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Bicycle Helmets for the 2009 Season


This is history!

Current year here




Summary: Our review of helmets being sold in 2009: trends first, then individual models. Index to manufacturers last. There is no radical safety improvement this year that would compel you to replace your current helmet. Almost all of the helmets described below meet standards and offer good if not excellent protection.

Trends this year


There are new helmets in 2009 that are worth a look if you need a new one. There are more new models appearing with the rounder, smoother profile that we think is best when you crash. But there is still no major advance in impact performance, ventilation or wearability this year that would compel you to replace your current helmet. Bell has announced a new True Fit system that is worth a look. Almost all of the helmets listed below meet national or international standards and offer good protection, although some standards are tougher than others. For the US market the CPSC standard is required by law for any bicycle helmet. Without comparative test data we usually do not know if a model exceeds the requirements of the standard and offers superior protection.

Highlights for 2009



We recommend looking for a helmet that:

1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.

2. Fits you well.

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

4. Has no more vents than you need. More vents = less foam.


We usually recommend checking Consumer Reports for brand and model recommendations. But their most recent helmet article was in their June, 2006 issue. They can only test a fraction of the models described below, and most of what they tested is no longer on the market. The article is free on the Consumer Reports website. We hope for a new article from them during 2009.

Some Interesting New Models


Rounder, Smoother Helmets

We recommend smooth helmets that do not have points to snag when you crash. The selection of well-rounded models has expanded again in 2009, including: * Same exterior design, different brands.


Consumer Reports Best Buys in 2006 still in production


Value Helmets

Many manufacturers now have quality inmolded helmets priced in the $30 to $40 range. That includes the Bell Solar, Bell Impulse/Deuce ($25 at discounters), Cratoni Neon, Eleven81 Open Road, Giant Talos, Giro Transfer, J&B Commuter, Lazer Tempo, Louis Garneau Pacifica, Schwinn Atlas, Serfas Cosmos Plus, Specialized Air Force 3, Uvex Viva, Vigor NOX and Vigor Fast Traxx. See descriptions below.

There are many, many more very decent inexpensive helmets on the market that are not inmolded, including the Schwinn Intercept (a Consumer Reports Best Buy) mentioned above. We can't list them all. In the US we are fortunate to have a mandatory national standard for bike helmets ensuring at least the minimum impact performance level, whatever the price.

In March, Bell introduced a new fit system called True Fit for several of their less expensive models. We don't have enough information on it to say what its advantages may be.


Extra Large Helmets

See our page on helmets for very large heads.


Extra Small Helmets

The smallest helmet advertised this year is the Etto Ettino, said to fit down to 41 cm (16.1 inch) heads. Following that are the Casco Mini Pro and Specialized Small Fry for 44 cm (17.3 inch) heads, then the L.A.S. Roadspeed Baby, Limar 123 Jr. Kid, the Atlas Hardtop Mini and the Atlas Drago, all for 45 cm (17.7 inch) heads, available in Europe but not in a US model, and the Angeles Toddler Trike Helmet at 45.7 cm (18 inches). There are several others with 46 cm (18.1 inch) helmets. Pryme has a heavy BMX helmet that small, 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 why tiny helmets may not be a good idea with another page asking if you really want to take your baby along.


Helmets for Rounder Heads

If your head is the rounder shape mostly associated with Asian parentage, only a two manufacturers in the US market have models they have identified as providing a good fit for rounder heads: Cratoni and Specialized. Cratoni says some of their helmets fit round heads with just a different pad set. That suggests that you might be able to resolve the problem with pad changes if your helmet is fitted with pads, or you can try a ring-fit model. We have more details on our page on fitting rounder heads.


Helmets for Narrow Heads

At least three manufacturers have identified for us their models for longer, narrower heads: Cratoni, Ironman and Lazer.


Downhill Mountain Bike Racing Helmets

A few manufacturers now have helmets certified to the ASTM F1952 Downhill Mountain Bike Racing Helmet standard, including Bell, Giro, Lazer, Pro-Tec, Specialized and Troy Lee. Coverage and impact requirements are tougher than the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Some have hard shells as well.


Hard Shell Bike Helmets

Some riders still prefer a hard shell bike helmet for road or trail riding. The only major manufacturer producing one in a real bicycle helmets design for 2009 is Pro-Tec, so if a hard shell is your priority, check out their Cyphon. You can also look at any of the skate style helmets with hard ABS shells that have stickers inside saying they meet the CPSC bike helmet standard, but most of them have very small vents.


Chrono Time Trial Helmets

Chrono models are the long-tailed time trial helmets designed only for pursuit racing and time trials. They do not make sense for street use. You will know you need one when your coach tells you that. See our page on chrono models for more detailed writeups on them.


"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. Ponytail ports are generally limited to small spaces above the rear stabilizer. Many helmets like the Bell Citi, some Bern models, Serfas Curva and Serfas Rookie will take a good three-to-four fingers of ponytail if you are willing to thread it through every time you put your helmet on and take it off. A few of the others who claim "ponytail compatibility" are noted below, including the Bern and Lazer women's models. Many women now wear their ponytails lower down on the head while riding or tuck the hair up under the helmet to keep it off their neck in summer.


Skateboard helmets

The "skateboard" helmets now on the market in big retail stores are mostly bicycle helmets in the classic skate style. They are not well ventilated, but are protective enough for bike riding as long as the sticker inside certifies that they meet the CPSC bike helmet 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 meeting the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard. We have a page listing dual certified helmets. Dual certification to bike and skateboard standards is the biggest advance in skateboard helmets in recent years, denoting superior protection.


Made in USA Helmets

Some consumers ask us where to find a helmet made in the US, or in another country. Although most helmets sold in the US market are now made in China, Taiwan and other Asian countries, Bell is still making millions of helmets per year here for its discount store line. See the Bell discount line comments below. Others are still made in Belgium, Germany, Italy and France. You will find comments on that in the writeups below of a number of European brands, and we have a page up on where helmets are made. Note that country of origin statements may neglect to inform you that some components were imported from elsewhere, including China, although the helmet is assembled in another country.


If you are outside the US

In most markets you will find helmets that meet your national standard, or the European CEN standard, and at least some that meet the US CPSC standard. The European 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 unless identified with a CPSC sticker inside there is no reliable date to prove which ones they are. Major US brands sometimes produce less protective models for the European market to make them a little bit thinner, lighter and better ventilated so they can be competitive there. For that reason you can not just go by the brand or even the external appearance of the helmet. We recommend buying a helmet with a US CPSC sticker inside if you can, even if you live outside the US, for the better impact protection. Those helmets are available from a large number of European or Asian manufacturers as well as US producers. If there is no CPSC sticker inside the helmet it does not meet the labeling requirements of the CPSC standard and probably does not meet the impact protection requirements either. The Australian standard is comparable to CPSC, so US manufacturers market the same models there. Canada has its own standard, but it is similar to the CPSC standard and most models sold there are US models.


Cooling performance

We have no ventilation test results on any of the helmets listed below, and there is no generally recognized ventilation testing method or standard. So our comments on ventilation are just an indication and not a definitive ranking. We try to report findings by others on cooling, even though we have no confidence in most of them. A study done years ago indicated that ventilation is basically determined by the size of the front vents. In short, we don't recommend that you make any purchasing decisions based on our comments on ventilation.


Prices

Although we don't calculate averages, manufacturers' suggested retail prices seemed in the Fall of 2008 to be about the same as last year, or even slightly higher. But we expect street prices to continue falling due to this year's economic conditions. Prices for some European brands may stop rising in the US market in response to the weakening euro, but that takes time. The lowest prices in discount stores in the US market still begin at $10, 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 about $30 and go up as high as you want. For many buyers the fitting service is well worth the extra you pay in a bike store. For an idea of what the lowest prices would be without any fitting help you can check Ebay or the Internet retailers, but be sure to include the shipping charges to compare. Prices in markets outside the US are generally higher.

What We Did Not Find Again This Year


There is still no bicycle helmet on the market identified as an "anti-concussion" or softest-landing helmet. Current helmets are optimized for best protection from catastrophic injury, but since lesser blows are survivable and no helmet can do it all, the design priority remains protection against the hardest impacts. Partly for that reason, there are no helmets promoted for the needs of seniors, who can do without the larger vents and harder foam of a high-end model in favor of softer landings in an impact. And no manufacturer advertises that their helmet protects against blows that exceed the CPSC standard by a wide margin, although Consumer Reports ratings based on their lab testing have indicated that some can. With our legal climate we may never see that kind of advertising, since it would expose the manufacturer to lawsuits whenever someone was injured in the helmet, whether or not it had performed well. That unfortunately reduces the incentive to produce a more protective helmet that exceeds the standard by a wide margin, so just passing the standard with enough margin to accommodate quality control problems becomes the designer's goal. Bigger vents and a thinner, lighter helmet will sell more helmets at higher prices than extra impact protection that you can't advertise and the consumer can't see in the store.

This year there are still not many new efforts to apply electronic and wireless technologies to bicycle helmets. You should be able in 2009 to find a mainstream helmet with a rear-facing camera and a heads-up display to replace your old mirror, but nobody has one. The Bluetooth headsets for use with an intercom system or cell phone are not in bike helmets, perhaps because the ones that tuck behind the ear do well enough. Activeblu will sell you for $150 an add-on that clips to your helmet instead of your ear to access the cell phone in your pocket. (We don't recommend that, since you need to keep your wits about you to ride a bicycle safely, and the conversation on a cell phone can be too much of a distraction.) There are more helmets available now with LED flashers built into the rear, but most of them are too small and have very limited output, and most riders who need one are still adding a more powerful flasher with a hook-and-loop mount. LEDs improve every year, and you might want to replace that flasher with a brighter one. There is one company making built-in batteries to power helmet accessories, but we have not seen one in the market yet. We wish the companies producing hot new games and innovative cell phones would design new products for the helmet market. Then we could complain about their prices.

Here is an index to our reports for other years.


The Helmets

If no other information is in the writeup for each brand or model, these features are assumed:

We have a page on helmet types with longer descriptions.

Many helmets have a rear stabilizer wrapping around the back of the head, but we note those only if they have some unusual feature. Stabilizers add some stability and comfort but are not part of the retention system and are not tested for strength in labs certifying helmets to standards. They can not substitute for careful strap adjustment, although you may think you have adjusted the helmet correctly because it seems more stable until you get a very hard knock and the helmet is knocked out of position or even flies off if the straps are too loose.

We note the largest and smallest sizes available where relevant, and any bright colors. Prices are the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price, the price you might pay at your local bike shop with fitting services included. Discount store and Internet pricing is usually lower but no fitting help is included. In 2009 you may find more discounted even in bikes stores due to lower demand. There are always deals on closeouts of prior year 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 to see if it has been discontinued.

We have a page of definitions for most of the terms used below in addition to the page explaining helmet types.

Models


Abus


Abus is a German company also known as a manufacturer of high-security locks. We have not seen the Abus helmet line in person for more than six years. 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, but it is easy to tighten with one hand when your straps loosen from sweat on a ride. Their rear stabilizers are also adjusted by a ratchet device. Visors mount with breakaway pins. Some models have bug net in the front vents. Abus bicycle helmets include helmets for toddlers, youth and adults. As far as we know 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 (18.1 to 24.4 inches). Some of the Abus models are well-rounded, including two adult models introduced in 2008, the Urban-I and Lane-U commuter style helmets with reflective trim and bug net. Abus announced in 2009 their intention to bring their line of bike locks to the US market, but said they had no plans to sell their helmets here.


Action Bicycle


The Acclaim line of helmets produced for Action Bicycle includes the Metro, a nicely rounded design with a ring fit system that still has some elongation in the rear, 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.


Aerogo


See Lucky Bell below.


AGV


See Fox below.

AGV has one five star motorcycle helmet among those tested and ranked by the British government's SHARP project, the only ranking system of its kind.



All Pro and All Top


See THH below.


Alpha Helmets


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 retailing for about $30, although most still have taped on shells. Their Pro-Alpha skate model was added in 2006, along with their MF2 Skater Classic. They also have a "four season" model for bike and ski. The manufacturer says their retail prices run mostly in the $20 to $25 range. Alpha also makes hockey, ski and batting helmets.


Angeles


Angeles is primarily a tricycle and baby buggy manufacturer. We have not seen their trike helmets in person, but the Angeles Toddler Trike Helmet is available from Best Price Toys at $22 to $30 and is among the smallest toddler helmets on the market, designed for heads as small as 45.7 cm (18 inches). It is advertised as meeting both the CPSC standard and the Snell B95A standard, but we were unable to identify it on the current Snell certification list.


Answer Products


See Knucklebone below.


Armor


Armor is the brand distributed by SDS Skateboards (formerly 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 Camouflage Series. It is the classic skate shape with small vents and CPSC certification. For 2007 they introduced a bright, very visible yellow. 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 $25. We believe that they are also the distributor for a unique Shong Yang helmet called the Gid with a propeller on the outside as a novelty. It breaks away readily, and the helmet is well rounded with recessed strap anchors. It also has unique screw-down strap junctions that work well even if they are a bit difficult to adjust.


Ascent


Ascent helmets are made in Taiwan, and sold in the US market by Performance, Bike Nashbar and online by Amazon.com. There are at least five models, none of which we have seen. Some are inmolded, others have glued shells. Nashbar and Amazon discount them heavily, starting at $15 plus shipping.


Atlas


Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. We have not seen them in the US. Their website says their helmets meet the European CEN standard. They have 12 child, BMX, skate and adult models on their web page for 2008, including: Atlas helmets fit a size range from 45 to 61 cm (17.7 to 24.0 inches).


Avenir


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 $15 to $40. Models include:


Azonic


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, always 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.) O'Neal has a surround sound helmet in classic skate shape with two speakers inside to play music from your media player or cell phone. It retails for $40. We were not impressed with the quality of the sound, but it may be safer than blanking out all sound around you by using plugin earbuds. There are earphones available elsewhere that ride outside the ear canal that produce better sound quality and do not shut out noises around you, although the distraction is always there.


Barbieri


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 called simply "Helmet." It is a distinctive design, with a bump out shelf in the back. It has a visor and rear dial stabilizer. It is certified to the CEN standard for the European market.


Bell


Bell is still the largest company in the bicycle helmet market. They also own Giro, although there is a separate Giro line. 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 21 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 a no-pinch buckle with a tab behind it that keeps the skin from getting in while you push the two pieces together. It is now included on the adult "sport" models, presumably for seniors and others with loose neck skin.

In March Bell announced a new fit system called True Fit for some of their discount store models. It attempts to make fitting easier and more automatic. That would be a big advance if it works, but we don't have enough information on it to comment further. You can check it out on the True Fit web page.

At the top of Bell's line for 2009 are their "Fusion" inmolded models:

Bell's European Market Helmets

Bell has helmets made to the CEN European standard that according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News will not pass the US CPSC standard and cannot be sold in the US market. Foremost among them is the Bell Meteor II chrono helmet for time trials. This is one you may have seen in Tour de France time trials.

Bell's Discount Line

Bell has a separate 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 related to models from the bike store line, but seldom include the inmolded models. These cheaper versions 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 if adjusted carefully, and you either sew or use rubber bands under the buckles to hold the adjustments. The medium-priced line starting around $20 fit better. Many of these helmets are still produced in the US--millions of helmets each year--but labeled as containing US and Chinese components. The rounded profiles we consider optimum have always persisted in this line, since they are cheaper to produce, and Consumer Reports testing of other brands indicated that the thicker foam in cheaper models may actually provide better impact protection than some of the thinner, more ventilated, more expensive upscale helmets. Models include the adult Reflex, Radar, Adrenaline, Impulse (see below), Bellisima, Escape, Explorer and Shifter. The Radar/Adrenaline/Bellisima will get Bell's new True Fit system in 2009. Youth sizes include the Edge, Aero, Blade and Strata. The Aero and Blade will get Bell's new True Fit fitting system in 2009. Child helmet models are the Star, Racer, Rex and Blaze/Bella. The Racer and Rex will get Bell's new True Fit fitting system in 2009. The Blaze has ten LEDs that are run by a motion-activated circuit "for fun effects." It has the usual taped-on shell, poor strap fitting pieces that do not lock, and sells for $20. We don't know how the battery is replaced. Toddler helmets include the Bambino, Shadow, Zoomer, Bellino and Beamer/Bling. The Beamer has the ten LED lights. The Zoomer, Bellino and Beamer/Bling will get Bell's new True Fit fitting system in 2009. Many of the names are for the same models with different graphics or packaging.



Some models in the low-priced line deserve special attention: the Impulse/Impulse Headphones/Vogue/Shifter-Cruiser are the same helmet in adult and youth sizes. This model has the same radically round, smooth shape of the Bell Citi. It is inmolded, a higher-quality construction technique that is unusual in the discount store series. It has reasonable vents, and the upscale camlock strap adjusters. The price will likely be right when you find it in a big box store. We found a sample at Wal-Mart in late 2008 for $26.88 and Toys R Us has them for $30. The Impulse is made in USA.

Bell has two more low-priced inmolded models in this line: the Escape and the Explorer in youth size. We don't know the designations in the adult size. The Escape is a compact shape model with a minimal rear point that mostly meets our rounder, smoother criterion. The Explorer has pronounced rear snag points. Both have the upgraded strap fittings. We don't have retail pricing for them, but it should be in the $30 range. We did not find them at our local Wal-Mart.

Bell's skate-style models in this low-priced series include the Rage, Psycho, Maniac, Bike Candy, Coaster and Wicked. Again, the names designate graphics and color differences more often than model differences. Some are said by Bell to be dual certified to the CPSC bicycle and ASTM F1492 skateboard standards, at least in the medium and large sizes. They may not be dual certified in the small size. If the F1492 sticker is missing, the helmet does not meet the skateboard standard. You must look at the stickers inside the helmet to be sure, since the packaging always says they meet it, but the ones we have seen in retail stores have no F1492 sticker inside and therefore do not meet the standard no matter what you see on the box.

This line sells for low prices: $15 to $40. Some models are available to non-profits in large quantities for much less than that, through Safe Kids International. 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.

Bell's Replacement Policy


"Consumers who damage their Bell helmets in a cycling accident within 3 years of purchase are eligible to receive 30% off the MSRP of any new Bell helmet. Consumers can take advantage of the Crash Replacement program by sending their crashed helmet directly to Bell Sports or by visiting any participating Bell retailer. Bell retailers are not obligated to process crash replacement helmets. Dealers who do not want to participate in the program can refer all crash customers to Bell Sports Customer Service."

Bell has a page on their website called Helmets 101 that is worth a visit for info on their line.

Bell/Giro dealers can purchase helmets for use in test rides at half the normal dealer price, but those helmets are not to be sold.

In 2004 Bell Sports was purchased by Fenway Partners, a private-equity holding company. The Giro part of Bell was included. Through Fenway, Bell Sports in early 2005 repurchased the Bell motorcycle helmet manufacturing company that it had spun off in 1991. Then Bell merged with Riddell, known as a football helmet maker. In 2006 Riddell Bell merged with Easton Sports, and after 2007 the company has been known as Easton-Bell Sports, owned by Fenway Partners, Jim Easton, and The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. Most consumers are probably unaware of any of those changes, and as far as we can tell the changes have had no effect on the company's technical competence or product quality.


Bern Unlimited


Bern's motto is "Head Protection for Any Action Sport." Their helmets are skate or ski shaped, so they are very well rounded except for the rigid visor on one. None has enough ventilation for hard bicycle riding in warm weather. Some of them use Brock Foam, a formulation that provides multi-impact protection, but those are called hard hats rather than helmets and Bern says they do "not meet the standards for action sport head protection." We don't understand why a company would sell headgear like that, but like any skate helmet manufacturer, Bern has attitude.

Bern has a trademarked Zip Mold foam that they say uses liquid injected foam that is inmolded and is used in helmets that meet the CPSC bike helmet standard. We have not seen test results on the foam or the helmets, and do not know if the foam is a new advance.

Some Bern helmets have interchangeable liners for water sports, ski and winter sport use, including underneath layers and a knit winter cap. There is a ponytail port on ladies models. There is a channel in the foam liner for glasses and a removable goggle strap clip on the rear. Bern has paired male/female models, with pastels for the ladies. The bicycle models include the Nino for kids, meeting the CEN and CPSC bicycle helmet standards and the ASTM F2040 ski helmet standard. There is a visible white option. The girl's model is the Nina, in white and pastels. Sizes range from 48 cm in the Macon model to 63.5 cm. in the Macon and Brentwood models.

Some Bern models with EPS or "Zip Mold" liners are sold in the US market, labeled with stickers certifying that they meet the CPSC standard. That would include the Brentwood, Berkeley, Nino, Nina, Macon and Watts. But the multi-impact Brock foam version of the same models would not meet CPSC, and could not be sold here as a bicycle helmet. Others are certified to the CE 1385 Canoe/Kayak standard. No Bern model is listed as meeting the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard, although most of them are skate style helmets made for use by skateboarders. Among the daredevils in the Bern catalog is NY messenger Carlos Ramirez, hitching a ride by holding on to a taxicab.

Retail prices for Bern's models are in the $40 to $70 range, but can be much higher with options.


Bianchi


Bianchi markets team helmets to match their bikes. They have several models, mostly available in trademark Bianchi celeste blue. The helmets are made by Limar of Italy, and correspond to Limar models of the same number. We have also seen a Giro Monza (2008 model) in celeste blue, but we don't know if it is still available, since the Monza was dropped from Giro's line for 2009.


BiOS


BiOS is a French company founded by a neurosurgeon whose marketing says their helmet is based on head anatomy rather than testing to standards. Their pitch:

"It is impossible to predict the location of a head impact. Meanwhile the consequences vary a lot according to the point of impact. Beside an improved dampening compared to the classical helmets, BiOS also fights against the hazard by resorbing the impacts toward the maximal resistance points of the human head. This new dimension of the head protection devices construction opens new development opportunities in all types of protective helmets...we think that it is indispensable that the helmet be adapted to the internal anatomical structure of the human head and not solely to a metal headform reproducing its form and its weight (as called out by the current standards)."

In addition, the helmets are claimed to be less bulky than traditional helmets. The liner is thin overall, but has a separate raised ridge of thicker, harder foam glued in, in a front to back arc that runs along the side of the head. It also has small patches of a squishy foam at the temples and in the rear, with a diamond of the same material right in the middle of the upper forehead. The only advantage we can see for that kind of liner complexity is a weight saving, at a possible disadvantage of raising the point loading on the skull in the spots where the foam is thicker and harder. The manufacturer may be betting that the skull can take more load in that area, but we would not, since heads move around in helmets and you can't say for sure where the harder foam will contact the skull in a real world impact. The overall foam is nicely low-density, but would have to be much thicker in a conventional helmet. We are intrigued by the design and would like to know more about it.

BiOS says their helmets are for bicycling, roller skating, skateboarding, kite surfing, rafting, kayaking, jet skiing, paragliding "and other outdoor or indoor sports." But they do not apparently attempt to meet standards for those sports. The only statement we can find on their site says: "BiOS was tested in conformity with standards NF EN 1078, NF EN 1385. The results are spectacular: up to 6 times better than the requirements of the standards." That stops just short of a definitive statement that the BiOS products are certified to meet the European standards. But there is a video clip of a BiOS helmet in an apparent CE test, with a 38g peak acceleration. That would indeed be a truly spectacular result. And a sample of the helmet that we bought in December of 2008 has a CEN sticker inside.

An analysis of one crashed helmet leads BiOS to say that in that particular crash, "All these numbers demonstrate that the protective capacity of the BIOS during this real impact was at least 3 x 2,5 x 5 = at least 37.5 times better than required by the standards." There is more info on their French page than the English version. Prices on the website are 119 and 149 Euros, with free shipping in France but another 20 Euros to the US. There are custom logos available for 29 Euros more, and occasional discount codes. We paid $148 US with shipping for the sample we ordered in December of 2008. It came reeking of cigarette smoke.

BiOS models fit heads from 53 to 61 cm. BiOS offers custom made-to-measure helmets designed for your head for an additional 50 Euros. We don't know how they handle the ordering, but it would appear that the maximum size is still 61 cm, probably limited by the available shell sizes.

At the bottom of the BiOS web pages appears a small "Made in France." Bios informs us that all of the major components of their helmets are made in France.

BiOS will replace a helmet for the original owner if it is structurally damaged by a head impact for 10% to 50% of its original price depending on "the importance of the head impact." They don't explain that further on their website. The offer is valid for the Carbone and Bix for 2 years after the original purchase date, and for the Anatomic for one year.

BiOS informed us in April of 2008 that they were looking for a local manufacturing partnership in North America for the US and Canadian markets.


Bravo


Bravo is the house brand of Asctechs.com/El Sol Trading. They have a Signature Series skate-style helmet said to be certified for bicycling, skateboarding and snowboarding. The helmet has the classic skate shape. If the website is to be believed, it is dual certified to bicycle and skateboard standards, but as we reported at the end of 2007, a search for "standard" on their site did not return any hits. Now at the end of 2008 they have passworded that section. Some models of the Signature Series also have "a special moldable inside to mold the shape of your head after just a few days of wearing." We don't know what that may be. Sizing on some is given by measuring your head, but others are labeled "one size fits most." Pricing is in the $25 to $35 range, and there are some bright colors including chrome along with the usual black and moss green. Asctechs has full face and other helmets as well, but again we can not find anything on their site about what standards they may meet.

Bravo Sports


Bravo Sports is an importer of many types of equipment. They import helmets labeled with various brands for mass merchant channels such as Sears, Target, and Toys R Us. They have a line of skate, bike and toddler helmets under the brands Kryptonics, VFX Gear and World Industries. We have not seen the helmets and do not have their retail pricing. Bravo bills a number of their models as "multisport" helmets, but the website mentions only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, not the ASTM skateboard standard or any other standard. In fact at least one of their pages mislabels the CPSC standard in a statement "All Kryptonics helmets pass CPSC 1203 Standards for Bicycle, Inline, and Skateboards" And in another: "World's aggressive helmet complies with CPSC 1203 Standards for Bicycle and Skateboarding." The word skateboard does not appear anywhere in the CPSC standard, so they just added that, and we consider it misleading. Unfortunately they have dropped their licensed Spongebob Squarepants model in bright yellow called the Spongehead.


Briko


Briko is an Italian company who began breaking into the U.S. market over ten years ago but has been slow to push its line here, and there have been some distributor changes as recently as November 2008. Briko changed their line completely during 2008, so all of the models are new. All are inmolded. Most have bug net in the vents. All are listed as meeting the CEN 1078 bike helmet standard and the ASTM F2040 snow sports standard, but not the US CPSC bike helmet standard. They could be sold in the US as snow sports helmets, but for bicycle marketing would have to have the CPSC certification. That should not be difficult for a helmet that meets F2040, since the tests are similar. We don't have Briko's pricing.




Carrera


Carrera is an Italian company better known for winter sport helmets. Their helmets have Italian stylishness, moderate to large rear snag points, large vents, and some reflective trim. They market to racers. External strap anchors stick up, and one of their models even has a spoiler. We don't know which models are CPSC certified for sale in the US market. Some are renamed versions of last year's models. All of Carrera's models are available in bright visible colors, and have good locking side pieces on the straps.


Casco


Casco is a German company whose helmets we do not see in the US. In addition to about a dozen bike helmet models they make helmets for equestrian, snow and firefighting use. Their Upsolute models are inmolded. Some are unique designs, but our descriptions come from the website since we have not seen any of the Casco line except for the Warp II. Their website info on standards includes only CEN and the German DIN standard, not the US CPSC standard, probably explaining why we do not see them in the US market.

The website says that inmolded CASCO helmets with their add-on Monocoque-Inmold are heat-resistant up to 100 degrees C (212 degrees F), a claim we have never seen before from any manufacturer. Baking EPS foam at that temperature for any period of time normally results in deterioration, with the foam turning yellow and shrinking. And the only really heat-resistant shells we know of are fiberglass, not the plastic Casco is using. Casco also advertises an aluminum "roll bar" reinforcement in some models. All are apparently ring fit.

Casco models include: Based on the Warp II sample that we have, we would like to see the rest of CASCO's line.


Catlike


Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, whose bicycle racing nickname was "the cat." All of their helmets are inmolded except the toddler model. Most of their line is designed to the European CE standard and sold only in Europe. Catlike had a recall in 2003 of its Kompact model for failing to meet the CPSC standard, so check our recalls page if you need info on that. In the fall of 2007 Catlike had recently taken on a US distributor, and were looking into CPSC certification for their models. The strap side pieces on their models slip easily, a common problem. Our retail pricing is not up to date.


Chrysler-Jeep


A helmet made to go with the "Jeep" bicycle line sold for a time with Jeep vehicles. Round and smooth, with reasonable vents and a taped on shell. The adult size is blue and white, and the youth size is red and white. At the end of 2008 they were still being sold out by BicycleSurplus at $6.50 plus shipping. Apparently nobody bailed out the Jeep helmet manufacturer.


Cratoni


This German company has an extensive lineup. Some of their models are European, while others are also available in the U.S. market. All of their adult helmets are inmolded. All have at least some reflective trim, and for 2008 they added a chrome logo recessed into the surface. The company has developed a bright red 6 LED flasher that can be added to the rear stabilizer of any Cratoni helmet for $15. Cratoni's strap fittings seem to hold better than many other manufacturers, including the side pieces that lock by twisting a cam. Some of their models have an optional rubbery surface that we don't recommend due to concern about sliding resistance in a fall. Cratoni has several models that they sell in Asia just by changing the interior padding to fit rounder heads. (We have a page up on fitting rounder heads.) Many of Cratoni's prices were reduced for 2008, but we don't have their 2009 pricing.



Cratoni's child models fit heads as small as 47 cm (18.5 inches) and their largest adult model fits up to 65 cm (25.6 inches). Their ring fit models normally cover from 52 to 60 cm (20.5 to 23.5 inches).

Cratoni will replace a crashed helmet for 50 per cent of the manufacturer's suggested retail price.


Dainese


Dainese was originally an Italian motorcycle gear company, but they have branched out into other sports. They have two helmet types, BMX motorcycle-style and a skate-style model. The motorcycle models all have full face chinbars and little pointy lumps on the outside. They all have large polycarbonate visors. They all look like motorcycle helmets, but the certifications are different, indicating that there are differences in their impact performance. Retail prices are about $300.


Docmeter


Docmeter is a French company with a line of bicycle helmets also known as Helmeter. There are several models, including conventional mountain bike-style, inmolded helmets priced at about 50 to 60 Euros. There will be two new ones for 2009, including one with the company's rear air bladder fit system. The air bladder appears to be a rear stabilizer that blows up with a built-in pump to ensure a snug fit. Air bladder fit pads have been tried in the past and abandoned by other companies, notably Bell. We had concerns in the past about the long term durability of the bladders. Pricing is on the French website. Although the websites mention only the CEN European standard, the company informs us that their helmets meet the CPSC standard as well. As always, check for the CPSC sticker inside any particular model.


Ebon


Ebon is made by Co-Union Industry of Taiwan. Their bike helmets are inmolded, including the toddler models, with modest-to-pronounced rear snag points. They also have skate models. They use a ring fit system. Their strap adjustment pieces slip too easily. Visors are attached with pins to flip off in a crash, as they should. Their child sizes go down to 47 cm and most adult models fit up to 63 cm. They are nice looking helmets, and prices should be in the $25 and up range, depending on whose brand is on the one you buy.


Eleven81


The Eleven81 helmet line is distributed in the US market by Hawley Company. All are inmolded and have a ring fit system. Most are available in white or other bright and visible colors. The male buckle pieces are all red to highlight the release tabs. Their prices are up somewhat in 2009. Models include: Hawley offers a consumer-direct lifetime crash replacement guarantee


El Sol


See Bravo above.


Epsira Oy (Knock)


Epsira Oy is the Finnish manufacturer of Knock helmets, certified to the European CEN standard. They are supplied to such organizations as the Finnish postal service in very visible orange. Most of their designs appear to have nicely rounded contours and would be called commuter helmets in the US. Vents are modest in keeping with the Finnish climate, and one model has a plastic weather guard that covers the whole top and closes vents against wind and rain. They have several models, including the H3, Knock, Inmotion 2 and Champion. Some of their Knock child helmets have large team logos and cartoon characters called Moomins. All of Epsira Oy's helmets have either reflectors or a reflective band around the helmet. One previous model had reflective straps. Epsira Oy makes other EPS products and has some info up on EPS.


ESCO


Esco Sport Product Corp. is a Chinese company producing electric and gas scooters, bicycles and carts. It appears that some of their bike helmets are made with EPS foam and others with EPU, but that's about all we can tell from the website.


Etto


Etto is a Scandinavian manufacturer with 19 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, and most have bug net in the front vents. Their most innovative feature--a slow release buckle for youth helmets to prevent "hanging" on playground equipment called EttoTech--was on hold for further development when we checked with them at the end of December, 2005, and has disappeared from their website and their current helmet catalog.

Etto dealers will replace crashed and damaged helmets "at only a small part of the cost."


Fly Racing


Fly Racing has a line of motorcycle BMX racing equipment, including full face helmets. All have bolted on visors, but at least the screws are plastic rather than metal, and would be more likely to break off when you need them to, rather than jerking your neck. If you want another snag point, Fly will sell you a rear fin to add to your helmet. It mounts without screws or glue, so hopefully would pop off in a crash. All of Fly's 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, including a chinbar with effective energy managing padding. Some Fly models have rubber debris deflectors Fly's catalog has replacement parts for their helmets, including mouthpieces, visors, screws, pads and buckles. Sizing runs from 52 cm (6.5 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.


Fox


Fox Racing has BMX and skate style helmets to compliment their line of racing accessories.

Fox helmets come in sizes from 18 3/8" to 25 3/4". Fox has other models on their website that are promoted for motorcycle use. Their crash replacement policy is a consumer-direct 30 percent discount off the retail price.


Free Agent


Free Agent is a KHS Bicycles brand. They have a very well-rounded classic skateboard-style helmet that comes in one shell size with three pad sets of different thicknesses. It has an EPP liner, good for multiple impacts. It is dual certified to meet the CPSC standard for bike helmets and the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. 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. Free Agent also has a full face BMX helmet at $100, used by their team riders. It has a very rigid visor attachment.


Fuji


Fuji has been a major bicycle supplier to the US market for many years. In 2007 they added a helmet line to complement their bikes, with model names matching bike models in most cases.


Garneau


See Louis Garneau below under "L"


Gear


See Headstart below.


Geartec


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, and the promised website never materialized.


Giant


Giant supplies a full line of bikes and accessories to bike shops. Their helmets have good quality locking strap fittings that hold well. All of their prices are up slightly from last year.


Giro


A subsidiary of Bell, with production facilities and testing fully integrated with Bell's, but Giro designs still have a unique fit. The Giro brand has been a trend leader for both style and construction techniques. This year the Pneumo was dropped, a 2001 model that broke new ground in ventilation. The line has been gradually evolving and adding rounded compact profile models over the past several years, but the most expensive high-end models still have pronounced snagging points. All Giro helmets are inmolded, and high end models have lower shells molded in as well. High-end models use fitting pads, but the less expensive ones are ring fit. Most are available in white or another visible color. Some Giro helmets have reflective surfaces on the rear stabilizers, a logical 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 readily on impact. Strap fittings are not among the best for holding securely after adjusting, although on the Rift model they do hold well. Consumer Reports found cheaper Giro models more protective than the top of the line in their 2002 article, probably because the cheaper ones have smaller vents and more foam. Bell, Giro and other manufacturers have lighter hyper-ventilated models produced for the European market that meet the CEN standard but are not certified to meet the tougher US CPSC standard. Alberto Contador wore Giro helmets winning the 2008 Tour de France, and Lance Armstrong is racing again in 2009 with Giro still one of his sponsors. Promotion fees of course play a role in a professional's helmet selection.



Bell/Giro dealers can purchase helmets for use in test rides at half the normal dealer price, but those helmets are not to be sold.

Giro also sells helmets in Europe. Their catalog says they are certified to the European standard, so they may not have the same protection as the US models listed above even if the names are the same.

This year Giro helmets fit heads from 48 cm (18.75") to 64 cm (25"). A graphic in their 2007 catalog showed that they considered the 63 cm size as the tail of the bell curve distribution of head sizes, but they added a centimeter for the Atlas II in 2008.

Bell/Giro recommends replacing their helmets after 3 years. The Giro crash warranty is the same as Bell's, a 30% discount if you crash within the first three years. They also offer a credit toward the purchase of a larger Giro helmet for parents whose children outgrow a child model.


Gmax


See Fly Racing above.


Go On Sport - GOS


Go On Sport is the first new Australian company that has attempted to enter the US market in this century. They hoped to introduce five models here beginning in 2005, in the $20 to $50 range, but we have not seen them in the US market since. Their helmets are inmolded, and some have two-piece full wrap shells. They are manufactured in China. Their website says "under construction." Their products are available through Sportz Australasia Pty Ltd.


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 are listed as Snell-approved, but do not appear on the current Snell certification list. Golex helmets should be available in mass merchant channels, and some may find their way into bike stores, probably under other brand names.


GPR-PLIM


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 GPR. Their models include:


Halolux


Halolux is a Hong Kong company with a helmet that has fiber optic lights incorporated in the shell. LED's in the rear "lightbox" generate the light, and the optical fibers carry it in a ring around the shell. We have not seen them yet and don't know how much light can be generated by two coin cells that are said to last 60 hours. The light can be flashing or steady. According to the web page, the Halolight ELF model first introduced in July of 2008 is certified to both the CPSC and CEN European standards, so we hope to see one soon. It appears to be an elongated design with lots of ridges and a medium rear snag point. It is inmolded, and fits heads from 20.5 inches to 24.4 inches (52 cm to 62 cm); Retail is reported to be $55 in the US market.


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.


Headlight AB


Headlight is a Swedish company with a line of reflective helmets. For years we have listed them under Kuji Sports, the sole distributor of their helmets in the US. Headlight has several models, certified to either European standards for the Euro market or CPSC for the US market. They have two grades of reflective shells, so the whole helmet is reflective, using the silver gray color that normally produces the best reflective performance. They apply graphics on top of that. In Europe they were formerly known as Solid, but now produce their helmets with the distributor or retailer's brand on them.


Headstart PTY (Australia)


Once one of at least three helmet companies called Headstart. This one had nine adult models under the Gear brand name. The web link is to a listing of manufacturers, and we do not know if it is current or not.


Headstart (Malaysia)


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


Headstart Technologies


This formerly Canadian manufacturer and user of EPP foam reportedly moved to the US and changed its line, supplying helmets imported from China with the usual EPS liners. We can't find them on the web now.


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. In large quantities 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. Five appear on the current Snell certification list for the tough B-95 standard. They have rear stabilizers and full cover shells, features almost never seen in this price range. Helmets R Us also has a genuine dual-certified skate-style helmet that has the stickers inside attesting to the fact that it is certified to both the ASTM F1492 and CPSC bicycle helmet standards, at a very low price. Sizes range from 49 to 62 cm (19.3 to 24.5 inches).


Hong Kong Sports


The HKS name is not familiar to consumers and you will not find helmets under their company brand, but they manufacture millions of helmets for a number of US and other brands, some of them well known.


Hopus


Hopus is a Taiwanese company with an extensive line of helmets. They are known for innovative construction techniques. 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, and a unique fiberglass model that is inmolded. Their US models are all CPSC certified, but others may meet only CEN and be intended for the European market. Most of their models are sold with other brands on them. For 2009 Hopus has introduced a unique halo lighting system that uses LED's to light a 30cm diameter ring around the helmet, on an inmolded model that retails for a very modest $20 to $40. We have not seen one yet.

Hopus has a large line, many of them not on the web. They include:



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.


Ironman


Ironman has eight models, all with rear snag points, large vents and ring fit systems. All are inmolded with recessed strap anchors, making the low-end model probably a good value. Most have good-sized patches of Reflectek brand reflective material, and tabs under the buckle to prevent pinching. Their Integrated Light Series for 2008 has a lithium ion battery providing eight to ten hours of flashing light. They have one model that is a Breast Cancer Awareness promotion, rebating 10% of the purchase price to cancer research. Ironman helmets are manufactured by Kuji Sports.


J&B Importers - JBI.Bike


J&B is a long-established bicycle wholesaler with warehouses all over the US. Their products are sold in bike stores. J&B's lower cost Airius line has models beginning at about $15 retail to about $30, with a few high end models ranging as high as $80. The profiles tend to be the well-rounded ones we favor. Colors are solid, with some metallic finishes. For 2009 they added the commuter model formerly introduced by Six Six One as the Allride, a helmet that we praised at the time as the first city helmet with pizzazz, a very stylish rendition of the rounder smoother shape we advocate. In the J&B lineup it will also be affordable. Also in 2009 they added a new downhill mountain bike racing helmet with a removable chinguard. For 2008 they had added a Chronos model with built in LED flashers in the rear stabilizer, retailing for about $40. J&B has a toddler model that is inmolded and vented, probably a good value. 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.


Kali Protectives


Kali is one of the most interesting companies to arrive on the scene for 2009. They have some unique manufacturing techniques that should in time produce a full line of unique helmets that are inmolded with dual-density foam liners. They can make full face helmets with chinbars this way, a new capability among manufacturers. The resultant helmet is lighter and has a thicker liner than normal motorcycle helmets. We are not sure when the Kali helmets will actually be available, and Kali will probably be making more marketing effort in motorcycle helmets for 2009, but their bicycle model line will include: Keep an eye on Kali. They are likely to produce interesting products in coming years.


Kask


Kask is an Italian manufacturer. We have not seen their line yet. There are some nice bright color combinations in the line. There is no info on what standards the helmets meet, so we assume they are CEN certified for the European market, but do not know if they meet the US CPSC standard. From the website, Kask bike helmet models for 2009 include: Accessories include a winter cap and a storage bag. Their website has model-specific listings for insect net replacement screens in plastic that are shaped to fit the vents, as well as pad replacement kits and visors.


KB


Abbreviation for Knucklebone below.


KBC Helmets


KBC has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China. They have more than 20 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. The KBC Midnight Flame, Classic Cruiser and TK-9 models, failed to meet the DOT motorcycle helmet standard back in 2003. You can search for the DOT report of failure. 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


KED is a German company that had manufactured helmets in Germany for other brands for more than ten years, before introducing its own line. Almost all 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, a common problem. They put a thoughtful pad under the buckle to prevent skin pinches. All models have bug net in the front vents. Some are Euro models with only CEN certification. The website emphasizes that the helmets are made in Germany. Models for 2009 include:

KED's catalog has a listing of useful spare parts for their helmets. It includes visors, fit pads, ring fit parts, the LED battery/chip replacement, buckles and more.


Kent Bicycles


See Razor below.


Kestrel


Kestrel is a subsidiary of Fuji Advanced Sports, and a manufacturer of high-end carbon fiber bike frames. They showed one road and two chrono models for 2009 at Interbike under their EMS Pro brand. We don't find them on the web, however.


Knucklebone


Knucklebone or KB brand accessories and clothing for BMX are from Answer Products. Their "KB" branded Jumper Pro model is the familiar skateboarders profile, very smooth and round, with an EPS foam liner. It has a painted and clear-coated shell that includes a chrome model and a very visible white or orange, and retails for $40.


Knucklehead


A new entry into the US market in 2008, A Knucklehead Company promises to deliver a line of bike and skate helmets made in China, designed for any company who wants their own helmet line. Some of their models are inmolded, while lower priced ones have glued or taped on shells. They expect that their models with licensed graphics will be in Wal-Mart stores in 2009 at prices in the $10 to $30 range. They have a model for bike stores as well, inmolded with pronounced rear snag points and selling for about $30.


Kong


Kong is an Italian climbing equipment company. 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, so there is a clasp in front for a caving light. We were surprised to see this one selling in the US market despite it's lack of CPSC certification. One site had a statement that said "Can be used for climbing, biking, canoeing and horseback riding. NOTE: Only certified as a climbing helmet in the US (UIAA certified)." We would not recommend buying a helmet from any retailer who is apparently unconcerned about their products' meeting the relevant standards.


Kryptonics


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 were one of the companies marketing helmets that were dual certified to both the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard and the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, but apparently are not any more, since their Kore helmets no longer claim that. Instead the web page has a statement saying: All Kryptonics helmets pass CPSC 1203 standards for Bicycle, Inline and Skateboards." That statement is incorrect, since the CPSC standard is not for skateboarding. Further down their page they have the correct statement "Complies with US CPSC safety standards for bicycle helmets persons age 5 and older." We would not recommend buying a helmet from any manufacturer who is that confused about standards, since there are real dual-certified helmets out there from other manufacturers.


Kuji Sports


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 inmolded road helmets, glued or taped on shell road helmets, skate, toddler and full-face models. Their Reflectek line has Headlight's reflective shell design 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 about $10 to $35. Kuji also produces Ironman brand helmets.


LAS


LAS (or L.A.S.) is an Italian company with a line of high-end helmets that have been made in Italy since 1974. They are available in US bike stores with distribution handled by Trialtir. LAS has some radical designs, with the emphasis on style. There are some nice bright colors available and finish quality is good. The Trialtir website says the helmets are "100% made in Italy." Models include:

The regular LAS line can fit heads from 51 cm to 64 cm (20 7/8" to 24"). Only the Roadspeed Baby is sized at 45 cm.


Lazer


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 nicely recessed strap anchors. Lazer's catalog materials misuse the term multi-impact, intending the word to indicate that some of their models have internal reinforcing to help hold them together after an initial impact to keep the helmet intact in hopes you will hit a different spot next in the same single crash sequence. (To the rest of the world, multi-impact is handling more than one hit at the same spot.) The helmets still have to be replaced after a hard hit.

Lazer has a four star and a five star motorcycle helmet among those tested and ranked by the British government's SHARP project, the only ranking system of its kind in 2009.

The models below are all certified to the CPSC standard and could be available in the US market. Lazer sells the same helmets in Asia, where heads are rounder, and says that their fit system adjusts. Some models come in a women's version with pastel colors and bright colored straps, said to be "ponytail friendly." Their built-in LED models run on button cells to reduce the bulk of the battery and permit the helmets to pass impact standards, although button cells don't last very long and are expensive.


LED Helmets


LED is a Canadian company based in Alberta. They have one "one size fits most" helmet, a nicely rounded road helmet with reasonable vents that has four flashing single LED's around the helmet attempting to cover 360 degrees. We have not seen them, but the company provided test lab results showing the helmets meet the ASTM F1447-02 standard, so they would meet the CPSC standard as well. All of the results were good, with reasonable g levels. We don't know what power source they are using for the LED's or how bright they are. Retail should be "in the low to mid 30's."


Limar


Limar is an Italian brand. Their models usually have some bright color choices and nice graphics. Some of them are CEN certified only and 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 nice pinch protector tabs on the buckle. Pricing varies by $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.



Some Limar models are available in Bianchi colors.

Limar has a 3 year crash replacement guarantee, offering a replacement helmet through the dealer at half off.


Louis Garneau


Louis Garneau is an independent Canadian designer and manufacturer with an extensive helmet line along with many other bicycle products. For the European market, Garneau has bug net in the vents of some models. Some models are available without visor for $5 less. Custom team graphics or stickers are available. 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 meet the CPSC standard and are sold here. Although Garneau used to make many helmets in Canada, at least some of the models below are made in China, so look for the country of origin sticker inside if that matters to you. In 2009 Louis Garneau became one of the sponsors of Team Type 1, a racing team that includes riders with type one diabetes.



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


Lucky Bell


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


Mace Gear


Mace was new to us in 2008. They are a Canadian company with a line of bike clothing for skate and BMX. Their products are distributed through Norco. Their helmets all meet the US CPSC standard. They have some of the rubberized finishes that we don't care for because of the likely effect on sliding resistance. Prices change if you view their web page with Firefox rather than Internet Explorer, and can change again from index pages to the individual product page. We don't know if that is related to Canadian vs. US dollars or not, so we have just picked one price to list here for simplicity. Mace's skate models fit sizes from 50 cm up to 62 cm.


Mantis


Mantis is a house label of the bicycle distributor Cycle Force Group. The helmets retail in the $25 to $30 range. The name changed during 2008 from the former Cycle Source Group.


MET


MET is an Italian manufacturer whose helmet line we have not seen, but they have a fine website. The comments below 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. The last time we checked, MET's helmets were not available in the US and Canada. 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.

In the past, Met's helmets have all been made in Italy, and their website talks about their manufacturing processes, but emphasizes Italian design rather than exclusively Italian origin. 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 has a three year warranty against product defects. They call it "comprehensive" but with some caveats:
"Helmets returned for inspection must be sent in proper individual protective packaging, postage prepaid to the MET distributor in your country, with a dated proof of purchase and a letter explaining the reasons for returning the helmet. MET shall not be held liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages. The warranty does not apply to helmets which have not been used properly according to the MET helmet owner's instruction manual. The warranty does not cover normal wear. The warranty does not cover damages caused by accidents, abuse, negligence, incorrect adjustment, or for use other than that intended by the manufacturer. Any modification made by the user will render the warranty null and void. The warranty does not cover damages due to heat exposure.
We cannot find any crash replacement info on the MET site.


Michelin


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 and accessories. Since known brands sell more helmets, both companies may be hoping that the well-known brand name will help. The helmets all have at least some reflective trim, and all but the skate helmet are inmolded. We have not seen Michelin helmets in a while, but they are still available on the web, where prices can be lower than the cited MSRPs.


Mien Yow Industry


See Alpha above.

Mongoose


Mongoose is a Pacific Cycle brand, so the helmets are not produced by the same people who make the bicycles. The company is positioned as 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 helmet line for 2009 and do not have pricing for their models. In prior years the helmets were produced by PTI, and although we have seen some of the models in other manufacturers' lines, some of them are unique to Netti.


Netti - Atom


Netti is an Australian company that has been around since 1948 as a distributor of cycling goods. They say they are Australia's biggest manufacturer and distributor of bicycle clothing and helmets. We have not seen their helmets in the US market for a long time, and they have eliminated the standards information from their website. Netti models for this year include:



Nutcase


Nutcase has a single classic skate helmet with ABS hard shell in many colorful and kooky graphics designed to convince stubborn kids that wearing a helmet is cool. Their helmet is certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, not the ASTM skateboard standard, despite the skateboarding label and the words "multi-sport" including skateboarding on the box. Their product literature also misquotes the title of the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and adds the word skateboard to it. We would not recommend buying a helmet from any manufacturer who is that confused about standards. The retail price is $40 for the models sold in bike shops. There may be a second model from a different manufacturer that will be sold at big box retailers at lower prices, but the graphics will be different, and we don't have info on it. A shop specializing in large bikes for large people informs us that the Nutcase in L/XL fits many customers who have large heads. The Nutcase site fitting chart says that size fits heads up to 64cm/25".


>Oktos


Oktos is a European company selling accessories and sunglasses as well as helmets. They sponsor racing teams. Their helmets are made in China to the European CEN standard and marketed in Europe. Some are inmolded. They fit sizes 54 to 62 cm (21.3 to 24.4 inches). We have not seen their 2009 line. Prices on the US website are apparently all set at $135, but the helmets can be found for much less on European sites. In the US, Oktos helmets are distributed by Persons-Majestic Co.

O'Neal see Azonic/O'Neal above


Pacific Cycle


See Schwinn below, or Mongoose above.


Poc


Poc is a three year old Swedish company entering the bicycle market for the first time in 2009. Their other lines include body armor, gloves and protective eyewear. Their helmets are said to be "for any all-gravity sport" and most are certified to the CEN and CPSC bike helmets standards as well as the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard and F2040 ski standard. Although bike standards have eliminated penetration tests because epidemiology shows no penetration injuries, POC uses a double overlapping shell construction to ensure that there are no straight-through vents where a sharp object can penetrate. This would inevitably reduce air flow, but POC remains concerned about preventing penetration by sharp objects. We do not share that concern, but if you do and want ventilation in a penetration-protective helmet, the POC approach on their Flow models may be the best around. The helmet is molded in the thin inner shell, with a thicker outer shell. Models include:


Polybid


Polybid helmets come from Kibbutz Mismar Hanegev in Israel. They have a nicely rounded bicycle model, the Pro 2 and others for youth and toddlers.


Potenza


Potenza is a Kent, Washington company with a line of helmets produced in China. Their helmets have simple strap fittings, but they seem to hold well. These are not the same models sold by ProRider (below) even though the two companies are in the same ZIP code.


ProRider


ProRider is a supplier of BMX and bicycle helmets from China and is also the home of the CNS (Children - N - Safety) National Helmet Program, selling directly to schools and non-profit organizations. Their True Toddler helmet is Snell-certified in addition to meeting the CPSC standard. Most of their models have the rounder, smoother shapes that we believe are best when you crash. Prices are very low for the models with taped on shells over plain white foam, in the under $10 range and sometimes as low as $3.65 including shipping when purchasing in large quantities for a helmet program. For a dollar or two more you can get better looking models that are more likely to be accepted by the kids than the white foam models. ProRider will also sell to individuals at slightly higher prices but still below $10.


Pro Supergo


Pro Supergo is apparently not affiliated with the Supergo bike shops in California or with the former Supergo helmets from the 1970's. They have a line of inexpensive Asian-made helmets to complement their other bike accessories. The catalog shows a number of models, including adult, child, BMX and skate style. Some of the adult models are inmolded. At least four are listed as CPSC certified, so they may be available in the US. The website for 2009 features "Hot! New Products for 2005-2006."


Pro-Tec/Vans


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. They still sell nearly identical helmets to those old-school models. The company has changed hands since then, and in 2004 they brought out an almost completely revamped line, most of them much improved from earlier years. They began using a foam they call SXP for some models that replaced the lower grade protection of prior years, and initially said those helmets were dual certified to meet both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and ASTM F1492 Skateboard requirements. Unfortunately in 2008 they dropped the claim that their helmets are certified to F1492 in their catalog, web page and helmet stickers. They have informed us that it was through administrative error and that their 2009 Classic, Ace Skate SXP and B2 Skate SXP models will meet the F1492 standard and have stickers inside attesting to that. Check for the certification sticker inside the helmet before you buy. On December 30, 2008 the Pro-Tec web page still said those models meet only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and the identical ASTM F1447 bicycle helmet standard, not the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard. It also has the curious statement that some of their skate models are "outlawed in some states and revered in others" and "Not Certified: (These helmets use 2-stage foam that does not meet certification standards and should only be used for skating)" We don't know why sub-standard helmets would be ok for skating.

Pro-Tec's SXP foam is a modified formulation of Expanded PolyPropylene (EPP), allowing them 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 hard hits in the same location. We have more comments on our foam page. Most Pro-Tec helmets look exactly the same on the outside and have very similar model names, so you will have to examine them for the standards sticker inside and be very careful about the model you buy for bicycling. There are very few changes to the line for 2009.

Pro-Tec helmets fit heads from 51 to 60 cm (20.1 to 23.6 inches).

We were encouraged by the changes Pro-Tec made beginning in 2004, then disappointed in 2008 when they discontinued certifying even their skate helmets to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. For 2009 they have informed us that they have changed that and the models noted above will again be dual-certified. Check for the sticker to be sure.


>Prowell Helmets


Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets in EPU foam. Most of their models are inmolded, some with lower shells as well. They generally have a high quality appearance, seeming solid (and a bit heavy) in the hand. There are 14 models in the line ranging from radical elongated styles with rear snag points to more rounded commuter helmets and child models. Most of Prowell's models should retail for about $25. The company manufactures helmets for other brands.


Pryme Protective Gear




Pryme is owned by Seattle Bicycle Supply. The line includes helmets for BMX, downhill racing, whitewater, snowboarding and skate use, most of them with catchy names.

Pryme has a useful sizing chart on their website. Their helmets are made in China.


PTI


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. You will also find PTI products under Schwinn below. PTI had a helmet recall in 2004 involving three toddler helmet models. We have details on our recalls page.


Pulse


The Pulse helmet is an innovative Australian design by Monash University student Julie-Ann Davies. It includes reflective shell material, large rear light and an "Ear Drop" to let you listen to music or other output on the curb side as you ride. It's only a concept, not anything you can buy. The site maintains that "Cyclists can now listening to their favourite music, answer their mobile phone and record cycling data without compromising their safety on the road." We would not agree. Music and cell phones are fine if your bike is stationary, or perhaps on an offroad trail, but that kind of distraction is the last thing you want if you are riding a bicycle in traffic. Note that the curb side in Australia is on the left.


Razor


Razor is the line of inexpensive helmets marketed by Kent to mostly discount retail stores and a few bicycle stores. For 2009 there are skate and BMX style helmets. The skate models include the Aggressive Series and Iridium. The packaging says they are multi sport helmets, but certification is only CPSC. One of the BMX models is the Full Face, a youth sized helmet with vents and a removable chinbar, a unique feature at the $45 price point.


Reflectek


Reflectek is produced by Kuji Sports. There is one model with a fully reflective shell and another with a partially reflective shell that sells 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. Reflectek We have comments and photos of one of the Reflectek helmets on our page on reflective helmets. It was also reviewed by Cycling Reviews.


REM


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 less dense 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


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, and some are very well rounded. There are bright color options for each model. They have a unique strap fitting that tightens with a screw. They should all retail in the $35 range. Roar has a child "designer's" helmet that they can customize with printing and graphics for events or other needs. Sizes run from 52.3 cm (20.5") to 62 cm.


Rudy Project


This European manufacturer markets sunglasses and sporting attire from founder Rudy Barbazza. We are not sure which models you may find in which markets, but check their US web page for the ones certified to the CPSC standard. Most have partially recessed strap anchors and some have small reflective patches in the rear. Their models have cam locking strap fittings that locked the strap very well. They are nice looking helmets, most with bright color options including USA red, white and blue, and some Canadian graphics with maple leaves. We are using 2008 pricing in this listing. Models include:

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.


SDS / San Diego Speed


See Armor above.


Schwinn


The Schwinn brand is now the property of Pacific Cycle USA. In mid-2002 they licensed the Schwinn brand to PTI. 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 more easily 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. For 2009 we can't find helmets on the Schwinn site, so these are older descriptions.


SE Ripper


SE has a classic skate style helmet to complement their BMX and freestyle bikes. For 2009 they have a new blue color. Retail is about $25.


Selev


Selev is an Italian company with models made in Italy 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 EN 1078, the European standard. Their models include:


Serfas


Serfas is a US-based company, known for grips, saddles and other accessories. Helmets disappeared from their website in 2007. A company rep told us they don't market in the US due to concern about legal problems but on Serfas websites in other countries helmets are still featured.


Seven 20


Seven 20 is a skate brand. 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. The one we saw is not recommended for bicycle riding because it is not certified to the CPSC or even the European bicycle helmet standard. Not recommended for skateboarding because it is not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard.


Shain


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 (Technologia Assorbimento Urti)." Their website 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 closer to it than standard EPS can manage and is similar to the testing for ASTM's F 1492 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 upgraded skate helmets. At one time Shain said that all of their helmets would meet the US CPSC standard, but they no longer advertise that on their website, and we don't see their helmets in the US market. Models have not changed for 2009.

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--the Bailen Bike Bucket had one 25 years ago and 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.

Shain helmets have some European features like bug net 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 we have not seen them in 2008, so the pricing may have changed. Their round, smooth Urban model seems to have disappeared. The line includes:

Shain will replace a damaged helmet "at a substantially reduced cost to the original owner."


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 2009 line, this Taiwanese manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU helmets are inmolded. The styles are well-rounded, but vents look small. They have a fiberglass BMX model. We don't have current pricing. You would be most likely to see their helmets with other brands on them.


Sixsixone


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


Specialized


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 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 samples. 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 models to the Snell 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. That standard requires better impact performance and coverage than the CPSC standard. Most Specialized prices are up $5 to $10 in 2009.

Specialized recalled their high-end 2008 model, the S-Works 2D, in December of 2007, replacing it with the current S-Works described below. There would not be any 2D's left in the retail channel, and no reason to prefer one to the improved S-Works model below that replaced it. See our Recalls page for details. The 2D still appears on the current Snell certification list.

Specialized sells replacement 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


Spiuk is a Spanish supplier of a wide range of bicycles, components and clothing. The name is pronounced spee-yuke. They have some nice bright color combinations on most models including team graphics. Strap anchors are nicely recessed. Their models include: In some cases Spiuk will replace crashed helmets at a discount.


Star


Star Helmets (formerly Zhuhai H.N.Z. Star Safety Helmets), located in Zhuhai, China, produces an extensive line of helmets under the Star Sport brand. All have taped on or glued on shells except for one 2008 model that is inmolded. Some are certified to the more stringent Snell B-95 standard, but we are unable to match the model numbers, so check the current Snell certification list for details. Most should sell in the $10 to $30 range in the US market, with the BMX models around $65 and ski models probably in the same range.


Stash


Stash is a folding helmet designed to be stored in a smaller space than a standard helmet. It looks like a better design than the 1990's Motorika, a hard shell model that bombed in the US market. The shape is admirably round and smooth. Both sides fold into the middle to store it compactly. The manufacturer of the Stash says it meets the CEN EN 1078 European bike helmet standard. If it does, it would be roughly equivalent to any one-piece Euro helmet. At an advertised 300 to 330 grams (about 12 oz.) it would be about a half to a third heavier than a standard thin-shell CEN helmet, but that should not make much difference to any rider, particularly for short trips in town. Since there is no mention of testing to the US CPSC standard, this one probably cannot be sold in the US. The typical CEN standard helmet does not meet our more severe impact tests. The Stash has protruding lumps for the hinges that might not pass our limits on protrusions as well. Although their web description of lab test results indicates the author had some serious confusion about helmet testing, this is a really innovative design that might well encourage people using bikes in town to wear a helmet, particularly those who regularly borrow or rent a bike for short rides. Comes with a pouch, and the company has shoulder bags and backpacks with special Stash compartments. Comes in visible white with chrome trim, as a commuter helmet should. The two sizes fit heads from 55 to 62 cm (21.7 to 24.4 inches). The Stash retails in the UK market for 50 pounds ($75) and we found it in the Netherlands for 73.5 euros ($102)


Strategic Sports


Strategic Sports produces helmets for a number of U.S. and European companies with the other 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. One of their helmets appears on Snell's list. We have comments on Strategic 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.


Streetboardz


Streetboardz is a supplier of skateboards and gear. Their skateboard helmets are mostly classic Pro-Tec style with the small round front vents. They carry a number of logos, including Triple 8, S-One, Zoo York, Capix, Bullet, Darkstar, ProSkate and Viking. Some are clearly indicated as certified to the CPSC standard and would be ok for bicycle riding. One is an "audio helmet" so it must have speakers inside, but we have not seen one. Retails for $60. Retail prices mostly run from $25 to $40.


THE Industries


THE an Enterprise founded by Toby Henderson, has mountain bike fenders, saddles and other accessories. The company added helmets to its product line with four helmets from Vigor Sports, who may own the THE brand now. Their F-14 model caught our attention as a rounder, smoother model with style and really good coverage, and finally reached the market in mid-2007.


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 mostly have taped-on shells, while the EPP models noted below would more likely come from Taiwan and are all 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 models include: STKI also produces helmets for other uses, including military, baseball, motorcycle, equestrian, football and snow sports.


Tirreno


Tirreno is a house brand of Performance Bicycle shops. The bicycles of that brand are made in Taiwan, but we don't know who makes the helmets or where. We don't find them on the Performance site any more, although they have an owner's manual still up.


Top Gear


Top Gear is the house brand for Helmets R Us, a bulk supplier of many models of inexpensive helmets to helmet promotion campaigns. Prices start at $3.65, including shipping for orders over 24. They also sell retail to individuals at about $10 per helmet plus shipping. They have a unique "Face Saver" model with a chinbar at $14. They also have a Model 17 skate style helmet that is dual certified to the CPSC bicycle standard and ASTM F1492 skateboard standard for less than $10.


Trek USA


Trek supplies a wide line of bikes and accessories to dealers, and their helmet graphics are designed to complement your Trek bike. Some models have reflective panels. Most have ring fit systems. Trek dropped their Anthem series following the 2006 recall of the Anthem C Elite and Anthem C Elite WSD models. See our Recalls page for details. Other Anthems were not recalled, but have dropped out of the line. Current models are:

Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed helmets. They have helmet replacement parts on their website and available through their dealers, including buckles, pads and visors.


Triple Eight


Triple Eight appears to be primarily a skate and ski helmet company. We have not seen their helmets, but their website shows a number of skate-style models under the Brainsaver logo. Some models are listed as CPSC certified, while others don't say what if any standard they meet. There is no mention on the website of the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. One of the Triple Eight vendors on the web says the model they are selling is only approved for skate use. There is no legal requirement for a skate-only helmet to meet any standard at all. For 2008 Triple Eight added some models with rubberized finishes. We don't recommend those because they are likely to increase a helmet's sliding resistance in a crash. They do have some nice bright colors, including white. Their major innovation is a Sweatsaver Liner, claimed to manage sweat effectively. It has a terrycloth interface with the head, moisture wicking layers and anti-bacterial treatment. We don't know their retail prices.


Troy Lee Designs


Troy Lee is a motorcycle helmet and gear manufacturer with a BMX line known for high quality rad graphics. They originated the large bolted-on visor style that makes the visor a potential snag point and has become universal on BMX models. Troy Lee says 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 still regard the visors as potential snag points. The Troy Lee bicycle line is named D2 for Daytona 2 and has three models.

Troy Lee has a stylish-looking blinker in a chrome housing to add to the back of your helmet. It runs on watch batteries for 300 hours and costs $32. Since it is an add-on we assume it would break off properly in a crash. They sell replacement parts including visors and titanium visor screws on the website.

Troy Lee will replace helmet liners after a crash if the shell is not damaged.


TSG - Technical Safety Gear


This Swiss company sells skate helmets in the US in the classic skate style, and one BMX model. They are advertised as certified to EN 1078 and the US CPSC standard, both bicycle helmet standards, and to the ASTM F2040 snow helmet standard. In 1009 TSG renamed most of their models, but we are not tracking the old names.

TSG's skate helmets fit heads from 54 to 60 cm. Their full-face helmets fit heads from 56 to 64 cm.

TSG has a free crash replacement policy.


Tung I Hsing


See THH above.


Uvex


Uvex is best known internationally for its optical products, but in the bicycle market they find more interest in their helmets. Their helmets are designed and all made in Germany except the Urban, Aero and Viva. All of them are inmolded. They have reflective logos, nicely recessed strap anchors and front vent net for insect protection. They have a unique buckle that uses a ridged tab that inserts and pushes in, that we have only seen on Abus and Uvex helmets. It is adjustable with one hand while riding, particularly useful to take out the slack as you sweat on warm rides and the strap loosens. It is one of the few designs that prompts the rider to automatically adjust the chinstrap each time they put it on. All of their helmets have a ring fit system with a dial adjuster. Some can be had in a sunglasses-plus-helmet combination and there are optional small LED flashers in red and white that replace the rear strap anchor for all inmolded models. The LEDs can either blink or shine continuously. The line includes six new models for 2009.

Factory Pilot -- FP -- series


Uvex has a series of helmets designated with the FP letters that they say are only for competition use. Uvex says they are not available through regular commercial channels, but puts them in their marketing materials with prices, and are a little vague about it when you meet with them in person. Four FP series helmets appear on Snell's K2005 Karting Standard list but they are listed as full face helmets, so must be a different FP series.

Uvex offers a crash replacement discount of 30% off the retail price.


Vcan


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 $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. Vcan also has skate and snow helmets.


Vigor Sports - VSI


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. You will see them under various Vigor-owned brands and sometimes produced for other brands as well. They have some models with EPU "double impact" foam as well as more conventional EPS. EPU is a crushable foam that does not recover, so we don't know what "double impact" they are referring to. If you crash in an EPU foam helmet it needs to be replaced. Vigor's 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 some additional cost and an effort to make the helmets safer that we wish more manufacturers would adopt. 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 produces the THE F-14 pictured above and the THE B-1 as well.



Vigor's accessories include a breathable helmet bag for $20 and a "drysock" designed for shoes but usable in a helmet. It contains a lot of desiccant of the type found packed in electronic gear to dry your helmet out in case you have to pack it up somewhere after a ride.

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.


X-Factor


See Kent International.


Xterra


Xterra is an decade-old triathlete racing tradition, but a new helmet brand for the 2009 season. Their helmets are made with EPU foam, and the catalog says they provide superior impact protection. They have some built-in LED lights. Some samples we saw at Interbike were not finished to perfection, but that probably reflected haste in getting ready for the show.

Xterra has plans to bring a premium line of helmets to market later in the year.


Yakkay


This Danish company sells a skate-style helmet with covers that convert it into a fashion accessory that does not look like a helmet. The looks include a tweed hat with a brim that can flip up or down, a military-style cap in tweed, orange or other colors and two others that conform to the helmet shape but have different detailing and textures. No vents in the covers. Meets the CEN standard but apparently not CPSC for the US market. Dealers are listed in a number of European countries. List price in Denmark is 299 Danish Kroner ($60 US), or 90 pounds in the UK ($135 US), but much higher for some high-fashion covers. A great concept for those who would not be caught dead in a helmet.


YoLite Industrial Co.


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 much info on them, so we do not know what standards they might meet. At the consumer level they would probably have a different brand name.


Zefal


Zefal helmets appear in the US under the Michelin brand.


Zhuhai Golex


See Golex above.


Zhuhai Safety


This Chinese manufacturer (Zhuhai Hindun Safety Helmets, also Zhu Hai Safety Helmet Manufacture Co. Ltd and Zhuhai USA Safety) has an extensive line of bicycle and BMX helmets. Most are sold by others under their brand, 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. 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 (above).


Zhuhai Star Safety


See Star Helmets above.


This article is frequently updated during the model year.





Index to Manufacturers

Abus
Aclaim
Action
Angeles
Aerogo / Lucky Bell
AGV
Alltop, Allpro (Shanghai Tung Kuang)
Alpha
Answer
Armor
Ascent
Atlas
Avenir
Azonic
Barbie
Barbieri
Bell
Bern Unlimited
Bianchi
BiOS
Briko
Bravo
Bravo Sports
Carrera
Casco
Catlike
Chrysler-Jeep
CNS - ProRider
Cratoni
Dainese
Diamondback (Avenir)
Docmeter
Ebon (Co-Union)
El Sol
Eleven81
Epsira Oy
Fang
Fisher-Price
Fly Racing
Fox Racing
Free Agent
Louis Garneau
Gear
Geartec
Giro
Gmax
Go On Sport - GOS
Golex
GPR-PLIM
Halolux
Happy Way
Headlight AB
Headstart PTY Ltd
Headstart (Malaysia)
Headstart Technologies
Helmeter
Helmets R Us
Hong Kong Sports
Hopus Technology
Hot Wheels
Ironman
J&B Importers
Jeep (see Chrysler-Jeep)
Kali
Kask
KB (KnuckleBone)
KBC
KED
Knock
Knucklebone
Kong
Kuji Sports
L.A.S.
Lazer
LED
Limar
Louis Garneau
Lucky Bell / Aerogo
MACE
Mantis
MET
Michelin (Zefal)
Mien Yow Industry
Mongoose / Pacific Cycle
Netti
Nutcase
Oktos
O'Neal (Azonic/O'Neal)
Pacific Cycle
PLIM (GPR-PLIM)
Poc
Polybid
ProRider - CNS
Pro-Tec
Pro Supergo
Prowell
Pryme
PTI
Razor
Reflectek
REM
Roar
Rudy Project
San Diego Speed
Schwinn / Pacific Cycle
Selev
Serfas
Seven 20
Shain
Shanghai Tung Kuang (Alltop, Allpro)
Shenzhen Hezhen Bicycle
Shenzhen Qukang
Sixsixone
Specialized
Spiuk
Star
Stash
Strategic Sports
Streetboardz
THE
Tirreno
Tong Ho Hsing (THH)
Trek
Troy Lee
TSG
Tung I Hsing
Tung Kuang I Light Industries
Uvex
Variflex - VFX (Bravo Sports)
Vcan
Vigor Sports
X-Games
Xterra
Yakkay
YoLite Industrial Co.
Zefal (Michelin)
Zhuhai Golex (Golex)
Zhuhai Safety
Zhuhai Star Safety