are inclined to replace yours. The comments below identify some actual advances in helmetry. At last there are some new models appearing with the rounder, smoother profile that we think is best for crashing. (We have a page on snag points.)

At the high end, you will still find bigger vents and bigger prices, but no verifiable improvement in safety performance. Giro is the price king for ordinary road helmets, with Lance Armstrong's helmet at $225, but some others are close behind. Target and Wal-Mart both have models that meet the same CPSC impact standard at an everyday price of $7.14. And for $15 they both have better looking and better fitting models.

Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, are more common this year. They work well for some, but not at all for others, who find that they have to tighten the ring uncomfortably to get a stable fit. We have a page on ring fit systems for background.

In the descriptions below we comment frequently on strap anchors, the little pieces that hold the ends of the straps. If they stick up above the shell, they are an unnecessary impediment to smooth sliding when you hit the pavement. The best helmets put the anchors below the surface of the shell, or at least recess the anchors to make a smooth surface. Some just run the straps between shell and liner, eliminating the front anchors. If a manufacturer is asking you to pay a premium price for a helmet, we think the least they should do is recess the strap anchors or put them under the shell.

Foams are finally evolving. In addition to EPS, EPP and Zorbium there is now a foam on the market called Tau ReUp foam used by Shain that encapsulates EPS beads in EPU to provide a limited level of multi-impact protection. Shain has published data in their catalog showing that the foam can take four impacts at the same location before it fails to pass on bike helmet drops in the lab. That's three more impacts than EPS, although it falls short of being a true multi-impact foam equivalent to what you find in football helmets. In addition Pro Tec has a modified EPP as well that they are calling SXP. They say it permits them to meet multi-impact standards without making their helmets thicker. And some Hopus models have a layer of resilient APE foam in addition to EPS for multi-impact performance, a feature they call SIS. We have a page on foams for details.

We recommend looking for a helmet that:

    1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. (Look for the sticker inside) For skateboard use find one that also meets the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard.

    2. Fits you well.

    3. Has a rounded, smooth exterior with no snag points.

    4. Has no more vents than you need.

We always recommend checking Consumer Reports for brand and model recommendations. They had a helmet article in their July, 2004 issue, rating 29 helmets. Unfortunately, it covers only a handful of the helmets on the market, and is already out of date.

Since there is no lab test data available for most helmets we do not make brand and model recommendations. We do recommend steering away from models with obvious disadvantages like snag points on the outer surface. And it will not surprise you that it is advantageous to have lots of thicker, less dense foam in a helmet, leading to our recommendation that you find one with no more vents than you need. It is frustrating for us not to have specific model recommendations based on impact performance, but the data just does not exist in the public domain.


Some Interesting New Models

  • Alpha Micro Shell V-13: J&B's low-cost line for bike stores includes this very round and smooth helmet with decent vents, taped-on shell and a rear stabilizer selling for under $20 in a bike shop. Often the roundest, smoothest helmets are in the least expensive lines.

  • SixSixOne All Ride: new for 2005 and an exciting (to us) helmet that proves it is possible to design a rounder profile helmet with contemporary styling. There is no rear snag point. The All Ride has lots of vents, multiple shell pieces covering most of the foam all the way down, a ring fit system with dial adjustment, bug mesh in the front vents and a removable visor. The shell could be smoother, the strap anchors better recessed and the front vent area could be greater, but this is a good looking helmet. Retail price on the Web site is $70, but a dealer could be down around $50. In late 2005 Sixsixone dropped the Allride from its catalog due to slow sales, but the remaining stock was made available to dealers at a lower dealer cost. The good news is that what appears to be the same helmet design is available as the Limar 801, and Limar is not dropping it.

  • Bell Citi - Marketed for the commuter and in-town user. Bell's Metro was introduced in 2004, with a design marred by the addition of rubberized surfaces below the shell, but featuring one of the few remaining pony tail ports, a useful feature. there are plenty of vents and a large frontal vent area, indicating that cooling should be very good. The Citi is an improvement with a lower price that drops some of the "features" of the Metro for a plainer, better helmet. Strap anchors are only partly recessed and stick up well above the shell. Retail is $45 for the Citi or $70 for the Metro.

  • Bell Deuce and Bell Impulse: down near the bottom of Bell's mass merchant line are these two gems, round and smooth and fully discounted. Molded in the shell construction. Look for them at a big box store near you, or find them on the Internet for $15 plus shipping.

  • Limar 801: new for 2005, this commuter-style helmet has the rounder, smoother lines and is the shape we recommend. This one has mesh in the vents for bug protection and a ring-fit system. It retails for $75.

  • Michelin MX Urban: another commuter style helmet with very large vents and rounded lines, but not as round and smooth as the Metro or the Sixsixone All Ride. Molded in the shell with a ring-fit system. Translucent gray visor. Retails for $45. With a black visor and different graphics it is the Street.

  • Shain BK51 Urban: Shain's 2005 round and smooth commuter model. The external strap anchors are partly recessed, and the vents are very unusual crescent shapes. It appears to have better than usual rear coverage, but we have not measured it. There is a light or light mount on the rear. Standard EPS foam, no inner shell, removable visor. We don't have the retail price.

  • Shain BK 1000: a multi-impact helmet using their "Tau Multi Impact Technology" foam, with huge vents, a moderate rear snag point and internal strap anchors. Shain's catalog includes results of lab tests that show their helmet handling four hard impacts in the same spot before registering over 300g. Retail price is $218, up there with Lance Armstrong's Giro.


    Chrono Time Trial Helmets

    Chrono models represent a niche market but most manufacturers have one for image purposes. For time trialing and pursuit events on a track the exaggerated aero tail of these teardrop-shaped helmets probably poses no snagging problems, and the rest of the shape is ideal for meeting the pavement very hard. A growing number of them now meet the CPSC standard and can be sold in the US. Louis Garneau started the trend in 2002 with his Chrono model, and this year there are others from Lazer, Limar and Shain.


    Skateboard helmets

    The "skateboard" helmets now on the market are mostly bicycle helmets in the classic skate style. They are fine for bike riding, as long as the sticker inside certifies that they meet the CPSC standard. If you need a multi-impact helmet for aggressive, trick, extreme skating or skateboarding with daily crashes, look for a true multi-impact skate model that has a sticker inside saying it meets ASTM F1492. A search for "dual certified" on this page will bring them up, or we have them listed on our page of dual certified helmets. Beware of some inferior models still available in skate shops that only meet a feeble European EN standard. The CPSC regulation covers only bicycle helmets, and there is no US law that says a skate helmet has to meet any standard whatsoever. Fortunately the selection of dual certified skate/bike helmets began expanding during the 2004 season. The biggest advance for skateboarders is still the revamping of the Pro Tec line in 2004 with a new foam that is a vast improvement over most of the earlier Pro Tec designs.


    Smallest and Largest Helmets

    Bell's Kinghead remains the biggest lid you can find, but their new Triton (Sequoia in 2005) is nearly as large. We have a page up on helmets for large heads. The smallest helmets advertised are the L.A.S Baby and the Atlas Drago, both for 45cm heads, available in Europe but not a US model. Pryme has a BMX helmet (!) nearly as small at 46 cm. Ask your pediatrician about his one before buying! We have a page explaining tiny helmets, and another page asking if you really want to take your baby along.


    Rounder Heads

    If your head is the rounder shape sometimes associated with Asian parentage, do a search for the term "Asian" on this page to find helmets that manufacturers tell us fit rounder heads. Unless we have missed one, only two manufacturers make that claim: Selev and Sportscope. Alternately, you can try to find a helmet made for the Japanese market, where heads are round. We have a page up on fitting rounder heads.


    Outside the US

    In markets outside the US you will probably find helmets that meet your national standard or the European standard. The CEN bicycle helmet standard can be met with thinner foam and a less protective helmet than what is required to meet the US CPSC standard. (We have a page up on that.) Some European helmets may exceed the CEN standard by a wide margin, but there is no data available to us to find out which ones they are. Even major US brands sometimes produce less protective models for the European market to make them thinner and lighter so they can be competitive there. (We can pick up a CEN standard helmet and feel the difference immediately.) For that reason we recommend buying a helmet with a US CPSC sticker inside if you can. Those helmets are available from a number of European or Asian manufacturers as well as US producers. If there is no CPSC sticker inside the helmet it does not meet the CPSC standard.


    Asian Sourcing

    Asian sourcing has become the rule for most helmet companies for at least part of their lines. Many of the familiar US brands are made companies in China and Taiwan. Some are still made in the US, Italy, Australia and Germany. Origin does not necessarily determine a helmet's quality. Some inexpensive Chinese helmets are the equal of anything made in the US or Europe, and some European helmets made to the CEN standard may have a high quality look and feel but too little foam to meet the CPSC standard.


    "Women-Specific" Designs

    Women-Specific has been a buzz phrase in the industry for a decade, but the designs are mostly no different from Lance's helmet. Hold up the "women specific" model and the men's of the same size beside it and you will readily see that they came from the same mold, and the only difference is in colors and graphics. The Bell Metro/Citi, is the last remaining helmet we have found this year with pony tail ports, and designers do not seem to have found anything else to do for women but cosmetics. Ironically, the pony tail port was invented by a male helmet designer for his pony tail, and a number of helmets had them when there were more males wearing their hair long. The addition of rear stabilizers to helmets made the pony tail port more difficult to use, but the Bell Metro will take a good three-to-four fingers of pony tail if you are willing to thread it through. The manufacturers believe that women will pay more for bikes that fit and clothing that makes them look good, but not necessarily for true women-specific helmets. And we are not sure what you could do to a helmet to make it work better for women other than a ponytail port. Some manufacturers now recommend that women wear their pony tails lower down on the head or tuck the hair up under the helmet.


    Prices

    Although we don't calculate averages, prices seem about the same as last year, with older models sometimes slipping down a bit as the design ages. The lowest prices in discount stores begin at $7.14 (Wal-Mart and Target) but are mostly in the $15 to $35 range. In bike stores where you can get help with selection and fitting you would expect to pay more, and the prices generally start over $30 and go up as high as you want. For many buyers the fitting help is worth the extra you pay in a bike store.


    Availability

    As always, availability looks good for most models, since there is adequate supply and demand remains tepid.


    What We Did Not Find Again This Year

    There is still no helmet on the market identified as an "anti-concussion" or softest-landing helmet. You get protection from catastrophic injury, while lesser blows are assumed to be survivable. And nobody advertises that their helmet can take blows that exceed the CPSC standard, although Consumer Reports testing indicates that some can. With our legal climate we may never see that happen, since advertising a helmet like that would expose the manufacturer to lawsuits whenever someone was injured in it, whether or not the helmet performed well.

    There has been almost no effort to apply standard electronic and wireless technologies to bicycle helmets. You should be able to find a helmet with a rear-facing camera and a heads-up display to replace your old mirror, but you can not. You should be able to find one with a Bluetooth wireless headset that you could use with an intercom system or your Bluetooth cell phone, but you can not, although the German company Vemar is selling a motorcycle helmet equipped that way. The efforts to build in lights have not been impressive, although there are a few helmets with LED flashers built into the rear and you can always add a flasher with a hook-and-loop mount. Bell even sells a saddle with a powerful built in 5 LED flasher, but their only helmet model with a mount for a flasher is the Citi/Metro. It looks like we will be waiting at least until 2006 for those things to develop.





    Here is an index to our reports for other years.



    The Helmets

    The typical helmet listed below is made of EPS foam with a thin plastic shell taped or glued onto the foam. It has at least some vents, nylon or polypro straps, a plastic buckle, no reflective trim and either a ring fit ("one size fits all) or squishy foam fitting pads inside. If no contrary information is in the writeup for each brand or model, those features are assumed. Many have a rear stabilizer wrapping around the back of the head, which we note only if it has some unusual feature. We also note the largest and smallest sizes available where relevant, and any bright colors. Prices are the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price, what you might pay at your local bike shop with fitting services included. You may find discounts available. Internet pricing is lower (no fitting help over the wire), particularly on prior years' models. If you are searching for a model and don't find it here, use our search function to check our writeups for previous years to see if it has been discontinued.



    ABUS

    Abus is a German company also known as a manufacturer of high-security padlocks. They have a unique ratcheting strap fastener with a toothed tab sliding into a slot that we have only seen on Abus and Uvex helmets. It would have to be adjusted carefully to be sure it does not bear against the line of the jaw. Their rear stabilizers are also adjusted by a ratchet device. Visors mount with pins. Some models may have bug-proof mesh for the front vents. Abus' bicycle helmets include helmets for toddlers, youth and adults. All of the models on their Web site are certified only to European standards and will not be sold in the US. Sizes run from 46 to 62 cm. Some of their models appear to be reasonably well rounded, but we have not seen them in person for more than three years, so it is difficult to comment based on the photos on the Web. Abus models on the Web site include:

    • Smile Klick: for toddlers. Fits down to 46 cm. Ring fit system.
    • Star Quicktec: for toddlers. Has a less rounded design with molded in visor. The Piccolino Quicksafe appears to be the same helmet with different graphics. The Janosch Quicksafe version has "Janosch" character graphics.
    • Galaxis Zoom 2: for toddlers and youth. One size fits from 48 to 59 cm.
    • Airmaxx Zoom: Appears to be a youth version of the Airstream Zoom. Ring fit system, visor.
    • Extreme Quicksafe: Adult model with ring fit system and visor.
    • Airstream Zoom: Adult model with ring fit system and visor.
    • Airflow Zoom 2: For adults. This was once introduced as a US model, but now is listed as meeting only Euro standards.
    • Ramp Quicksafe: adult economy model with visor.
    • Ambition Zoom: Well-rounded adult helmet.



    Action Bicycle

    The Hard Head line of helmets is produced for Action Bicycle by Strategic Sports in Hong Kong. Their models include the Acclaim, an otherwise standard adult helmet with visor and rear stabilizer that has a ring fit system 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.


    Aerogo

    See Lucky Bell below.


    AGV

    See Fox below.


    AJ Industries / Zone

    We have no 2005 info. Please see our 2004 writeup.


    All Pro and All Top

    See THH below.


    Alpha Helmets

    Alpha helmets have been found in the US under two brands, but not as Alpha. Some are made by Mien Yow Industries Ltd. 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. For 2002 they added the C-Tec, with squared-off ribs but a rounded shape overall. In 2003 they introduced some models that are molded in the shell, notably their G4 model, although most are taped on. For 2005 they informed us they are working on a skate model with a thin shell that will be molded in the shell. The manufacturer says their retail prices run in the $35 range. Alpha also makes hockey, ski and batting helmets. The brand known as Alpha Helmets in the US has been made by Strategic Sports and distributed in the US by J & B Importers below. J&B is dropping the Alpha name in 2006.


    Answer Products

    See Knucklebone below.


    Armor Pro

    Armor Pro is a brand imported by San Diego Speed, located in Pomona, California. They have classic skate-style helmets in chrome, yellow and black, retailing for about $30.


    Atlas

    Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. We have not seen them in the US. Their Web site says their helmets meet the European CEN standard. They have an extensive line, including:

    • Hardtop Mini: A toddler helmet that fits heads as small as 45 cm (17.8 inches) in diameter that they say is for 6 months up to 2 years. (The six months is not recommended!--see this page). Colors include a nice visible yellow.

    • Hardtop: Another toddler helmet for 2 to 7 years.

    • Twinky: One size larger helmet for 2 to 7 years in adult shape, with ring fit system and molded in visor.

    • Dolphin: Another 2 to 7 years helmet in elongated adult shape, molded in the shell.

    • Rockskipper: Youth helmet in elongated adult shape, molded in the shell.

    • Drago: Unique shape -- wish we knew Swedish -- fits 45 to 57 cm.

    • Hotshot: Basic adult helmet, should be cheap.

    • Hotshot Inmold: Molded in the shell version, nicer colors, visor, rear snag point.

    • Sport: Elongated vents, visor, somewhat protected rear snag point.

    • Marlin: Nicely rounded, visor, fits up to 61 cm.

    • Stingray: Standard adult helmet.

    • X-treme Sport: Skate style on top with scooped in rear to avoid a round shape.



    Avenir

    The Avenir brand is distributed by Raleigh and made by Strategic. They have a variety of molded in the shell and taped-on models, mostly with moderate rear snag points, rear stabilizers, pinned-on visors, and prices ranging from about $40 to $60. Models include:
    • S9-C: Molded in the shell with a two-piece shell covering both upper and lower sections, with a pronounced rear snag point, a dial fit stabilizer and recessed strap anchors. Retail $50.
    • TX1: Taped-on shell, with a large area of reflective trim in the rear.
    • R-17: Rounded shape, recessed strap anchors, locking strap junctions, and a dial fit rear stabilizer. $40 retail.
    • Sonic TXIB: Taped shell, dial fit, moderate snag point in rear, reflective material in rear.
    • Sonic Comp: Molded in the shell, very small rear snag point, retails for $25.
    • Sonic Jr.: Toddler helmet with ring fit, dial adjustment.



    Azonic

    Azonic/O'Neal USA has mostly hard shell, no-vent full face helmets for BMX. They have removable inner liners for cleaning and large, sturdy, bolted-on visors, a potential snagging hazard. Their BMX helmets are made by KBC in Korea or THH in Taiwan, and are said to all be certified to the Snell M-2000 motorcycle helmet standard, therefore exceeding by a wide margin the DOT motorcycle helmet standard, and by an even wider margin any bicycle helmet standard in the world. (We are not able to identify the models on the Snell lists, but look for the Snell sticker inside the helmet to be sure.)
    • 546: A classic motorcycle-style BMX helmet with ABS plastic shell and a bolted-on visor, a potential snagging hazard. Said to meet Snell's M-2000 motorcycle helmet standard. Retail is $110. Comes in a child size for $100.
    • ASX: Similar to the 546, retailing for $90.
    • T-55: Anther BMX helmet, but this time with vents and meeting the CPSC bike helmet standard. Retails for $100.
    • 695: Listed in the 2005 Azonic price list at $130, but we have not seen it.



    Bell

    Bell is still the largest company in the bicycle helmet market. They also own Giro, although the two have separate helmet models. They have been making bicycle helmets since 1975. We spend more space on their line than most others because people want the info. Their new Citi is a less expensive variation of the 2004 Metro, a rounder design pitched to urban commuters. Bell has 20 models in this year's lineup, but some are the same model without a visor, or in a larger size for big heads or a smaller size for women. Some models have Bell's no-pinch buckle, a nice design with a tab behind it that keeps the skin from getting in while you push the two pieces together, now included on the adult "sport" models. Bell has reintroduced a reflective logo for 2005, and is no longer using hook-and-loop to hold padding in. (The adhesive on hook-and-loop pads tends to deteriorate over time, particularly in a hot car or trunk.)

    At the top of Bell's line are their molded-in-the-shell models, called the Fusion Series. For the 2005 year all are hyper-ventilated and all have rear stabilizers. Among them:

    • Citi/Metro: The Metro was introduced in 2004, with a unique rounded exterior. It is pitched for the commuter market. It did not sell well in 2004, partly because Bell did not advertise it, as if they did not really believe in it. Now for 2005 there is a less expensive version called the Citi. It eliminates the rubberized coating on the lower half of the helmet, and changes the fit system from pads to a "universal" ring fit. That may or may not work out well for you. Both models come with plenty of vents and a visor, and have only partially recessed strap anchors. Both have a really useful pony tail port that makes it easier for those with long hair. The Metro can be outfitted with a whole range of accessories: a flimsy mirror that folds back into the visor for storage, an innovative winterizing kit with ear muffs and vent plugs, a rain cover with hot reflective trim and a red LED flasher that attaches to the helmet's rubber strip in the back. White is the only really visible Metro color, but the Citi comes in yellow. Retail is about $70 for the Metro (down $10 from last year) and $45 for the Citi. If you buy the Metro with all accessories at full retail it will come to a tidy $110, $25 less than last year. These two are worth a look for their rounded exterior, and if the ring fit works for your head the Citi would be preferable if only because it eliminates the rubberized section. We found that the straps on the Metro would not stay in place when adjusted, and would have to be sewn or locked with rubber bands wrapped under the fittings to be useable. For a less-expensive but equally well-rounded alternative, see the Impulse below. At $15 to $35 it is still molded in the shell.
    • Sweep: Bell's top of the line for 2005, with 11 choppy snag points on the rear giving it a porcupine effect. Has a lower shell molded on, and some nice bright colors. Retails for $115 to $130 depending on the model. Bicycling magazine gave the Sweep its lightweight and ventilation high marks in its Jan/Feb 2005 issue, but complained that the helmet did not have any carbon fiber in it. That tells you more about the magazine than the helmet.
    • Ghisallo: Bell's top of the line for 2002 was this design named for an Italian saint. Somewhat better rounded than some of Bell's other top models, but still features a rear snag point. It has fewer but very large vents, and there is a nicely visible white. Retail price is still $100.
    • Furio: Another Bell road model with more rounded lines than some but still sporting a snag point in the tail. No visor. Retail is $60, down $15 from last year.
    • X-Ray: This model was Bell's top of the line for 2001. It features a top and bottom outer shell. It is a hyper-ventilated model with long vents and a rear overhang with points that present a potential snag hazard. It has Bell's rear stabilizer that tightens by turning a small geared wheel. For 2005 it gets Bell's new visor, with height adjustment. Two-tone colors, none of them very bright. Retail is still $100.
    • Influx: A Mountain bike helmet with visor and a pronounced rear overhang to snag on. What appears to be the same helmet is available in the Euro market as the Alchera, or with visor as the Delirium. Internet discounters in the US market have the Alchera for $43 and up, while the 2005 Influx retails here for $60. Models from prior years are heavily discounted. Not all of Bell's Euro models are certified to the CPSC standard, but those sold in the US must be.
    • Aquila: This 2001 design was redone for 2002 to upgrade the construction to molded in the shell. For 2005 it has the "universal" ring fit system. Has three points in the rear and a snap in visor. Reasonable vents. Comes in red and white for visibility. Retail is still $45.
    • Arc FS: Bell's 2002 design for its "entry level" helmet, upgraded for 2004 to molded in the shell construction. Also known as the Ukon when it has a visor, and the Bella with feminine graphics. This year Bell is producing an extra large size and initiallty called it the Sequoia, but changed the name to Triton. It fits heads up to 25.5 inches/64.8cm in circumference. These helmets have a better rounded shape than most of Bell's line. Has a one-size-fits-all ring fit. Despite the upgrade to molded in the shell last year, retail is still $30 for the Arc and $35 for the three with visors: the Ukon, Triton or the Bella. The same design is also available as a "youth" helmet as the Cognito with multi-color graphic designs and a visor, retailing for $35 or as the Craze without visor for $30. This is the least expensive molded in the shell Bell model for adults and youth, and probably one of the better values in the Bell lineup.
    • Amigo: A new design in 2000, upgraded in 2004 to molded in the shell construction. The Amigo is a helmet for kids that is built like the one their parents use. The very nicely rounded exterior is smoother than Bell's adult helmets. Has a rear stabilizer, visor and bug net in the vents. Nice selection of graphics including one orange model. Retail is still $30.
    • Kinghead: This $30 helmet is highly recommended for those who fit it, but it is made only in Extra Large for riders with head sizes up to 8 1/4 (25.9 inches/65.8cm around). It is still the largest bicycle helmet we know of, at .4 inches larger than the Triton above. It has a beautifully rounded exterior and internal strap anchors. 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 the company any money. Note that the Kinghead is an older design with a taped-on shell rather than having the Triton's molded in the shell construction, but its impact performance meets the same CPSC standard. The Kinghead also fits with pads rather than the "universal" ring fit system on the Triton. The Kinghead is not in the current Bell catalog, but if you need a very large helmet you can contact a Bell dealer, or check out mail order outlets on the Internet. There are still some left in a warehouse, and Bell still has the tooling if they ever need to make more. (Kinghead appears on the Bell Web site only in the copyright notice in the 2005 catalog.) If you have a head that large and the Triton won't fit, check out our page on helmets for large heads.
    • L'il Bell Shell: a toddler helmet with vents, previously known as the Half Pint and not related to the L'il Bell Shell of the 1980's and 90's. Has such a well-rounded shape that even we have no complaints. There are sticker kits available to allow kids to personalize their helmet. Retail is still $30.
    • Boomerang: A 2000 model, somewhat like an Amigo, but made for toddlers, with the additional rear coverage required by the CPSC toddler helmet standard. Looks much more like an adult helmet than the L'il Bell Shell, and is almost as well-rounded on the exterior. Cartoon graphics, and there is a bright yellow model. Has a soft foam visor. No-pinch buckle. Retail is $30.
    • Bellistic: Bell's BMX/downhill racing model is still in the lineup for 2005. It has a fiberglass shell, vents and the well-rounded shape that is traditional in BMX helmets. Unfortunately it also has a bolted-on visor, always a potential snag point. It has a full chinguard but there is no impact foam padding in it. It resembles a motorcycle helmet with vents, weighing two full pounds. There are no really bright colors, but this one will not be used much on the road anyway. Made for Bell in China by Zhuhai Safety. The retail price this year is $75, down $5 from last year.
    • Faction: Bell's "skate-inspired" BMX/skate model is a 2004 hard shell design with a dual-density foam liner. In previous designs by LT back in 1991 this technique was used to take the sting out of lesser bumps with the softer layer, but backed up by a harder layer that could still perform on the big hits. In the Faction the technique is used to provide a different liner density in the front to meet the CPSC standard while avoiding a thicker helmet. The Faction has the admirably round, smooth exterior of the classic skate helmet, with small rectangular vents on top, front and rear. Curiously, the weight is the same as the Bellistic full face model, 32 oz. There is a nice selection of graphics featuring five different skateboard celebs and including visible white. This model has dual certification to both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and the ASTM F-1492 multi impact skateboard standard. The Faction retails for $30.

    Euro Bells

    Bell has helmets made to the CEN European standard that according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News will not pass the US CPSC standard and cannot be sold in the US market. Foremost among them is the Bell Meteor II time trial helmet, constructed by adding foam under Bell's older time trial shell. Apparently there was not much room left, since this one is available only in small and medium, fitting heads up to 59cm in circumference. Bell says it weighs in at 315g. This is one you may have seen in Tour de France time trials. There is a similar Giro model. If you want a time trial helmet that is certified to the much tougher CPSC standard and can be used in a US race, check out our comment on Chrono Helmets above.

    Cheaper Bells

    Bell has another entire line of low-priced helmets sold at discount stores and mass-merchant outlets. (More than one fourth of the company's sales are through Wal-Mart alone.) They are occasionally discontinued models from the bike store line, but seldom include the molded in the shell models. The cheaper ones generally have low-end graphics, chintzy fit pads, slippy straps and cheaper packaging. Most do not have rear stabilizers. But they are designed to the same CPSC standard as any other helmet on today's US market, so they provide fine impact protection. The rounded profiles we consider optimum still persist in this line, since they are cheaper to produce, and the Consumer Reports testing of other brands indicated that the thicker foam may actually provide better impact protection than some of the thinner, more ventilated, more expensive pro models. Models include the adult Reflex, Radar, Adrenaline, Protos and Impulse. Youth sizes include the Edge, Aero, Blade and Deuce. Child helmet models are the Star, Racer and Rex. Toddler helmets include the Shadow, Zoomer and Bellino.

    Two models in the low-priced line deserve special attention: the Deuce and the Impulse are the same helmet in adult and youth sizes. Both have the same radically round, smooth shape of the Bell Metro and Citi. Both are molded in the shell, the only models in this series that are made with that higher-quality construction. They have reasonable vents. The price will likely be right when you find them in a big box store. You can find one here for $15, an astoundingly low price for a round and smooth molded in the shell Bell. Unfortunately, they only had the black model when we checked. For a few dollars more you should be able to find the Impulse in a more visible color, and we know there is a mauve version.

    Bell's skate models in this low-priced series include the Rage, Mirra and Wicked. All are dual certified to the CPSC bicycle and ASTM F-1492 skateboard standards.

    This line sells for low prices: $15 to $40. They are available to non-profits for much less than that, through Safe Kids USA. 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 of low-cost helmets from various manufacturers.) Bell also produces toddler, skate and child bike helmets for the Fisher-Price brand, and you may see them as X-Games, Barbie, or Hot Wheels brands. Some models come bundled with bike or skate accessories. Reports from the field indicate that you should steer clear of the Bell models with plastic "self-fitting" straps, an uncomfortable feature that led kids to avoid fastening the straps at all. For current production Bell has phased out the plastic in favor of fabric straps.

    For Bell's crash replacement policy it is best to call 1-800-BELL or search their Web site. We found it in the helmet manuals, in .pdf format. As of January, 2005 you send back the damaged helmet with a letter describing your crash "in as much detail as possible," a dated cash register receipt (you did save your receipt, and you can find it, right?) with a check for:

    • For Fusion series helmets: $35
    • For cheaper models: $20.

    We really don't understand the need for the cash register receipt. The helmet is identifiably a Bell, and has their name on it.

    In 2001 Bell became the only helmet manufacturer who joined the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Product Safety Circle. We are not sure how much that actually means to the consumer, but they have pledged to follow ten safety principles, designate a corporate safety officer and publicize their successes in implementing the principles.

    In late 2004 Bell Sports was purchased by Fenway Partners, a private-equity holding company. Through them Bell Sports in early 2005 repurchased the Bell motorcycle helmet manufacturing company that it had spun off in 1991. Most consumers were probably unaware of either change. Fenway-Bell also owns Sports Instruments, a maker of heart rate monitors, bike computers and watches.


    Bianchi

    Bianchi is marketing team helmets to match their bikes. They have several models: the Team Bianchi 909 at $180 and the Team Bianchi 530 at $120 are available in the US. There is also the Celeste Puro F105 at $120, and Motorex Racing F-107 at $120 (available in trademark Bianchi celeste blue), The helmets are made by Limar of Italy, and correspond to Limar models of the same number. See Limar below.


    Bravo

    Bravo is the house brand of Asctechs.com/El Sol Trading. They have a skate-style helmet said to be certified for bicycling, skateboarding and snowboarding. The helmet has the classic skate shape. It may be dual certified to bicycle and skateboard standards, but we have not seen it and cannot comment on what standards it actually meets, since the Web site is vague on that. Pricing is in the $20 range, and there are some bright colors along with the usual black and moss green.


    Briko

    Briko is an Italian company who began breaking into the U.S. market in 1998 but has been slow to push its line here. All of their helmets are made in Italy. They have an innovative "twin cap" construction technique bonding two separate liners to leave air channels. They use reflective trim on their US models, and all of their models for the US market are molded in the shell. Our data are not current for 2005.

    • Solo: Introduced in 2003, the Solo is a slick looking design with a two piece cover molded in the shell. It has a ring fit and a medium snag point on the back. It retails for $140.
    • Meltemi: Another new model, also molded in the shell, with noticeable exterior strap anchors, usually avoided in top of the line helmets.
    • Twinner: One of Briko's older designs. Has three very large vents in the front, setting this helmet apart from any current US design, but the vents narrow considerably as they pass into the double layer liner. There is a rear shelf but it is rounded. In 2002 Briko added a full lower wrap-around plastic shell. Graphics accent the unusual features. Retail is $120.
    • Spark: A slightly more conventional design with twin layers, multiple vents and sharp ribs, with a pronounced snag point in the rear. Has a unique visor mount with hollow fittings that go in the front vents. Retail in the US is $120.
    • Hurricane: Retail in the US is $60.
    • Mistral: a single layer road helmet with conventional lines and conventional vents. Retail is $40.
    • Toronado: A nicely rounded helmet made in a single layer, with conventional venting. Retail is $80.
    • Taku: A child's helmet in the adult style, with a medium snag point on the rear, a dial fit system and a pinned-on visor. Retail is $25.

    Briko has a number of other helmets for the European market that are not available in the US. These include:

    • Crono: Briko's entry in the time trial/pursuit aerodynamic helmet market. Has a clear plastic face shield, and comes in three graphics combinations. We don't know what standards it might meet.
    • Racing Junior: conventional vents, comes in a nice yellow.




    Carrera

    Carrera is an Italian company better known for winter sport helmets that is bringing their line to the US market slowly. Their helmets have the Italian stylishness, moderate to large rear snag points, large vents, and some reflective trim. External strap anchors stick up, and one of their models even has a spoiler. The only model we have seen in person is the Energy. It is new for 2005 and has striking graphics and a unique fit system. Molded in the shell construction, moderate rear snag point. It retails for $120. For just $12 more you can get an All Weather Protector, a plastic shell that fits over the helmet and covers all vents, anchored by the external strap anchors.


    Catlike

    Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, whose bicycle racing nickname was "the cat." Their line includes eight models. We don't know about standards or market availability, so check the Web site if you are interested. Catlike had a recall in 2003 of its Kompact model, so check our recalls page if you need info on that.

    • Whisper: New for 2005, the Whisper has a unique nubby outer shape and many vents. We would reject it for the external shape, but if you want something different you will not see many of these on the road. Molded in the shell. Some very visible colors including orange. Retail is $180.
    • Kompact 2: Large oval vents, full shell wrapping around the bottom. Molded in the shell. Has pronounced rear snag points as well as external strap anchors sticking up. Nylon visors with push-point attachments. Many graphic combinations including solid and multi colors, some highly visible, helping to match team colors. Lots of reflective trim. This is the US-only model. The European Kompact is promoted on European racers including Jan Ulrich. Retails for $140, up $10 from last year.
    • Shield: Large vents for a skate-shaped helmet, "ducktail" effect in the rear, with what Catlike claims is additional lower rear protection. Molded in the shell.
    • Evolution: Modest vents, moderate rear snag point, molded in the shell. Available in a nice bright yellow.
    • Airlock 2: Smoother shape except for a pronounced rear snag point. Taped on shell. Available in orange.
    • Kid Tiger: Toddler helmet with vents and child graphics. Has a molded in visor.
    • Kid Basic: Toddler helmet with vents. Very nicely rounded shape. Available in highly visible orange and yellow.
    • Chrono: Catlike has a chrono helmet for 2005 that will meet the European standard, as required in European races.
    • Viper: Full-coverage motorcycle style helmet with face bar and vents. Visor fastened with two unfortunate bolts to make it a snag hazard. There are both fiberglass and carbon fiber versions.


    Cratoni

    This German company with an Italian name has an extensive lineup of 20 models, but fewer models for the U.S. market this year. Some of their helmets have a suspension system called the Head Ring with an adjustable head band to fit all sizes. Some models have a "soft shock" liner, but the catalog and Web site fail to explain what that is all about. Cratoni's child models fit heads as small as 18.5 inches/47 cm and their largest adult models fit up to 23.5 inches/62 cm. Their one-size-fits all models cover from 20.5" to 23.5"/52 or 53 cm to 60 cm. Cratoni's retail prices seem higher than most, but dealers may adjust that.

    • Ceron: The top of Cratoni's line is a hyper-vented helmet with sharp shell lines and the usual rear snag points. Molded in the shell, with a lower shell as well. Uses visible carbon fiber bridges in the front shell to open up larger vents, and possibly to make sure it meets the US standard. Has the Soft Shock liner. The scarlet red version is bright and visible. Retail is about $130.
    • Achillon: The Ceron design without carbon fiber. Retails for just under $100. Not a US model.
    • Tremor and Tremor Tribal: A somewhat better-rounded helmet but with a very pronounced rear snag point. Molded in the shell, with the Head Ring adjustable headband to fit heads 53 to 60 cm. Not a US model.
    • Zethos: Lots of long skinny vents and what might be described as a flat deck or spoiler sticking out at the top rear. Comes in five shades of black, including "used-look graphite." Cratoni bills it as a competition model. Not a US model. Also comes as a "Crocodile Trophy" model with sunglasses included.
    • Xenon: A somewhat better-rounded helmet with many large vents. Molded in the shell, with the Head Ring adjustable headband to fit heads 53 to 60 cm. Retails for about $75. Not a US model.
    • Radon: New for 2005, and probably Cratoni's best-rounded model, with large vents, bug net in the front vents and available in an XXL model that fits up to 65cm heads. This is a US model meeting the CPSC standard.
    • Argon: Mountain bike (with visor) model with squared off ribs but no rear snag point. Has bug net. All colors are dark. Not a US model.
    • Neon: Another well-rounded design, again with bug net in the vents and retailing in the US for $35.
    • Heli: A "junior" helmet molded in the shell with visor, reasonably rounded lines and modest vents. Has the Head Ring adjustable headband, fitting sizes 53 to 60 cm. Has bug net in the front vents. Retails for $60. Not a US model.
    • Mad X: Well-rounded youth helmet with the ring fit system. It has a 40 piece sticker set for personalization.
    • Rapper: Another youth model, with more squared-off lines giving it a snazzier appearance, but no rear snag point. Ring fit system and bug net in the front vents. There is a visible red/silver finish available. Not a US model.
    • Kid Cross: A well-rounded youth helmet with minimal venting, visor and bug mesh in the front vents. Available in a Crocodile Trophy version. Not a US model.
    • Honey: A toddler model with vents that comes in a beautiful yellow. Ring fit system for 48 to 52cm heads. Not a US model.
    • Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents and the adjustable Head Ring suspension. Rounded shape but has a molded in visor. Bug mesh in front vents. Not a US model. Fits heads as small as 18.5 inches/47 cm. Retails for about $30. Not a US model.
    • Interceptor: Cratoni's upscale downhill racing model, with full chinbar, a fiberglass/carbon fiber shell and a visor bolted on. It comes in flashy graphics or solid colors and has mesh protecting the front vents. It retails for $400 or an eye-watering $600 for the special Nicolas Vouilloz model. We do not know which standards the Interceptor meets.
    • Ramp: Another full-face downhill racing model, with a hard shell. Vented. Comes in white or black. Not a US model.
    • Chrono: Cratoni's time trial and pursuit event model, now upgraded to meet the European impact standard as required for UCI racing. Not available in the US.
    • Mach I: a chrono shell with no impact management liner.

    Cratoni will replace a helmet crashed within three years of purchase for 50 per cent of the recommended retail price.


    Ecko

    Ecko has been around since the early 1980's, first in California, then Idaho, now Arizona. Although they don't have a Web site and we have not seen their current catalog, Ecko has usually produced BMX racing and skateboard helmets. The BMX shells are fiberglass, with both open face and chinbar models. Visors are snap on, and are designed to pop off in an impact to avoid a snagging hazard, a very desirably safety feature. 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 2005 line, and do not know if they are actually still manufacturing, but their helmets are available from some suppliers.


    ESCO

    Esco Sport Product Corp. is a Chinese company producing electric and gas scooters, bicycles and carts. Their helmets are certified to CEN standards, not CPSC, so they are not available in the US market. Their Web site was not up the last time we checked in January, 2005.


    El Sol

    See Bravo above.


    Epsira Oy (Knock)

    Epsira Oy is the Finnish manufacturer of Knock helmets, advertised as CEN approved (European standard) and in one case as meeting a Swedish standard. They are supplied to such organizations as the Finnish postal service (in very visible yellow). Most of their designs appear to have nicely rounded contours and would qualify in the US as commuter helmets. They have several models, including the H3, Knock, Inmotion 2 and Champion. Their Yad model, probably new for 2005, is easily the strangest shape of any helmet we have seen on the Web. Some of their Knock child helmets have large team logos and cartoon characters called Moomins. One previous model had reflective straps, a feature we have not seen before or since. Epsira Oy has other EPS products and some info up on EPS, but in January of 2005 we could not access the English version of their site. We are not aware of a U.S. distributor for their products, or if they meet our CPSC standard. Sizes run 48 to 62 cm.

    First Team Sports

    First Team sells mostly ice skates, inline skates and street hockey equipment through mass merchant channels such as Wal-Mart. The Web site has two "Ultra Wheels" adult model, Helmet 1 and Helmet 2. Helmet 1 is a classic skate-style model. Helmet 2 is a very smooth and round helmet with vents, looking more like a bike helmet than a skate helmet. The Web page says only that they are "certified" without identifying the standard. First Team had to recall their Guardian Junior helmet during 2000. See our recalls page for more information.

    Flash

    Flash is a Taiwanese brand of inexpensive child and adult helmets. We have no Web link and no further information on them this year.


    Fly Racing

    Fly Racing has a line of motorcycle BMX racing equipment, including full face helmets. All have bolted on visors, but at least the screws are plastic rather than metal, and would be more likely to break off when you need them to, rather than jerking your neck. If you want another snag point, Fly will sell you a rear fin to add to your helmet. It mounts without screws or glue, so hopefully would pop off in a crash. Fly is one of the few brands whose catalog has replacement parts for their helmets, including mouthpieces, visors, screws, pads and buckles. Sizing runs from 52cm/6 1/2 up to 66cm/8 1/4, a very wide range indeed. Along with their own brand, they distribute helmets made by Gmax and by THH. All of their models meet the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Their Lite, 606 and Gmax GM26X models meet the tough Snell M-2000 motorcycle helmet standard as well, offering a level of protection considerably above that of any normal bicycle helmet.
    • FL606 III: retails for $90, and meets both the DOT and Snell 2000 motorcycle helmet standards. It has a snap-out liner and comes in six outer adult shell sizes and three youth sizes. No vents. There is a matte chrome model for $20 extra.
    • FL-303 II: Fiberglass shell, retails for $70 in painted colors or $80 in chrome.
    • Gmax GMX-36X: Updated for 2005, with polycarbonate shell, retailing for $70. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
    • Gmax GM-36Y Youth: Polycarbonate shell, smaller and lighter youth size. $70 retail.
    • Gmax GMX-26X: Polycarbonate shell, comes in nine sizes from XXS to XXXX. Retails for $90, or in chrome for $120. Snell certified except for the XXXX size, only DOT.
    • FL-39 II: BMX and downhill racing model with full-face fiberglass shell retailing for $70. Has small vents and radical graphics. Updated for 2005.
    • Lite III: made with carbon fiber/kevlar, weighing in at 2.75 pounds for the large size, and meets DOT and the tough Snell M-2000 motorcycle helmet standard. No vents. Snap out liner. Retails for $200 or $240 for the "replica" models styled for Fly racing team members.
    • THH TX-10: Full-face DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. ABS plastic shell, relatively lightweight for this type of helmet. Retails for $60 in black, $70 with graphics and $80 in chrome.


    Fox

    Fox Racing has two BMX models in sizes from 18 3/8" to 25 3/4":

    • Tracer: a standard BMX helmet with a chin bar for face protection and a bolted on visor. It has a polycarbonate shell and small vents under the visor. It retails for $140 depending on finish and graphics, with a kids version running $100. It appears on Snell's M-2000 motorcycle helmet certification list and of course is certified to the less demanding US DOT motorcycle helmet standard as well.
    • Pro Pilot: another standard BMX helmet with a chin bar for face protection and a bolted on visor. Shell is made with fiberglass. Six sizes. Retail is $300.

    Fox Racing helmets are made by AGV, an Italian company that has made motorcycle helmets since 1949.


    Free Agent

    Free Agent has one model, a very well-rounded classic skateboard-style helmet that comes in one shell size with three pad sets of different thickness. It has an EPP liner, good for multiple impacts. It is dual certified to meet the CPSC standard for bike helmets. It retails for $25 to $35 in standard colors or $5 more with a chrome finish, and can be found on the Internet for as little as $20 plus shipping. It may fit larger heads better than most skate-style helmets.


    Gear

    See Headstart below.



    Geartec

    Geartec is handled by KHS in the US as Geartec or DBX. In 2004 they recalled their DBX Engage (Geartec VT-3), DBX Ravage (Geartec FX-2), and Geartec ESPY. See our recall page for details.


    Giant

    Giant supplies a full line of bikes and accessories to bike shops. Their helmets have good quality locking strap junctions. They are made by Strategic, including:
    • Argus: top of the line, with a two piece shell wrapping around the bottom. ring fit with a dial adjuster. Molded in the shell, with nice internal strap anchors. Retail is $75.
    • Talos: similar to the Argus, but without the wrap-around lower shell. $55.
    • Scion: new for 2005. Has ring fit and a rear snag point.
    • Eos: molded in the shell with ring fit, nicely recessed strap anchors and a moderate rear snag point.
    • Youth: molded in the shell, moderate snag point, visor for $35.
    • Skeeter/Jewel: youth model, ring fit system, with taped-on shell and a very small snag point in the rear. Retail is $25.
    • Melon: skate style, comes in matte, colors and chrome for $25.
    • Pup: toddler model, retails for $25.



    Giro

    In its seventh year as a subsidiary of Bell, Giro's production facilities and testing are fully integrated with Bell's, but Giro designs still have a unique fit. Giro has been a trend leader for both style and construction techniques, and sometimes has a radical new model at the top of their line, but in 2005 they will be selling mostly the same models as last year. They have dropped their Switchblade downhill model and in 2004 they extended molded in the shell construction to even the less expensive helmets in their line. The line has been gradually evolving toward a more rounded profile over the past several years, but still has high-end models with more pronounced snagging points. Some of Giro's helmets have reflective surfaces on the rear stabilizers, an ideal place for those who ride in the bent-over position. Visors are mounted with plugs that snap into the helmet shell and have an adjustable angle. Our unscientific hand test showed them to pop out easily on impact. Consumer Reports found Giro's cheaper models more protective than the top of the line in their 2002 article. Giro and other manufacturers have hyper-ventilated models produced for the European market that meet the CEN standard but are not certified to meet the tougher US CPSC standard.

    • Atmos: The top of Giro's line, introduced in 2004, selling at a steep $190 retail or $225 for Lance Armstrong's Lone Star version. The Atmos has interior "roll cage" reinforcing, exterior carbon fiber reinforcing and an extensive three-piece shell molded on. All that is primarily to permit opening up bigger vents while still meeting the CPSC standard, not necessarily improving the impact performance above prior levels. Bicycling magazine named the Atmos tops in cooling (along with the 2004 Specialized S1) in its January/February 2005 issue. In addition to several moderate snag points on the rear, this model has forward facing points in the middle. We would avoid this one for that feature if no other, since it contributes nothing at all to the function of the helmet. But if you want Lance's helmet, this is it. Comes with a carrying case.
    • Monza: Another new 2004 design, the Monza manages to be pointy both coming and going. Although the snag points are moderate, they contribute nothing to the function of the helmet and in our opinion should be avoided. Retail is $100.
    • Pneumo: Introduced in 2001, this model continued Giro's tradition for breaking new ground in ventilation. The oversize vents, channels and graphics combine to make it appear to have less material than any other helmet we have seen certified to the CPSC standard. It has external strap anchors, a cheap construction technique that we always find surprising in a high-cost helmet, but since the shell is not round and smooth anyway it probably does not make much difference in sliding resistance. There is a pronounced pointy rear overhang to possibly snag in a crash. Upper and lower shells are molded in. Comes with a visor. Retail is still $140. For better Giro impact protection, you have to pay less, according to Consumer Reports.
    • Eclipse: A 2000 design, this one has a rounded exterior that unfortunately ends in a severely pointed shelf projection in the rear. Molded in the shell, with recessed strap anchors. Giro says it is their "most compact and streamlined" model. Comes in a women's color this year. Retail is still $80.
    • Xen: We thought of this as a skate-style helmet when we first saw it in the 2003 lineup, but when mounted on a head and positioned for best coverage in front, the apparent extra rear coverage turns out to be mostly an illusion. But that should not deter you too much, since this helmet has good features if you ignore the advertising. Now billed as a "mountain" helmet, the Xen (pronounced zen) has a nicely rounded shape far superior to most Giro models, but retains the huge Giro vents and the Giro price at $125 retail (or $140 for the Special Edition camouflage with matching carrying case). The shell is a full wrap-around. Worth a look for the shape if you are a Giro fan. If you really want additional rear coverage in a Giro, see the Semi MX below.
    • E2: The top of Giro's "mountain" line in 2000. The E2 has squared off lines and huge vents. The lines were somewhat more rounded than Giro's 1999 models, but they used one very pronounced rear "shelf" projection that almost looks as if it were designed to hook something in a fall. It comes in very visible orange and white or in darker patterns, and for 2005 there is a "women's" color, lavender. The price is still $125 retail.
    • Havoc: The Havoc was Giro's roundest, smoothest high-end model in prior years. It is still in the 2004 lineup. The rear snag point has been almost eliminated in this model. The Havoc unfortunately has external strap anchors, surprising in a helmet at this price, marring that otherwise improved outer shell line with a potential friction point. Very large vents, molded-in upper and lower shell. Retails for $70, a lot less than when it was first introduced.
    • Animas: The Animas has the usual rear snag point and a two piece molded shell. It retails for $100.
    • Semi MX: The Semi is an innovative design and the roundest helmet in Giro's line. Originally introduced for "crossover" users involved in dirt jumping, MTN-X, Slalom and Freeride. Has a hint of the retro style favored by the skate breed, but with considerable updating of lines. Very smooth and round. It even has nicely recessed strap anchors. The vents are reasonable but look small compared to other Giros. The design is marred only by a screw-on visor added in 2002 rather than the pinned visors on other Giros, and you have to take it on faith that it will pop off without jerking your neck if you catch it on a tree limb. We would recommend using it without the visor, since there are no tests for visor performance in the CPSC standard. Without the visor this would be an upscale vented skate-style helmet, but it is not certified for skateboarding. Retails for $50.
    • Encinal: Giro's model for "everyday" riders, with a more rounded shape than other Giro road models and well-recessed strap anchors. Plenty of vents. Retails for $45. Received Bicycling Magazine's award as Best Helmet Under $50 in their July, 2004 issue.
    • Indicator: Replaced the Torrent II as Giro' least expensive 2005 model at $35. A step backward, since the Indicator has a pronounced rear snag point, but at least the strap anchors are under the shell. Has a ring fit system. Also comes in a "women's" model called the Skyla. Without a visor, it's the Transfer at $30, Giro's lowest adult price point and still molded in the shell. For youth it's the Flume and is priced at $35.
    • Atlas II: The extra large size version of last year's Torrent II, fitting 60cm to 64cm heads, and retained in the line as Giro's largest helmet. Compared to other Giro's the design is smooth and round, with a minimal snag point in the rear. Retail is $35.
    • Rodeo: A "youth" helmet for kids who are old enough to pedal. Nicely rounded except for a front overhang providing a rigid visor. Has the universal ring fit system, which may make good sense for child helmets where parents want a quick fit and worry about head growth. The shell is taped on, not molded. Retails for $30.
    • Me2: A toddler helmet, but vented, looking very much like a small version of the Rodeo with more oval vents and without the universal fit system. Nicely rounded except for a front overhang providing a rigid visor. Said to have a low profile in the rear to permit a more natural seating position in trailers, where thicker helmets can push a kid's head forward unless they have a pad behind their back. The shell is taped on, not molded. Retails for $30.
    • Mad Max II: A downhill racing helmet with a motorcycle-style full fiberglass shell. It has a nicely rounded exterior, marred only by the bolt-on visor, and is well vented for this type of helmet. Weighs 2.7 pounds, retails for $100, down $25 from prior years. For 2005 there is a new carbon fiber model at $190.

    Unobtainable Giros

    Giro has a time trial/pursuit helmet that according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News will not be sold to consumers. Lance Armstrong and the Posties used the Giro Advantage and Rev VI time trial helmets in the 2004 Tour de France time trials. The Advantage may some day be available to consumers, but the Rev VI was designed only for Lance. We don't know what impact standards they may meet, but probably they are designed for the European CEN standard.

    This year Giro helmets fit heads from 18.5" (51 cm) to 25" (64 cm).

    Giro will sell you a uniquely-shaped case called a "pod" or another called the Tour Bag that is to keep that expensive helmet pristine, but let your helmet dry out after a summer ride before putting it in there!

    Giro recommends replacing their helmets after 3 years. Their crash warranty is a discount from retail prices for the first three years. They also offer a credit toward the purchase of a larger Giro helmet for parents whose children outgrow a child model.


    Gmax

    See Fly Racing above.


    Go On Sport - GOS

    Go On Sport is the first new Australian company entering the US market in years. They hope to introduce 5 models here for 2005, in the $20 to $50 range. Their helmets are molded in the shell, and some have two-piece wrapunder shells. They are manufactured in China by Lucky Bell and Strategic.

    Golex (Zhuhai Golex)

    Golex is a Chinese producer of bicycle, skateboard, BMX, motorcycle and other types of helmets. There are at least 24 models in their catalog. Three appear on the Snell B-95 certification list, the N6, the V10 and the V-12. They should be available in mass merchant channels, and some may find their way into bike stores.


    GPR-PLIM

    GPR makes helmets in China to be sold under other brands. They are a large manufacturer for the European market, and were looking to bring their lines to the US in 2004, but we have not seen them here yet under their own brand. You can see at least one of their interesting new designs in this patent.


    GT

    We have not seen the GT helmet line this year. For 2004 it included:

    • Taleous: has a moderate rear snag point, internal strap anchors and a glued on shell but without tape around it for trim.
    • Trax: a toddler design with vents and taped on shell.
    • XR-20: glued shell, minimal rear snag point, internal strap anchors.
    • Ollie: a classic skate-style helmet with ABS shell, made by Strategic Sports in China. Billed as a "multisport" helmet, but it has a one-crash EPS liner and may not be certified to any other standard but the CPSC bike helmet standard. (check the labels inside).
    • Rampage: Another skate-style helmet, with small vents.
    • BMX: Fiberglass shell BMX style helmet with vents, no energy management padding in the chinbar, and no rear snag point, but an unfortunate bolted-on visor.

    We do not have current pricing on the GT line.


    Happy Way Enterprises

    This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets. All are fully molded in the shell models, including the D2 and the Vivid for adults and a G6 model for toddlers. They are near the $40 retail level. Adding a rear stabilizer or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a half each. The EPU makes the helmet a little heavier than an EPS helmet, but some consumers like the solid feel of the molded in the shell models. Happy Way sells mostly in Europe, but in the US they sell to importers and OEM's with their own brands. Their sizing fits 47 to 62 cm. heads.

    Headstart PTY (Australia)

    Once one of at least three helmet companies called Headstart. This one had nine adult models under the Gear brand name. Their Web page is "under construction."


    Headstart (Malaysia)

    This Headstart is located in Malaysia, and should not be confused with the Canadian manufacturer called Headstart Technologies or the Australian company above. When we last heard, Malaysia's Headstart was represented by Damar in New York. We are not familiar with their helmets.


    Headstart Technologies

    This formerly Canadian manufacturer and user of EPP foam has moved to the US and changed its line, supplying helmets imported from China with the usual EPS liners. We have not seen their new line.


    Helmets R Us (formerly Century Cycles)

    This unique West Coast distributor of bicycle products 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 fill small orders. Their models start at about $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 mostly certified to Snell's tough B-95 standard. They have rear stabilizers and full cover shells, features almost never seen in this price range. Sizes range from 19.3 inches to 24.5 inches (49 to 62 cm)


    Her Sheen Enterprise

    This Taiwanese firm makes a line of five helmets in Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU). They had been making EPU car parts for years before expanding 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 the under-$10 range FOB Taiwan. We don't see their helmets on the Web any more, so they may not be still producing them.


    Hong Kong Sports

    HKS has five helmets on Snell's B-90 list, including the M3, M5 V-01 and two Schwinn models. They manufacture for a number of other US brands as well, some of them well known.


    Hopus

    Hopus is a Taiwanese company with an extensive line of helmets featuring the only hard shell bicycle-style helmets we are aware of for 2005. They say their hard shells are all made with industrial grade ABS for best impact performance. Some of them have a layer of resilient APE foam for multi-impact performance, a feature they call SIS. Hopus also has thin-shell models, some molded in the shell. Their 2005 catalog currently shows photos of 17 models, all CPSC and CEN certified. Most of their models are sold with other brands on them. Their models include:

    • A-6 Plus, E-2 Epoch Ex-1 Extreme and Ex-5 Extreme: Four road-style helmets, all molded in the shell, and all featuring a lower shell for full coverage. They have a nicely rounded shape with minimal rear snag points. The A-6 Plus is new this year and is the top of the Hopus line at $75. It has aluminum mesh molded into the shell and covering the vents.
    • A-6 Plus, A-8 Plus and Elf-1 Elf polycarbonate hard shell bike helmets with very nicely rounded lines. All are molded in the shell.
    • B-1 Bravo: An unusual molded in the shell toddler helmet with vents, fitting sizes as small as 50cm.
    • MF-2, MF-5, MF-6, MF-7, MF-8 and MF-9 May Flower all skate style models that debuted in 2004, with similar hard shells but variations in the vents. The are molded in the shell with hard polycarbonate shells, a unique combination. They have the well-rounded shape of skate helmets.
    • AG-2 Argo: Rounded skate-style helmet with hard ABS shells.
    • FSK Free Skating a hard shell skate-style helmet with an ABS shell and EPS foam liner.
    • MF-3 Avenger is billed as a multi-sport helmet and available as a "snow series" model with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in back, although it is advertised as meeting only the CPSC and CEN bicycle helmet standards. Has a very round smooth skate-style shape, and the ABS hard shell, with more vents than the MF-2 below. There is a very visible metallic yellow model. Retails for $20 to $40.
    • MF-2 Classic is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with minimal vents. This snow series model for winter sport use has ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear. Certified to the ASTM F2040 snow sport standard as well as the CPSC and CEN bike standards. Can be had with very visible flame graphics and a nice metallic orange.
    • AG-2 Argo is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with a hard ABS shell and minimal vents. It is molded in the shell. Has a snow series model for winter sport use with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear.
    • MI-4 Mission is a skate-style helmet with angular vents and a mostly round and smooth outer shape. Has the same inflatable airbag rear pads as the AG-3. Certified to the CPSC and European bike helmet standards.
    • D-1 Diki a rare child helmet with ABS hard shell. Has vents and an overhang in front to provide a partial visor. The XS fits heads as small as 52 cm.

    Hopus has sizes in most models to fit 50 to 62 cm heads, but some models only go to 60 cm. This company is your best bet if you are looking for a bike-style helmet with a hard shell. You can contact them through their Web site to ask who sells their helmets in your market.


    J&B Importers

    J&B is an old established bicycle wholesaler with warehouses all over the US. Their products are sold in bike stores. For 2005 they have added a high end line of L.A.S. helmets from Italy with price points ranging from about $70 to almost $200. See L.A.S below for more. J&B's lower cost Alpha line for 2005 has models beginning at about $15 retail to about $30. One has a full lower shell at $15, unusual at that price point. The profiles are the well-rounded ones we favor. Their skate model has the unfortunate old-time name of Skidlid. Colors are solid, with some metallic finishes, including a skateboard helmet in full chrome for only $25. One toddler model goes for $16 with rear stabilizer. Their add-on visors should run about $4 in a bike store, and are mounted with hook-and-loop. They have Alpha helmet pad replacements retailing at about $3. At the dealer level, shipping is free on J&B orders over $500. J&B has an active program for schools and non-profits either through a local shop or direct. Their Alpha helmets are made in China by Strategic.


    KBC Corp.

    KBC has one model on the Snell B-95A bicycle helmet standard list, the AZX. They have 19 additional motorcycle helmet models on the tough Snell M-2000 list. We have never seen the AZX model, but the KBC helmets available from dealers on the Web are full-face motorcycle-style helmets for BMX selling for about $200. If you have the KBC Midnight Flame, Classic Cruiser or TK-9 model, check here for the DOT report of failure to meet the DOT motorcycle helmet standard, dated October of 2003. That standard is much more severe than bicycle helmet standards, but if a manufacturer labels a helmet as DOT-compliant and it is not, we consider it serious. Note that unlike CPSC, DOT makes its reports public.


    Kent International

    Kent is a supplier of low-cost helmets to toy and discount stores. Some may also be labeled XFactor. They have toddler and child models at retail price points of $10 to $17 (with vents), and a child helmet called the V9 for $11 that also comes as the V9 Pro with a lower shell and nicer graphics for $17. Their youth helmets are mostly in the $11 to $22 range. Some are nicely rounded while others have longer overhangs in the rear. For 2005 Kent has a BMX helmet at $35 with and ABS shell and an unfortunate bolted-on visor. Kent has an "Aggressive Series" skate style helmet with a hard shell in the classic skate shape and a multi-impact EPP liner for $20 to $22 depending on finish. If it is dual certified it would be a good bike/skateboard helmet, but we have not seen one and the Web site mentions only the CPSC standard.


    Knucklebone

    Knucklebone brand accessories and clothing for BMX are from Answer Products. Their carbon-fiber shell ACF BMX model has a full chinbar, no vents and a price tag around $190. It has the usual bolted-on BMX visor. The Web page also lists a Holeshot model that may come with S&M Bikes logos. Their Jumper Pro model is the familiar skateboarders profile, very smooth and round, with an EPS foam liner. It has a painted and clear-coated shell that includes a chrome model and a very visible white or orange. It also is certified to meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, but not the ASTM F1492 Skateboard helmet standard. It retails for $40.



    Kong

    Kong is an Italian climbing company. (Probably named for the King Kong gorilla movie character who climbed all over the New York skyscrapers.) They have one helmet called the Scarab that goes beyond dual certified to be certified to European standards for rock climbing, skateboarding, bicycling, horsback riding and whitewater. All of those standards are easier to meet than the US equivalent, and the Scarab can't be sold in the US as a bicycle helmet unless it meets the CPSC standard, but it is an interesting concept. The Scarab has a ring fit system with dial adjustment. It appears to have external strap anchors. We don't know the retail price.



    Kryptonics

    Kryptonics is a skateboard equipment manufacturer originally founded to make skateboard wheels in 1965. Their helmets are made by Mien Yow in China. They are one of the companies marketing helmets that are dual certified to both the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard and the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Some of their helmets come with kits that include other padding for skaters.

    • Signature Series: dual certified, with a transparent colored shell and black and white EPS molded together. $35 to $40 retail.
    • Limited Series: dual certified, comes in three themes: a spiked helmet (!), a camo model and a bright stars and bars. You can easily guess which one we recommend. ABS shell, EPS liner. We would avoid the spiked model on general principles, although we have never actually seen the spike or how it is mounted and do not know how dangerous it might be in actual use. The Web text says it is detachable foam. $40 retail, also marked $30 in some stores, seen in Tucson, Arizona on sale for $15 in December of 2005.
    • Kore Series: dual certified, classic skate style. Can be had in white for visibility. $30 retail. Also comes in ladies' colors, pink and blue, with "ponytail friendly" padding.
    • Ladies Series: dual certified, classic skate style. Comes in ladies' colors, pink and blue, with "ponytail friendly" padding. Looks like the Kore series in pretty pink. $30 retail.


    Kuji Sports

    Kuji Sports is a Chinese company whose Web site says they ship over 3 million helmets to the US every year, but you have not seen their brand here because the helmets are made for other companies. They have many models in bicycle styles, including toddler and full-face models. Their Reflectek line has reflective shells and should be available at big box stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Academy Sports, Dunham Sports, and others, some selling for under $20. They have a molded in the shell reflective shell model too. We have not seen their reflective line but one of their helmets was reviewed by Cycling Reviews. Kuji Sports has skate-style helmets as well. Retail prices are $7.14 to $35.


    LAS

    LAS (or L.A.S.) is an Italian company with a line of high-end helmets that have been made in Italy since 1974. They are available for 2005 in US bike stores with distribution handled by J&B Importers. Most of them have moderate snag points in the rear. All have removable and washable straps and come with cloth storage bags. There are some nice bright colors available. Models include:
    • Haxial: Top of the line model with a unique flat aluminum shelf mounted about a half inch above the shell that is supposed to direct air into the vents. We do not understand how it meets the CPSC standard for projections with the front edge of that shelf sticking up, but they have documents to prove that a reputable test lab in the US has certified them. Cheap-looking external strap anchors stick up above the shell. Has the European style bug netting in front vents in cotton and aluminum. Retail should be about $170 to $220 depending on the finish of that unique shelf.
    • Kripton: has a ring fit system and is available in the US market. Retails for $100
    • Astrom: ring fit, available in the US, retail about $80.
    • Compact: the roundest, smoothest helmet in the L.A.S. line, promoted for rollerblading as well as cycling. Ring fit, available in the US market. Retail should be about $80.
    • Jump: a round, smooth skate style helmet with small round vents. Meets the CEN European standard. Not available in the US.
    • Downhill and Thunder: Full-face downhill racing helmets with kevlar fiber shells. We don't know what standards they meet or the pricing.
    • Roadspeed: a vented toddler model with an extra small 45cm (17.7") minimum head size for the "Baby" model. This is the smallest advertised toddler helmet we have seen. Meets CEN European standards. Not available in the US. See our page on taking your baby along before you look for this helmet! Our page on tiny helmets has more.
    • Chrono: time-trial aero helmet with a polycarbonate shell and an integrated clear partial front face shield. Comes in a single size. We do not know what standards it meets.
    The regular LAS line can fit heads from 20 7/8" to 24"/51cm to 64cm. Only the Baby is sized at 45cm.


    Lazer

    Lazer is produced by a Belgian company, Cross HM S.A., established in 1919. Their extensive bike helmet line has seldom been seen in the US in the past, but Lazer is now marketing through Quality Bicycle Products, a major distributor to US bike shops. Their helmets are interesting, and appear to be well designed. The high end models have recessed strap anchors, but they are still external. The catalog says Lazer helmets meet the relevant standards of each market: Europe, the US and Australia, so some models will not be available in some markets. Lazer has extensively revised their 2005 line.
    • Cannibal: new for 2005, named for fabled Belgian racer Eddie Mercks' famous nickname. Molded in the four-piece shell for overall shell cover. Carbon fiber reinforcement, moderate rear snag point. Comes with front vent plug for winter if you want a warm wet head, probably most useful for those occasions when you discover during a ride that your clothing is too light. Retail is $105. US model.
    • Blade: introduced in 2004, the Blade has a five-part shell that comes all the way down the rear, many vents, and a hard nylon piece in the rear to keep the snag point from getting dull. Has external strap anchors that should have been eliminated at this price point. It sells for $140, down $10 from last year. US model.
    • X3M Molded in the shell, with a rear snag point. Retails for $50. Without visor it becomes the O2 but still costs $50. With visor in smaller sizes it is the Cyclone youth model at $45, all US models. The same helmet appears in some markets as the CycleOne "women's or youth model at $45 with a zebra stripe option. (Last year it was known as the Kalima.)
    • Devil: new for 2005, molded in the shell with four pieces providing full coverage, including the rear snag points. Two heart-shaped vents, and of course a red option to fit the name along with a highly visible yellow. The external strap anchors are painted in this model. Ring fit for 54 to 60cm heads. Retail is $75.
    • Max Deluxe: a toddler helmet with cute graphics, some reflective, and an insect mesh in the vents. The Max Dolphin and Max Shark models have a fin on the rear, a potential snag point that seems unnecessary in a helmet that already has a rigid visor molded in to snag on. US/Australian model. It retails for $30.
    • Factory Rider: a vented BMX or downhill helmet with full chinbar and carbon fiber shell. It has an unfortunate fin on the top adding style and a snag point to a helmet that already has a bolted on visor you can snag. They actually refer to the fin as a "stabilizer." If it catches on something it will tend to stabilize your head in one place while you neck and body move on. Euro model only. Retail is a steep $300.
    • Excalibur is similar to the Factory Rider but has a nicely rounded exterior with no fin and a fiberglass shell. Euro model. It sells for $250.
    • MX6 Chromium is another downhill/BMX helmet, this time with an injection molded plastic shell instead of laminated fiberglass. That adds about 25 per cent to the weight, but fiberglass is generally a superior shell material. Has the unfortunate fin and bolted on visor. Meets the US and Australian motorcycle helmet standards, but ironically the fin probably precludes certification to the US CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Retail is $275.
    • One a classic skate helmet with EPS liner meeting the CPSC standard, but apparently not meeting the ASTM skateboard standard. Retail is $30, or $40 in chrome. US model.
    • Chrono 2: new for 2005, this aerodynamic time trial helmet meets both the CPSC and Australian standards as well as the CEN standard. Molded in the shell, unusual for a chrono model. One of the few helmets in Lazer's line with internal strap anchors. Integrated eye shield. Two sizes fit 53 to 62 cm heads. No vents. US model. Retails for $170.
    • Chrono III: No vents, not designed for impact protection, just a swoopy aero shell for pursuit and time trail pros. Top is dimpled like a golf ball. Can't be sold in the US, of course. The Web site says candidly: "You do not need to use it for its protective qualities. It does not correspond to any single safety norm."

    Lazer is probably the only helmet company whose corporate accessories include an umbrella, possibly a comment on Belgium's climate. Lazer has been around a long time in Belgium and has an extensive line of interesting helmets.


    Limar

    Limar is an Italian brand marketed in the US for 2005 by Bikeline. Their models usually have some bright color choices and nice graphics. Some of them are not available in the US market. All of the molded in the shell models have external strap anchors sticking up above the surface of the shell.

    • 950: The top of Limar's 2005 line is a new model molded in the shell with a modest rear snag point and external strap anchors that should have been tucked under the shell when the retail price is $175.
    • 907: new for 2005, this one is molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell and a ring fit system. The retail price is $150.
    • 911: the top of Limar's line when introduced in 2004. It is molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell. Although it has angular lines, it is reasonably well-rounded and the rear has small snag points. Many narrow longitudinal vents, some very small, give it a stylish look. Retail is $125.
    • 909: The 909 is molded in the shell with very large vents including a heart-shaped one in the front. It has external strap anchors and pronounced rear snag points. Retail is $175.
    • 801: new to Limar for 2005, this commuter-style helmet is molded in the shell with a full two piece shell. It has rounder, smoother lines and is the shape we recommend. This one has mesh in the vents for bug protection and a ring-fit system. It retails for $80. It is the same design sold as the SixSixOne Allride.
    • 720: molded in the shell including a lower shell. Long narrow vents in the front. Small but sharp rear snag point. Retail should be about $100.
    • 710: fewer but very large front vents, molded in the shell with wrap under shell piece. Small rear snag point. This one retails for $75.
    • 610: modest rear snag point and $50 to $55 retail.
    • 520: angular lines and modest rear snag point, $40 retail.
    • 320: at $30 this model has a taped on shell and rounder rear lines. It is Limar's least expensive US model this year.
    • Chrono 05: Limar's 2005 aerodynamic pursuit and time trial helmet with CPSC certification replaces last year's Approved Chrono. Molded in the shell with three small vents in the rear and some unfortunate lumpy external strap anchors. Retails for $200.

    Some Limar models are available in Bianchi colors.


    Louis Garneau

    Louis Garneau is a Canadian designer and manufacturer with an extensive helmet line along with many other products. Some of their helmets are molded in the shell. On others they use polypropylene lower sections, and some models have a molded in lower shell to protect the foam from nicks (reducing sliding resistance as well). Visors are mounted with pins, replacing the former hook-and-loop fasteners to facilitate flipping off easily in impacts without melting off in hot cars the way hook and loop adhesive can.

    A few Louis Garneau models still have only partial shells, leaving EPS foam exposed. Bell pioneered the design years back with its Evo Pro and eventually dropped it. We have always believed it is an inferior design technique, given the evidence that plastic slides much better on pavement in an impact than foam. (Check this link for more on that) We would recommend steering away from those models. In fairness, Louis points out that he has kept the foam sections slightly lower than the plastic shell-covered parts and that wrapping the shell over the ribs reinforces them against impact. And the Envoy model has lesser areas of foam exposed. If that reassures you, you can ignore our advice, but we think the foam will still hit the road if you hit hard enough, and there is no reason to risk that when there are lots of all-plastic shells out there, including some nice ones from Louis Garneau.

    For the European market Garneau has insect mesh in the vents of some models. Garneau uses the term "bonded polystyrene" for its molded in the shell models. Some models may be available without visor for $5 less. Custom team graphics or stickers are available for 2005. Some Louis Garneau models are designed for the Canadian market and may not be available in the US, but all of the ones listed below are sold here.

    • Oz-zy: the top of the Louis Garneau line was introduced in 2004. It is molded in the shell with large front vents, curlicue shaped top vents, a wrap under shell, nicely recessed strap anchors and a moderate rear snag point. It comes in visible white and orange, and the front label is reflective. A carrying bag is included. For 2005 the price is still $150.
    • Envoy: Another 2004 design, the Envoy has the partially exposed foam that we advise against. Large rear overhang, with vents smaller than they look because of that exposed foam. Retail price is down by $10 to $100 with a carrying bag.
    • Aki: this model has big areas of foam not covered by plastic shell (see comment above). Molded in the shell with a full wrap under shell, retails for $95.
    • Energy: another 2004 design, the Energy has a little less rear overhang than some others in the line, but has the exposed foam. It retails for $80 with visor.
    • Rev: the Rev's exposed foam is well recessed, but the shell is taped rather than molded in the shell. It's shape is a lot rounder and smoother than the upscale models, with almost no rear snag point at all. This is Garneau's largest helmet, fitting up to size 24 7/8 - 63cm. Retail is $50.
    • Quattro: Although less expensive than the Rev, this one is molded in the shell, and has only a moderate rear snag point. In purple with flower designs it is the Eva for women. As a youth model is it is the Ed. Each one retails for $45. Without visor it is the Murano and sells for $40.
    • Oregon: the least expensive adult Garneau, a nicely rounded design with a minimal rear extension. Taped on shell and less ventilation. Retail is $30.
    • Grunge 2-V: introduced in 2001 for the youth market aged 6 to 15, this one has some angular lines and a rear overhang, with a glued-on shell and a visor. Wild graphics, some very bright. Retails for $40.
    • 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, as well as Felix-the-fireman and several for the feminine side. The smallest model is size 6, for a 48cm (18 7/8 inch) head. Retail is $30.
    • Terrible: Toddler helmet whose name ironically echoes the French phrase "l'enfant terrible." Has a molded in visor extension and glued-on shell. Graphics include Felix again in firefighter garb. Designed for kids 5 to 10. This one has a dial-fit rear stabilizer. The retail price is still $35.
    • Street: A skateboard-style helmet with a hard shell and the beautifully rounded traditional skateboard profile. The vents are skimpy and the colors are drab or black, but if you are crashing at high speed this is the profile you want. Has CPSC bicycle helmet certification and ASTM snowboard certification but is not dual certified to the ASTM skateboard standard. Retails for $35, or you can have the camo version for $45.
    • Buzz 2: Garneau's downhill helmet. Molded in the shell with vents covered with mesh to keep the bees out. It has a full face guard with vents and mesh of its own. Unfortunately the hook-and-loop visor attachment has been replaced with the usual BMX/downhill bolts, so if you catch your visor on a limb, look out! The retail price has been lowered considerably to $140.
    • Rocket: A brand new 2005 chrono design from LG, the maker of the first chrono meeting the CPSC standard in 2002. This is Garneau's second generation, and there are improvements in the form of a longer, slicker shape with a full shell covering all the impact foam, a curved buckle that fits facial contours and can be manipulated with one hand, and four small vents in the front. This is a teardrop-shaped helmet for time trial or pursuit events, not really intended for street use although you will inevitably see some on the road, where the chrono tail makes no sense. Retail price is $180. The windscreen is available separately for $30.
    • Prologue-V: The most exciting thing in the 2002 Louis Garneau lineup was the world's first chrono model with CPSC impact protection. Designed for time trialing. Round and smooth in front, with a long aero tail. Glued on shell, polycarbonate face shield. A genuine innovation at the time. Retail this year is $125 with visor.
    • Windscreen: Not a helmet, but an accessory, this is a polycarbonate lens that wraps around a helmet--almost any helmet--and is held on by hook and loop. The edges are unprotected, and you could probably slice meat with them, even if it did not shatter in a crash. We would favor something with protected edges, like a pair of glasses or goggles. Not offered in the US market.

    Louis Garneau still has a free replacement guarantee for the first year.


    Lucky Bell

    Lucky Bell is a Hong Kong company producing EPU helmets mostly for other brands but with their own Aerogo brand. They have 11 bicycle models, most of them round and smooth, with small to reasonable vents, nicely recessed strap anchors and visors. They include the 390, 391, 392, 393, 395, 396, 397 (with upturned rear snag point) and 399 (with diagonal ribs) for adults. There are also two skate-style models, including the 801 with vents in blue or a bright yellow and the 901 classic skate style, as well as the 991 snow sports helmet.


    MET

    MET is an Italian manufacturer whose helmet line we have not seen, but they have a fine Web site. The comments below are vague because we are limited by the info on the Web. MET has models for road and offroad biking, a BMX model, youth and toddler models and a chrono shaped time trial racing helmet. Almost all of them have snag points in the rear and the elongated shapes that we do not consider optimal. MET says their road and off-road helmets differ in the placement of the vents to optimize them for the type of riding intended, in addition to adding a visor for off road use. Most of their helmets are molded in the shell, and some have lower wrap around shells as well. Strap anchors are under the shell in some models, a nice touch. Logos are reflective, although generally small. The top of the line models are radically different in appearance. Their Element model is described with the line "We have not just designed a helmet and then put holes in it, we have created a helmet around the air flow." That is great advertising copy. Among others on the Web site, the Bad Boy and Drop Off models seemed to have very nicely rounded contours. The Parachute has a removable chin guard that splits into two pieces to fit in your pack. An interesting concept, although it is hard to say how rigid it would be in a crash, and it apparently has no impact padding. The Testagrossa is produced for larger heads, and fits up to 64 cm. The toddler model is said to have a flattened rear to avoid cocking a child's head forward when sitting in a child carrier. Met's helmets are all made in Italy. You can order replacement visors and replacement pads directly from them through their Web site. We wish more manufacturers would do that, since finding replacement pads is sometimes a real challenge. MET's helmets are not available in the US and Canada. You can read their fascinating explanation on the Web site. Regarding standards, all they say is "Each and every Met helmet passes the safety standards that apply in the countries in which they are sold, EN 1078 label in Europe or AS/NZS 2063 in Australia/New Zealand for instance." They candidly say they have not designed a helmet specifically for women, but all their helmets are designed for both men and women, a refreshing statement.

    Michelin

    Michelin, best known in the US for tires, has launched a new line of helmets for 2005 in conjunction with Zefal, best known in the US market for pumps. Michelin has a network to distribute tires, lubricants and other accessories to bicycle stores, so adding helmets will help to round out their product line. Since known brands sell more helmets, they may be hoping that the well-known brand name will help. The helmets all have at least some reflective trim.
    • MX Sport: molded in the shell with reasonable vents and a moderate rear snag point. Also known as the MX Tribal for the mountain bike market. Both retail for $40.
    • MX Pro Race: molded in the shell with a medium snag point, very large vents and a ring fit system. The visor can be replaced with an air flow deflector.
    • MX Comp: small rear snag points, ring fit system, $70 retail.
    • MX Urban: another Bell Metro-inspired commuter style helmet with very large vents and rounded lines, but not as round and smooth as the Metro or the Sixsixone All Ride. Molded in the shell with a ring-fit system. Translucent gray visor. Retails for $45. With a black visor and different graphics it is the Street.
    • MX Adventure: child helmet with large vents, elongated shape, rounded rear profile. Retail is $35.
    • MX Bib: toddler helmet with vents, molded in the shell as few toddler helmets are, nice bright colors and graphics. The extra small size fits 48 to 52 cm heads. Retail is $25.


    Mongoose

    Mongoose is a supplier of a full line of bicycles and accessories targeting the "extreme sports kid," a male between 7 and 17 years of age "driven by attitude." For 2005 their line is from PTI, and it includes:
    • All Terrain: although it is an ABS hardshell helmet, this one has a very thin shell. It has the elongated bicycle helmet shape with a modest snag point in the rear and a visor. Made in China by HKS. Retails for $20.
    • Explorer: minimal rear snag point, tapeless glued on shell, snap-on visor, ring fit system with dial fit. Retail is $20.
    • Full Face: an ABS hard shell BMX-style helmet open-face helmet with an unfortunate bolted-on visor. Retail is $60.
    • BMX Hard Shell: A skate-style helmet departing from the round and smooth style to add lines that the auto industry would call "muscular." No chin bar. Retail is $17.
    • BMX Child Full Face Helmet: This is the full face model from PTI that is the only child's full face model on the market. It may have vision obstruction problems for the wearer, so be sure to take the rider to the store to try it on. Sold at Toys 'R Us and other discount stores for under $20, this one has a full wraparound chinbar with full thickness EPS padding. There is no other helmet in this year's lineup with full thickness EPS padding in the chinbar, including lots of expensive downhill and BMX helmets. There is a visor, and the helmet is vented for active pedaling by kids who are "driven by attitude." PTI has these made in China.


    Netti - Atom

    Netti is an Australian company that has been around since 1948 as a distributor of cycling goods. They say they are Australia's biggest manufacturer and distributor of bicycle clothing and helmets. We have not seen their helmets in the US market for a long time, but their Web site is very good about identifying the standards met, and they do have models certified to meet the US CPSC standard as well as the Australian AS2063 standard, which is in some respects more advanced than our own. Netti models for 2005 include:

    • Cyclone: Molded in the shell with a two piece shell. AUS$100
    • GTi Competition i-Series - Molded in the shell. Kevlar fibers in the straps, with a claim of "simple to achieve absolutely perfect fit." AUS$70
    • Pangea: Upper and Lower glued on micro shell. AUS$50
    • STRIKE: "Extra strength" glued on micro shell. AUS$45
    • Qantum Pro: Nicely rounded shape, two piece glued on shell, comes in an extra large size rated to 64cm heads. AUS$40
    • Qantum: Nicely rounded shape, AS2063 Certification, comes in small and medium only. AUS$40
    • Climax: Full face downhill racing or BMX helmet with vents, a composite carbon fiber shell and CPSC certification. AUS$380
    • Instinct: Full face BMX-style helmet with a fiberglass shell, vents. AUS$150
    • AXN: Full face for Down Hill & BMX, fiberglass shell with more vents than usual for this type of helmet. CPSC Certification. AUS$200 Graphics model is AUS$230.
    • Assault-Jr: Full face downhill or BMX helmet with CPSC Certification. XS/S only. AUS$140
    • Blade 2: Hard ABS shell, classic skate shape, but bicycle standard CPSC and AS2063 certification, not skateboard. AUS$45 Also in graphics model for AUS$50.
    • Minimax: Toddler model with heart-shaped vents. Comes in extra small. No certification listed. AUS$40
    • Pilot: Child/youth model with ring fit, bright graphics and AS2063 Certification. AUS$45.


    OGK

    See Qranc below.


    Oktos

    Oktos is a French company selling accessories and sunglasses as well as helmets. They sponsor European racing teams. Their helmets are made by Strategic Sports to the European CEN standard and marketed in Europe. All appear to have taped on shells except the Aereo. They fit sizes 54 to 62cm. Oktos has six models:
    • Aereo: top-of-the-line with a pronounced snag point in a unique rounded shelf selling for 56 Euros.
    • V17: nicely rounded profile, may be molded in the shell, retailing for 56 Euros.
    • V13 Trainer: a 2004 design with nicely rounded profile, glued-on tapeless shell and bug net retailing for 32 Euros.
    • V16: reasonable vents, rounded lines, ring fit system, bug net, retailing for 25 Euros.
    • Quick Fly: a vented child's helmet with molded in visor and glued, tapeless shell, that comes in yellow with a Dalmatian motif like Louis Garneau's Felix. Retail is 19 Euros.
    • W10: nicely rounded profile, lower shell, bug net, retailing for 30 Euros.



    Polybid

    Polybid is an Israeli company. They produce a unique folding helmet we reviewed in prior years under the Motorika brand name. The last time we saw them their other helmet designs are all round and smooth, and all featured glued-on shells. The Web site has only a flash movie now, and we don't use flash.


    ProRider

    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. Many of their helmets are Snell-certified in addition to meeting the CPSC standard, and have the rounder, smoother shapes that are best for crashing. Pro Rider is one of only two companies with a helmet on the Snell N-94 multisport list, their "7-Vent" model. Prices are very low, in the under $10 range and as low as $4 including shipping when purchasing in large quantities for a helmet program. They will also sell to individuals at slightly higher prices but still below $10.


    Pro Supergo

    Pro Supergo is apparently not affiliated with the Supergo bike shops in California or with the former Supergo helmets we remember from the 1970's. The helmets are produced in Taiwan by Prowell. (See below)


    Pro-Tec

    Pro-Tec was one of the original skate helmet companies in the 1970's, and popularized the classic skate-style helmet with a round, smooth hard shell and small round vents. The company has changed hands a couple of times since then, and for 2004 they brought out an almost completely revamped line, much improved from earlier years. Pro-Tec now uses a new foam they call SXP that replaced the lower grade protection of prior years with full performance liners that are dual certified to meet both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and ASTM F1492 Skateboard requirements. The SXP foam is a different formulation of Expanded PolyPropylene, allowing Pro-Tec to upgrade their protection while still meeting multiple impact tests without making the helmets thicker. It is a multi-impact foam, although it does lose some performance with multiple hits in the same location. We have more comments on our foam page. The helmets look exactly the same as older Pro Tec models, and Pro Tec continues to sell the older designs through skate shops, so you will have to examine them in the store for the standards sticker inside or be very careful about the model you buy.

    • Classic: round and smooth, with small round vents and good coverage, the classic Pro Tec design but updated with the higher-performance multi-impact foam it always needed and is now dual certified to meet both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and ASTM F1492 Skateboard requirements. . Comes in visible white and yellow as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $40.
    • B-2: another round and smooth design, but this time with oval vents, a rad departure for the skate crowd. Dual certified. Comes in visible yellow as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $40.
    • Ace Freestyle Signature: An updated skateboard style helmet with larger oval vents and minor reshaping of the shell lines. It still has a round and smooth shape. For bicycle riding you must get the dual certified Ace Freestyle, not the outwardly similar Ace Skate, which is sold for skating in skate shops rather than bicycling and is not certified to the CPSC standard. Add a big bolted-on visor to the Ace Freestyle and you have the Dig. Add a chinbar and you get the AceSpade, retailing for $70.
    • Shovel-Head: a BMX design with a full face chinbar, fiberglass shell and vents. It has a snap-in liner that you can wash separately. Retails for $120.
    We were encouraged by the changes Pro Tec made in 2004. They supply so many helmets to the skateboard community that the long overdue improvements in their line represented significant progress. If you have an older Pro-Tec and want to stay with the brand, it would make sense to replace it with a new one now. For an alternate manufacturer using the same new foam, see Shain below.


    Prowell Helmets

    Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets in EPU foam. Several of their models are molded in the shell, some with lower shells as well. They generally have a high quality appearance, seeming solid (if a bit heavy) in the hand, including the F-22 introduced in 2000. It has moderate vents, but a substantial lip projecting out in the rear. Most of Prowell's models should retail for about $20. The company manufactures helmets for other brands, notably Vigor, and supplies the Pro Supergo line for Supergo.


    Primal Wear

    (Not to be confused with Pryme, the next manufacturer)

    Primal Wear has helmets with wild graphics to go with their similarly designed clothing line. They have five helmet models:

    • Epok: elongated shape with rear snag point, retailing for $50.
    • Vision: another elongated model, but with a much smoother rear and larger front vents. Molded in the shell, dial ring fit. Retail is $40.
    • Evolution: Smaller vents, rear snag point, ring fit, retailing for $30.
    • Scream: a classic skate-style helmet with small round vents. Unlike most skate helmet models, they have a very visible yellow/black color scheme. Retail is $25.
    • Discovery: toddler and child helmet with an adult shape and vents. Retail price is $20. Should not be used on a child in a trailer without adding a cushion behind the child's back to prevent the elongated shape from pushing the child's head forward.



    Pryme Protective Gear

    Pryme has a line of helmets for BMX, downhill racing and skate use, most of them with catchy names. We don't have official MSRP pricing for Pryme this year, so we are quoting what we have seen on the Internet, and it should be considered approximate.

    • Pryme Evil Carbon: introduced in 2004, a full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Hard shell, minimal vents, bolted on visor. Retails for $170.
    • Pryme Evil: the fiberglass version is only $90. Comes in an extra small fitting a 5 3/4 head (46cm / 18 1/8") and Pryme's largest size, fitting up to size 7 7/8 heads (63cm / 24 13/16")
    • Pryme US: introduced in 2004, a full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Hard shell, vents, bolted on visor and a cool skull medallion on the chinbar. Retails for $90.
    • Pryme Al: Another full face model, with mesh-protected vents, fiberglass shell, bolted on visor. Retail is $90.
    • Pryme FF: Full face model with a fiberglass shell, vents and a bolted on visor, retailing for $70 in either the adult version or the Pryme Child FF for smaller riders.
    • Pryme 8 Skateboard style helmet similar in shape to the classic Pro-Tec. Has small vents, EPS liner, meets the CPSC standard. Retails for $30, or maybe a little less, with the chrome and "high fiber" finishes more expensive.
    • Pryme Mortal: Skateboard style helmet similar in shape to the Pryme 8 but with a skull logo replacing the vents in the front and only four small ones in the top. Retail is $25.

    Pryme has a useful sizing chart on their Web site. Their helmets are made in China by Zhuhai Safety.


    PTI

    Originally known as Protective Technologies International, PTI Sports is one of the largest and perhaps least known helmet producers in the US. They claim that their $62 million in sales in 2003 made them the second largest US helmet and accessory company after Bell. Their products are marketed as Schwinn, Mongoose or PTI brands through discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Toys `R Us, usually at prices in the $10 to $30 range. In 2001 they announced a new line of helmets and other accessories promoted with cyclist Greg Lemond's name. They subsequently dropped that branding, and were reportedly sued by Lemond for $3.46 million for breach of contract. In mid-2002 PTI licensed the Schwinn brand from its current owner, Pacific Cycle USA, and have been marketing Schwinn-branded helmets since then. For their 2005 helmets, see Schwinn below. PTI had one helmet recall in 2004 involving three toddler helmet models and a total of 9,000 helmets outstanding. We have details on our recalls page. You will find PTI products under Mongoose above and Schwinn below.


    Qranc/OGK Helmets

    Qranc seems to have disappeared, at least from the US market. Their US phones have been disconnected, and the Web link has been dead since December of 2000. A search on OGK turns up only stale motorcycle helmet pages. We still list them here only because people keep asking us where they are.


    Rage with Solo Sound System

    A round smooth skate-style helmet. Certified to CPSC, with no indication that it meets the ASTM skateboard standard even though it has a skateboard on the box. This one's main feature is twin speakers molded into the helmet liner, with a jack at the rear to plug in your mp3, CD player or skateman. We found the music sound quality abysmal, worse than the little stuffed bears with voices inside. Fit pads cover the speakers if you are not careful. Might work ok for voice intercoms or news, and it's better than riding with your ears plugged up with earphones. Retails for $39. Rage is produced by Gen-X Sports of Canada, a Huffy subsidiary since 2002 that in 2004 sold the Gen-X name and will produce products under the Huffy brand. We don't have further news for 2005.


    Rand International

    Rand sells through mass merchant channels like Kmart and Rose's. Their helmets feature Barbie and Sesame Street characters among others. They had to recall their L.A. Crusin' helmet during 2000. See our recalls page for more information, or this CPSC link.


    Reevu Helmets

    Reevu has had two models of a unique helmet with a built in rear view mirror in a housing that begins at the front lip of the helmet and curves back over the center to provide a wide angle mirror. The housing is made of Dupont nylon, and can be popped off to clean the polycarbonate mirrors inside. We tried one and posted a review, finding it an interesting concept but not a great helmet or mirror. Reviews on the Web by users are generally favorable, but say it takes some getting used to and you must fit carefully to get the mirror lined up well. The mirror may be obscured by eyeglass frames. A favorable email comment to us by a two-year user noted that objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, like the convex rear view mirrors on the passenger side of cars. Despite this 2003 press release, we have not seen it for sale in the US yet, possibly meaning that it does not meet our CPSC standard. Two Reevu models have been available in the UK. The LX is the basic model, available for 30 to 50 UK pounds. It appears to have few front vents. The more expensive LDX has more vents and sells for up to 65 pounds. Both have a ring fit system for size 55 to 61 cm. heads. The design raises some snag hazard questions because the mirror housing sticks up in the back. This helmet is an interesting development but the Web site in March, 2005 has only the vaguest of references to meeting standards: "Reevu cycle helmets' designs have been tested to destruction. It has been designed to conform to all relevant international impact standards for protective cycle helmets." Our sample had a sticker saying it meets the European EN1078 standard, but we would steer clear of this one until there is a model that is certified to meet the CPSC standard. If you are inclined, you can find Reevu helmets for sale on the Web with a Google search. The company has evidently ceased to manufacture the two models, and is working on a new one.


    Reflectek

    See Kuji Sports above.


    REM

    REM is an Italian brand with a line of molded in the shell helmets. We don't see them in the US market. Models include the X-5, X-2, Spry, Delfino, Frizz, Blackride full face, Free Ride full face, R-105 toddler and two skate style helmets: the R-206 and Sport. Some of their models have vent "pipes" and some have double layer liners, with an upper cap molded in the shell and a softer liner below. There are air channels between the layers. Their Web site mentions only European standards, but says their helmets meet the standard of any country where they are sold.


    Rudy Project

    This European manufacturer markets sunglasses and sporting attire from founder Rudy Barbazza. We are not sure which models you may find in which markets, since some of their racing helmets do not meet the CPSC standard and would not be legal here, and their Web site does not discuss standards. We have been informed by a user that at least one model, the Ayron, is CPSC-certified. In addition to the Ayron, bicycle models include the Skurya, Kaena, T-rex Ferox, Bayor, Pyovra and Bocya. There is also a skate model called the Skyanto, the full-face Korassa and two time trial chrono models: the Synton Supercomp and Synton Open. In general their models have the usual rear snag points and external strap anchors. As you move toward the lower end of the line the shapes improve to rounder, smoother designs. Some are molded in the shell. Visors are attached with hook-and-loop. Rudy Project has some interesting innovations, and perhaps they will find wider US distribution at some point. You may have seen their helmets on Tour de France riders. We have one complaint from a rider who experiences strap creep with his Rudy Project helmet and suggests you look carefully at the strap locking mechanism before buying. That would actually apply to any helmet on this page.


    San Diego Speed

    See Armor above.


    Schwinn

    The Schwinn brand is now the property of Pacific Cycle USA. In mid-2002 they licensed the Schwinn brand to PTI who now markets Schwinn-branded helmets. We usually see them in big box stores or on the Internet at retailers like Amazon. They have some very inexpensive models, but the better ones that can be fitted well start at about $16. Most of their adult models also have a "youth" size. The line for 2005 includes:

    • Atlas: a molded in the shell design with a moderate rear snag point, and a two-piece shell with ridges and many vents. It has a dial fit system and external strap anchors but they are faired-in reasonably well. Retail is $40.
    • Thrasher: updated for 2005, reasonably rounded except for a small snag points in the rear, with strap anchors below the shell. It is not molded in the shell, but apparently uses only glue to attach the shell and boasts of "tapeless technology." Retail is $25.
    • Rocket: taped on shell with faired-in strap anchors, moderate rear snag point, sells for about $25.
    • Titan: another "not-taped-on" design with moderate rear snag points that is included with other accessories in a package selling for about $25.
    • Aeros: sharp ridges on the taped-on shell but a small snag point on the rear. Vents are small and taper down to very small by the time they get through the liner. Retail is $10.
    • Kids Toddler or Playschool: Taped shell with a small visor effect in the front. Also comes in a package with other accessories. Has vents and the appearance of an adult helmet. In a larger size it is the Kids Child model.
    • Missing Link: a vented "multisport" design, but certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Well rounded, with some edges showing but no rear snag point. ABS hard shell. Retails for $20.


    Selev

    Selev is an Italian company with models mostly for the upscale road rider market. They will distribute in 2005 through Trialtir in the US, assuming their helmets pass CPSC certification. Their helmets are all molded in the shell. Two of them are said by the manufacturer to fit rounder Asian heads better than others. Their models include:
    • Ego: top of the line at $169 retail, with a pronounced rear snag point, lots of vents, external strap anchors and a ring fit with dial. Said to fit rounder heads well.
    • Atom: moderate rear snag point, recessed strap anchors, ring fit with dial, retailing for $150. Another helmet said to fit rounder heads well. Includes US and British flag graphics.
    • Matrix: modest rear snag point, five piece full shell molded on, lots of vents, click-slide tab rear stabilizer. Retails for $130.
    • Alien: Pronounced rear snag point, lots of vents, recessed strap hangers, click-slide tab rear stabilizer, retails for $110.
    • Felix: Pronounced rear snag point and sharp ridges on the shell, retails for $100.


    Serfas

    Despite the Euro-sounding name, Serfas is a US-based company, known for grips and for saddles, where there are actual differences between men's and women's models. All Serfas helmets have a ring fit system that accommodates sizes from 52 to 63cm. Their helmets are made in China by Fang Master. This year's lineup includes:
    • Cosmos: New for 2005, now molded in the shell, still the roundest, smoothest helmet in the Serfas line and the least expensive at $35. It has no snag point, recessed strap anchors, and a dial fit. Also known as the Flea in youth size, also retailing at $35. The same design base is used for the Curva. It has a notched area in back that is one of the last surviving pony tail ports, and the only real Women Specific Design we have found for 2005.
    • Rookie: a well-vented toddler helmet with an elongated but well-rounded shape and taped on shell. Dial fit, and one of the last remaining ponytail ports. Retails for $30.

    Serfas has a one year crash replacement policy, through the dealer.


    Seven 20

    Seven 20 is a skate brand. They have one skate-style helmet made for Mosa Sports (Pro Tec) in China. The ones we have seen are certified only to a European standard, EN 1385. Retail is about $25, but we have seen them at Sports Authority and Modell's for $15. Not recommended for bicycle riding because it is not certified to meet the CPSC bicycle helmet requirements. Not recommended for skateboarding because it is not certified to the ASTM F-1492 skateboard standard.


    Shain

    Shain (pronounced "shine") is an established Italian brand that was new to the US market in 2004. Their big news for 2005 is the use of a new foam they call Re-Up, or "Tau Multi Impact Technology." Their unique catalog courageously includes results of lab tests that show their helmet handling four hard impacts in the same spot before registering over 300g. That is not true multi-impact performance, but a lot closer to it than any standard EPS helmet can manage. Under normal bicycle use you would not have to throw the helmet away after the first impact, and if you are a reasonable rider this helmet should be good for five to ten years of normal crashes. This is the same foam formulation that Pro Tec is using for some of its skate helmets. All of Shain's helmets meet the US CPSC standard.

    But Shain has another wrinkle as well, supported by data published in their catalog. They have added an inner shell to some of their standard EPS helmets, and claim that it permits EPS to withstand two hits in the same spot. Inner shells are not a new idea--Louis Garneau and others have had them for years--but Shain is the first to claim that they can meet standards with two hits at the same spot due to the inner shell. We have a page on helmet foams.

    Shain helmets have some European features like bug mesh in the forward vents on some models. All are molded in the shell except the toddler helmet. They also have reflective logos, a feature we appreciate even though the logos are too small to add much to the cyclist's visibility at night. Shain has an extensive line, but not all are available in the US. The line includes:

    • BK51 Urban: Shain's 2005 answer to the Bell Metro. This is a round, smooth helmet! The external strap anchors are partly recessed, and the vents are very unusual crescent shapes. It appears to have better than usual rear coverage, but we have not measured it. It has a light or light mount on the rear. Standard EPS foam, no inner shell, removable visor. We don't have the retail price. This one is worth a look.
    • BK1000: new for 2005, the top of Shain's line is a multi-impact helmet using their new foam, with huge vents, a moderate rear snag point and internal strap anchors. The fit foam is layered for wicking and snaps in and out for washing. Retail price is $218, up there with Giro and the other high end helmets.
    • BK 100: formerly the top of Shain's road line, a molded in the shell model, with plenty of vents and plenty of snag points both in the rear and projecting up from the front surface. We are surprised that the front projection meets the CPSC limit on surface projections. Updated for 2005 with their new foam. The shell wraps under and there is an inner shell for full coverage. The strap anchors stick up entirely above the shell, adding another potential snag point that we would not normally expect to see with the retail price as high as $157.
    • BK 90: another high-end molded in the shell design with a pointy rear snag point and external strap anchors. This one at least has no front point sticking up. It has the new foam for 2005, the inner shell, and metal mesh in the vents. One version has a visor. Retail is $159.
    • BK 81 and BK 82: a much better-rounded helmet, this one has only one objectionable bump on top that is done for pure style. Molded in the shell in both a full inner shell version for $116 and a single shell for $55. There is also a mountain bike version with visor.
    • BK 71: the exterior of this one has lots of ridges and a small rear snag point. Retail is $115. It comes in a very pretty Lady version and another less expensive version selling for $80.
    • BK 40: rounded exterior except for a modest rear snag point and a molded in visor lip. Molded in the shell. Retails for $55.
    • BK 600: downhill racing helmet with a carbon/kevlar shell with BMX full face lines, vents and bolted on visor. There is bug mesh in all the vents. Retails for $99.
    • BK500: Shain's chrono time trial model is actually a road helmet with an additional fairing added on the exterior and a clear face shield. There are three small front vents. Normal EPS foam with the inner shell. It retails for $197.
    • BK11: Toddler helmet with vents. Taped on shell. Retail is $34 with graphics, or $26 in solid colors.
    • RK540: new for 2005, an adaptation of a ski helmet. Very round and smooth except for the external strap anchors and strange studs with elastic cord for mounting front and rear lamps. Normal EPS foam. Extended coverage, minimal vents. Might be a winter helmet. In Alaska. Retail is $133. Colors include a nice visible yellow and a white.


    Shenzhen Hezhen Bicycle Inc.

    A Chinese 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 export to 20 countries, including the US.


    Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development

    Although we have not seen their 2005 line, this Taiwanese manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU helmets are molded in the shell, and they attempt to assuage the environmental concerns about EPU on their site. The styles are well-rounded, but vents look small. They have a fiberglass BMX model. We don't have current pricing. You may see their helmets with other brands on them.


    Sixsixone

    SixSixOne is primarily a BMX and skate equipment company. They have bicycle, BMX/Downhill and skate style models in their line. They seem to have many dealers in the UK.

    • All Ride: new for 2005 and an exciting (to us) rounder, smoother helmet with contemporary styling. There is no rear snag point. The All Ride has big vents, multiple shell pieces covering most of the foam all the way down, a ring fit system with dial adjustment and a removable visor. This one is worth a look if the ring fit works for you. Retail price is $70 on the Web site, but may be less at a dealer.
    • Bravo XC bicycle model with pronounced rear snag points and lots of vents, made by Strategic Sports. Retail is $70.
    • Comp XC bicycle model, molded in the shell with a moderate rear snag point. Retails for $50.
    • Flight: new for 2005, this is a full-blown motorcycle helmet meeting the tough Snell M2000 standard. Full-face, and the Snell standard requires that the chinbar be padded. There are small vents in the chinbar and the rear. The otherwise round and smooth shell has an unfortunate little tailpiece sticking up in the back for style, and we are surprised that Snell permits that kind of projection. The visor is bolted on with "oversize" bolts, making a bad feature potentially worse. The shell materials include Kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Retail is $350 or more. The catalog contains the curious statement "EPS foam liner conforms to your shape for a perfect fit." We suspect they meant the fitting foam, not the EPS liner, which normally conforms to your shape only when you hit something and the hard foam crushes.
    • Launch: another 2005 design, this one a lighter weight motorcycle-style helmet meeting only the DOT standard instead of Snell. The shell material is polycarbonate. Vented chinbar. Retail is $120.
    • Full Comp downhill model is vented, with a polycarbonate shell and bolted on visor, retailing for $80
    • Full Bravo: downhill model is vented, with a fiberglass shell and bolted on visor, retailing for $120.
    • Full Bravo Carbon: a full-face BMX model with vents, with carbon fiber in the shell, retailing for $180.
    • Dirt Lid skate helmet is the classic round, smooth design with round vents and ABS hard shell, retailing for $20. It meets only bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard. The $80 carbon fiber version is still on the Web site but has been dropped from the dealer catalog for 2005.
    • Mullet: another skate model with slightly updated lines and larger vents at $30. Certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, not to a skateboard standard. Comes only in dark colors this year.



    Smith Safety Gear - Scabs

    Smith is a supplier of skateboard protectors and other gear. Their skateboard helmet is a classic Pro-Tec style with the small round front vents, and squishy EVA foam. It is not certified to the CPSC standard, and not recommended for bicycling. Carries the Scabs brand, a name that may resonate with 'boarders. It retails for $30. We don't know what standard it may meet. The Scabs brand also appears on the Ricks Thorne Signature Pro Model, which is certified to the CPSC standard for bicycling and promoted as a BMX helmet. Available in visible white in addition to the standard dark colors. The two are similar, so check for the CPSC label if you want a helmet for bicycling. If you need a skateboard helmet, look for one that meets the ASTM F-1492 standard instead.


    Solid (Headlight Helmet AB)

    This Swedish manufacturer has helmets under their Solid brand with reflective outer shells in silver, yellow, red, blue and black. The silver and yellow would probably be a lot more reflective than the blue and black, but they say all of their helmets meet the Swedish standard for reflectivity, even after ageing. The site mentions only European standards. Shell designs are well-rounded, with minimal rear snag points. "Headlight" apparently refers to light weight, not to lights added to helmets.


    Specialized

    Specialized is one of the major U.S. helmet manufacturers and a supplier of a wide range of bicycles and components. All of their adult bicycle-style helmets are molded in the shell. For 2005 they have straps in one model attached directly to the interior nylon and carbon fiber reinforcing, eliminating the nasty external strap anchors found on some competitors' high-end helmets. They also have a "U Turn" strap junction piece with a fliptab lock that they claim will eliminate strap creep. (We have not tried it.)

    • Decibel: new for 2005, this one has carbon reinforcing struts visible, the standard pointy rear snag points and huge vents. Has the trademark Specialized brow vent. Has the straps attached directly to the interior nylon reinforcing, eliminating external strap anchors and has the "U Turn" strap junction piece to prevent strap creep. Bicycling magazine rated its cooling below that of the old Specialized S1 and the Giro Atmos in the January/February 2005 issue. Available in a nice bright yellow as well as white. Retails for $170
    • Aurora: another 2005 design, similar to the Decibel but with slightly smaller vents and no carbon struts, but still has the Specialized brow vent and no external strap anchors. Available in "women's specific" mauve. Retail is $100.
    • Telluride: Specialized's top mountain bike helmet has very large top vents to let air rise out of the helmet when the rider has very low forward speed while riding off road. This is perhaps the only adaptation we have seen to date that is actually specific to mountain biking, but we don't know if it works or not. Molded in the shell, with lots of ridges and some rear snag points. Retail is $60, down $10 from 2004.
    • Chamonix: this one has some shelf effect in the rear but a more rounded snag point. Comes in a women's color and retails for $45, up $5 from last year.
    • AirForce: Specialized's lowest-cost molded in the shell design retails for $35. It has a ring fit system with two sizes, visor and eight colors. Also available as the Air Force Youth.
    • Kid Cobra: Even the classic round, smooth toddler helmet has been given slightly squarer lines, but not to an extreme. Glued-on shell, decent vents, cute graphics. Comes in toddler and child sizes for $30.
    • Deuce: a skate-style helmet for bicycling with a hard shell and small oval vents. CPSC certified, but not certified to the ASTM F-1492 skateboard standard. Retails for $30.

    You can call Specialized at 408-779-6229 to find out what their current replacement policy is.


    Spiuk

    Spiuk is a Spanish supplier of a wide range of bicycles, components and clothing. Their helmets are coming to the US market in 2005. They have some nice bright color combinations on all models including team graphics. Their models for this year include:
    • Nexion: molded in the shell with large front vents, a full shell on the lower portion, and pointy rear snag points.
    • Atom: molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell and two rear snag points. There is cotton bug net in the front vents.
    • Child helmet - Casco de niņo: a toddler helmet with vents and nice graphics.
    • Chronos: a time trialing shape with two large rear vents.

    We do not know anything about what standards the Spiuk products might meet.


    Sportscope/Sportcraft

    Sportcraft (Sportscope) has one basic model, introduced in mid-year 1999, constructed of segments of foam closely connected by an inner mesh. It may help those with a rounder Asian head who find that most US-made helmets feel like they have corners inside. During 2003 the Sportscope brand was apparently sold to Sportcraft, a different company entirely despite the similarity in names. You can find the helmets on the Sportcraft Web site. There is at least one new model with a "Lighted Jewelry Design," that runs on AAA batteries and is motion-activated, but we have not seen it. In fact, we are not seeing the Sportscope/Sportcraft helmets around any more in the US market.


    Star

    Star Helmets (formerly Zhuhai H.N.Z. Star Safety Helmets), located in Zhuhai, China, produces a number of models under the Star brand. Some are certified to the tough Snell B-95 standard, but we are unable to match the model numbers, so check the Snell list for details. Most should sell in the $10 to $20 range in the US market, with the BMX models around $65 and ski models probably in the same range.


    Strategic Sports

    Strategic Sports produces helmets for a number of U.S. companies with the U.S. company's brand, and have informed us that they rank among the world's largest helmet producers, with annual sales in the millions of helmets. For 2005 several of their helmets appear on Snell's list. We have comments on some models under various other brands in this review, but you are not likely to see the Strategic Sports name on any helmets in your market.


    Tung Kuang / Tong Ho Hsing (THH or TKLI)

    TKLI sends its line to the U.S. through Trans National Trading Company of Vernon, California. In China they are known as Shanghai Tung Kuang, or in Taiwan as Tung Kuang I Light Industry Co. Ltd., appearing on the Snell certification list as Tung Kuang I. They market their own Alltop and Allpro brands, but also produce helmets for other companies under different brand names. Their EPS models are probably all made in China and have taped-on shells, while the EPP models would come from Taiwan and may be molded in the shell. Most of their designs feature the round, smooth shapes that we prefer. Their 2005 models include:
    • T-91: Introduced in 2003, a newer style elongated bicycle helmet. molded in the shell with an unfortunate pronounced rear snag point and external strap anchors. EPS liner. Some bright colors.
    • T-93: EPU foam design with rounded lines and less rear overhang than the T-91.
    • T-95: EPU foam design with a well-rounded shape.
    • T-38: a nicely rounded design with moderate vents and visor. Bright new graphics for 2005. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $16.
    • T-37: a generally rounded but somewhat elongated design with moderate vents. Dark colors and red. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $16.
    • T-36: a nicely rounded design with smaller vents and visor. Brighter colors for 2005. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
    • T-35: a nicely rounded design with smaller vents. Again the graphics were updated for 2005. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
    • T-29: toddler helmet with small vents, very round and smooth. Available in orange. Snell B-95 certified. Should retail for about $10.
    • T-22: Smaller vents than the T-23, updated graphics for 2005. EPU foam, visor, dial fit system. Molded in the shell. Retail about $13.
    • T-21: Smaller vents, EPU foam, some bright graphics, visor. Molded in the shell. Retail should be about $12.
    • T-39: BMX-style helmet with chinbar. ABS shell, bolted on visor, retail around $65.
    • AP-86, AP-87, AP-89: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmets with full chinbars.
    • AB-77: classic skate helmet with standard dark colors plus some impressive gold, silver and stars-and-stripes colors rarely seen in skate style helmets. We don't know what standards it may meet, so it may not be certified for bike riding or skateboarding.
    • AB-66: skate helmet with flared lower edge and a molded in visor. Has an optional clear face shield. Again we don't know what standards it may meet, so it may not be certified for bike riding or skateboarding.

    STKI also produces helmets for other uses, including military, baseball, motorcycle, equestrian, football and snow sports.


    Topeak

    See Podium above.


    Trek USA

    Trek supplies a wide line of bikes and accessories to dealers, and their helmet graphics are designed to complement your Trek bike. Some models have reflective panels. Their line for 2005 includes molded in the shell models made here and taped-on shell designs made for them in China. Most have ring fit systems.

    • Anthem Carbon Elite: new for 2005, with carbon fiber internal reinforcing, very large vents, a multi-piece shell (molded in the shell) and a small but sharp rear snag point. Ring fit system with dial adjustment and three shell sizes. Retail is $100.
    • Sonic Elite: molded in the shell design with rounded front lines but a pronounced rear snag point. It has a lower shell as well. Ring fit system with three shell sizes. Retail is $80.
    • Interval 2: molded in the shell with a minimal rear snag point and recessed strap anchors at $60. Also available in a women's pastel color.
    • Vapor 3: molded in the shell with squared-off ridge lines but a minimal rear shelf projection and the roundest, smoothest profile in Trek's current lineup. reflective panel and a visor for $35 retail. Available with labels: Police, Sheriff, EMT and Fire. Also available in a women's pastel color. Retail is $40.
    • Vapor: taped shell, nicely rounded design.
    • Scout 3: molded in the shell youth helmet based on the Vapor design, selling for $40.
    • Scout: taped shell youth helmet based on the Vapor.
    • Little Dipper 2: Infant-toddler model with a taped-on shell updated in 2000 with more vents, better graphics, a soft rubber visor, an anti-pinch chin pad and a $30 price tag.

    Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed helmets.


    Troxel

    Troxel is a long-time producer of bicycle components that still markets some bicycle helmets under other brands, formerly producing for GT, and now known as SafeTech. We have not seen their line for 2005, but they have four models on the Web site, including toddler, youth, skate and adult models. Troxel is better known for their equestrian helmets.


    Troy Lee Designs

    Troy Lee has a BMX line known for rad graphics. Their top of the line $375 D2 Carbon model has exposed carbon fiber mesh in a sunken rear section, a style quirk that we would avoid. The $295 D2 Sprocket has a fiberglass shell with kevlar and carbon fiber reinforcements. Or if you don't want graphics you can have the D2 Tank for the same price in a plain matte. Their 2004 line features a redesigned "Orbit" visor. Troy Lee pioneered the bolted-on BMX visor, claiming that the plastic mounts pull out when the visor is snagged. Unfortunately there is no standard for testing that, and nobody will do it for you at the bike shop or bike show, either, so we regard the visors as potential snag points. The D2 fits heads from 53 to 62 cm (21 to 24.5 inches). Troy Lee will replace helmet liners after a crash if the shell is not damaged.


    TSG

    This German company sells a TSG skate helmet in the US in the classic skate style. It is advertised as certified to CPSC. It comes in 38 colors and graphics schemes, including very visible fluorescent yellow, white or orange. TSG had to recall one of their models during 2000. See our recalls page for details. Note that the company has a snowboard helmet that is very similar in appearance but has a rear goggle strap. We don't know what standard it may be certified to, so for bicycle use be sure a TSG has a label inside that says it complies with the CPSC standard.

    TSG has a matched set that includes a helmet and protective pads for skate park rental programs. To deter theft, the helmet and pads are the same unusual blue. The helmet has "Rental" woven into the strap and on a prominent decal. The pads have "rental" on them as well, and are supplied in a "super durable/washable" material. We don't see it in their current catalog, but it still appears on the Web site. We do not understand why this idea has not been developed by a bicycle helmet manufacturer, preferably with an easy-to-clean interior to prevent passing lice to the next wearer. It is possible that renters don't want a helmet that says "Rental" on it, or possible that some would steal it for the same reason!

    TSG has a free crash replacement policy. Their helmets are made in Taiwan by Kar Cen.


    Tung I Hsing

    See THH above.

    Uvex

    Uvex is best known for its optical products. They introduced their helmet line in the US market in late 2002. The helmets are designed and made in Germany, and all of them are molded in the shell using Bayer's polycarbonate material. The have reflective logos, nicely recessed strap anchors and front vent mesh for insect protection. They have a unique buckle that uses a ridged tab that inserts and zips in that we have only seen on Abus and Uvex helmets. They have a ring fit system with a dial adjuster. For 2005 the line includes:
    • Factory Pilot 1 - FP1: top of the Uvex line, with huge vents, nylon internal reinforcing and a rounded profile, retailing for $200, or $225 for the Team model. Billed as "the lightest helmet in the world" at 200 grams for the small size and 260 grams for the large. Also available for women and youth.
    • Wing RS: full wrap under shell, many vents and two rear snag points. Retail is $120, up $10 from last year.
    • Supersonic RS: a more rounded design with much larger vents. Retails for $100. Bicycling magazine picked it as the best value of the three helmets they reported on in their January/February 2005 issue.
    • Bladenight: large vents and squared-off rear treatment, but skate-style coverage. Uvex considers the style "aggressive and hip." Retails for $90.
    • Boss Compact RS: a youth model with pronounced rear overhang and full wrap under shell retailing for $80.
    • Superhelix: new for 2005, with a reasonably rounded profile, visor and one bright color combination. Retail is $70.
    • Cobra RS: well rounded, with a single shell that does not wrap under, selling for $60. The same helmet without visor is the Explorer 2 for $50. It comes in a visible pearl white.
    • Speedy: a child helmet with molded in visor. Molded in the shell, and has the same fit system and buckle as the adult models. Reflective sticker. Fits 53 to 57cm heads. Retail is $40.
    • Cartoon: a toddler helmet, and one of the few that is molded in the shell. Large vents. Reflective sticker. Fits 49 to 55 cm. heads and retails for $40.
    • Downhill: new for 2005, molded in the shell, with chinbar and flame graphics, $150 retail.
    • Factory Pilot 2: a time trail chrono model that meets European standards. It hums when it is off-center to alert the rider to less-than-ideal aero performance. Retails for $500, the most expensive helmet in this review.


    Variflex - VFX

    Variflex is an importer of helmets selling mostly skate equipment, scooters and accessories through mass merchant channels such as Sears, Target, and Toys R Us. For 2005 they have a line of skate, bike and toddler helmets. We have not seen them and do not have their retail pricing. Variflex had to recall their X-Games Aggressive and some of their TSG models during 2000. See our recalls page for more information, and see TSG above. They bill a number of their models as "multisport" helmets, but the Web site mentions only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. One of their skate models is a unique licensed Spongebob Squarepants model in bright yellow called the Spongehead.


    Vigor Sports

    Vigor Sports (Hong Jin Cycle Corp.) is a Korean company with a large and varied line of helmets, some made for them by other companies. They have some EPU foam helmets as well as more conventional EPS. Their models that are not molded in the shell have 3M reflective tape around the shell edge, a nice feature seldom seen in this price range. The black tape is not 3M's most reflective product, but it represents a substantial additional cost and an effort to make the helmets safer that we wish more manufacturers would adopt. See our cautionary note below about their skate helmets. Vigor made few changes in their line for 2005 beyond updating graphics and prices.

    • Lightning: made of EPU foam, but the shell is taped for style anyway. Rear snag point. Retail is $40. Also comes with a lower shell as the Pro Lightning or Lightning Pro for $60.
    • X3: another EPU design, a rounded shape with some ripples but no rear snag point and elongated vents retailing for $35.
    • Duo: the best rounded profile in Vigor's bike helmet line, a standard EPS foam model with elongated vents and some bright colors. The XXL size fits heads up to 66cm, Vigor's largest bike model. Has 3M reflective tape all around the shell. Retails for $25.
    • HPX: A nicely rounded model with glued on upper and lower shells that has reasonable vents and comes in a police graphic option. Retails for $30.
    • B01: reasonably rounded, with minimal rear snag point. Molded in the shell with standard EPS foam. Retail is $35.
    • FX2: molded in the shell with EPS foam and moderate rear snag point. Retails for $40.
    • NOX: once Vigor's top of the line, made of EPU foam and molded in the shell. Has an upper and lower shell, large vents and a protruding rear shelf. The ribs are reasonably rounded. Has external strap anchors, but they are tucked in among the ribs. Retails for $36.
    • Jr. Nox / Avenger has four fewer vents than the NOX and an elongated front visor molded in, but the same rear treatment for $30. The Jr. comes in XXS, but with its elongated rear it would not be suitable for a child in a trailer or high-backed child seat unless you put a thick pad behind the child's back to prevent the helmet tail from pushing the child's head forward and down.
    • Sequel: New in 2001, this is another EPU model, also molded in the shell, with upper and lower shell. It resembles the NOX, but has fewer vents and retails for $32.
    • Tecfire: a 2002 design with very large vents and a reasonably rounded profile spoiled only by the shelf effect for the rear snag point. Molded in the shell. Has a dial fit system for the rear stabilizer and padded strap for chin comfort. Comes in a nice bright yellow. Retail is up sharply to $66.
    • Viper: another 2002 design, this one has a unique 8mm curved aluminum rod running lengthwise with the ends buried in the foam but visible through the vents in the middle. We regard this as a gimmick. Otherwise it is a typical hyper-ventilated design with rear snag points, a second shell covering the lower part of the helmet and a dial fit system. Available as the mountain version with a visor or the road version without. Overall the appearance is chunky. Retails for $90 without visor and $95 with visor.
    • X3: EPU foam helmet with minimal venting and sharp ridges on the exterior but no rear snag point. 3m reflective tape all the way around. Retails for $35.
    • L'il Tyke: A toddler helmet, of course, with a very nicely rounded profile, vents, a pinch proof buckle, 3M reflective tape and an adjustable sizing ring. Comes only in xxs for 50 to 52 cm heads and retails for $26.
    • Vamoose II: A downhill racing design redone in 2001 with a shell made with "Kevlar, Spectra and F.R.P." It has some vents, but they are smaller than last year's Vamoose, and has a Troy Lee-style lump in the center rear, spoiling the rounded profile. Retail is $120, up $15 from last year.
    • Contender: full face BMX model with fiberglass shell and double-bolted visor. Retails for $90 to $100 depending on the finish.
    • X5: a downhill/BMX model with a fiberglass shell with vents and a bolted on visor. Certified to the Snell N-94 multipurpose standard. Retail is $120, up sharply from last year.
    • Ten-Eighty (1080): A skate helmet design with the classic smooth, round exterior, round vents, polyethylene shell and an EPS liner. It is listed as a bike, snow or skate helmet, but certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Has a nice bright yellow, and comes in chrome. It retails for $25 to $32 depending on the graphics.

    Vigor's crash replacement policy provides a replacement of the same helmet or another current one at 30 per cent off of retail cost for the lifetime of the helmet.


    W Helmets

    W Helmets (sometimes still referred to as Team Wendy) has one unique BMX/skate helmet for 2005, the Ripper 2. It has the classic smooth skate shape and small round vents. It is dual certified and recommended for bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, mountain biking and snowboarding--but only if you buy the small or medium size. It has a hard polycarbonate shell, a round, smooth shape and minimal vents with mesh protectors. There is a model with optional vent covers for winter use. The helmet is made with a foam liner they call Zorbium, designed to flex in lighter impacts to cushion more, but stiffen up in heavy impacts to avoid bottoming out. The technical term for that is "rate sensitive foam." The foam produces a true multi-impact helmet. The W Helmets Web site says their helmets are certified to the CPSC adult and child standards as well as the ASTM F2040 standard for snow sports and the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. But when we ordered one in size large it came with a letter saying that the large size meets only the ASTM 1492 Skateboard standard, so it does not meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Worse yet, the one we received had no standards sticker of any kind inside, which to us means that the manufacturer is not certifying it to any standard. Beware if you wear size large, but otherwise, if the heat and weight do not bother you, this is probably a versatile helmet. The four sizes are made to fit 52 cm to 60 cm (6 1/2 to 7 1/2 US size) heads. There is a ring fit system with a dial adjuster. Weight is supposed to be 500 to 550 grams (heavy for a bicycle helmet) but our large sample actually weighed 670 grams, or about a pound and a half. Retail price is $79 for the adult model and $69 for the youth model. Still available on the W Helmets Web site in early 2005, although the letter we received said it was a discontinued model.


    World Industries

    World Industries is a skateboard company with a line of skateboard helmets that are certified to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Models include the

    Skullbo, Rockstar, Battle Helmet, Black Metal Helmet and Heavy Metal Helmet. The helmets they sold from October, 2000 to May 2001 were recalled. We have a page up with the details. World Industries also markets Banshee helmet earphones that you attach to a skate helmet or snow sports helmet. "No more having your headphones come off your head when you fall."


    Zefal

    Zefal helmets appear in the US under the Michelin brand.


    Zhuhai Golex

    See Golex above.


    Zhuhai Safety

    This Chinese manufacturer (Zhuhai Hindun Safety Helmets, also Zhu Hai Safety Helmet Manufacture Co. Ltd and Zhuhai USA Safety) 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 molded in the shell, and some have lower shells. Their Series 08 model is on Snell's B-95 bicycle helmet standard list. One of their helmets made for Bell was recalled for a strap anchor problem in 1995, but there have been no further recalls of their products. Sizing runs from 49cm/19.3 inches for the smallest to 64cm/25.2 inches for the large. Zhuhai Safety helmets are provided at low prices for helmet promotion programs through Helmets R Us (above).


    Zhuhai Star Safety

    See Star Helmets above.


    This article is frequently updated during the model year.






    Index to Manufacturers






    This page was revised or reformatted on: February 22, 2019.
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