Bicycle Helmets for the 2006 Season
Summary: Our review of helmets being sold in 2006.
Trends first, then individual models.
Index to manufacturers last.
Trends this year
There are new helmets in 2006 that are worth a look if you are inclined to replace yours. 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 least one of them has been rated superior by Consumer Reports
lab testing. Other than that
there is no major technological advance that compels you to replace your current helmet.
We recommend looking for a helmet that
- At the high end, you will still find big vents and high prices, but no verifiable improvement in safety
performance. You can pay more than $200 if you want to, but Target and Wal-Mart both have models that meet the same
CPSC impact standard at an everyday price of $7.14. And for about $15 they both have better looking and better fitting
- Rounder, smoother "commuter" models are growing in number. Most are mid-range in price while the elongated, pointy
styles predominate in the higher price points, yet another reason not to spend $200 for a helmet. The Bell Impulse or
Deuce (identical youth model) are in big box stores for under $25.
- Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, are even more widespread 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. To compare on your own head, try a Bell Citi and
Metro, essentially the same helmet except for the fit systems.
- A slow-release buckle to prevent children from "hanging" themselves on playground equipment or trees may become
available in Europe later in 2006, developed by Etto of Norway.
- Foams are slowly 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. Pro Tec has a modified EPP as well, and some Hopus models have a layer of resilient APE foam in addition to
EPS for multi-impact performance. Finally, there is a product called Brock Foam that is not new, but finally made it
into helmets this year. See Bern Unlimited below. We have a page on foams
- Carbon fiber use is spreading. It does allow lighter construction, but there is so little of it used in a bike
helmet that the weight saved is minimal. Because it has an aura of high tech, and because there is little else of high
tech in a standard bike helmet, it is showing up more in high end 2006 models. BMX helmets, with their heavy composite
shells, can actually save weight with carbon fiber, but the cost is $30 or more per ounce saved. Manufacturers are also
searching for ways to use titanium for similar reasons.
- Kevlar in strap materials is another tech innovation that adds little to the already strong nylon, polypro or other
low-cost strap materials already in use. Buckle manufacturers actually count on a strap giving a little to avoid buckle
- Strap adjustment fittings are not improving much. We find many of them slip too easily, resulting in the "strap
creep" that is responsible for many of the too-loose straps out there. We have noted the really good ones.
- Strap anchors on many helmets still stick up above the shell and 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.
1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.
2. Meets the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard
if you will use it for skateboarding. (Look for
the sticker inside)
3. Fits you well.
4. Has a rounded, smooth exterior with no snag points.
5. Has no more vents than you need. More vents = less foam.
We always recommend checking Consumer Reports
for brand and model recommendations. They had a helmet article in their June, 2006 issue
, but tested only a fraction of the models described
We wish we had more lab test data available to make brand and model recommendations. We always recommend steering away
from models with obvious disadvantages like snag points on the outer surface. And it will not surprise you that for the
softest landing it helps 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 apart from the periodic Consumer Reports
articles, the data just does not exist in the
Some Interesting New Models
- Commuter Helmets
We were delighted in 2004 when Bell introduced their rounder, smoother Metro design. The next year brought the Bell
Citi, SixSixOne All Ride and the very similar Limar 801, a fine design. There are more rounded models for 2006,
including the Bell Deuce/Impulse discount helmet, Giro Xen, GPR/PLIM Urbanus, KED, Kent, Michelin MX Urban, Shain BK51
Urban, Specialized Instinct, THE F14, Vcan S22-C and Vigor X3. Consumer Reports rated the Bell Citi at the very top of
its list, a Best Buy and one of four they tested with better impact protection. They also like the Specialized Aurora
for its impact protection, and continue to recommend the Bell Boomerang for toddlers.
- Value Helmets
Many manufacturers now have quality inmolded helmets priced in the $30 to $40 range. That includes the Bell Solar,
Briko Mistral, Cratoni Neon, Giant Talos, Giro Transfer Sport, Lazer Topaz, Louis Garneau Pacifica, Rudy Project
Pyovra, Schwinn Atlas, Serfas Cosmos Plus, Specialized Air Force, Trek Vapor 3, Uvex Hawk and Vigor Fast Traxx.
Consumer Reports found another Best Buy in the Schwinn Intercept, a $17 youth model. Ebay prices may run even
New Technology Helmets
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.
: Two of Bern's new line of skate/ski style helmets have hard shells and Brock foam inside,
the first time we have seen Brock foam in a helmet. We have a description of their helmets
. We have not tried a sample to see if these are rideable, but the ventilation is minimal at best. We
don't know for sure yet what standards they meet.
Chrono Time Trial Helmets
Chrono models represent a small niche market but most manufacturers have one for image purposes. For time trialing
and pursuit events on a track the exaggerated aero tail of a teardrop-shaped helmet probably poses minimal 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. We have a separate page on chrono models. They
do not make sense for street use.
- "Women-Specific" Designs
Most women-specific designs differ only cosmetically from a "male" helmet. Hold up the two together and you will
readily see that they came from the same mold, and the only difference is in colors and graphics. The pony tail port
all but disappeared after males stopped wearing their hair long. The addition of rear stabilizers to helmets made the
pony tail port more difficult to use, but a few helmets like the Bell Metro, Serfas Curva and Serfas Rookie will take a
good three-to-four fingers of pony tail if you are willing to thread it through. Most women now wear their pony tails
lower down on the head or tuck the hair up under the helmet to keep it off their neck.
Smallest and Largest Helmets
Bell's Kinghead remains the biggest lid you can find at 8 1/4 (26 inches / 66 cm), but others are nearly as large at
64 cm. We have a page up on helmets for large heads. The smallest helmet advertised is the
Etto Ettino, said to fit down to 41 cm heads. Following that are the L.A.S Baby, the Atlas Hardtop Mini and the Atlas
Drago, all for 45 cm heads, available in Europe but not in a US model, and several others with 46 cm helmets. Pryme
has a heavy BMX helmet nearly as small at 46 cm., if you can imagine putting that kind of weight on your baby. Ask
your pediatrician about this one before buying! We have a page explaining tiny helmets,
and another page asking if you really want to take your baby along.
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. This is the
biggest advance in skateboard helmets in recent years. Different sizes of the same helmet may have different
certifications, so the only way to be sure the one you are about to buy is to look at the sticker inside the
Helmets for Rounder Heads
If your head is the rounder shape sometimes associated with Asian parentage, only one current manufacturer in the US
market claims to fit rounder heads: Selev. We have a page up on fitting
Outside the US
In markets outside the US you will probably find helmets that meet your national standard or the European standard.
The European CEN bicycle helmet standard can be met with thinner foam and a less protective helmet than the helmet
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 and pass CPSC, 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 a
little bit thinner and lighter so they can be competitive there. (We can usually pick up a CEN standard helmet and
feel the difference.) For that reason we recommend buying a helmet with a US CPSC sticker inside if you can, even if
you live in Europe, for the better impact protection. 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 most likely does not meet the
CPSC standard. Note that you can order a Euro model from a European retailer over the Internet for delivery in the
US, but we obviously do not recommend that.
Although we don't calculate averages, prices seem about the same as last year, with older models usually lower 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. For and idea of what the lowest prices would be you can check Ebay, particularly for the brands you don't
see in discount stores or the European brands seldom carried by US bike shops.
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. Current helmets
provide good protection from catastrophic injury, but lesser blows are assumed to be survivable. And nobody advertises
that their helmet can take blows that exceed the CPSC standard by a wide margin or provide softer landings, although
Consumer Reports ratings
based on their lab testing have indicated in the past 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 very little effort to apply standard electronic and wireless technologies to bicycle helmets. You should
be able in 2006 to find a helmet with a mainstream helmet with a rear-facing camera and a heads-up display to replace
your old mirror, but you can not. The Bluetooth headsets for use with an intercom system or cell phone are not in bike
helmets, although the German company Vemar is selling a motorcycle helmet equipped that way. 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. There is one company making
built-in batteries to power helmet accessories, but we have not seen one in the market yet. It looks like we will have to
wait another year for those things to develop.
Here is an index to our reports for other years.
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. The BMX models are "full face" (with chinbar) and have hard
shells shaped like a motorcycle helmet. Downhill racing models are similar but lighter, and unless noted are certified
only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard rather than the ASTM F1952 standard for downhill racing helmets. Chrono helmets
are teardrop-shaped time trial helmets. "Skate style" helmets are the classic Pro Tec round, smooth shape with ABS hard
shells. If no contrary information is in the writeup for each brand or model, those features are assumed. Here is
a page of helmet definitions
that describes each of the helmet types. Many have a rear stabilizer
wrapping around the back of the head, which we note only if it has some unusual feature. They add some stability comfort
but do not substitute for careful strap adjustment. We also note the largest and smallest sizes available where relevant,
and any bright colors. Prices are the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price, the price you might pay at your local bike
shop with fitting services included or at a discount store. Internet pricing is lower (no fitting help included!),
particularly on closeouts of prior years' models. If you are searching for a particular model and don't find it here, use
our search function
to check our writeups for previous years
if it has been discontinued.
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 website 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 four years, so it is difficult to comment based on the photos
on the web. Pricing is not on the web.
The Acclaim line of helmets produced for Action Bicycle includes the Metro
, a nicely rounded design with a ring
fit system, and the Evo II
, a standard adult helmet with visor, rear stabilizer and ring fit system that retails
for $35. Other models include a full face BMX helmet for $80, a vented child helmet called the Solo
at $20, and a
skateboard helmet that retails for $36, or $40 in full chrome.
See Lucky Bell
All Pro and All Top
Alpha helmets have previously 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 inmolded, notably their G4 model, although most still have taped on
shells. Their Pro-Alpha skate model was added in 2006, along with their MF2 Skater Classic. They are also introducing a
"four season" model for bike and ski. The manufacturer says their retail prices run in the $35 range. Alpha also makes
hockey, ski and batting helmets.
Armor is the brand distributed by San Diego Speed
in the US. They have a
skate model with the usual hard ABS shell that comes as the Old School Series, Pro Series, Graphic Series and
It is the classic skate shape with small vents and CPSC certification. They also list a CSA
Canadian standard and the ASTM F1447 bicycle helmet standard, but not the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Retail runs
from $20 to $35. Their snowboard helmet has adjustable vents and is called the Nightstalker
. It retails for $20 to
We have also seen the Armor brand used by Taiwan Johnson Industries Co, Ltd as the Armor Manufacturing Corporation, but
do not know if the two companies are related.
Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. We have not seen them in the US. Their website is dated 2003. It says their helmets meet
the European CEN standard. They have an extensive line, including:
- Sport: Elongated vents, visor, somewhat protected rear snag point.
- Marlin: Nicely rounded, visor, fits up to 61 cm.
- Stingray: Standard adult helmet.
- Drago: Unique shape -- wish we knew Swedish -- fits 45 to 57 cm.
- Hotshot: Basic adult helmet, should be cheap.
- Hotshot Inmold: inmolded version, nicer colors, visor, rear snag point.
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
- Dolphin: Another 2 to 7 years helmet in elongated adult shape, inmolded.
- Rockskipper: Youth helmet in elongated adult shape, inmolded.
- X-treme Sport: Skate style on top with scooped in rear to avoid a round shape.
The Avenir brand is distributed by Raleigh. They have a variety of inmolded 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: inmolded 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, internal strap anchors, 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. $35
- Sonic TXIB: Taped shell, dial fit, moderate snag point in rear, reflective material in rear. Retail is
- Sonic Comp: inmolded, very small rear snag point, retails for $40.
- Sonic Jr.: Toddler helmet with ring fit, dial adjustment. $15 retail.
- Diamondback BMX Hucker: Classic skate-shaped model in glossy or matte black for $20.
- Diamondback FF: BMX model with a fiberglass shell and bolted on visor. $80.
- ACF BMX: BMX model with full chinbar and a complete carbon fiber shell. Bolted-on visor. Retail is
Azonic/O'Neal USA has mostly hard shell, no-vent full face helmets for BMX. They have removable inner liners for cleaning
and the standard large bolted-on BMX 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 or M-2005 motorcycle helmet standards, exceeding by a
wide margin any bicycle helmet standard in the world. (We are not able to identify the models on the Snell lists
, where they probably appear under KBC or THH. Look for the Snell sticker inside the
helmet to be sure.)
- 906: Comes as the Axion, Threat and Torch. Carbon fiber and Kevlar shell, full chinbar, retails for $300.
The visor is bolted on, but the bolts are plastic and hopefully might break when you need them to.
- 548: A classic motorcycle-style BMX helmet with ABS plastic shell and a bolted-on visor, a potential
snagging hazard. Retail is $110. Comes in a child size for $100.
- Apex: Polycarbonate (plastic, Lexan or similar) shell, Snell 2000, retails for $110.
- ASX: Similar to the 548, with a fiberglass shell, retailing for $90. For 2006 Azonic has apparently dropped
the rubber "roost deflector" covering the nose and cheeks.
- T-55: Another fiberglass shell BMX helmet, but this time with vents and meeting the CPSC bike helmet
standard, not Snell. Retails for $100. For 2006 Azonic has dropped their color options and offers only black.
- Fury: New model for 2005-6. Retails for $70.
- Skid: A vented skate helmet with an ABS shell and some angular lines unlike the classic skate shape. Retails
for $27 in matte black or gray.
Barbieri Accessories began in 1985 with a revolving brush chain cleaner, adding other accessories like carbon fiber and
titanium mini pumps. Perhaps to round out their accessory line, they have a single helmet model for 2006, called simply
"Helmet." It is a distinctive design with visor and rear dial stabilizer. It is certified to the CEN standard for the
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. 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 and pastel color 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. Their 2005 Citi
model is a less expensive variation of the 2004 Metro, a rounder design
pitched to urban commuters. Bell reintroduced a reflective logo in 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:
Bell's European Market Helmets
Citi/Metro: The Metro was introduced in 2004, with a unique rounded exterior. It is pitched for the commuter
market, as a "Life+Style" type helmet, "distinctively non-Lycra and intentionally toned-down." The Metro did not sell
well in 2004, partly because Bell did not advertise it, as if they did not really believe in it. But for 2005 they
introduced 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.
The Citi was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmet they tested with
superior impact performance. Both models come with plenty of vents and a visor, and have only partially recessed
strap anchors. Both have a useful pony tail port in the stabilizer that makes it easier for those with long hair. The
Metro can be outfitted with a whole range of expensive 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. Unfortunately Bell has eliminated the yellow
Citi and white Metropolis in 2006, so neither helmet is available in a bright color for safety in traffic. Retail is
about $70 for the Metropolis and $45 for the Citi. 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 that
could interfere with sliding when you hit the pavement and jerk your neck. 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
snugged under the strap fittings to be usable. For a less-expensive but equally well-rounded alternative, see the
Impulse below. At $15 to $35 it is still inmolded, and seems like a real bargain at Wal-Mart's
- Slant: New for 2006 in the mid range is the $50 Slant. It has three modest snag points in the rear. This one
was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmet they tested with superior impact
performance, and awarded the CR Best Buy tag. Definitely worth a look.
- Sweep: Bell's top of the line for 2006, 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
- 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 a few bright colors. 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 got 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 modest rear snag point. 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 by US dealers must be.
- Venture: Another new 2006 design for Bell's "entry level" helmet, with a single snag point in the rear. (It
replaces last year's Arc, a better-rounded helmet now closing out at about $20.) The same design is known as the
Solar when it has no visor, and the Vela with feminine graphics. Bell is producing an extra large size
and calling it the Triton, fitting heads up to 25.5 inches/65 cm in circumference. All have a one-size-fits-all
ring fit. Retail is $30 for the Solar and $35 for the three with visors. The same design is also available as a "youth"
helmet as the Alibi with multi-color graphic designs and a visor, retailing for $35 or as the Trigger
without visor for $30. This is the least expensive inmolded Bell model for adults and youth sold in bike stores, and
probably one of the better values in the Bell lineup, except for the Deuce/Impulse below under Bell's discount
- Amigo: A new design in 2000, upgraded in 2004 to inmolded 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
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/65.8 cm 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 inmolded 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. 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, but in 2006 the bright yellow model is gone. Has a soft foam
visor and a no-pinch buckle. Retail is $30. The Boomerang was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006
article as one of only four helmets they tested with superior impact performance. It was the only toddler model with
- Bellistic: Bell's BMX/downhill racing model is still in the lineup for this year. It has a fiberglass shell,
vents and the well-rounded shape that is traditional in BMX helmets. It also has the traditional bolted-on visor,
providing a potential snag point. It has a full chinguard but like most other downhill racing helmets there is no
impact foam padding in it. It resembles a motorcycle helmet with vents, weighing two full pounds. There is one bright
red and white color combination. Made for Bell in China. The retail price is $75.
- 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 in 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. 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, but only for the larger sizes. The small size does not have the ASTM F1492 skateboard
sticker. The Faction retails for $30.
Bell has helmets made to the CEN European standard that according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
pass the US CPSC standard and cannot be sold in the US market. Foremost among them is the Bell Meteor II
helmet for time trials. This is one you may have seen in Tour de France time trials.
Bell's Discount Line
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 inmolded 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. Many of them are still produced in the
US--millions of helmets each year. The rounded profiles we consider optimum still persist in this line, since they are
cheaper to produce, and 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
. Child helmet models are the Star, Racer and Rex
. Toddler helmets include the Shadow, Zoomer and
Two models in the low-priced line deserve special attention: the Deuce
and the Impulse
are the same helmet
in youth and adult sizes. Both have the same radically round, smooth shape of the Bell Metro and Citi. Both are inmolded,
the only models in the discount store 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. We found a sample at Wal-Mart for $24.88 in
May, 2006. The Impulse is made in USA.
Bell's skate models in this low-priced series include the Rage, Mirra and Wicked
. Some are dual certified
to the CPSC bicycle and ASTM F-1492 skateboard standards, at least in the medium and
large sizes. They may not be dual certified in the small size. You must look at the sticker inside the helmet to be sure.
We bought a size S/M Wicked in October of 2006 that did not have the ASTM sticker inside, so that one is not dual
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
for helmet programs.) 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 returned to fabric
Bell's Replacement Policy
For Bell's crash replacement policy it is best to call 1-800-BELL or search their website. 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
right?) with a check:
- For Fusion series helmets: $35
- For cheaper models: $20.
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 2004 Bell Sports was purchased by Fenway Partners, a private-equity holding company that also owns Riddell, a
manufacturer of football helmets. Through them Bell Sports in early 2005 repurchased the Bell motorcycle helmet
manufacturing company that it had spun off in 1991. Fenway-Bell also owns Sports Instruments, a maker of heart rate
monitors, bike computers and watches. Most consumers were probably unaware of those changes.
Bern's motto is "Head Protection for Any Action Sport." Their helmets are skate/ski shaped, so they are very well rounded
except for the rigid visor on one. Two of them use Brock Foam, a formulation that provides multi-impact protection. Some
are inmolded. The manufacturer believes that at least one model can be shown to meet the CPSC standard as well as CEN
1078 bicycle, ASTM 2040 snow sports and the CE 1385 standard. Others have interchangeable liners for water sports, ski
and winter sport use, including underneath layers and a knit winter cap. There is a pony tail port on ladies models.
There is a channel in the foam liner for glasses and a removable goggle strap clip on the rear. An optional earbud music
system works on magnetic technology rather than radio frequency waves. Sizes range from 49 cm to 62.5 cm. They have
paired male/female models, with pastels for the ladies. We are waiting for more info on certification to the CPSC
standard before describing individual models. Retail prices for Bern's models are in the $40 to $110 range.
Bianchi markets 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
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
website is vague on that. Pricing is in the $20 range, and there are some bright colors along with the usual black and
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
inmolded. Prices are approximate and are not current.
- Solo: Introduced in 2003, the Solo is a slick looking design with a two piece cover inmolded. It has a ring
fit and a medium snag point on the back. It retails for $140.
- Zonda: Another road model, also inmolded, 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.
- 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. It has two large rear vents, a
clear plastic face shield, and comes in three graphics combinations. It is certified to the European EN 1078
Carrera is an Italian company better known for winter sport helmets that is bringing their line to the US market slowly.
Their helmets have 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.
- Energy: introduced in 2005 with striking graphics and a unique fit system. The wedge shape slopes up to a
center ridge, then down in back to a moderate rear snag point. Inmolded construction with a separate lower shell. It
retails for $120. For $12 more you can get an All Weather Protector, a plastic shell that fits over the helmet and
covers the front vents, anchored by those protruding external strap anchors. Comes in a nice bright yellow as well as
red and white.
- Dragon Fly: a normal helmet made truly strange by the addition of a spoiler in the rear that provides a
sharp and pronounced snag point. There is a winter vent-blocking add-on shell, and another "MTB" shell that leaves the
vents open but provides a visor.
- Apache: more rounded top profile but ends in a moderate but high snag point giving it a blocky appearance in
the rear. Smaller vents than the Energy
- Carapacho: a truly unique design with only six vents, but they are huge, raising questions about what
standard it could pass since it would seem that a normal hemispheric anvil would be likely to crash right through a
vent. Has a rear visor and an optional front clear plastic windshield. To top it off, there is a thick serrated rubber
spine down the center from back to front. We would have to rate this one the helmet we would least want to crash
Casco is a German company whose helmets we have not seen. In addition to bike helmets they make helmets for equestrian,
snow and firefighting use. Their upscale helmets include the Warp II
used by Jens Fiedler, an almost perfectly
round and smooth track sprinter's helmet with an above-the-nose shield completing the rounding. It has no vents, costs
250 Euros and only meets the CEN standard, but the shape is flawless for crashing. Casco claims it is equally flawless
for aerodynamics "according to the latest findings of the automobile industry." Could this possibly signal the end of the
aero tails that have set the fashion in bicycle helmets for the last decade? We certainly hope so.
Casco's other upscale lines, called the Upsolute models, are inmolded. Some are unique designs, but since we have not
seen them we refer you to the website for a look. They include a Skate and Bike
model that according to the web
page received an award for easy fitting from a German consumer magazine. There is also a Generation II
all ages, with a nice shape and apparently good coverage but a strange screwed-on perforated plate in the front. Some of
their less expensive Classix models are also inmolded, but the cheapest ones are not. Classix include a full-face BMX
model, a classic skate helmet and a toddler model.
Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, whose bicycle racing nickname was "the cat." Their line includes
eight models. All are inmolded except the toddler helmet. We don't know about standards or market availability, so check
the website if you are interested. In the fall of 2005 they were looking for a US distributor. Catlike had a recall in
2003 of its Kompact model, so check our recalls page
if you need info on that.
- Whisper: New for 2006, the Whisper has a unique nubby outer shape and many small oval 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. Inmolded.
Some very visible colors including orange.
- Diablo: complete with small "horns" on the outer shell. Has rotating cam locks on the strap adjustments, but
they slip. Available in women's colors.
- Kompact Pro: Large oval vents, full shell wrapping around the bottom. Inmolded. 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. There are also
women's colors. Lots of reflective trim.
- Shield 2: a skate-shaped helmet with large oval vents. It has a "ducktail" effect in the rear, with what
Catlike says is additional lower rear protection. Inmolded. Retail is $80.
- Tiger: Toddler helmet with vents and child graphics. Has a molded in visor. Taped on shell.
- Chrono: Catlike introduced a chrono helmet in 2005 that they said would meet the European standard, as
required in European races.
- Viper: Full-coverage motorcycle style helmet for downhill racing with face bar and vents. Has a visor
fastened with the usual two bolts to make it a snag hazard. There are both fiberglass and carbon fiber versions.
- Junior: Youth model.
This German company has an extensive lineup of 20 models, although not all are available in the U.S. market. All but
their child models are inmolded. Some models have a "soft shock" liner, but the catalog and website 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 model fits up
to 25.6 inches / 65 cm. Their ring fit models cover from 20.5" to 23.5" / 52 cm to 60 cm. Cratoni's suggested 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. Inmolded, with a lower shell as well. Uses visible carbon fiber bridges in the front shell. 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 XC and Tremor Tribal: A somewhat better-rounded helmet but with a very pronounced rear snag point.
Inmolded, with ring fit for 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 and a strange "rim" around the rear. Inmolded,
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 25.6 inch/65 cm 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 inmolded with visor, reasonably rounded lines and modest vents. Ring fit, bug net in
the front vents. Retails for $60. Not a US model.
- Mad XL: a vaguely skate-style helmet with limited vents and the ring fit system. The shell wedge shape
slopes upward in an almost flat plane to the top, then angles down again to large square vents in the rear. Also comes
as the Mad X child helmet, with 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
- 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 52 cm heads.
Not a US model.
- Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents and ring fit. 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. We do not know which standards it meets.
- Ramp: Another full-face downhill racing model, with a hard shell. Vented. Comes in white or black. Not a US
- Chrono: Cratoni's time trial and pursuit event model, now upgraded to meet the European impact standard as
required for UCI racing. Short shell does not fully meet the shoulder or back. Not available in the US.
Cratoni will replace a crashed helmet for 50 per cent of the recommended retail price.
Embon is made by Co-Union Industries in Taiwan. Their helmets are inmolded with modest-to-pronounced rear snag points.
They use a ring fit system, and their strap adjustment pieces slip too easily. Visors are attached with pins to flip off
in a crash. Prices should be in the $25 and up range.
Ecko has been around since the early 1980's, first in California, then Idaho, now Arizona. Although they don't have a
website 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 desirable 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 2006 line, and do not know if they are actually still manufacturing,
but their helmets are available from some suppliers.
Esco Sport Product Corp. is a Chinese company producing electric and gas scooters, bicycles and carts. Their bike helmets
are certified to CEN standards, not CPSC, so they are not available in the US market.
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 be called commuter helmets in the US.
They have several models, including the H3, Knock, Inmotion 2 and Champion. Their Yad model is easily the strangest shape
of any helmet we have seen on the web, with a huge bumpout in back that we would not recommend.
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. 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.
Etto is a Scandinavian manufacturer with 18 helmet models on their website. Some are interesting designs, but
unfortunately they are never seen in the US. The website does not discuss standards or pricing. All Etto models have at
least some reflective material on the back. Their most innovative feature--a slow release buckle for youth helmets to
prevent "hanging" on playground equipment--was still under development when we checked with them at the end of December,
- Typhoon: Etto's top of the line, inmolded with a very long snag point on the rear. Ring fit.
- Impact XX: Downhill racing helmet with what appears to be a bolt-on chin bar and small vents. Pad fit.
- On edge: inmolded with many small rear snag points. Ring fit.
- Road: inmolded with much more rounded lines than the Ettos above. Ring fit.
- Cyclone: one of Etto's newer designs, inmolded with a little tab on the rear that appears as if it were
added as an afterthought to make sure there was a snag point. Nice visible yellow available. Ring fit.
- Coolhead: inmolded with many vents reminiscent of the Giro Pneumo. Modest snag point in the rear. Ring
- Psycho: classic skate style helmet with a hard ABS shell and small vents. Comes in chrome, colors and a
"psycho" graphic with a skull and bones. Pad fit. Reflective material on the back.
- Mack 1: glued on shell with rounded snag point in the rear and generally rounded lines. Modest vents. Ring
- Esperito: inmolded, with rounded lines that are chopped off flat in the back. Ring fit.
- Kolibri: inmolded, nicely rounded with a minimal rear point, the Kolibri is described by Etto as: "smooth
shape and delicate design, has the characteristics that will appeal to the female part of the biking population."
- Mosquito: inmolded youth helmet with nicely rounded lines. Ring fit. Also comes in a Mosquito Girl
female color scheme. Padded buckle to prevent pinching.
- Freesbee: child/youth helmet with a taped on shell, nicely rounded lines, good vents and ring fit. The model
is called the Freesbee because it was intended to be equipped with a unique buckle-release system to open the buckle
hydraulically if the child is "hung" on playground equipment or a tree for more than a few seconds. Etto says they are
still tweaking it and it isn't ready for prime time, despite the feature info on their website, and the Freesbee seems
to have disappeared from vendors websites. It sold for a brief time in Europe for about $40. We ordered three samples
and had a lab ready to test them, but are expecting the helmets to arrive with standard buckles.
Ettino: vented toddler helmet with rounded lines and taped on shell. Fits heads as small as 41 cm, the
smallest helmet advertised by any producer. Shaped like an adult helmet, so it is not likely to meet the coverage
requirements of the CPSC standard for US sale. Padded buckle to prevent pinching. Ring fit. Has a visor. May require
that a child in a trailer or high-backed child seat have a thick pad behind the child's back to prevent the rear
section of the helmet from pushing the child's head forward and down. If you are searching for a helmet his small,
please see our page on taking your baby along.
Etto dealers will replace crashed and damaged helmets "at only a small part of the cost."
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's catalog has replacement parts for their helmets, including
mouthpieces, visors, screws, pads and buckles. Sizing runs from 52 cm/6 1/2 inch up to 66 cm/8 1/4 inch, 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 and 606 models, as well as the THH TX-10 model that they sell, are on the
Snell M-2005 motorcycle helmet standard list as well, offering a level of protection considerably above that of any
normal bicycle helmet.
- FL606 IV: Meets both the DOT and Snell 2005 motorcycle helmet standards. It has a snap-out liner and comes
in six outer adult shell sizes and three youth sizes. No vents. Retails for $90 with the matte chrome model $10
- FL-303 II: Fiberglass shell, retails for $70 in painted colors or $80 in chrome. Meets the DOT motorcycle
- Gmax GMX-36X: Updated for 2005, with polycarbonate shell, retailing for $70 or $85 for matte chrome. Meets
the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
- Gmax GM-36Y Youth: Polycarbonate shell, smaller and lighter youth size. $70 retail, $75 for chrome. Meets
the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
- Gmax GMX-56X: Polycarbonate shell, comes in nine sizes from XXS to XXXX. Retails for $90, or in chrome for
- 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 IV: New for 2006, an "aero" model with more contours than other Fly helmets and a vented mouthpiece.
Made with carbon fiber/kevlar, weighing in at 2.75 pounds for the large size, and meets DOT and the tough Snell M-2005
motorcycle helmet standard. No vents. Snap out liner. Retails for $200 or $190 for the solid color model. "Replica"
models with team member graphics are $240.
- 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. Meets both the DOT and Snell 2005 motorcycle
Fox Racing has two BMX models in sizes from 18 3/8" to 25 3/4". Both appear on Snell's M-2005 motorcycle helmet
certification list and of course are certified to the less demanding US DOT motorcycle helmet standard as well.
- V3 Pro Pilot: A ventilated BMX helmet updated in 2005 with a carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass shell.
Titanium hardware. Retails for $375 with bag and extra visor.
- Tracer Pro: 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.
Fox Racing helmets are made by AGV, an Italian company that has made motorcycle helmets since 1949.
Free Agent has 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. They
supply a full face BMX helmet to their team riders, but we have not seen that one.
See Louis Garneau
below under "L"
Geartec is handled by KHS Bicycles 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. We don't seem to
see their helmets marketed to bicyclists any more.
Giant supplies a full line of bikes and accessories to bike shops. Their helmets have good quality locking strap
- Ares: pronounced rear snag point, carbon fiber bridge showing and internal reinforcement, full wrap
microshell. Three sizes fitted with pads. Retails for $100.
- Ixion: another pronounced snag point, this time with an aluminum bridge and internal reinforcing, full wrap
shell, lever-flip strap locks and nice internal strap anchors. Three sizes fitted with pads. The women's model is the
Athena. Retail for either is $75.
- Orion: pronounced snag point, recessed strap anchors in the full wrap shell. Ring fit, lavender for women.
The larger version is called the Heracles. Retail is $50.
- Talos: moderate snag point, ring fit with a dial adjuster. Inmolded, with nice internal strap anchors.
Retail is $35.
- Scion: youth helmet, new for 2005. Has ring fit and a rear snag point. Retails 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.
- Pup: toddler model, very round and smooth, retails for $25.
In its eighth 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. In 2006 they will be selling Lance Armstrong's Atmos again,
but are adding several models and dropping two. In 2004 they extended inmolded construction to even the less expensive
helmets in their line. The line had been gradually evolving toward a more rounded profile over the past several years,
but still has high-end models with more pronounced snagging points and the lower end of the line got more pointy in 2005.
All high-end Giros use fitting pads, but the least expensive ones are ring fit. Most are available in white or another
visible color. 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 pins 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
, probably because the cheaper ones
have smaller vents and more foam. 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. Pricing below on older
models is from 2005.
- 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 in 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. Uses fit pads.
- Monza: A 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. Uses fit pads
Retail is $100. Chosen by Bicycling magazine in their June 2006 issue as best helmet for $100 or less.
Pneumo: Introduced in 2001, this model broke new ground in ventilation. The oversize vents, channels and
graphics combined to make it appear to have less material than any other CPSC helmet we had seen at that time. It
still 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 rear snag point. Upper and lower shells are molded in. Comes with a visor. Uses fit
pads. Retail is $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. Recessed strap anchors. Uses fit pads. Giro says it is their "classic" model. Retail is
- 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.
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 Flak 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. $125 retail.
- Hex: New for 2006, a reasonably round and smooth "trail riding" helmet with a minimal rear snag point.
Retails for $80.
- Havoc: The Havoc was Giro's roundest, smoothest high-end model in prior years. It is still in the 2006
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
- Animas: The Animas has the usual rear snag point and a two piece molded shell. It retails for $100.
- Encinal Sport: Giro's mid range model 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 Sport: Giro' least expensive 2006 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 Sport. Without a visor, it's the Transfer Sport at $30, Giro's lowest
adult price point and still inmolded. For youth it's the Flume and is priced at $35.
- Atlas II: The extra large size version of the former Torrent II, fitting 60 cm to 64 cm heads, and retained
in the line as Giro's largest helmet. Compared to other Giros the design is smooth and round, with a minimal snag point
in the rear. Retail is $35.
- Flak: A "straight-up skate-style" model with small vents and good coverage. Plain colors or camo. Meets only
CPSC, not the skateboard standard. Retail is $30. For only $10 more you can have the Makai, the same helmet with
graphics or in Ice Blue for women, pitched as a "street cruiser" for the non-helmet wearer.
- 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 no worries about head growth. Bug net in the front vents. The shell is taped on, not molded.
Retails for $30. In the smallest size it becomes the Me2, a toddler helmet with a different fit system. 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.
- Remedy CF and Remedy: A new 2006 downhill racing helmet with a motorcycle-style chin bar, replacing the Mad
Max. This one is the only helmet we have seen advertised as meeting the ASTM F1952 downhill racing standard as well as
CPSC. It has a nicely rounded exterior, marred only by the bolt-on visor, and is well vented for this type of helmet.
It retails for $100 in fiberglass (1050g/37 oz.) or $250 for carbon fiber (900g/32 oz.).
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
This year Giro helmets fit heads from 18.75" (48 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.
See Fly Racing
Go On Sport - GOS
Go On Sport is the first new Australian company entering the US market in years. They hoped to introduce 5 models here
beginning in 2005, in the $20 to $50 range. Their helmets are inmolded, and some have two-piece full wrap shells. They
are manufactured in China.
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
. They should be available in mass merchant channels, and some may find their way into bike stores.
GPR makes helmets in China to be sold under other brands. They are a large manufacturer for the European market, and have
been looking to bring their lines to the US for some time. We do not have pricing for them. Their models include:
- Urbanus: a round, smooth commuter-style helmet with glued on shell and ring fit system. Net on front vents.
European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Bike Helmet (Adults): inmolded with four shell pieces, rear snag point, ring fit. Net on front vents.
European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Spina: inmolded with a moderate snag point, visor, ring fit. European model certified to the CEN
- Venimos: inmolded with two shell pieces, recessed strap anchors, many vents, visor, ring fit. European model
certified to the CEN standard.
- Virtus: glued on shell but still has external strap anchors in the front, many small vents, rear snag point,
visor, ring fit. Net on front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Vici: glued on shell with fewer but much large vents. Net on front vents. European model certified to the
- Vidi: glued on shell, very round and smooth with only seven vents, visor. Net on front vents. Certified to
CPSC as well as the CEN standard.
- Aventicum II: glued on shell, well rounded profile, visor. Net on front vents. Two shell sizes accommodate
up to 62 cm heads. Certified to CPSC as well as the CEN standard.
- Caddy: child helmet with six vents, net on front vents and certified only to the CEN standard.
- Veni: (completes the veni, vidi, vici model series) youth model with glued on shell, net on front vents,
CPSC as well as CEN certification. Two sizes fit 46 to 56 cm heads.
- X: classic skate style helmet with hard ABS shell, small vents, pad fit, CEN certification.
We have not seen the GT helmet line this year.
Happy Way Enterprises
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets. All are fully inmolded
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 them. 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
name. Their web page is "under construction" with a 2004 copyright notice.
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.
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).
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 is a Taiwanese company with an extensive line of helmets featuring the only hard shell bicycle-style helmets we are
aware of for 2006. They say their hard shells are all made with industrial grade ABS for best impact performance. Some of
them have a layer of resilient foam for multi-impact performance, a feature they call SIS. Hopus also has thin-shell
models, some inmolded. Their US models are all CPSC, but others may meet only CEN and be intended for the European
market. Most of their models are sold with other brands on them. They have an extensive line, including:
- A-6 Plus, E-2 Epoch Ex-1 Extreme and Ex-5 Extreme: Four road-style helmets, all inmolded, 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
- A-8 Plus and Elf-1 Elf polycarbonate hard shell bike helmets with very nicely rounded lines. All are
- B-1 Bravo: An unusual inmolded toddler helmet with vents, fitting sizes as small as 50 cm.
- 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 inmolded with hard polycarbonate shells, a unique combination. They
have the well-rounded shape of skate helmets.
- MF-6: Skate style helmet inmolded with an ABS shell. It meets the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard but not the
CPSC bicycle standard, so will not be sold in the US market. Retail is $30.
- AG-2 Argo: Rounded skate-style helmet with hard ABS shell.
- 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 inmolded. 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 website to ask who sells
their helmets in your market.
Integrated Helmet Technology - IHT
IHT has one model, with sharp-ridged lines and a modest rear snag point. It has a unique rechargeable Lithium ion battery
system powering rear LED flashers. The lithium cell is protected from charging problems, as it should be. For some reason
the company says on their web page that the LED's "give off no heat" unlike every other LED ever made. (Really powerful
LED's require heat-sinking.) The battery is said to be good for 15 hours. IHT is currently selling only to public service
organizations such as police, fire and EMS departments. The price is $70.
Ironman helmets are produced by Kuji Sports. For 2006 there are three models, all with rear snag points, large vents and
ring fit systems. All are inmolded, making the low-end model probably a good value.
- Extreme: the Wal-Mart model, selling for $30.
- Pro Series: for Big Box stores, selling for $80. Has a second wrap-under shell and some reflective surfaces
using the same technology Kuji uses for the Reflectek line.
- Kona Elite Series: for bike shops and running shops, selling for $200. Includes some carbon fiber internal
reinforcing and some reflective surfaces. Comes with a carrying case.
J&B is an old established bicycle wholesaler with warehouses all over the US. Their products are sold in bike stores.
J&B's lower cost Airius line for 2006 has models beginning at about $15 retail to about $30. The profiles tend to be the
well-rounded ones we favor. Colors are solid, with some metallic finishes. Their add-on visors should run about $4 in a
bike store, and are mounted with hook-and-loop. They have Airius helmet pad replacements retailing at about $3. J&B has
an active program for schools and non-profits
either through a local shop or direct. Their
Airius helmets are made in China.
Abbreviation for Knucklebone below.
KBC has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China. They have one model on the Snell B-95A bicycle helmet standard list,
. They have 14 additional motorcycle helmet models on the tough Snell M-2005 motorcycle helmet 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, do a
search 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.
KED is a German company that has manufactured helmets for other brands for more than ten years, but now has its own line.
Many of their models have LED flashers built into the rear, with a replaceable $3 battery/chip unit to power them for 120
hours. (We were not particularly impressed with the light output.) Their helmets with glued on shells are made with a
cold-gluing process that leaves no space underneath the shell and makes the helmet look inmolded. Gluing the shells on
allows them to put the strap anchors under the shell, a good feature. KED's strap adjusters tend to slip. They put a
thoughtful pad under the buckle to prevent skin pinches. All models have bug mesh in the front vents. Models include:
- Esox: moderate vents and somewhat blunted rear snag points, ring fit with unique side adjustment, LED
flasher, includes a separate very thin helmet lock that retracts into a plastic housing. (Sometimes used in the US for
minimal short-term bike security.) CE and CPSC certification. Optional visor. Retail is $150.
- Champion: pronounced rear snag point, very large vents, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification. Optional
visor. Retail will be $100.
- Race Visor: pronounced rear snag point, very large vents, LED flasher. CE certification only.
- Alien: slightly upswept rear snag point, double line of parallel vents that evokes the appearance of some
aliens on TV, LED flasher. CE certification only.
- Spiri: rounded rear treatment with moderate snag point, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification. Retail will
- Street: well-rounded with a slightly upswept but minimal rear snag point, LED flasher, CPSC certification
"only for American market," whatever that means, and CEN. Will retail for $90. Also comes as the Street Junior
- City: despite the name, the rear snag point is more elongated than the Event. Has the LED flasher. CEN
- Event: well-rounded with no rear snag point, elongated vents and LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- Drive: well-rounded with a minimal rear snag point and LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- VS: rounded rear treatment with minimal snag point, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification.
- Joker: Well-rounded profile, LED flasher, European model that meets the CEN standard for Euro market but not
- Alien Junior: youth model that has adult appeal, with minimal snag point, LED flasher, CEN certification
- Swingo kids model with very nicely rounded lines, some vents and nice graphics, LED flasher. CEN
- Meggy: toddler helmet with good-sized vents and both CE and CPSC certification "only for American market."
LED flasher. There are some licensed cartoon character graphics.
- Freeride: classic skate style. Has a visible white option. No LED flasher or bug mesh. CEN certification
- Cross: skate helmet with angular shape and larger vents than the classic style. LED flasher, ring fit,
visor. CEN certification only.
- Downhill: full face helmet with chinbar and bolted on visor. Bug mesh in vents, no LED flasher. CEN
- Zeitfahren: KED's chrono model comes in long and short versions. The short looks like a regular bike helmet
but smooth-skinned and with no vents except in the rear. The long version has a long tail that will extend to the
rider's back. It has no vents. Both have CEN certification only.
KED's catalog has a listing of useful spare parts for their helmets, an unusual feature. It includes visors, fit pads,
ring fit parts, the led battery/chip replacement, buckles and more.
Kent is a supplier of low-cost helmets to toy and discount stores as well as bike shops, some labeled XFactor. They have
adult, youth and toddler models at retail price points of $11 to $22. Their child helmet called the V9
also comes as the V9 Pro
with a lower shell and nicer graphics for $17. Some of their youth and adult models are
nicely rounded while others have longer overhangs in the rear. Their adult V-10 model is very smooth and round. They have
a youth BMX helmet at $30 with an 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
catalog mentions only the CPSC standard.
Knucklebone brand accessories and clothing for BMX are from Answer Products
. Their "KB" branded
model is the familiar skateboarders profile, very smooth and round, with an EPS foam liner. The website
says "Many have followed since we first introduced the Jumper, but no one has been able to match the level of protection
and quality the KB Jumper helmet offers." This despite the fact that the helmet is not certified to the ASTM F1492
skateboard standard, as a number of competitors are. It has a painted and clear-coated shell that includes a chrome model
and a very visible white or orange, and retails for $40. The web page (dated 2002) lists a BMX Holeshot
a full chinbar and sliding forehead vents, and a cheaper version called the HS-1.
Kong is an Italian climbing company. (Probably named for the King Kong gorilla movie character who climbs 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, equestrian use 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. It is also used for spelunking. The retail price appears to be about $150.
Kryptonics is a skateboard equipment manufacturer originally founded to make skateboard wheels in 1965. Their helmets are
made by Mien Yow in China. We see them in discount sporting goods stores. 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. ABS hard 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, but boxes also have a printed price of $30 in some stores.
- 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 what
is described as "ponytail friendly" padding. Looks like the Kore series in pretty pink. $30 retail.
Kuji Sports is a Chinese company whose website 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.
Retail prices are $7.14 to $35. Kuji also produces Ironman
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 2006 in US bike stores with distribution handled this year by Trialtir, who have a catalog of US models.
Some models available in 2005 in the US market are not being brought over here this year. LAS has some radical designs,
with the emphasis on style. 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. We would recommend avoiding it anyway for the possible snag hazard. Ring fit. 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 $165 to $224 depending on the finish of that unique shelf.
- Bionix: another truly unique innovation in helmet design, the Bionix has what appears to be a second shell
overlapping from the rear of the helmet. The
increase in forward-facing potential snag points is stunning, not to mention the huge rear overhang. Ring fit,
available in the US. Retail is $164. Another one to avoid.
- Kripton: inmolded with pronounced rear snag points. Ring fit system. Available in the US market. Retails for
- Squalo: inmolded with sculpted lines suggesting a helmet for Frodo and peaks sticking up at the top. Rear
snag points, two shell sizes fitting 52 to 63 cm. heads. Retails for $144.
- Astrom: ring fit, available in the US, retail $94.
- Hitek-Cycling: a new "city helmet" with a round profile, but vents and graphics not like other commuter
helmets. Inmolded with external strap anchors. Visor, with a rounded profile to fit the helmet style. Available in the
- Compact: the roundest, smoothest helmet in the L.A.S. line, promoted for rollerblading as well as cycling.
Ring fit, available in the European market. Retail should be about $80.
Roadspeed: a vented toddler model with an extra small 45 cm (17.7") minimum head size for the "Baby" model.
This is one of the smallest advertised toddler helmets we have seen. Meets CEN European standards for bicycling and
equestrian use. 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, no front vents and an integrated clear partial
front face shield. Very long tail to reach the rider's back with a slight shoulder hump. Certified to both the CPSC and
CEN standards. Ring fit for 54 to 61 cm heads. Retail is $234.
LAS has one additional non-bicycling helmet worthy of mention. Its Mistral
model is designed for short track speed
ice skating. Although the web page does not say so, some vendors here are saying that it meets the ASTM 1849 Short Track
Speed Ice Skating helmet standard. Check for a sticker inside the helmet to be sure. Retail in the US is $89.
The regular LAS line can fit heads from 20 7/8" to 24"/51 cm to 64 cm. Only the Baby is sized at 45 cm.
Lazer is produced by a Belgian company, Cross HM S.A., established in 1919. Their helmets have not been well known in the
US in the past, but Lazer is now marketing through Quality Bicycle Products, a major distributor to US bike shops. Their
high end models have recessed external strap anchors. Lazer says their helmets meet the relevant standards of each
market: Europe, the US and Australia, so some models will not be available in some markets.
- Genesis: new for 2006, a high end model inmolded with multiple shell pieces wrapping around even the lower
foam sections. Has the usual rear snag points and a new ring fit system adjusted with a toothed wheel at the top rear
that turns a long screw. Even though the Genesis is CPSC certified, we would avoid this model because we would not want
to crash on that spot. Retail is $150.
- Cannibal: introduced in 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 $74. Only the XXL size fitting up to 64 cm heads is imported into the US for
- 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 $109. US model.
- X3M inmolded, 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 $50, 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.
- Devil: introduced in 2005, inmolded with four pieces providing full coverage, including the rear snag
points. Has two heart-shaped vents, two forward facing horns along the surface 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 61
cm heads with an XXL model fitting up the 64 cm, Lazer's largest helmet. Retail is $75. CPSC certification but not
imported into the US in 2006. With four fewer vents, a visor and some cosmetic changes it become the Magma, and
is on the list for the US at the same price.
- Topaz: new in 2006, the roundest and smoothest helmet in Lazer's line, inmolded with moderate vents, a ring
fit system and CPSC certification. Retails for $36.
- Max Deluxe: a well-vented 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 top, 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, or and extra
five for the models with the fin.
- 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," perhaps because if it catches on something it will tend to stabilize
your head in one place while your neck and body move on. Euro model only. Retail is a steep $300.
- Excalibur: BMX full face model with a nicely rounded exterior and a fiberglass shell. Euro model. It sells
- X5 Boomerang: downhill/BMX helmet, this time with an injection molded plastic shell instead of laminated
fiberglass. That adds about 25 per cent to the weight. Meets the US DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Available in XXXS
size fitting 49 cm heads. Retail is $275.
- One a classic skate helmet with EPS liner meeting the CPSC standard, but not available in 2006 in the US.
Retail is $30, or $40 in chrome.
- Chrono 3: Lazer's version of the chrono shape has a short tail style. It is inmolded with unfortunate
external strap anchors, three small vents and a ring fit system. It has both CEN and CPSC certification. Retails for
Limar is an Italian brand marketed in the US by Bikeline. Their models usually have some bright color choices and nice
graphics. Some of them are not available in the US market. Many of the inmolded models have unfortunate external strap
anchors sticking up above the surface of the shell. Kid's models have pinch protectors on the buckle. Pricing is in a
range of $5 to $10, so we cite the high end of the range, and you may find it for less. Limar has rounded out its line
with helmets from other manufacturers, a common practice.
- 960: A new 2006 model, inmolded with a two piece shell, pronounced rear snag point and carbon fiber internal
reinforcing. The strap anchors are fully recessed, as you would expect on a helmet retailing for $150.
- 950: Introduced in 2005, inmolded with a modest rear snag point and external surface strap anchors that
should have been recessed on a helmet selling for $150.
- 907: another 2005 model, this one is inmolded 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 inmolded 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 inmolded 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.
- 908: inmolded with a two piece shell. Sloping front and rear give a somewhat angular wedge shape rather than
curved top. Rear snag points.
- 907: inmolded with a two piece shell. Elongated lines and rear snag points. Ring fit.
- 801: new to Limar in 2005, this commuter-style helmet is inmolded 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. We praised this helmet in our 2005 review (when it also sold as the SixSixOne All Ride) as
the best looking commuter design we had seen, and there is still nothing on the market that surpasses it.
- 730: inmolded with better rounded lines than most Limars. Ring fit. $110
- 720: inmolded including a lower shell. Long narrow vents in the front. Small but sharp rear snag point.
Retail is $96.
- 710: fewer but very large front vents, inmolded with wrap under shell piece. Small rear snag point. Ring
fit. This one retails for $75.
- Big One: inmolded and available only in XXL size to fit heads from 59 to 63 cm. Elongated vents with a cat
ear effect from the two rear snag points.
- 610: inmolded with a modest rear snag point and a ring fit system. $55 retail.
- 520: inmolded with angular lines and modest rear snag point. Ring fit. $45 retail.
- 320: taped on shell and rounder rear lines. Retail is $35.
- 315: Limar's least expensive adult helmet has rounded lines with a modest rear snag point, small vents and a
ring fit system. Retail is $30.
- 310: youth helmet with a glued on shell, ring fit system and bug mesh in the front vents. Ring fit. Retail
- Junior: vented toddler helmet with a glued-on shell and a ring fit system. Retail is $30.
- Chrono 05: Limar's 2005 aerodynamic pursuit and time trial helmet with CPSC certification. Inmolded with
small vents in the rear and three unfortunate lumpy external strap anchors. Face shield optional. Ring fit. Retails for
- Superchrono: Limar's CEN-only chrono with ring fit system and a taped on shell has two large front vents.
Not for the US market.
Some Limar models are available in Bianchi
Limar has a 3 year crash replacement guarantee, offering a replacement helmet to the original purchaser "at a nominal fee
should the Polystyrene shell of the helmet be broken in an accident while being worn." Bikemine's catalog has replacement
pads, visors and chrono lenses.
Louis Garneau is a Canadian designer and manufacturer with an extensive helmet line along with many other bicycle
products. Some of their helmets are inmolded. 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
A few of Louis Garneau models still have only partial shells, leaving EPS foam exposed. Bell pioneered that design quirk
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 to lab test results
for more on that) We would recommend steering away from those
models. In fairness, Mr. Garneau points out that he has kept the foam sections slightly lower than the plastic
shell-covered parts and that wrapping the shell over the squared off ribs on some models reinforces them against impact.
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 full plastic shells out there, including some nice ones from
For the European market, Garneau has insect mesh in the vents of some models. Some models are available without visor for
$5 less. Custom team graphics or stickers are available for 2006. 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.
- Titan Carbon: Louis Garneau's new 2006 entry into the carbon fiber race is the Titan, with visible
carbon-reinforced bridges to allow opening up longer vents. It also has an internal titanium ring. Inmolded, of course.
The rear snag point is there, but considerably smaller than the Oz-zy that it replaced as top of the line.
Unfortunately the strap fittings didn't hold as tightly as we would like in the sample we saw. Retail is $170.
- Oz-zy: Former top of the Louis Garneau line, introduced in 2004. It is inmolded 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. The price is reduced for
2006 to $130.
- King Pin: Last year's Energy is the King Pin for 2006. It is inmolded and still has the exaggerated ribs and
exposed foam that we advise you to avoid, particularly at the $95 price point. Without visor it becomes the
Europa at $90.
- Rev: the Rev's exposed foam is well recessed, but the shell is taped rather than inmolded. 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 - 63 cm. Retail is $50.
- Quattro: Although the same price as the Rev at $50, this one is inmolded, and has only a moderate rear snag
point. Without visor it is the Murano and sells for $45.
- Equinox: The value end of Louis Garneau's line is this inmolded 2006 design. Plainer graphics, but no
exposed foam and a minimal rear snag point. Ring fit. Retail is $35. The women's version is the Diva at the same price,
and there is a Pacifica version with no visor for $30. The youth version, with somewhat better graphics, is the
Ruckus, with visor, for $35.
- Grunge-X: 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 $30.
- Baby Boomer-X: 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 48 cm (18 7/8 inch) head.
Retail is $30.
- Terrible-X: 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 $30.
- 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. Inmolded 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 low hanging limb, look out! The retail price has been lowered
considerably to $140.
- Rocket: A 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. 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. Retail this year is $125 with visor.
- Chrono 2006: Looks to us like the original chrono model. At least one vendor says that in addition to the
CPSC standard it also meets ASTM 1849, the short track speed ice skating standard. We were unable to confirm that in
Garneau's catalog or on their website, so look for a sticker inside the helmet to be sure.
- 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 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
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 is an Italian manufacturer whose helmet line we have not seen, but they have a fine website. The comments below are
vague because we are limited to 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 inmolded, 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 website, the
and Drop Off
models seemed to have very nicely rounded contours. For 2006 there are "Commuting"
and the very nicely rounded Maxtrack
. The unique Parachute
"Free-Ride" model has a
skeleton-like 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. There are two models for large
heads, the Testagrossa
and the Predatore
. Both fit up to 64 cm. The chrono model is the Pac III
long-tailed design with two vents. The Loopy
toddler model is said to have a flattened rear to avoid cocking a
child's head forward when sitting in a child carrier, and to be "22% stronger" because it is inmolded. Met's helmets are
all made in Italy. You can order replacement visors and replacement pads directly from them through their website. 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 for that on the website. 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.
Michelin, best known in the US for tires, launched a new line of helmets in 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. The comments below are on
the 2005 line, since we have not seen their helmets this year.
- MX Sport: inmolded 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: inmolded 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: a commuter style helmet with very large vents and rounded lines, but not as round and smooth as
some. Inmolded 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, inmolded as few toddler helmets are, nice bright colors and graphics. The
extra small size fits 48 to 52 cm heads. Retail is $25.
Mien Yow Industry
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." We have not seen their line for 2006, so the comments below are for the 2005
helmets, supplied to them by PTI.
- 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. Retails for $20.
- Explorer: minimal rear snag point, glued on shell with no tape, 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 the usual bolted-on visor. Retail is
- 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 price range with full thickness EPS padding in the chinbar.
There is a visor, and the helmet is vented for active pedaling by kids who are "driven by attitude." PTI has these made
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 website 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 2006 include:
- Cyclone: inmolded with a two piece shell. AUS$100
- GTi Competition i-Series - inmolded. 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 64 cm
- 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
- Instinct: Full face BMX-style helmet with a fiberglass shell and vents. AUS$150
- AXN: Full face for Down Hill & BMX, fiberglass shell with more vents than usual for this type of helmet.
CPSC Certification. Retail is AUS$200 or AUS$230 for the model with graphics.
- 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 certified to the CPSC and AS2063 bicycle helmet standards,
not skateboard. AUS$45 Also in graphics model for AUS$50.
- Minimax 3: Toddler model with heart-shaped vents and full shell cover. Comes in extra small. No
certification listed. AUS$40
- Pilot: Child/youth model with ring fit, bright graphics and AS2063 Certification. AUS$45.
Oktos is a French company selling accessories and sunglasses as well as helmets. They sponsor European racing teams.
Their helmets are made in China to the European CEN standard and marketed in Europe. All appear to have taped on shells
except the Aereo. They fit sizes 54 to 62 cm. We have not seen their 2006 line, but for 2005 Oktos had 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 inmolded, retailing for 56 Euros.
- V13 Trainer: a 2004 design with nicely rounded profile, glued-on tapeless shell and bug net retailing for 32
- 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 is an Israeli company. They produce a unique folding helmet we reviewed in prior years under the Motorika brand
name. That helmet seems to have disappeared from the US market. The last time we saw them their other helmet designs were
all round and smooth, and all featured glued-on shells.
(Not to be confused with Pryme)
For 2005 Primal Wear had helmets with wild graphics to go with their similarly designed clothing line. We don't find them
on the website in 2006, but last year's models included:
- Epok: elongated shape with rear snag point, retailing for $50.
- Vision: another elongated model, but with a much smoother rear and larger front vents. Inmolded, 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.
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 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 was one of the original skate helmet companies in the 1970's, and popularized the classic skateboard-style helmet
with a round, smooth hard shell and small round vents. The company has changed hands a couple of times since then, and in
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
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
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
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. In its June 2006 issue Consumer Reports says that their test labs broke
about half the buckles on their Classic samples. They don't recommend the Classic for that reason. In the past their
lab has broken buckles without any reports from the field that there were failures in actual use. See this report and the links on the page if you are concerned.
- 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
Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets in EPU foam. Several of their models are inmolded, 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.
Pryme Protective Gear
Pryme is owned by Seattle Bicycle Supply. The line has helmets for BMX, downhill racing, whitewater, snowboarding and
skate use, most of them with catchy names.
- 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 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
- 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
- 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 Vario: a snow helmet also certified to the ASTM snow sports standard and the CPSC bicycle helmet
standard. It has small vents Retail is $40.
Pryme has a useful sizing chart on their website. Their helmets are made in China.
Originally known as Protective Technologies International, PTI Sports is one of the largest and perhaps least known
helmet producers in the US. They claimed in 2003 that their $62 million in sales in that year 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 mid-2002 PTI licensed the Schwinn brand from its current owner, Pacific Cycle USA, and have been marketing
Schwinn-branded helmets since then. You will find PTI products under Mongoose
above and Schwinn
below. PTI had a helmet recall in 2004 involving three toddler helmet models and a total of 9,000
helmets outstanding. We have details on our recalls page
Rage with Solo Sound System
Rage has one model, a round smooth skate-style helmet. It is 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 unusual 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 earbuds. Retails
for $39. Rage is produced by Gen-X Sports of Canada, bought by Huffy in 2002. In 2004 they sold the Gen-X name to produce
products under the Huffy brand. Huffy filed for bankruptcy later in 2004, and we don't have further news.
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.
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 nylon, and can be
popped off to clean the polycarbonate mirrors inside. We tried one and posted a review
it an interesting concept but not a great helmet or a great mirror. We have not seen it for sale in the US yet, so we
would steer clear of this one until there is a model that is certified to meet the CPSC standard. The company has
evidently ceased to manufacture the two models, and is said to be working on a new one. In January of 2006 we found only
obsolete references to the bike helmets on their website, and they are now marketing a new motorcycle helmet.
Reflectek is produced by Kuji Sports. They have one model with a fully reflective shell and another with a partially
reflective shell that sell in discount stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Academy Sports, Dunham Sports, and others, sometimes
selling for under $20. They are reasonably rounded helmets with a glued on shell, small snag point in the rear, adequate
but not large vents and a ring fit system. There is also an inmolded "Pro" model too with a partially reflective shell at
$40 retail, probably more often seen in bike shops. It has larger vents and a sharper rear snag point. The same
reflective technology has been used on parts of two Ironman models
as well. This photo probably
overstates the reflectivity, but the contrast with the "normal" helmets is made evident by the camera's flash.
We have comments and
photos of one of the Reflectek helmets on our page on reflective helmets
. The Swedish company
has a more extensive line of reflective helmets, but they are certified only to
REM is an Italian brand with a line of inmolded 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
inmolded and a softer liner below. There are air channels between the layers. Their website mentions only European
standards, but says their helmets meet the standard of any country where they are sold.
Roar Helmets come from Shang Yang Industrial Co. of Taiwan and Vietnam. They have a line of nicely made CPSC-certified
helmets, and their adult models are inmolded. Some have multiple shell pieces covering lower areas of the helmet. Most
have modest rear snag points and recessed strap anchors. There are bright color options for each model. They have a
unique strap fitting that tightens with a screw. They should all sell in the under-$50 range, but we don't have US
This European manufacturer markets sunglasses and sporting attire from founder Rudy Barbazza. We are not sure which
models you may find in which markets, but their US web page
says the ones
noted below are certified to the CPSC standard. Most have partially recessed strap anchors and some have small reflective
patches in the rear. They are nice looking helmets, most with bright color options including USA red, white and blue, and
some Canadian graphics with maple leaves. Models include:
- Kontact: a 2006 design with pronounced rear snag point, big vents and good cam lock strap fittings that
don't seem to slip. Ring fit. $110 retail.
- Ayron: Introduced in 2004, inmolded with a lower shell, elongated vents and a moderate snag point, ring fit,
the good cam locks and another $110 price tag. CPSC certified.
- Skura: inmolded with a lower shell, moderate snag point, ring fit, good cam locks on the strap fittings and
a retail price of $90. CPSC certified.
- Kaena: inmolded, moderate snag point, reflective patch on the rear, $65 retail. CPSC certified.
- T-rex Ferox : a 2000 design, inmolded with a small snag point in the rear. Strap adjustors did not hold as
well as other Rudy Project helmets. $65 retail. CPSC certified.
- Pyovra: the best value in the Rudy Project line, inmolded with a small rear snag point, ring fit, the good
strap adjustors, reflective rear patch and some vents that are a lot smaller than they appear to be on the outside.
Retails for $40. CPSC certified.
- Skylet: modest rear snag point with moderate vents, ring fit, $50 retail.
- Bayor: Rudy Project's roundest and smoothest model. May be on its way out, since the website says it is
available only in plain red. CPSC certified.
- Skyanto: A skate model retailing for $40.
- Korassa: full face BMX/downhill racing model with vented chinbar with mesh in the vent and a bolted on
visor. $200 retail.
- Syton Supercomp: a 2005 chrono model with more vents than most, a face shield and a split tail. There are
unique pieces on the sides that extend down to about the cheekbones, called "bionic wings." Medium length tail does not
get all the way down to the shoulder. Comes with plugs for the front vents. CPSC certification. $200.
- Syton Open: the Supercomp without side pieces or face shield, retailing for $160.
Rudy Project has some interesting innovations, and perhaps they will get 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 in this review. We found that all of the samples we saw had cam locks that locked the strap very well
except for the older T-Rex Ferox.
The Schwinn brand is now the property of Pacific Cycle USA. In mid-2002 they licensed the Schwinn brand to PTI
. We usually see them in big box stores or on the Internet at retailers like Amazon. They have some very
inexpensive models, and some better ones that can be fitted well starting at about $16. Most of their adult models also
have a "youth" size. The line changes periodically during any given year, and we may not be up to date on them.
- Atlas: an inmolded 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 inmolded, but uses 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 glued and "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
- 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 is an Italian company with models mostly for the upscale road rider market. They obviously make an effort to
produce unique-looking designs. Most of their helmets are inmolded, and the more expensive they are, the more snag points
you get on the rear. The Italian website says they meet EN1078, the European standard. Two of them are said by the
manufacturer to fit rounder Asian heads better than others. Selev has a truly unique page explaining with painstaking
honesty their failure to deliver a chromed model. Their models include:
- Formula TOUR: inmolded with two pronounced rear snag points, lower shell, elongated vents, recessed strap
anchors, ring fit with dial, retailing for $150. With a "NOT removable" visor it becomes the MTB Formula. We don't know
what "NOT removable" means, but visors should always separate easily when you snag in a fall.
- Matrix: inmolded with a large rear snag point, four piece full shell, angular lines with ridges, brow vent
reminiscent of the Specialized Cobra models, lots of vents and a click-slide tab rear stabilizer. Comes in regular
colors or team designs. Some have mesh in the vents. All have reflective spots on the rear stabilizer. Retails for
- Ego: top of the line in 2005 at $169 retail, with three pronounced rear snag points, lots of vents, external
strap anchors and a ring fit with dial. Said to fit rounder heads well.
- Atom: inmolded with a pronounced rear snag point, curvy elongated vents and four unique round vents at the
brow that tunnel horizontally back through the foam. Recessed strap anchors, ring fit with dial, retailing for $150.
Said to fit rounder heads well. Includes US and British flag graphics. The Atom Millennium model is made of blue
- Alien: Really pronounced rear snag point, lots of vents, recessed strap anchors, click-slide tab rear
stabilizer, retails for $110. We can't figure out the name, since the Matrix with its mouth port looks more alien to
- Storm: Selev's entry level inmolded model, more rounded than most of the Selev line with a very modest rear
snag point and very long grooves going over the top.
- Felix: a less expensive rendering of the Formula Tour design, inmolded with external strap anchors. Retails
- Chrono: a unique chrono with an all-carbon fiber shell that follows the external line of the Alien road
model, but has a full lower cover that comes all the way down to the neck. Meets the EN1078 standard.
- Tuo: Toddler/Child helmet with vents.
- Amico: Child/youth helmet with the lines of an adult helmet, vents and a taped on shell.
- Roby: Toddler helmet with large square vents and a taped on shell.
Despite the Euro-sounding name, Serfas is a US-based company, known for grips and for saddles, where Serfas must have
learned that there should be actual differences between men's and women's models. All Serfas helmets have a ring fit
system that accommodates sizes from 52 to 63 cm. Their helmets are made in China. This year's lineup includes:
- Cosmos Plus: A 2005 design, inmolded, 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. In youth size it is the Flea
Plus, also retailing at $35. The same design base is used for the Curva Plus. It has a notched area in back
that is one of the last surviving pony tail ports, again retailing for $35.
- Rookie: a well-vented toddler helmet with an elongated but well-rounded shape and taped on shell. Comes in
Boys and Girls models. 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 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 the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.
Not recommended for skateboarding because it is not certified to the ASTM F-1492 skateboard standard.
Shain (pronounced "shine") is an established Italian brand that was new to the US market in 2004. In 2005 they began
using 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 and is similar to the
testing for ASTM's F1492 skateboard standard. Under normal bicycle use you would not have to throw the helmet away after
the first impact, so even if you ride a lot 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
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
Shain helmets have some European features like bug mesh in the forward vents on some models. All are inmolded except the
toddler helmet. They have the best strap fittings we have seen, the Duraflex 2, holding their setting despite any
combination of pulling and tugging we could devise. 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 commuter helmet is this 2005 design. 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: introduced in 2005, the top of Shain's line is inmolded using their new multi-impact foam, with huge
vents, a moderate rear snag point and nice 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, an inmolded 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 in 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 a retail price as high as $157.
- BK 90: another high-end inmolded design with a pointy rear snag point and external strap anchors. It got the
new foam in 2005, and has the inner shell as well. It has metal mesh in the vents. One version has a visor. Retail is
- 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. Inmolded 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. Inmolded. Retails for
- 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, five in all. Normal EPS foam with the inner shell.
It retails for $197. Certified to the CPSC standard.
- 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
Shenzhen Hezhen Bicycle Inc.
A Chinese manufacturer located in 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, but we don't know what brands they manufacture for.
Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development
Although we have not seen their 2006 line, this Taiwanese manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU helmets
are inmolded, 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 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. We were disappointed that they dropped their All Ride model this year,
but you can buy it this year as the Limar 801, and a very similar helmet is being sold by Vcan as their S-22C.
- Bravo XC bicycle model with pronounced rear snag points and lots of vents. Ring fit. Retail is $70.
- Comp XC bicycle model, inmolded with a moderate rear snag point and squared-off shell ridges. Ring fit.
Retails for $50.
- Hurricane Flight: introduced in 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
$375. 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.
- Strike: A new 2006 BMX model with a polycarbonate shell and small vents. Retails for $110.
- 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 $140.
- Full Bravo Carbon: a full-face BMX model with vents, with carbon fiber in the shell, retailing for $200.
- 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.
- Pro-Lite Dirt Lid: skate helmet is the classic round, smooth design with round vents, but this time it has a
micro-shell instead of a hard shell. It meets only bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard. Retail is $70, perhaps the
most expensive skate helmet on the market.
- 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.
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 $33 or less. 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 F1492 standard instead, or one of the dual
Solid (Headlight Helmet AB)
This Swedish manufacturer has adult and child 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.
Specialized is one of the major U.S. helmet manufacturers sold through bike shops and a supplier of a wide range of
bicycles and components. All of their adult bicycle-style helmets are inmolded. They have the 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 flip tab lock that they
claim will eliminate strap creep. We found it slipped too easily on at least one of their models. Most of the models
below are available in a women's color scheme. In addition to the CPSC standard, many Specialized models are certified to
Snell's older B-90 bicycle helmet standard, and the Deviant and Deviant carbon to the B-95 standard, slightly tougher
than CPSC. Specialized is the last major US bike helmet maker to use Snell certification. They have also now certified
the Deviant and Deviant Carbon to the ASTM downhill mountain biking standard, F1952.
- Aurora: a 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. Ring fit. Retail is $100. The Aurora was rated by
Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmet they tested with superior impact
performance, so if you like Specialized, look a this one first!
- Instinct: new in 2006, inmolded with a two-piece shell. Pitched as a mountain bike helmet. Like Giro's Xen
model, it has the rounder profile we recommend and appeared to us at first to have more coverage than it actually does.
The shell has raised ridges, and is not a smooth as a commuter helmet. Recessed strap anchors, but the U-Turn strap
adjustment pieces did not hold well on the sample we saw. Ring fit. Matte finishes with matching color visors. Retail
- Decibel: introduced in 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. Ring fit. 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
- Air-8: somewhat better rounded than most Specialized models with minimal rear snag points that look like
little cat ears. Inmolded, ring fit, retail $60.
- Telluride: a mountain bike helmet that has very large top vents to let air rise out of the helmet when the
rider has 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. Inmolded, with lots of ridges and some rear
snag points. The outside shell rises to a ridge toward the center of the helmet in a wedge shape, sloping down in back.
Ring fit. Retail is $60, but the Telluride
- Chamonix: another road/mountain model. It has more rounded lines, with some shelf effect in the rear but a
minimal snag point. Inmolded. Ring fit. Retails for $45.
- AirForce: Specialized's lowest-cost inmolded design retails for $35. It has a ring fit system with two
sizes, visor and eleven colors, including three for women. Also available as the Air Force Youth.
- Small Fry: a classic round, smooth toddler and child size helmet, but inmolded as few are, and with some
vents. Ring fit, bug mesh in vents. Retail is $40.
- Kid Cobra: another toddler helmet with slightly squarer lines. Glued-on shell, vents, cute graphics. Comes
in toddler and child sizes for $30, but it is disappearing from the line this year when current stock is gone.
- Deviant and Deviant Carbon: full-face downhill racing helmet with decent vents, chinbar vents and a visor
bolted on with plastic bolts that hopefully will break when you snag it on something. There is bug mesh in the vents.
It was designed as a bike helmet, not a motorcycle helmet, so it is much lighter than some, and Specialized advertises
the carbon model as the lightest full-face helmet you can buy. (They have not seen the Mongoose kids BMX helmet,
obviously, or they would have at least put "adult" in that.) Certified to CPSC and Snell's tougher B-95 standard. They
have also now certified the Deviant and Deviant Carbon to the ASTM downhill mountain biking standard, F1952. Retail is
$130 for the fiberglass shell version and a whopping $350 for the carbon fiber shell version.
- Time Trial: a chrono model said to have larger vents than other TT helmets. The tail is open underneath and
the fit system is based on the Specialized Decibel road model. Not sold in the US. Rumor has it that it is available
from some dealers in Europe, and that they are telling buyers that it meets European standards.
Skillet: a 2006 hard shell skate-style helmet for bicycling with a hard shell and small distinctive slits for
vents. CPSC certified, but not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Retails for $50, the upper range for
a skate-style helmet. We recommend looking for one that is dual certified instead.
Specialized is one of the few manufacturers who make available after market pads and visors. You can find them on
their website under spare parts.
Specialized will provide a 20% discount voucher for any crashed helmet, but requires proof of purchase and may substitute
another helmet if the one that was crashed is no longer available.
Spiuk is a Spanish supplier of a wide range of bicycles, components and clothing. They have some nice bright color
combinations on all models including team graphics. Their models for this year include:
- Nexion: inmolded with large front vents, a full shell on the lower portion, and pointy rear snag points.
- Atom: inmolded with a full wrap-under shell and two rear snag points. There is cotton bug net in the front
- Child helmet - Casco de inño: 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.
Sportcraft (Sportscope) has one basic model, introduced in mid-year 1999, constructed of thick segments of foam closely
connected by an inner mesh and able to flex slightly. 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 website. There is
at least one 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, although their
website is still up.
Star Helmets (formerly Zhuhai H.N.Z. Star Safety Helmets), located in Zhuhai, China, produces a number of models under
the Star Sport 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 produces helmets for a number of U.S. and European companies with the 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 2006 ten
of their helmets appear on Snell's list. We have comments on models under a number of other brands in this review, but
you are not likely to see a Strategic Sports brand name, since they avoid publicity.
THE is one of Vigor's brands, best known for its mountain bike fenders. In 2006 the company added helmets to its product
line, with two helmets from Vigor Sports:
- F-14: a well vented bicycle-style helmet with extended skate-style coverage in the back and sides. The shell
is round and smooth, and the vents extend down the back. Comes with extra padding to adjust the sizing. Should appeal
to those who want more coverage for bike riding. Retail price is about $70. It is scheduled to ship in February.
This photo is a prototype, and we are
waiting to see the final product before saying more, but this helmet has real promise.
- One: full face downhill racing model. The fiberglass shell version retails for $250 and the carbon fiber
shell model is $350. Has a "dual EPS liner," but we are not sure what advantage that would have and don't have any test
lab data on its performance.
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 inmolded. Most of their designs feature the round, smooth shapes that we prefer, but
some of the models have vents that we would find too small for summer use in the US. Their 2005 models include:
- T-91: replacing an older T-91, this 2006 model is a newer style bicycle helmet, inmolded with a reduced rear
snag point and external strap anchors. Some bright colors.
- T-38: a nicely rounded design with moderate vents and visor. Bright new graphics added in 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. Has three vents in front, three in the top and
only one in the rear. Available in a bright yellow. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
- T-35: a nicely rounded design with fewer vents. The graphics update in 2005 included some bright colors.
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 (heavier than EPS, has a solid feel
and very uniform cell structure), visor, dial fit system. Inmolded as most EPU helmets are. Retail about $13.
- T-21: Smaller vents, EPU foam, some bright graphics, visor. Inmolded. Retail should be about $12.
- T-40: Downhill racing helmet with chinbar and an ABS shell. Some bright colors, including all white. Bolted
- T-39: Downhill racing helmet with chinbar. ABS shell, bolted on visor, retail around $65.
- AP-86 and AP-87: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmets with full chinbars and polycarbonate shells.
- AP-89: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmet with full chinbars and carbon fiber-kevlar shell.
- A-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.
STKI also produces helmets for other uses, including military, baseball, motorcycle, equestrian, football and snow
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 2006 includes inmolded models made here and taped-on shell
designs made for them in China. Most have ring fit systems. Trek is one of the few suppliers who raised their prices
during 2005, by $10 for all models.
Anthem Elite: introduced in 2005, inmolded with very large vents, a multi-piece shell and a small but sharp
rear snag point. Ring fit system with dial adjustment and three shell sizes. The carbon model has been dropped for
2006. Retail is $110. In May of 2006 Trek recalled the Anthem C Elite and Anthem C Elite WSD models. See our Recalls page for details. Other Anthems were not recalled.
- Sonic Elite: inmolded design with rounded front lines but a pronounced rear snag point. It has a lower
shell. Ring fit system with three shell sizes. Retail is $90.
- Interval 2: inmolded with a minimal rear snag point and recessed strap anchors at $70. Also available in a
women's pastel color.
- Vapor 3: inmolded 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 $50.
- Scout 3: inmolded youth helmet with an adult design, selling for $50.
- 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 $40 price tag.
Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed helmets.
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 2006, but they have four models on the
website, including toddler, youth, skate and adult models. Troxel is better known for their equestrian helmets.
Troy Lee is a motorcycle helmet and gear manufacturer with a BMX line known for rad graphics. Their top of the line $375
model has exposed carbon fiber mesh in a sunken rear section, a style quirk that we would avoid. The
$295 D2 Composite
has a fiberglass shell with kevlar and carbon fiber reinforcements. Troy Lee pioneered the
bolted-on BMX visor, claiming that the plastic mounts in the helmet will 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.
This Swiss company sells a TSG
skate helmet in the US in the classic skate style. It is advertised as certified to
EN1078 and CPSC, both bicycle helmet standards. Unfortunately this year TSG dropped the very visible fluorescent yellow
and orange. For 2006 they added a new Evolution
model at $64 with small rectangular vents. It comes in a "rubber
finish" model that we would avoid as a novelty that may not slide as well on pavement as the regular ABS shells do. 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 anchor. 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
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 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.
Ultrawheels is a supplier of skateboard equipment. They have been marketing a skateboard helmet that appears more like a
very smooth-profiled bike helmet, with few but very large vents. It is plain black and smooth like a skate helmet, but
elongated like a bike helmet. It is now available at bargain prices around $7 plus shipping from Internet sources such as
Amazon. The Ultrawheels brand was acquired in 2005 by Lifestyle Brands, Ltd of Toronto, a company that according to the
website is seeking to license the brand elsewhere. That could explain the bargain price of the closeout helmets.
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 inmolded 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. It is adjustable with one hand
while riding, particularly useful to take out slack as you sweat and the strap loosens. All of their helmets have a ring
fit system with a dial adjuster. For 2006 the line includes:
- Hawk: new for 2006, the Hawk model is a $30 inmolded helmet with a nicely rounded profile. It has reasonable
vents, a visor, bug mesh, and all of the best Uvex features except the lower shell. It meets the CPSC standard in
addition to the European and German standards. This one is worth a look.
- 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 T-Mobile Team colors. 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
- Supersonic RS: a more rounded design with much larger vents. Retails for $99. Bicycling magazine
picked it as the best value of the three helmets they reported on in their January/February 2005 issue. For 2006 Uvex
has added the Supersonic GT, with a special matte finish for $10 more.
- Bladenight GT: large vents and squared-off rear treatment, but skate-style coverage. Uvex considers the
style "aggressive and hip." Retail is $99.
- Fight: New for 2006, a dual shell model with small rear snag points retailing for $100. The only Uvex model
without bug mesh in the vents.
- Sport Boss: New for 2006, a dual shell model in only two colors and one shell size. Retails for $90.
- Helix: introduced in 2005 when it was called the Superhelix, 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. For 2006 Uvex added a second shell
on the lower portion to get the XB501, retailing for $60.
- FP Junior: A smooth and very nicely rounded youth helmet with no rear snag point and large vents. Retail is
- Speedy: a child helmet with molded in visor. Inmolded, and has the same fit system and buckle as the adult
models. Reflective sticker. Fits 53 to 57 cm heads. Retail is $40.
- Cartoon: a toddler helmet, and one of the few that is inmolded. Large vents. Reflective sticker. Fits 49 to
55 cm. heads and retails for $40.
- Downhill: introduced in 2005, inmolded, with chinbar and flame graphics, $150 retail. Not in the 2006 US
- Factory Pilot 2: a time trail chrono model that meets only European standards. It hums when it is off-center
to alert the rider to less-than-ideal aero performance. Would retail for $500, the most expensive helmet in this
review, but Uvex reps say it is not available through retail channels. Look for it on the T-Mobile team.
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 2006 they have a line of skate, bike and toddler helmets under the
brands Maple, VFX Gear, World Industries, Shrek and Nickelodeon. 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
for more information, and see TSG
above. They bill a number of
their models as "multisport" helmets, but the website 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. Unfortunately there is no
Vcan is produced by Shanghai Hehui Safety Products, and includes a line of helmets that vary from beautifully rounded and
smooth to angular with very large rear snag points. Some are inmolded. Price points run from $9 to $30 or $40 retail, and
there are some nice designs at that modest level, including strap anchors that are recessed or internal on all models.
All are ring fit. Most are sold under other brands. Their most notable model is the S-22C
. It is a round, smooth
design that is well vented and looks as good as the elongated models. It is very similar to the Limar 801, but the sample
we have has only a CEN sticker in it. Vcan also has skate and snow helmets, including a new ski helmet for 2006 in a
striking woodgrain finish.
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 "double impact" foam helmets as well as more conventional EPS. Their models that are
not inmolded have a band of 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. Some
of their models have strap fittings that lock very well. Most are ring fit, and all but two of the adult models have
visors. Vigor made many changes in their line for 2006.
- Quicksilver: a new 2006 model with modest rear snag points, inmolded with a lower shell piece and Vigor's
locking strap fittings that actually lock. Ring fit. Retail is $70, high for the Vigor line.
- Atomic: a 2006 model, inmolded with a second lower shell piece and a pronounced rear snag point. Retail is
- Fast Traxx: another 2006 model, inmolded with nicely recessed strap anchors and a modest rear snag point.
Ring fit, visor. Retails for $40.
- Lightning: made of EPU foam and inmolded, 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: a very interesting EPU design, with skate helmet-style coverage. Has a rounded shape with some ripples
but no rear snag point and elongated vents retailing for $25. No visor.
- NOX: once Vigor's top of the line, made of EPU foam and inmolded. Has an upper and lower shell and a minimal
protruding rear shelf. The ribs are reasonably rounded. Has external strap anchors, but they are tucked in among the
ribs. Retails for $30.
- Jr. Nox / Avenger has four fewer vents than the NOX and an elongated front visor molded in, but the same
rear treatment for $25. 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: introduced in 2001, this is another EPU model, also inmolded, with upper and lower shell. It
resembles the NOX, but has fewer vents. For 2006 it has in a very bright yellow option and retails for $25. No
- 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 $20.
- 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.
- V-10: full face BMX model with ABS shell and bolted-on visor. Retails for $80.
- 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.
- 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 option, a white option, and also comes in chrome. The strap adjustors are simple
buckles that do not lock. It retails for $25 to $32 depending on the graphics.
- Royal: Skate-style helmet with oval vents and cheap buckle strap adjustors that slip easily, retailing for
$25 to $30.
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 (alternately referred to as Team Wendy) has one unique BMX/skate helmet for 2006, the Ripper 2
. It has
the classic smooth skate shape and small round vents. The small and medium sizes are dual certified
recommended for bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, mountain biking and snowboarding. 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 unique foam liner they call Zorbium, designed to flex slightly 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. It also absorbs sweat like no other foam we have
ever used, and gets very heavy when wet. The W Helmets website 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. Size large has
been pulled from the website, but small and medium are still available, and if the heat and weight and sweat build-up do
not bother you, this is a versatile helmet. There is a ring fit system with a dial adjustment. Weight is supposed to be
500 to 550 grams (heavy for a bicycle helmet) but our large sample actually weighed 670 grams when dry, or about a pound
and a half. Retail price is $79 for the adult model and $69 for the youth model.
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
helmets they sold from October, 2000 to May 2001, imported by Variflex, 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."
See Kent International
YoLite supplies reflective helmets from China in quantities of 3,000 or more. They say that the entire surface of the
helmet is reflective. We have not seen them and the website does not have them listed, so we do not know what standards
they might meet. At the consumer level they would probably have a different brand name.
Zefal helmets appear in the US under the Michelin brand
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 under their own brands, including some
of the best-known in the US, with others labeled with the Caluk or T-Star brand. Their numerous adult, youth and toddler
models feature both nicely-rounded and sharply-edged shells. Some are inmolded, and some have lower shells. 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 49 cm/19.3 inches for the smallest to 64 cm/25.2 inches for the large. Zhuhai Safety helmets are
provided at low prices for helmet promotion programs through Helmets R Us
Zhuhai Star Safety
See Star Helmets
This article is frequently updated during the model year.
Index to Manufacturers