Bicycle Helmets for the 2009 Season
This is history!
Here is the current year
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
Rounder, smoother "compact," "city," "urban" or "commuter" models are still growing in number, and most manufacturers have at least one in their lineup now. The older elongated styles with long rear points are beginning to look dated. We are pleased that the fashion pendulum is swinging, and most of the newer models are fine even if not fully rounded.
A very interesting new manufacturer arrived on the scene this year: Kali. We describe their models below. They have new capabilities for molding variable density layers of foam in shells that most companies cannot equal, and it would appear that they will add some interesting new products in coming years.
The higher priced helmets have big vents, but no verifiable advantage in impact performance. You can pay more than $200 if you want to, but Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other discounters have models that meet the same CPSC impact standard at an everyday price of $10. And for about $20 to $30 they have better looking and better fitting models. All three mentioned above have a round, smooth Bell Impulse for about $25 that is molded in the shell, a high quality construction technique.
Our testing shows that the very expensive helmets and the very cheap helmets all have about the same impact protection.
Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, have taken over for most of the less expensive models. They work well for some, but not at all for others, who find that they have to tighten the ring uncomfortably to get a stable fit. You have to try them on to be sure. There are still models using fitting pads instead.
There are no new radical impact materials this year. Cascade introduced new liners in 2008 for their lacrosse and hockey helmets, but that construction has not spread to bicycle helmets yet. They use hollow bulging plastic cylinders that compress under load.
Carbon fiber is still found only in premium models, limited by variable fiber price costs. It does allow lighter construction, but there is so little of it used in a bike helmet that the weight saved is minimal except in heavy BMX helmets. Manufacturers are searching for ways to use titanium, another glamorous and expensive product that saves very little weight in a helmet. The kevlar craze is mostly behind us, but you will find some of that as well. In the 2009 economy it is not clear that high end frills will sell well.
Strap adjustment fittings--buckles and side pieces--badly need improvement. Most of them slip too easily, resulting in the "strap creep" that is responsible for many of the loose straps on many riders. We have noted the really good fittings below. You can check that when you buy just by tugging on the straps. You may have to sew your adjusted straps or snug rubber bands up under the buckles to make them hold.
Strap anchors on many helmets still stick up above the shell and are an unnecessary impediment to smooth sliding when you hit the pavement. The best helmets put the anchors below the surface of the shell, or at least recess the anchors to make a smooth surface.
Rubber finishes and a fabric finish were introduced in a few helmets in 2007, and have spread since. We do not recommend them for road use because rubber or fabric surfaces are likely to increase the sliding resistance of a helmet when it hits the pavement. We do not have lab tests yet to confirm that, but scrub one on pavement and see the difference.
We recommend looking for a helmet that:
1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.
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 Web site. We hope for a new article from them during 2009.
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.
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.
- Abus Urban-I, Lane-U (euro standard not CPSC)
- Atlas Dorado *
- Bell Citi, Variant, Deuce/Impulse/Vogue/Cruiser discount helmet
- Briko Yuma *
- Casco Warp II time trial helmet, Attack (Euro models)
- Eleven81 Crosstown
- Giro Xen, Hex and Phase
- GPR/Plim Urbanus, Vidi
- J&B Airius Commuter
- Kali Avita
- KED Event (Euro Model)
- LAS Hitek-Cycling and Compact (Euro models)
- Lazer Urbanize
- Limar 801 *
- Louis Garneau Baristo, Treelium
- Mace NOS *
- Michelin MX Urban and MX Street
- Netti Transit
- Oktos (several)
- Poc Receptor+
- Potenza Pavè
- Pro-Tec Cyphon
- Specialized Instinct
- Stash (Euro standard, folding helmet)
- THE F14 (Extra coverage)
- Uvex Urban, Magnum and XP100 (Extra coverage)
- Vcan S22-C (very similar to the * design)
- Vigor X3
- Most "skate-style" and BMX helmets (usually too hot for bicycling)
- Most toddler helmets
Consumer Reports Best Buys in 2006 still in production
- Bell Citi
- Bell Slant (has rear snag points)
- Bell Boomerang
- Schwinn Intercept youth (by PTI)
Many manufacturers now have quality molded in the shell 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 molded in the shell, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If no other information is in the writeup for each brand or model, these features are assumed:
- The typical bicycle helmet listed below is made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam with a thin plastic shell taped or glued onto the foam. Increasingly, the foam liner is molded in the shell, meaning that the shell is placed in the mold and the foam material of the liner is expanded into it, forming one solid piece. It has at least some vents, webbing straps made of nylon, polypro or a similar material, a plastic buckle, no reflective trim and either a ring fit ("one size fits all") or soft foam fitting pads inside. It may have a visor. We have a page up on visors explaining our lack of enthusiasm for them.
- BMX models are "full face" (with chinbar) and have thicker hard shells shaped like a motorcycle helmet. The chinbars typically do not have effective energy management padding. Vents are usually minimal, and there is normally a very large visor bolted firmly on, a snagging hazard.
- Downhill racing models are similar to BMX but lighter and have vents. Usually they also have minimal or no impact padding in the chinbar. Unless noted they are certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard rather than the tougher ASTM F1952 standard for downhill racing helmets.
- Chrono helmets are teardrop-shaped time trial helmets, not suitable for street riding.
- Skate style helmets are the classic round, smooth shape pioneered by Pro-Tec in the 1970's with ABS plastic hard shells and small vents. Most now have EPS liners and are certified to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard rather than the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard that requires multiple impact protection.
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.
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 Web site 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.
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.
See Lucky Bell below.
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.
See THH below.
All Pro and All Top
Alpha helmets have previously been found in the US under two brands, but not as Alpha. Some are made by Mien Yow Industries Ltd. in Taiwan. They have a line of well-rounded models led by the complex-looking Vortex and including one model with a flashing LED taillight built in. For 2002 they added the C-Tec, with squared-off ribs but a rounded shape overall. In 2003 they introduced some models that are molded in the shell, 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 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.
See Knucklebone below.
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 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 molded in the shell, others have glued shells. Nashbar and Amazon discount them heavily, starting at $15 plus shipping.
Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. We have not seen them in the US. Their Web site says their helmets meet the European CEN standard. They have 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).
- Dorado: a commuter helmet identical in appearance to the former SixSixOne AllRide, Limar 801 or Mace NOS. A round, smooth but very up-to-date design that proved that rounder helmets need not be boring. If it were certified to the CPSC standard we would be recommending that you check it out, but this version only has CEN certification. That one would be made in China, but we don't know about the rest of their line. The Dorado is molded in the shell.
- Hotshot another very well rounded adult model.
- Marlin is a BMX model with a removable chinbar.
- Drago is a child model with the "green" European child buckle that breaks more easily to avoid trapping a child on playground equipment or trees. The same helmet with a normal-strength buckle is called the Hardtop.
The Avenir brand is distributed by Raleigh. They have a variety of molded in the shell and taped-on models, mostly with moderate rear snag points, rear stabilizers, pinned-on visors, and prices ranging from about $15 to $40. Models include:
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.)
- Rush: Molded in the shell, three rear snag points. Retail is $40.
- Escape: Molded in the shell. $30.
- Sonic: Taped shell, dial fit, moderate snag point in rear, reflective material in rear. $25.
- Sonic Jr.: Toddler helmet with ring fit, dial adjustment. $15 retail.
- Ranger: Taped shell, rear snag point. $13 retail.
- Avenue: Rear snag point. $20.
- Ginger: (no info)
- Diamondback BMX Hucker: Classic skate-shaped model in glossy or matte black for $20.
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.
- 9 Series: BMX model with carbon fiber and Kevlar shell, full chinbar, retails for $300. The visor is bolted on, but the bolts are plastic and hopefully might break when you need them to in a crash.
- 3 Series: Polycarbonate plastic shell, Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Retails for $90.
- 7 Series: Another polycarbonate shell model. Meets the Snell Foundation motorcycle helmet standard. $150.
- Monster: a new BMX model for 2008, with a polycarbonate shell with no vents except in the chinbar. Has a rubber roost (debris) deflector on the facebar. Meets the Snell Foundation motorcycle helmet standard. $220, or $170 for the child size.
- Fury: BMX model with chinbar and an "injection molded fiberglass" shell with small vents. Meets the CPSC and CEN bicycle helmet standards. Retails for $90.
- Skidlid: A vented skate helmet with an ABS shell and some angular lines unlike the classic skate shape. Retails for $40 (up from $27) in matte black or gray.
Barbieri Accessories began in 1985 with a revolving brush chain cleaner, adding other accessories like carbon fiber and titanium mini pumps. Perhaps to round out their accessory line, they have a single helmet model 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 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" molded in the shell models:
- Volt: The top model in the Bell lineup for 2009. It has pronounced rear snag points, with some exposed fiberglass cloth used for reinforcing and "composite fiber intake" accents to open up larger vents. Anti-microbial padding uses silver to fight germs, something you may or may not want to be exposed to against your sweating head. You may have seen this helmet on riders from Team CSC-Saxo Bank and riders from the Crédit Agricole team in the 2008 Tour de France. With matching visor and plugs for visor holes when you don't use it. Sells for $175.
- Array: Another new 2009 design, similar to the Volt but lacking the fiber vent edges. On the plus side, the rear snag points are considerably less sharp than the Volt, so you pay less for a better external configuration. Visor and visor hole plugs. The 2009 price is $100.
- Variant: The Variant was introduced in 2007 and is pitched for mountain biking. It has the new "compact" shape without an elongated rear, and qualifies as a "rounder, smoother" helmet, but comes off as a lot more stylish than the Citi. It has top and bottom outer shells, both molded in the shell. Lots of vents. Colors are mostly muted, but there is visible white version for 2009. The Variant got a new fit system for 2009 as well. Retail price is still $90. Among Bell's high-end models this one is worth a look.
- Citi: The Citi was introduced in 2005 as the less expensive version of Bell's Metro. The Metro was overpriced, and was dropped from the line in 2008, although there are still some for sale here and there. The Citi has a very nicely rounded exterior, pitched for the commuter market, as a "townie" helmet. It is molded in the shell. Its ring fit may or may not work out well for you. (The Metro was a pad fit helmet.) The Citi is one of only four helmets rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as providing superior impact performance and awarded the Best Buy tag. It comes with plenty of vents and a visor. It has only partially recessed strap anchors. It has a useful ponytail port in the stabilizer for those with long hair. There is a flimsy "flip mirror" that folds back into the visor for storage available, and a red LED flasher that attaches to the helmet's strap in the back. This year the Citi comes in visible orange and yellow, but white has been dropped. Bell has put reflective trim on both helmet and strap. We found that the straps on the Citi would not stay in place when adjusted despite their "cam lock" side pieces, and would have to be sewn or locked with rubber bands snugged under the strap fittings to hold the adjustments, but that is a common problem. For a less expensive but equally well-rounded alternative, see the Impulse below. At $15 to $35 it is still molded in the shell, and seems like a real bargain at Wal-Mart's $25 price. Bell's retail for the Citi is still $48, but Performance had them discounted at $30 in December of 2008.
- Slant: The Slant was introduced in 2006 with mid-range pricing. It is molded in the shell with three modest snag points in the rear. The Slant was one of only four helmets rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as providing superior impact performance and awarded the Best Buy tag. Worth a look for that reason, despite the snag points. Colors include white with grey accents. Retail is $54.
- Sweep: Bell's top of the line back in 2007, with 11 choppy points on the rear giving it a porcupine effect. Molded in the shell with a lower shell, and a few bright colors. The fit system was improved for 2009. Visor. Retail is $140.
- Furio: Another of Bell's molded in the shell road models with more rounded lines than some but still sporting a snag point in the tail. No visor. Retail is $64.
- Influx: Listed as a mountain bike helmet, molded in the shell with visor and a modest rear snag point contributing to the overall elongated shape. There is a visible white option. What appears to be the same helmet is available in the Euro market as the Alchera, or with visor as the Delirium, and we have an email report from one buyer that his Alchera was certified to the CPSC standard. Retail is $64, but Performance had the US Alchera for $40 and the Delerium for $55 in December of 2008.
- Venture: The 2006 design for Bell's "entry level" $40 molded in the shell helmet, with a single snag point in the rear. The same design is known as the Solar when it has no visor, and the Vela with feminine graphics. Bell is producing an extra large size and calling it the Triton, fitting heads up to 65 cm (25.5 inches) in circumference. (See our page on helmets for large heads for more info.)All have a one-size-fits-all ring fit. Retail is still $35 for the Solar and $40 for the others with visors. The same design is also available as a "youth" helmet as the Alibi with multi-color graphic designs and a visor, retailing for $40 or as the Trigger without visor for $35. This is the least expensive molded in the shell Bell model for adults and youth sold in bike stores, and probably one of the better values in the Bell lineup, along with the Deuce/Impulse reviewed below under Bell's discount line.
- Amigo: Introduced in 2000, upgraded in 2004 to molded in the shell construction. The Amigo is a helmet for kids that is built like the one their parents use. The very nicely rounded exterior is smoother than Bell's adult helmets. Has ring fit, a rear stabilizer, visor and bug net in the vents. Retail is $30.
- L'il Bell: a toddler helmet with vents, previously known as the Half Pint and not related to the L'il Bell Shell of the 1980's and 90's. Has such a well-rounded shape that even we have no complaints. There are sticker kits available to allow kids to personalize their helmet. Retail is still $30.
- Boomerang: somewhat like the Amigo, but made for toddlers, with the additional rear coverage required by the CPSC toddler helmet standard. Looks much more like an adult helmet than the L'il Bell, and is almost as well-rounded on the exterior. Cartoon graphics. Has a soft foam visor and a no-pinch buckle tab. Retail is $30. The Boomerang was one of only four helmets rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as providing superior impact performance. It was the only toddler model with that distinction.
- Drop: A 2008 design, the Drop is a full-face downhill mountain bike racing helmet with chinbar. It has a fiberglass shell, small vents and the well-rounded shape that is traditional in BMX helmets. It also has the traditional bolted-on BMX visor, providing a potential snag point. It has a full chinbar, but like most other downhill racing helmets there is no impact foam padding in it. For this year Bell added a roost guard to keep dirt kicked up by riders ahead of you in the pack from getting into your helmet. The Drop resembles a motorcycle helmet with vents. It meets the tougher ASTM F1952 downhill mountain bike standard. Bell lists the weight as 37 ounces (2.3 lbs or 1049 gr.). Sizes run from 51 to 63 cm (20 to 24.75 inches) in circumference. Retail is $130.
- Bellistic: Another BMX/downhill racing model still in the lineup for this year. Vents are a little larger than the Drop, and it's lighter at a claimed 32 oz/907 g. But the Bellistic does not meet the ASTM F1952 downhill mountain bike standard, so its impact protection is not as good. There is one bright red and white color combination. The retail price is still $80.
- Faction: Bell's "skate-inspired" skate model is a 2004 hard shell design with a dual-density foam liner. In some previous designs this technique was used to take the sting out of lesser bumps with the softer layer, backed up by a denser layer that could still perform in the big hits. In the Faction the technique is used to provide a different liner density in the front to meet the CPSC standard while avoiding a thicker helmet. The Faction has the round, smooth exterior of the classic skate helmet, with small rectangular vents on top, front and rear. There is a nice selection of colors and graphics including visible white, matte white and magenta. This model may have dual certification to both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and the ASTM F1492 multi impact skateboard standard. See our Dual Certified page for more on that. But those we have found on the market do not have the ASTM F1492 skateboard sticker. Without the sticker it does not meet the skateboard standard. The Faction still retails for $35. For 2009 Bell added the Fraction, a scaled-down version for small heads. It sells for $40. It also claims to meet ASTM F1492 on the box, but there is no sticker in the helmet on the ones in our local stores, so the ones we have seen here do not meet the ASTM standard. We are disappointed to see that from any manufacturer.
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 molded in the shell 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 LED's 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 model 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 molded in the shell, 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 molded in the shell 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 Web site 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'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 molded in the shell 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 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 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, rollerskating, 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 Web site 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 Web site. 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 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 Web site 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 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 Web site 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 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 this page notes some distributor changes as recently as November 2008. Briko changed their line completely during 2008, so all of the models are new. All are molded in the shell. 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.
- Arrow: The top of Briko's line. An updated compact design, but still has pronounced rear snag points. Has an internal carbon fiber cage and a lower shell covers almost all of the foam in the rear.
- Flame: A compact design with smoother lines than the Arrow, but it still has a considerable rear snag point. A lower shell covers almost all of the foam in the rear.
- Wave: Another road model with lines that swoop up to a blunt snag point on the rear for a different stylistic effect. A second shell covers the rear foam.
- Spear: an elongated road model with a rear snag point.
- Yuma: a very well rounded city style design that made its debut three years ago with Six Six One. We praised it at the time as the first city helmet with pizzazz, a very stylish rendition of the rounder, smoother shape we advocate. The lower shell piece has been eliminated, but the design is still current. There is a visible white option with red stripes. This one is definitely worth your consideration. Although the Web site says it is certified to the ASTM F2040 snow sports standard and the CEN bicycle standard, the previous version with a lower shell also met CPSC.
- Alaris: An elongated road model with many vents and modest snag points both front and rear. There are very visible white and yellow options.
- Tune: A child's helmet in the adult style, with a nicely rounded shape, no snag point on the rear and fairly large vents. The front is slightly faired out for a visor effect.
- Chrono: Briko's entry in the time trial/pursuit aerodynamic helmet market. It is a new design with much larger front vents than most chrono helmets. Molded in the shell with a medium long tail and side panels over the ears. This one is certified to the European EN 1078 standard and to the ASTM F2040 snow sports standard, but apparently not to our CPSC bike helmet standard.
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 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 molded in the shell. Some are unique designs, but our descriptions come from the Web site since we have not seen any of the Casco line except for the Warp II. Their Web site 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.
- Cyclone: molded in the shell with a lower shell coming all the way down, with a rounded top profile and a compact shape but ends in a moderate but high snag point giving it a blocky appearance in the rear. Retail is $130.
- Cabrio: a normal molded in the shell helmet made truly strange by the addition of a spoiler in the rear that provides a sharp and pronounced snag point. There is a winter vent-blocking add-on shell, and another "MTB" shell that leaves the vents open but provides a visor. Retails for $100.
- Hypersonic: another molded in the shell model, with a pronounced rear snag point. Retail is $80.
- Supersonic: Carrera's best-rounded model still has a modest rear snag point. Molded in the shell. Retail is $50.
The Web site says that molded in the shell CASCO helmets with their add-on Monocoque-Inmold are heat-resistant up to 100°C (212°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.
- Warp II: an almost perfectly round and smooth track sprinter/pursuit helmet with an above-the-nose shield completing the rounding. It has no vents, costs 250 euros and only meets the CE standard, but the shape is flawless for crashing. Casco claims it is equally flawless for aerodynamics and that since the aero tails on other chrono helmets are seldom in the optimal place during track racing, they actually add wind resistance. This seems like a reaction to the aero tails that have set the fashion in bicycle helmets for the last decade, and apparently it is selling well in Europe for the riders who actually do benefit from the round aero advantage. We were surprised by the quality of the detailing on the Warp II sample we bought.
- Ares: snag points everywhere, and the roll bar visible in the center vent, retailing for 170 euros. Molded in the shell. The Mountain version has a visor. The bright red model has a color-matched red visor.
- Attack: a unique design for those who yearn for the old "hairnets" with longitudinal ribs of EPS held together by three latitudinal strips of aluminum, all attached with rivets and lined with leather. Molded in the shell. Smooth round exterior with no snag points. Available only in matte black. Retail is 240 euros.
- Daimor Mountain: molded in the shell with rear snag points, retailing for 85 euros, or 75 euros without visor as the Daimor. Also comes as the ReBELL in youth size fitting 55 to 59 cm (21.7 to 23.2 inches) or the ReBELLA for women, each selling for 65 euros.
- Viper MX: a downhill racing model in the older elongated form with a removable chinbar. Molded in the shell, with the aluminum roll bar. It retails for 100 euros plus another 60 euros for the chinbar.
- Generation 2: a helmet for all ages, with a nice shape and apparently very good coverage but a strange screwed-on perforated plate in the front. Molded in the shell. Comes in a "junior" version fitting heads as small as 50 cm (19.7 inches). Retails for 50 euros.
- Follow Me: toddler/youth helmet with a glued-on shell in sizes 47 to 57 cm (18.5 to 22.4 inches), with large front and rear vents. Retail is 26 euros.
- Mini Pro: a child helmet resembling a very colorful equestrian model, with very small vents. It has no bump-out in the rear, to make it friendly for high-backed child seats where thick helmets push the child's head forward and down. Has an anti-pinch strap. Casco's smallest helmet, fitting sizes 44 to 55 cm. Retails for 50 euros.
- Python: a molded in the shell youth helmet with the usual adult elongated shape but a minimal snag point, fitting 52 to 58 cm (20.5 to 22.8 inches)and retailing for 36 euros. This is CASCO's least expensive molded in the shell helmet.
- Ventec: molded in the shell for 43 euros, this is Casco's "value" helmet. Elongated shape but minimal snag point.
- Skiller: a classic skate model with small vents retailing for 50 euros. Among the colors are camouflage grey and black models, presumably designed to make you less visible to other road users.
Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, whose bicycle racing nickname was "the cat." All of their helmets are molded in the shell 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.
- Whisper Plus: Introduced in 2006 and updated in 2007, the Whisper has a unique nubby outer shape and many small oval vents giving an almost Swiss cheese appearance. The external shape is less than ideal, but if you want something different you will not see many of these on the road. Molded in the shell. Mountain Bike World Champion Julian Absalon wears this one. Some very visible colors including orange. Strap anchors are mostly recessed. Retail is 180 euros.
- Diablo: complete with small "horns" on the outer shell. Has rotating cam locks on the strap adjustments, but they still slip. Available in women's colors. Retails for 70 euros.
- Neon: a 2008 model with a blocky looking rear that rises to a snag point in a "ducktail" configuration. Molded in the shell with a one piece shell. Some vents that appear large on the surface neck down to a very small aperture on the inside.
- Kompact Pro: molded in the shell with a full shell wrapping around the bottom and large oval vents. Has pronounced rear snag points as well as external strap anchors sticking up. Has a nylon visor with push-point attachments. There are many graphic combinations including solid and multi colors, some highly visible, some matching team colors. There are also women's colors. Lots of reflective trim. Retails for 100 euros.
- Shield 2: an unusual helmet shaped like Giro's Xen with large oval vents. It has a "ducktail" effect in the rear, with what Catlike says is additional lower rear protection. Molded in the shell. Retail is $80.
- Tiger Plus: Toddler helmet with taped on shell. Has vents and child graphics, and a molded in visor. The retail price is 25 euros.
- Chrono Aero Plus: Catlike introduced this new chrono helmet in 2007 that they said would meet the European standard. It is molded in the shell, and fits 55 to 60 cm heads. It retails for 240 euros.
- Sakana: a 2008 road model with long vents like fish scales. Tubes link the scales at the rear with one huge oval vent back there and an extended snag point. It should retail for about 150 euros.
- Vacuum: a road model with long curved vents and tiny rear snag points. It has a two piece shell and retails for 120 euros.
- Xena: an elongated shape "entry level" helmet, with a glued on shell.
- 360 degree: a skate style helmet with larger vents than most, probably reflecting Spain's warm climate. Fits 54 to 58 cm heads.
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.
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 molded in the shell. 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.
- Terron: the top of Cratoni's line is a new 2009 design with huge vents and an unfortunate flair upward in the rear leaving a pronounced snag point. Carbon reinforcing.
- Ceron: another hyper-vented helmet with sharp shell lines and the usual rear snag points. Molded in the shell, with a lower shell as well. Uses carbon fiber reinforcements, with the bridges visible in the front shell. Ring fit, and fits longer heads well. The scarlet red version is bright and visible. Also comes as the Achillon with a pin-mounted visor. Retail for either is about $130.
- Titan Pro has an interesting style with large squared off ribs and large vents. The rear is compact and rounded although it has a bumpy profile. It is molded in the shell with three shell pieces. It also has an aluminum reinforcement in the top that forms the base for a headlight or camera mount with quick release. Cratoni has tested the mount to release when impacted with a 15 kg (33 lb.) weight dropped 80 cm (31 inches). We would want a mount that released easier than that, but at least they did design it to break away and are willing to talk about the testing. The Titan Pro retails for $100, down $30 from last year. The similar Titan without the aluminum plate or the camera/headlight mount retails for $90. Cratoni sells this helmet in Asia with pads shaped to fit Asian heads.
- C-Break: introduced during 2008, with an elongated shape made longer by the worst snag point in Cratoni's lineup. Has visible "carbon-style" cloth reinforcements that are more likely fiberglass than carbon fiber. Retails for $70.
- C-Air: introduced in 2008, the C-Air has a more compact shape with smaller rear snag points than older Cratoni designs. Strap anchors are partially recessed. A US model that retails for about 90 euros. In 2009 it also comes as the C-Air Road without visor.
- Zethos: Lots of long skinny vents and what might be described as a flat deck or spoiler sticking out at the top rear. It comes in some brighter colors, including orange. Ring fit. US model. Cratoni sells this helmet in Asia with pads shaped to fit Asian heads. Retail is $70.
- C-Daily: Introduced in 2005, and probably Cratoni's best-rounded model, with large vents, bug net in the front vents and available in an XXL model that fits up to 65 cm (25.6 inch) heads. US model. Ring fit with an adjustment for the ring level inside the helmet, and one of the helmets Cratoni sells for Asian heads with adjusted padding. This one has a blinking red LED in the rear stabilizer. Retails for $40. Cratoni has an optional "all weather kit" with a winter microshell with no vents that pins on and a set of earpads for $20 extra.
- C-Wild: kids helmet introduced in 2008, a compact and reasonably well-rounded design with minimal snag points in the rear. It retails for 50 euros. It also comes with a removable chinbar as the C-Maniac, again introduced in 2008. The chinbar is EVA padded. It meets the CPSC standard but not the ASTM F1952 downhill mountain biking standard. This one retails for 70 euros.
- Neon: Another well-rounded design, again with bug net in the vents and retailing in the US for $30 (down $10).
- Mad X: a rounded child or youth helmet with no snag points in the rear, limited vents and the ring fit system. The wedge shape slopes upward in an almost flat plane to the top, then angles down again to large square vents in the rear. US model, retailing for $30.
- Rapper: Another youth model, with more squared-off lines giving it a snazzier appearance. Has a visor effect in front and a small shelf that hangs over in the rear. Ring fit system and bug net in the front vents. There are some bright colors available this year. Includes Cratoni's rear LED flasher. US model. Retail here is $30, down $10 despite the addition of the flasher, but in Europe it's going for 45 euros.
- Whirly: a vented toddler helmet with a well-rounded shape and no rear snag point.
- Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents and ring fit. Rounded shape but has a molded in visor. Bug net in front vents. Fits heads as small as 47 cm (18.5 inches). Not a US model. Retails for about 20 euros.
- Interceptor: Cratoni's upscale downhill racing model, with full chinbar, a fiberglass/carbon fiber shell and a visor bolted on. It comes in flashy graphics or solid colors and has steel bug net protecting the front vents. Small top vents. It retails for $180. It meets both CE and US CPSC standards.
- C-Maniac: Introduced in 2008, this is a full-face downhill racing helmet with a removable chinbar.
- Ramp: Another full-face downhill racing model, with a hard shell and bolted on visor. Small top vents like the Interceptor, but better rounded. Comes in visible white. US model. Retails for $80.
- C-Project: new for 2009, Cratoni's first year with chrono models. This one has the classic chrono shape with "shoulders" in the back that taper to a very long downturned tail. Surprisingly, it has large front vents and smaller rear ones, six in all. It is molded in the shell and fits sizes 53 to 59 cm.
- C-Flow: another chrono model with a much shorter tail than the C-Project. It has large front vents and a large one in the rear as well. Again, it is molded in the shell and fits sizes 53 to 59 cm.
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 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 is a French company with a line of bicycle helmets also known as Helmeter. There are several models, including conventional mountain bike-style, molded in the shell 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 Web site. Although the Web sites 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 is made by Co-Union Industry of Taiwan. Their bike helmets are molded in the shell, 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.
The Eleven81 helmet line is distributed in the US market by Hawley Company. All are molded in the shell 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
- Cross Town: a "commuter style" helmet with a very round and smooth exterior, reflective plug in the rear and a ring fit system. Molded in the shell with two shells. Visor. Pastel colors and a visible white option. This is the most remarkable model in the Eleven81 line. It has been their best seller in the past and retails for $45.
- Open Road Pro: a road helmet with a compact rounded rear treatment with only modest snag points. Molded in the shell with a double shell. Ring fit, and the side strap pieces slip too easily to hold good adjustment. Visor. Retail is about $45 to $50.
- Open Road: a road model different from the Open Road Pro, with one elongated snag point in the rear. Molded in the shell with single shell and the ring fit system. Retail is about $36.
- Open Road Child's has a glued on shell and is not really the same model as the adult version, but has the rear overhang. Vents. $25 retail.
- Half Pint Toddler: a toddler helmet with vents and glued-on shell. It has a rounded shape but an elongated front to form a visor. Retails for $25.
- Pot Hole: a skate style helmet with a wrap-around ridge added for style. CPSC certified only, not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Comes in visible red and white. Retail is about $35.
- Err Head: a classic round, smooth skate-style helmet with small round vents in front and small tear-shaped vents on top. CPSC certified only. Comes in visible white and red. $30 retail.
See Bravo above.
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. Their Yad model below is still our nominee for the strangest shape of any helmet design on the Web, with a huge bumpout in back that we would not recommend for its shape.
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 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 Web site.
Etto is a Scandinavian manufacturer with 19 helmet models on their Web site. Some are interesting designs, but unfortunately they are never seen in the US. The Web site 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 Web site and their current helmet catalog.
- Hurricane: Molded in the shell with large vents, rear snag points and visible carbon fiber reinforcing.
- Typhoon: Molded in the shell with a very long snag point on the rear. Ring fit.
- On edge: molded in the shell with many small rear snag points. Ring fit.
- Cyclone: one of Etto's newer designs, molded in the shell with a little tab on the rear that appears as if it were added as an afterthought to make sure there was a snag point. Huge vents. Nice visible yellow available. Ring fit.
- Coolhead: molded in the shell with many vents and a modest snag point in the rear. Ring fit.
- Tornado: Molded in the shell with a wedge shape and modest rear snag points.
- Vortex: Molded in the shell with interior reinforcing and a nicely rounded shape for those with very large heads, fitting up to 64 cm. Ring fit. Black.
- Esperito: molded in the shell, with rounded lines that are chopped off flat in the back. Ring fit.
- FX-2: molded in the shell, nicely rounded with a minimal rear point.
- Storm: A 2007 model with taped-on shell. It has an elongated shape and overhang in the rear, with deep grooves and an aggressive looking V on the surface pointing forward. There is also a molded in the shell version called the Thunderstorm.
- Twister: youth helmet with taped on shell with rounded lines and a visor effect in front.
- Kolibri: molded in the shell women's model, nicely rounded with a minimal rear point.
- Mosquito: molded in the shell youth helmet with nicely rounded lines. Ring fit. Also comes in a Mosquito Girl female color scheme. Padded buckle to prevent pinching.
- Freesbee: child/youth helmet with a taped on shell, nicely rounded lines, good vents and ring fit. The model was called the Freesbee because it was intended to be equipped with a unique buckle-release system to open the buckle hydraulically if the child was "hung" on playground equipment or a tree for more than a few seconds. That apparently is still on hold for further development and Etto is selling it with a standard buckle.
- Ettino: vented toddler helmet with rounded lines and taped on shell. Fits heads as small as 41 cm, the smallest helmet advertised by any producer. Shaped like an adult helmet, so it is not likely to meet the coverage requirements of the CPSC standard for US sale. Padded buckle to prevent pinching. Ring fit. Has a visor. May require that a child in a trailer or high-backed child seat have a thick pad behind the child's back to prevent the rear section of the helmet from pushing the child's head forward and down. If you are searching for a helmet this small, please see our page on taking your baby along.
- Psycho: classic skate style helmet with a hard ABS shell and the usual small vents. Round vents in the front. Comes in chrome, colors and a "psycho" graphic with a skull and bones. Pad fit. Reflective material on the back. Etto also produces it for water sports with a neoprene liner replacing the EPS. They don't recommend that one for bicycling.
Etto dealers will replace crashed and damaged helmets "at only a small part of the cost."
Fly Racing has a line of motorcycle BMX racing equipment, including full face helmets. All have bolted on visors, but at least the screws are plastic rather than metal, and would be more likely to break off when you need them to, rather than jerking your neck. If you want another snag point, Fly will sell you a rear fin to add to your helmet. It mounts without screws or glue, so hopefully would pop off in a crash. 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.
- Formula: Fly's new top of the line for 2009, a BMX/Motocross crossover helmet with a carbon fiber and kevlar shell, small vents, stainless steel vents and titanium visor screws. This one meets the both the DOT motorcycle helmet standard and the tougher Snell Foundation M2005 standard. Retail is $440.
- Renaissance: introduced in 2008, with a carbon fiber/kevlar shell with a new chinpiece designed to promote air flow. Meets both DOT and Snell M2005 standards. Variable width cheek pads are available for comfort. Retails for $260, or $230 in plain white.
- Trophy: introduced in 2008, with two fins on top spoiling the round smooth shape and no vents. Meets both DOT and Snell M2005 standards, with a new chinpiece designed to promote air flow. Retail is $140.
- Gmax GMX-36X: polycarbonate shell, no vents, meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Retails for $70.
- Gmax GM-36Y Youth: Polycarbonate shell, smaller and lighter youth size. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. $70 retail.
- Gmax GMX-46X: Polycarbonate shell, comes in four shell sizes from Youth Small to Adult extra large. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Retails for $80 to $90.
- Gmax GMX-46Y: smaller and lighter youth version of the GMX-46X. Retails for $80. The Special Edition models come in pink, yellow and orange.
- Chaos: BMX and downhill racing model with full-face fiberglass shell with small vents and radical graphics. CPSC certified. Retails for $90.
- Kinetic: New in 2009, with vents protected by exterior and interior stainless steel mesh. Roost deflector. Retails for $90 and Fly expects it to sell well.
Fox Racing has BMX and skate style helmets to compliment their line of racing accessories.
- Rampage: a downhill racing model with more coverage in the rear than most bicycle helmets, introduced in 2007. It has a full face chinbar. Retail is $130, up $10 from last year.
- Flux: introduced in 2007, the Flux is a skate style helmet with large vents. It is molded in the shell with a two-piece shell and a "spoiler" in the rear. Retail is $100.
- Transition: a new 2008 design available after February, a skate style helmet with small rectangular vents and a round smooth shape. Comes in visible white. Retails for $50.
Fox helmets come in sizes from 18 3/8" to 25 3/4". Fox has other models on their Web site that are promoted for motorcycle use. Their crash replacement policy is a consumer-direct 30 percent discount off the retail price.
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 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.
- Team: has an elongated shape with one modest rear snag point. Molded in the shell with a two piece shell and partially recessed strap anchors. Ring fit. Retails for $52.
- Crosstown: another molded in the shell model, but the strap anchors are not recessed. Reasonably rounded rear. Ring fit. Retail is $42. Comes in a police model as well.
- Blaster: taped shell and ring fit. Retail is $34.
- Lil' Fuji: a vented toddler helmet with a taped shell and a tabbed buckle to prevent skin pinching. It should retail for $24.
See Louis Garneau below under "L"
See Headstart below.
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 Web site never materialized.
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.
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 molded in the shell, 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.
- Ares: pronounced rear snag point, carbon fiber bridge showing and internal reinforcement, full wrap microshell. Three sizes fitted with pads. Retails for $108.
- Ixion: another pronounced snag point, this time with an aluminum bridge and internal reinforcing, full wrap shell, lever-flip strap locks and nice internal strap anchors. Three sizes fitted with pads. The women's model is the Athena. Retail for either is $80.
- Orion: pronounced snag point, recessed strap anchors in the full wrap shell. Ring fit, lavender for women. The larger version is called the Heracles, fitting up to 62 cm heads. Retail is $54.
- Talos: moderate snag point, ring fit with a dial adjuster. Molded in the shell, with nice internal strap anchors. Retail is $38.
- Scion: youth helmet, new for 2005. Has ring fit and a rear snag point. Retails for $38.
- Skeeter/Jewel: youth model, ring fit system, with taped-on shell and a very small snag point in the rear. Retail is $25.
- Pup: toddler model, very round and smooth, retails for $25.
- Vault: skate model with ABS hard shell and EPS liner. Has two front vents and comes in black, white, pink and blue. Retail is $25.
- Prolight: Actually a 2010 model, probably not available in stores before then, and we have not seen it yet. This is Giro's new top of the line. They revived the Prolight name first used in 1988 for the original no-shell model designed by Jim Gentes, and claim that it weighs less than the original Prolight did in size small, but the original would not have met the CPSC standard and had only 9 small vents. Unfortunately the new Prolight has the rear snag points of Giro's 2000-era top models. This is the helmet you may have seen make its debut on Lance's head in the 2009 Tour de France. It has a new fit system that Bell Sports' ads say is self-adjusting, so it may be similar to the True Fit system first made available on Bell's low cost models in 2009. We will have more on it in Helmets for 2010 when that page is up.
- Ionos: the top of the line model introduced in 2008 is a hyper-ventilated, technical looking design that appears to be multi-layered and has exposed woven fiberglass cloth accents. The Ionos has a compact shape but pronounced rear snag points. Prototypes were worn by three teams in the 2007 Tour de France. There are some nice bright color combinations, and some are coordinated with the Advantage 2 chrono helmet. Giro's catalog says it is cooler than the Atmos and cooler than a bare head. Retail is a cool $230, up $5 this year.
- Atmos: This was Lance Armstrong's helmet in 2004. The Atmos has interior reinforcing, exterior carbon fiber reinforcing and an extensive three-piece shell molded on. All that is primarily to permit opening up bigger vents while still meeting the CPSC standard, not necessarily improving the impact performance above prior levels. Bicycling magazine named the Atmos tops in cooling (along with the 2004 Specialized S1) in its January/February 2005 issue. In addition to several moderate snag points in the rear, this model has forward facing points in the middle. We would avoid this one for that feature if no other, since it contributes nothing at all to the function of the helmet. Uses fit pads. Retail is still $175 but discounts are available on the Web.
- Saros: new for 2009. Although the Giro catalog describes it as "the sleek, contemporary style and subtle silhouette," there are still snag points on the rear, and partially recessed strap anchors. This one has a three piece shell covering all the foam. Uses fit pads. Retail is $120, or it comes as the Athlon for $130 with visor.
- Stylus: Introduced in 2007, this one has the rounded exterior of the compact shape, with minimal rear snag points. Uses fit pads. The least expensive high-end Giro helmet. Retail is $85.
- Xen: The Xen (pronounced zen) has a nicely rounded shape while retaining the huge Giro vents. It seems to have skate helmet coverage until you put it on and position it in front, when the extra side or rear coverage turns out to be mostly an illusion. The shell is a full wrap-under. For 2008 Giro introduced a "fabric" finish with the look and feel of canvas. That's a fashion gimmick that probably increases the helmet's sliding resistance in an impact on pavement, potentially adding to strain on your neck and g's to your brain. We would recommend sticking with plastic shells. For 2009 there are brighter color choice, with matte gold and "matte white digi camo." The Xen retails for $130.
- Hex: introduced in 2006, a reasonably rounded "trail riding" helmet with a shape similar to the Xen. It is not really smooth, but has a compact profile with minimal rear snag points. Dull matte colors. Retails for $85.
- Phase: new for 2009, a compact shape design with the nicely rounded profile that we favor, similar to the Hex but with many smaller vents. Worth a look if you want a reasonably priced high-end Giro. Retails for $75.
- Havoc: The Havoc was Giro's roundest, smoothest high-end model in prior years, and their earliest with the compact shape. The rear snag point was almost eliminated in this model. The Havoc has external strap anchors marring that otherwise improved outer shell line with a potential friction point. Very large vents, molded-in upper and lower shell. Retails for $64.
- Animas: The Animas has the usual rear snag point and a two piece molded shell. It retails for $105.
- Rift: Introduced in 2008, this is the mid range molded in the shell Giro model with a more rounded shape than other Giro road/mountain models with just one modest snag point. Plenty of vents. Ring fit. The same Giro strap fittings that slip on other models seem to hold securely on this one. Comes in bright red and visible white. Retails for $54.
- Indicator: the least expensive Giro model at $40 has a pronounced rear snag point, but at least the strap anchors are recessed under the shell. Has a ring fit system. Also comes in a "women's" model called the Skyla. Without a visor, it's the Transfer at $30, the lowest adult price point for a Giro and still molded in the shell. In youth size it is the Flume, fitting down to 19.75 inches (50 cm) or the Phantom in pink flowers and sells for $38. If you prefer a big rear snag point and the elongated shape that seems to be on its way out, this one may not be around much longer.
- Atlas II: the extra large Giro model, now rated 1 cm larger to fit 59 to 64 cm (23.25 to 25.2 inch) heads, and retained in the line as the Giro line's largest helmet. Still the elongated shape, with a snag point in the rear. Retail is $40.
- Flak: A skate-style model with ABS hard shell, small vents and good coverage. Plain colors or a very visible acid yellow. Meets only CPSC, not the skateboard standard. Retail is $35. For 2008 there is no extra charge for graphics or pastel colors.
- Rodeo: A "youth" helmet for kids who are old enough to pedal. Nicely rounded except for a front overhang providing a rigid visor. Has the universal ring fit system for parents who want a quick fit and no worries about head growth. Bug net in the front vents. The shell is taped on, not molded. Retails for $30. In the smallest size it becomes the Me2, a toddler helmet with a different fit system. Said to have a low profile in the rear to permit a more natural seating position in trailers, where thicker helmets can push a kid's head forward unless they have a pad behind their back. Fits down to 48 cm (18.75"). Retail is $30.
- Remedy: A downhill racing helmet with a motorcycle-style chinbar. It got new graphics for 2009. No longer advertised as meeting the ASTM F1952 Downhill Mountain Bike Racing standard. It has a nicely rounded exterior, marred only by the industry-standard bolted on visor, and is well vented for this type of helmet. There is a minimal amount of EVA foam padding in the chinbar. It retails as the Remedy in fiberglass for $130 weighing 1050 gr (37 oz.) or for $270 as the Remedy CF with carbon fiber weighing 900 gr (32 oz.).
- Advantage 2: A 2007 design and a welcome addition to the Giro lineup, their first chrono time trial helmet meeting the US CPSC standard. (Giro's previous Advantage model had been sold only in Europe.) Molded in the shell with five small vents and the usual long chrono tail. Like all chrono helmets, it only makes sense for time trial riders or track use, when your coach tells you it's needed. For 2009 there are matching graphics and colors for the Advantage 2 with the Ionos road helmet. Retails for $160.
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.
See Fly Racing above.
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 molded in the shell, and some have two-piece full wrap shells. They are manufactured in China. Their Web site says "under construction." Their products are available through Sportz Australasia Pty Ltd.
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 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. You can see at least one of their interesting new designs in this patent. We do not have pricing for GPR. Their models include:
- Urbanus: a round, smooth commuter-style helmet with glued on shell and ring fit system. Bug net in front vents, and a kit is available with ear warmers and vent plugs. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Bike Helmet (Adults): molded in the shell with four shell pieces, rear snag point, ring fit. Bug net in front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Spina: molded in the shell with a moderate snag point, visor, ring fit. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Venimos: molded in the shell with two shell pieces, recessed strap anchors, many vents, visor, ring fit. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Virtus: glued on shell but still has external strap anchors in the front, many small vents, rear snag point, visor, ring fit. Bug net in front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Veni: youth model with glued on shell, bug net in front vents, CPSC as well as CEN certification. Two sizes fit 46 to 56 cm heads.
- Vidi: glued on shell, very round and smooth with only seven vents, visor. Bug net in front vents. Certified to CPSC as well as the CEN standard.
- Vici: (completes the veni, vidi, vici model series) glued on shell with fewer but much larger vents. Bug net in front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Aventicum II: glued on shell, well rounded profile, visor. Bug net in front vents. Two shell sizes accommodate up to 62 cm heads. Certified to CPSC as well as the CEN standard.
- Caddy: child helmet with six vents, bug net in front vents and certified only to the CEN standard.
- X: classic skate style helmet with hard ABS shell, small vents, pad fit, CEN certification.
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 molded in the shell, 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.
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets. All are fully molded in the shell models, including the D2 and the Vivid for adults and a G6 model for toddlers. They are near the $40 retail level. Adding a rear stabilizer or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a half each. The EPU makes the helmet a little heavier than an EPS helmet, but some consumers like the solid feel of 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.
Happy Way Enterprises
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.
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.
This Headstart is located in Malaysia, and should not be confused with the Canadian manufacturer called Headstart Technologies or the Australian company above. When we last heard, Malaysia's Headstart was represented by Damar in New York. We are not familiar with their helmets.
This formerly Canadian manufacturer and user of EPP foam 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.
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).
Helmets R Us (formerly Century Cycles)
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.
Hong Kong Sports
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 molded in the shell, and a unique fiberglass model that is molded in the shell. 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 a molded in the shell 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:
- EX-9: molded in the shell with a fiberglass shell, the first we have seen of that combination. It has stainless steel mesh internal reinforcing. The shape is elongated, with a small snag point.
- A-4 Plus, A-6 Plus, E-2 Epoch, Ex-1 Extreme and Ex-5 Extreme: road-style helmets, all molded in the shell, and all featuring a lower shell for full coverage. They have a nicely rounded shape with minimal rear snag points. The A-6 Plus is the top of the Hopus line at $75. It has aluminum mesh molded into the shell that also provides bug net for the vents.
- A-8 Plus and Elf-1 Elf: polycarbonate hard shell bike helmets with very nicely rounded lines. Both are molded in the shell.
- B-1 Bravo: An unusual molded in the shell toddler helmet with vents, fitting sizes as small as 50 cm.
- MF-2, MF-5, MF-6, MF-7, MF-8 and MF-9 May Flower: all skate style models that debuted in 2004, with similar hard shells but variations in the vents. They are molded in the shell with hard polycarbonate shells, a unique combination. They have the well-rounded shape of skate helmets. The MF-2 Classic is a snow series model for winter sport use with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear. It is certified to the ASTM F2040 snow sport standard as well as the CPSC and CEN bike standards, so it is a true multi-sport helmet. Can be had with very visible flame graphics and a nice metallic orange.
- FSK Free Skating a hard shell skate-style helmet with an ABS shell and EPS foam liner.
- MF-3 Avenger: is billed as a multi-sport helmet and available as a "snow series" model with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in back, although it is advertised as meeting only the CPSC and CEN bicycle helmet standards, not ski helmet standards. Has a very round smooth skate-style shape, and the ABS hard shell, with more vents than the MF-2 below. There is a very visible metallic yellow model. Retails for $20 to $40.
- AG-2 Argo: is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with a hard ABS shell and minimal vents. It is molded in the shell. Has a snow series model for winter sport use with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear.
- MI-4 Mission: is a skate-style helmet with angular vents and a mostly round and smooth outer shape. Has inflatable airbag rear pads. Certified to the CPSC and European bike helmet standards.
- D-1 Diki: a rare child helmet with ABS hard shell. Has vents and an overhang in front to provide a partial visor. The XS fits heads as small as 52 cm.
Hopus has sizes in most models to fit 50 to 62 cm heads, but some models only go to 60 cm. This company is your best bet if you are looking for a bike-style helmet with a hard shell. You can contact them through their Web site to ask who sells their helmets in your market.
Ironman has eight models, all with rear snag points, large vents and ring fit systems. All are molded in the shell 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 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 molded in the shell 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.
- Kona PS-2 Series: for bike shops and running shops, selling for $160. Includes some carbon fiber internal reinforcing and some on the surface, but on the sample we saw it was not impregnated with resin, so would add little strength. Elongated design with small sharp rear points. Comes with a carrying case.
- Endura SC-1: introduced in 2007, an elongated design with a two piece shell wrapping under and three small snag points. This one has a good patch of reflective material with multi-angled surfaces. Retails for $40.
- Pro KR-4 Series: for Big Box stores, selling for $80. Has a second wrap-under shell and some reflective surfaces using the same technology Kuji uses for the Reflectek line. More compact shape with a sharp dropoff at the rear. With the ILS lighting system it sells for $100.
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 molded in the shell 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.
- Avita: an unconventional model with what appears to be extended coverage, with a reasonably rounded compact shape exterior that has just hints of rear snag points. The appearance is dominated by big blocky vents. The shell is a mix of carbon fiber or fiberglass and polycarbonate materials. We wish we had test results on this one. There is a white option. Retail is $190 for the carbon fiber version and $140 for the fiberglass model.
A classic skate shape helmet with the dual-density liner, small vents and either fiberglass and composite shell, making it a very high-end skate helmet. Unfortunately the pricing is high end as well. And it is not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard, just to the CPSC bike helmet standard. Retail is $99 for the fiberglass model in white or $140 for the carbon fiber shell model in black. That is more than $100 more than the typical skate helmet.
A non-vented full-face motorcycle, BMX or downhill helmet, certified to the DOT motorcycle standard. Has the usual large, stiff visor, bolted on. Retails for $150.
A vented full-face downhill mountain bike helmet, although it is certified only to CPSC, not the ASTM F1952 downhill mountain bike racing helmet standard. Has the requisite stiff visor bolted on. The shell is ABS. We don't know if it has the dual-density liner or not. The retail price is $150.
- Aatma: A full face motorcycle or motocross helmet that meets the DOT motorcycle standard. Dual-density foam liner, molded in the fiberglass shell. Retails for $300.
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 Web site, Kask bike helmet models for 2009 include:
Accessories include a winter cap and a storage bag. Their Web site 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.
- KK-10 Race: Road model with snag points both front and rear. Ring fit. Reflective material on the rear and on strap clips. The Race MTB version has a visor.
- KK-50 : Road model with three rear snag points advertised as "wings in thermoplastic material to ensure effective shock resistance and aerodynamic quality." The medium size fits 48 to 58 cm while the large goes up to 62 cm.
- KK-60 Freerider: A skate-style model with four narrow vents across the top. Ring fit. Polycarbonate shell. Fits 52 to 62 cm in two shell sizes. With a face shield it becomes the KK-70 City Bike De Luxe with an optional inner cap in plaid cloth. In junior size it is the KK-80 Junior fitting 52 to 57 cm heads.
- KK-41 Downhill: Downhill racing or BMX model with full chinbar, visor and fiberglass shell. Vented, with at least one vent adjustable. Bright graphics on some models.
- KK-31 Crono: A long-tailed chrono model for time trialing. It has a smooth rubber edge and the ring fit system fits sizes 53 to 61cm.
Abbreviation for Knucklebone below.
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. Here is 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 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 molded in the shell. 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 Web site emphasizes that the helmets are made in Germany. Models for 2009 include:
- Stingray: introduced in 2007, with a squared off rear profile and a pronounced snag point. LED flasher.
- Neo: a lumpy exterior design with rear snag points. There is also a Neo Visor model at a higher price. LED flasher.
- Champion: pronounced rear snag point, very large vents, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification. Retail is $100. With visor it becomes the Champion Visor.
- Fazer: road model with another lumpy outer shell with large front vents and rear snag points. Bug mesh in the vents. LED flasher. Also available in youth size as the Fazer Jr.
- Zenith: road model with a very large rear vent, bug mesh and a somewhat reduced snag point in the rear. Replaced the Xantos. LED flasher.
- Spiri: road model with another lumpy outer shell with large front vents and rear snag points. Bug mesh in the vents. LED flasher.
- Street: elongated road model with a more rounded rear treatment than most of the KED line, with a slightly upswept tab but minimal snag point. Also comes as the Street Jr for youth. LED flasher.
- VS: elongated but nicely rounded design with a minimal snag point. LED flasher.
- City: elongated road model but better rounded than some with an upswept rear snag point. Certainly not a classic city or commuter shape. KED's largest model, with the XXL fitting sizes 60 cm to 64 cm+ (23.6 to 25.2+ inches).
- Joker: nicely rounded road helmet with double shell protecting lower edges and the LED flasher. Available in flower or star graphics.
- Flitzi: another rounded road style, pitched for youth. Has the LED flashers.
- Swingo: youth size helmet with small vents, ring fit and LED flashers.
- Meggy: toddler helmet with good-sized vents and both CE and CPSC certification "only for American market." LED flasher. There are some versions with licensed cartoon character graphics.
- Freeride: a classic skate helmet with small oval vents. No LED flasher.
- Downhill: a 2009 downhill racing model with a chinbar. It has vents and a visor, CEN certified.
- Zeitfahren: Chrono model for time trial and pursuit that looks like a regular bike helmet but is smooth-skinned with no vents in front, and two large vents in the rear.
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.
See Razor below.
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.
- Campione: a road helmet designed to appeal to racers, molded in the shell with a double shell. It retails for $120.
- Stilbé GT Chrono: a long-tail chrono model with six slot vents in front and three in the rear. It is tight around the ears to reduce air turbulence, but that can produce painful ear rubbing for some riders. Retails for $150.
- Corazza: another chrono model, with a shorter tail than the Stilbé, no front vents. Retails for $120.
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.
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 molded in the shell, 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, molded in the shell with pronounced rear snag points and selling for about $30.
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 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 is a Chinese company whose Web site says they ship over 3 million helmets to the US every year, but you have not seen their brand here because the helmets are made for other companies. They have many models in bicycle styles, including molded in the shell 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 (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, who have a catalog of 2009 US models that works better than the LAS Web site. LAS has some radical designs, with the emphasis on style. There are some nice bright colors available and finish quality is good. The Trialtir Web site says the helmets are "100% made in Italy." Models include:
- Haxial: Top of the line model with many long narrow vents and several rear snag points. Ring fit. Cheap-looking external strap anchors stick up above the shell. Has the European style bug netting in front vents in cotton and aluminum. There are bright red and white color options as well as a beautiful gold. Retail is $205. Also available with a unique flat aluminum shelf they call an "aerator" mounted about a half inch above the shell that is supposed to direct air into the vents. We do not understand how that could meet the CPSC standard for projections with the front edge of that shelf sticking up, but they have documents to prove that a reputable test lab in the US has certified them. We would recommend avoiding it anyway for the possible snag hazard. Cost of the aerator is $30 to $90 depending on finish.
- Bionix: another truly unique innovation in helmet design, the Bionix has what appears to be a second shell overlapping from the rear of the helmet.
The increase in forward-facing potential snag points is stunning, not to mention the huge rear overhang. Ring fit, available in the US. Retail is $215, $45 higher than last year. Another one to avoid.
- Victory: a 2009 design with a compact shape, but it still has multiple rear snag points. There is a visible white option.
- Kripton: molded in the shell with pronounced rear snag points. Ring fit system. Available in the US market. Bright yellow and white options are available. Retails for $130.
- Squalo: molded in the shell with sharp sculpted lines and grooves suggesting a helmet for Frodo, with peaks sticking up at the top. Rear snag points, two shell sizes fitting 52 to 63 cm (20.9 to 24.8 inches) heads. Has silver-impregnated liner material to retard bacterial growth. The 2009 model with wrap-under shell retails for $190, while the old 2008 model is being sold out for $180.
- Istrion: the LAS compact model, with reduced snag points and ring fit, available in the US, retail $180.
- Esprit II: another compact model, this time the best rounded design in the LAS line. Retail is $80.
- Sky-S: another compact design, with one high snag point in the rear and lots of vents.
- Hitek-Cycling: a "city helmet" with a round profile, but long vertical vents and graphics not like other commuter helmets. Molded in the shell with external strap anchors. Visor, with a rounded profile to fit the helmet style. There is a visible white option. This one is CEN certified and not available in the US market.
- Compact: the roundest, smoothest helmet in the L.A.S. line, promoted for rollerblading as well as cycling. Ring fit, available in the European market. Retail should be about $80.
- Roadspeed: a vented toddler model with an extra small 45 cm (17.7") minimum head size for the "Baby" model. Meets CEN European standards for bicycling and equestrian use. Not available in the US. See our page on taking your baby along before you look for this helmet! Our page on tiny helmets has more.
- Chrono: time-trial aero helmet with a polycarbonate shell, no front vents and an integrated clear partial front face shield. Very long tail to reach the rider's back, with a slight shoulder hump. Certified to both the CPSC and CEN standards. Ring fit for 54 to 61 cm (21.3 to 24.0 inches) heads. Retail is $250 this year.
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 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.
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.
- Urbanize: introduced in 2008, Lazer's city helmet is round and smooth except for a bumped out integral visor in front. It looks more like an equestrian helmet than a bike helmet, but has long rectangular vents. Molded in the shell with a one piece shell. Comes in visible white, as well as pink and some drab colors. Ring fit. Retails for $80. With a blinking LED light set into the front and back vents it becomes the Urbanize N'Light, for night use "without you looking like a biking torch." We don't understand why the Lazer catalog touts this as "the world's first urban fashion bike helmet," but it's worth a look. Retail is $100.
- Helium: a new road model for 2009, the Helium is actually an update of the 2006 Genesis model, a high end helmet molded in the shell with multiple shell pieces wrapping around the lower foam sections. It has fiberglass reinforcing. The Helium has a dual-density foam liner that reduces the weight by a claimed 40 grams. Both models have an elongated shape with rear snag points and three forward facing points as well. It has a ring fit system adjusted with a toothed wheel at the top rear that turns a long screw. Retail is $220. The Genesis continues as before, with a single density liner still retailing for $175. Even though the Helium and Genesis are CPSC certified, we would avoid them because of the snag points and the hard wheel that sticks up on the Lazer adjustment system. We would not want to crash on that spot. In mountain bike trim with visor it is the Genesis XC at $180 retail.
- O2: a new 2009 helmet using a model name that Lazer has used before for another helmet, the O2 has pronounced rear snag points, big vents and the external wheel adjustment that we think should not be on the surface of a helmet. The larger of the two sizes will not be available until the Spring of 2009, and will fit up to 64 cm heads. Retail is $110.
- Blade 2 RD: updated for 2008, an elongated model with a five-part shell that comes all the way down the rear, very large vents, and the usual rear snag points. A flat part of the internal reinforcing crosses one front vent, giving the appearance of a blade (and restricting airflow) for fashion. The strap anchors are nicely recessed. With visor it is the Blade 2 XC.
- Nirvana: a new 2009 model with more points sticking out in all directions than any other Lazer helmet. It has the external roller to adjust, and a three piece molded shell. We would pass this one by due to all those external points.
- 2X3M ("too extreme") Molded in the shell, with a rear snag point, and a lower shell added in 2008. Without visor it was once known as the O2, but for 2009 there is a new O2 model, and the visor-less 2X3M is now the 2X3M Sport. There is also the older X3M model, without the lower shell, but with visor and listed as a "value" model. It has Lazer's older fit system and is good for narrower heads.
- Tempo: a new 2009 "value" model that is only certified to the CEN standard and will not be seen in the US. Molded in the shell with a one piece shell. Big vents, ring fit.
- Compact: another 2009 value model, this time with a glued on shell rather than molded. Rounded shape. Meets the CPSC standard.
- Magma XC: an elongated model, molded in the shell with four shell pieces providing full coverage, including the rear snag points. Has three forward facing snag points along the surface. The external strap anchors are painted in this model. Ring fit. The extra large Big Magma XC fits up to 64 cm (25.2 inch) heads. There is a "weather cap" for cold weather.
- Krux: a skate style or BMX helmet that we have not seen yet. Lazer intends to introduce a variation later in the year for the commuter market.
- Max: a well-vented toddler helmet with cute graphics, some reflective, and bug net in the vents. The Max Dolphin and Max Shark models have a fin on the top, a potential snag point that seems unnecessary in a helmet that already has a rigid visor molded in to snag on. Also comes as the Max Deluxe with a different fitting system. US/Australian model. It retails for $30, or an extra $5 for the models with the fin.
- Junior: introduced in 2008, a vented, molded in the shell youth model for ages 5 to 10, round and smooth except for an extension in the front to form a visor. Has an LED blinker in the rear stabilizer.
- SMX: unvented downhill racing model with vented chinbar and a carbon fiber shell. Bolted on visor, of course. Flexible debris deflector (roost shield) on the chinbar. New for 2009, but may just be a name change. Meets the US DOT motorcycle standard.
- Excalibur: BMX full face model resembling the Factory Rider without the unnecessary fin, giving it a nicely rounded exterior. Fiberglass shell. Euro model. Available in white. Retails for $250.
- One a classic skate helmet with EPS liner meeting the CPSC standard. There are new graphics in 2008 including visible white and yellow, and even a yellow tweed. Retail is $30.
- Cool: great name for a skate model with four tiny rectangular vents. Visible white. Certified to CPSC.
- Bullet: introduced in 2008, a chrono-shaped helmet with a longer tail than the Chrono 3 and a few long, narrow vents. The black shell looks like carbon fiber but is not. Ring fit.
- Tardiz: originally named for Dr. Who's time machine, but the s at the end has become a z. A chrono model with a water intake used to replenish an evaporative cooling system, just in case you don't sweat enough in your almost unvented time trial helmet. Dual shell enables a dimpled rear section that burbles air like a dimple golf ball for better aerodynamics. When it reached the market the price will be $175.
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 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 molded in the shell 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.
- Pro 104: Introduced in 2008, billed by Limar as "the world's lightest helmet" and claimed to be 180 grams. Molded in the shell with large vents, round and smooth shell, probably not available in the US if that weight is correct. Retail is 100 euros.
- 969 Carbon: Limar's top of the line in 2007, this one is an elongated design with a two piece molded shell with "carbon inserts." It is nicely rounded with only a modest snag point. Retail is $150.
- 911: the top of Limar's line when introduced in 2004. It is molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell. Although it has angular lines, it is reasonably well-rounded and the rear has small snag points. Many narrow longitudinal vents, some very small, give it a stylish look.
- 910: molded in the shell with a three piece shell and the pointiest rear snag point in Limar's line. Very large vents including a heart-shaped one in the front that leaves an unfortunate point there. The strap anchors are recessed into the grooves in the shell, and there are some bright colors including orange. The front vents are designed to work with the visor. Retail is $150. Without the visor it comes as the Carbon 909 Road and retails for $130.
- 908: molded in the shell with a two piece shell. Sloping front and rear give a somewhat angular wedge shape rather than a curved top. Rear snag points. Some bright colors. Retail price is $110.
- 907: molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell. The retail price is $100.
- 801: a commuter-style helmet, molded in the shell with a full two piece shell. It has rounder, smoother lines and is the shape we recommend. We praised this helmet in our 2005 review (when the same design also sold as the SixSixOne All Ride) as the best looking commuter design we had seen. Has bug net. Pastel colors, none very visible. Ring-fit. It retails for $80, $10 more than Mace sells it for as their NOS. Also available from Atlas as the Dorado.
- 747: molded in the shell with elongated vents and a cat ear effect from the two rear snag points. Retails for $80 with visor, or for $75 as the 737 without visor.
- Big One: looks like the 747 but is a little different in the back. Comes only in XXL size to fit heads from 59 to 63 cm.
- 720: molded in the shell including a lower shell. Long narrow vents in the front. Small but sharp rear snag point. Retail is $96.
- 550: fewer but very large front vents, molded in the shell with wrap under shell piece. Small rear snag point. Ring fit. This one retails for $75. With visor it is the 575, and retails for 55 euros.
- 520: molded in the shell with angular lines and modest rear snag point. Ring fit. 45 euros retail. In youth size it is the 515.
- 510: A youth model, molded in the shell with a rear snag point and a lumpy exterior. Modest vents. Ring fit.
- 315: Limar's least expensive adult helmet has rounded lines with a modest rear snag point, small vents, bug net and a ring fit system. Elongated shape. Retail is $40 euros.
- 310: well-vented taped-shell model in sizes for youth and children. Has bug net in front vents. Pad fit. Retail is 30 euros.
- 149: molded in the shell, a round and smooth vented child's helmet with a ring fit system.
- 123 Junior Kid: vented toddler helmet with a glued-on shell and a ring fit system for heads down to 45 cm. Retail is $30.
- Kaos: classic skate helmet with small vents, ABS shell and a ring fit system.
- Cruiser BMX: classic BMX full face helmet with small vents, large visor bolted on and ABS shell. Very plain graphics, no bug net.
- Nutcase: another classic BMX full face helmet, with snappier graphics, small vents and a fiberglass shell. Has bug net.
- Chrono: Limar's aerodynamic pursuit and time trial helmet with CPSC certification. Molded in the shell with small vents in the rear and three unfortunate lumpy external strap anchors. Face shield optional. Ring fit. Limar says the short shape permits more efficient bike position and works better when the rider is out of aero position or standing. Retails for $200.
- Speed Demon: New for 2009, another CPSC certified chrono, this time with long thin vents in the front and elsewhere for a total of 15. It has a flexible ear flap to avoid the chafing problem, and fits heads 53 to 59 cm. There is a carbon version, but that refers to the black color.
- Superchrono: Limar's CEN-only chrono with ring fit system and a taped on shell has two large front vents. Not for the US market.
Some Limar models are available in Bianchi colors.
Limar has a 3 year crash replacement guarantee, offering a replacement helmet through the dealer at half off.
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.
- : A 2010 design announced in the fall of 2009, this one has a nicely rounded profile except for a single pronounced snag point at the rear. The very large vents run lengthwise, with internal supports of course and "composite" reinforcements. Promised for April, 2010 at a US price of $140.
- Baristo: A new 2009 commuter helmet design with more vents than most commuter helmets and the rounder, more compact shape we recommend. There are ridges, but only a minimal snag point. The Baristo comes close to the look of a regular road helmet, but without the useless rear overhang. In fact it come so close that Garneau also sells the same shape as the Treelium for mountain bikers, below. Comes with a visor. Worth a look, at a retail price of $50.
- Treelium: top of the Garneau "mountain" line, with exactly the same exterior shape as the Baristo. This one has carbon reinforcing, a lower shell covering all the foam, and upgraded pads. Retail with those upgrades is $100. Comes with a visor. Although impact performance is likely to be about the same, the enhancements are a genuine improvement, and only you can decide if it's worth twice as much.
- Diamond: Louis Garneau's new top of the line road helmet for 2009, with many vents and a sharp rear snag point. Has polycarbonate and carbon reinforcements. Molded in the shell, of course, with two shells to cover all. Nicely recessed strap anchors. Has an option with Team Type 1 colors, and of course there is a matching Garneau jersey. Retails for $190.
- Titan Carbon: Louis Garneau's 2006 entry into the carbon fiber race was the Titan, with visible carbon-reinforced bridges to allow opening up longer vents. It also has an internal titanium ring. Molded in the shell, with rear snag points. Unfortunately the strap fittings didn't hold as tightly as we would like in the sample we saw. Retail is $170.
- Venturi: introduced in 2008, named for vents that neck down as they pass through the liner. Garneau presents this as a feature. Many vents. Molded in the shell, and would be a reasonably compact shape if it were not for the pronounced upswept rear snag point. Has a carbon insert. Retail is $130.
- Exo-Nerve: a 2007 design with elongated shape, small raised ridges and pronounced rear snag points. Molded in the shell with a wrap-under shell. Retail is $100.
- Robota: molded in the shell with a distinctive compact shape with a high snag point in the rear. Shell wraps under to protect edges. Visor. Extra large fits up to 64 cm heads. Retail is $90.
- Global: introduced in 2008, a molded in the shell compact shape with reduced snag points. There is a bright red and white option. Retail is $70, or as the Mundial without visor it's $60.
- Equinox: The value end of Louis Garneau's line is this molded in the shell compact design. Plainer graphics, minimal rear snag point. Ring fit. Retail is $40. The women's version is the Diva at the same price, and there is a Pacifica version with no visor for $35. The youth version, with somewhat better graphics, is the Ruckus, with visor, for $40. For those with larger heads, it comes for the same price as the Arcterus to fit up to 64 cm heads.
- Police graphics model Garneau has a police graphics model. White with large dark blue POLICE lettering on the sides. It is probably one of their standard models, but we don't know which one.
- Flow: Toddler helmet with a molded in visor extension and glued-on shell. Bug net in the front vents. Designed for kids 5 to 10. This one has a dial-fit rear stabilizer. The retail price is $30.
- Boomer: Toddler helmet for the 5 and under crowd, round and smooth, with a few vents and cute graphics. The smallest model is size 6, for a 48 cm (18 7/8 inch) head. Retail is $27.
- Street: A hard shell skateboard-style helmet with small vents. Has CPSC bicycle helmet certification and ASTM F2040 snowboard certification but is not dual certified to the ASTM skateboard standard. Retails for $40.
- Willy: new for 2009, another skate style model with oval vents, a slightly less curvy line along the side and higher end graphics than the Street. Retails for $45.
- Superleggera: a new 2009 chrono time trial helmet from Louis Garneau, the first manufacturer to make a chrono helmet that passed the CPSC standard. This one continues that tradition. The Superleggera is dimpled like a golf ball in front for aerodynamics. It represents the fourth generation of Louis Garneau chrono models. Unlike most chrono helmets it has large vents--two in front and three in the rear. It has a medium long tail. Garneau says the center of gravity has been adjusted to reduce neck fatigue and make it easier to maintain an aero position. It fits 52 to 62 cm heads.
- Rocket Air: a 2008 design, adding larger front vents to the older Rocket and three large exhaust vents on the top/back. The inevitable aero loss might well be more than compensated for by the extra ventilation on a hot race day. This is Louis Garneau's third generation chrono design, still made in Canada. It meets the US CPSC standard. $150 retail.
- Chrono: Very similar to the original LG chrono model, in a classic teardrop shape. Has three small vents. Retail is $100.
- Windscreen: Not a helmet, but an accessory, this is a polycarbonate lens that wraps around a helmet--almost any helmet--and is held on by hook and loop. The edges are unprotected, and you could probably slice meat with them, even if it did not shatter in a crash. We would favor something with protected edges, like a pair of glasses or goggles. Not offered in the US market. Retail is $30.
Louis Garneau still has a free replacement guarantee for the first year.
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 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.
- Gurka: a new 2009 BMX model with polycarbonate shell. Meets the US DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Comes in smaller youth size as well as normal adult sizes. Retails for $150.
- Method: a BMX model with polycarbonate shell. Retails for $100 US.
- Hammer 2.0: Downhill mountain bike racing model with a fiberglass shell and vents. Retails for $120.
- Hornet: BMX helmet with fiberglass shell and a chinbar for kids. Large vents in the top. Looks like the chinbar may be padded with EPS, a very desirable feature that we look for in every full face helmet but almost never find. Retail is $110.
- Scope: skate model with a hard shell and updated oval vents and a raised rubberized logo patch. Retails for $30 US.
- C4 Lite: skate model with classic Pro Tec lines and a thin microshell rather than the usual skate ABS hard shell. It is molded in the shell, and comes in grey camo, black camo and pink camo. Retails for $55.
- s.a.s.: skate model with a rubberized finish that we would avoid. Small rectangular vents down low in the front. Retails for $40.
- Trigger Solo: skate model with small vents and a built in audio port with internal speakers. Retails for $35.
- Trigger: skate model with oval vents. Comes in youth size as well as adult. Retails for $35.
- C4II: classic Pro-Tec style skate helmet with hard shell and small vents. Retail is $30.
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 is an Italian manufacturer whose helmet line we have not seen, but they have a fine Web site. 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 molded in the shell, and some have lower wrap around shells as well. Strap anchors are under the shell in some models, a nice touch. Logos are reflective, although generally small. The top of the line models are radically different in appearance. 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.
- Inferno Ultimalite: molded in the shell using "Ultimalite," MET's proprietary fiber reinforcing. Large rear snag point.
- Parachute: a "Free-Ride" (off-road) model with a skeleton-like removable chin guard that splits into two pieces to fit in your pack. An interesting concept, although it is hard to say how rigid it would be in a crash, and it apparently has no impact padding. (One user emailed us that in his crash the helmet rotated easily because of the chin guard and left the face unprotected.)
- Crackerjack: molded in the shell with fewer but larger vents than other MET models. Comes with visor.
- Formula: molded in the shell with forward-facing snag points, a modest rear snag point and a visor. In the largest size it is the Testagrossa, fitting up to 64 cm (25.2 inches). Without visor it is the Volo.
- Veleno D: molded in the shell, with large rear snag points. There are visible white and red options. It also comes in the largest size as the Predatore XL fitting up to 64 cm. Without visor it is the Estro.
- Kaos Ultimalite: a 2007 Freeride design, the Kaos is molded in a shell made with "Ultimalite," MET's proprietary fiber reinforcing. It has big vents and big rear snag points. There is a visible white option. Without the new fiber in the shell it is the Kaos.
- Zefiro : another molded in the shell design with two large rear snag points. Available in visible colors. With visor it is the Dedalo.
- Stradivarius 199: molded in the shell with large longitudinal vents and a single pronounced rear snag point.
- Aliseo: molded in the shell and much better rounded than most other MET models. The women's colors make it the Diamante or the Istinto. With visor it is the Falco.
- Genio/Elfo: a vented toddler model molded in the shell with a lower shell to cover all the outside foam. Bright graphics. Has a bump out in front to form a visor and a very useful flattened rear to avoid cocking a child's head forward when sitting in a child carrier.
- Styx: Skate style with skinny vents and a flattened treatment in the rear. There is a visible white option.
- Armadillo: downhill mountain bike model with a chinbar and the usual big visor bolted on. Fiberglass shell with small rectangular vents. There is a visible white option.
- Pac VII: Met's chrono model with a long-tailed design with two vents.
In the past, Met's helmets have all been made in Italy, and their Web site 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 Web site. 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, 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 molded in the shell. 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.
- MX Max: a 2007 design molded in the shell with very large vents and aluminum reinforcing. The rear turns up like a spoiler, designed to increase the flow of air. There is a snag point there, of course, and others in the form of front-facing points. Retail is $100.
- MX Pro Race: molded in the shell with a medium snag point, very large vents and a ring fit system. Vents are a little smaller than the Max, but still large. Retail is $90.
- MX Comp: molded in the shell with an elongated shape, two forward facing points and rising to a distinctive squared off rear shelf snag point. Ring fit system, available in visible white. $70 retail. With visor it is the Free MX for the same price.
- MX Sport: molded in the shell with reasonable vents and a moderate rear snag point. Also known as the MX Tribal for the mountain bike market. There is a visible red option. Both retail for $35.
- MX Urban: a commuter style helmet with very large vents and rounded lines, but not as round and smooth as some. Molded in the shell with a ring-fit system. No lower shell, leaving a lot of foam exposed in the rear. Translucent gray visor. Available in visible white. Retails for $40. With a black visor and different graphics it is the Street.
- MX Adventure: youth helmet with large vents, elongated shape, rounded rear profile. Retail is $35.
- MX Bib: toddler helmet with vents, molded in the shell as few toddler helmets are, nice bright colors and graphics. The extra small size fits 48 to 52 cm (18.9 to 20.5 inches) heads. Retail is $25.
- MX Treme: 2007 design, a classic skate style helmet with ABS hard shell and small vents. Camo option or black. Retail is $30.
See Alpha above.
Mien Yow Industry
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 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 Web site. Netti models for this year include:
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".
- Transit: new for 2009, a city commuting style helmet with lots of vents and lots of styling pizzazz. Molded in the shell and has bright red as well as white options. Comes with a visor.
- Soniq Carbon: has an elongated shape made longer by the big snag point in the rear. Has visible "carbon-style" cloth reinforcements that Netti says are actually carbon fiber.
- Cyclone: Molded in the shell with a two piece shell. Retail is AUS$100.
- Nova: new for 2009, this one has an elongated shape but with minimal rear shelf. Molded in the shell, bright colors available.
- Pangea: Upper and Lower glued on micro shell.
- Qantum Pro: Nicely rounded shape, two piece glued on shell with some bright color combinations.
- Jackal: Full face downhill racing or BMX helmet with small vents and bolted on visor.
- Invader: Full face for Down Hill & BMX, unvented ABS shell. The visor has two bolts.
- Instinct: Full face BMX-style helmet with a fiberglass shell and vents.
- Invader: full face BMX helmet with ABS hardshell. Available in visible white.
- Kaos: classic skate helmet with small vents (four in the rear) and ABS hard shell. Comes in visible white.
- Blade 2: Hard ABS shell, classic skate shape, but certified to the CPSC and AS2063 bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard.
- Minimax 3: Toddler model with heart-shaped vents and full shell cover. Comes in extra small. No certification listed..
- Pilot: Child/youth model with ring fit, bright graphics and AS2063 Certification.
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 molded in the shell. They fit sizes 54 to 62 cm (21.3 to 24.4 inches). We have not seen their 2009 line. Prices on the US Web site 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.
- Altos: molded in the shell with a full cover shell, an elongated profile and moderate rear snag point.
- Destructor: molded in the shell with a full cover shell, an elongated profile and pronounced rear snag points.
- Protector: nicely rounded profile, molded in the shell.
- Pro Team: molded in the shell with a full cover shell, an elongated profile and moderate rear snag point.
- V17: nicely rounded profile, molded in the shell. There is a brightly colored flame option.
- V10: rounded profile, glued-on tapeless shell and bug net.
- V13 Trainer: a 2004 design with nicely rounded profile, glued-on tapeless shell and bug net.
- Quick Fly: a vented child's helmet with molded in visor and glued, tapeless shell, that comes in yellow with a Dalmatian motif like Louis Garneau's old Felix.
- Kid: vented toddler helmet with bug mesh, meeting the CEN European standard.
- W10: molded in the shell with nicely rounded profile, lower shell, bug net.
- Agressor: BMX model with chinbar and a vented shell.
See Schwinn below, or Mongoose above.
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:
- Receptor +: A skate style helmet with hard outer shell, thin offset second shell, aramid or kevlar patches reinforcing the thin shell behind the vent openings and an Expanded PolyPropylene (EPP) multi-impact foam liner making it a true multi-impact and multi-sport helmet. The rectangular vents are fairly small for a bike helmet, fairly large for a skate helmet. Can be equipped with ear covers for water use or an EVA cover to close the vent system for skiing. Can also be equipped with a visor, a rare feature in a skate-style helmet. Retail is a steep $198.
- Receptor Flow: uses the shell of the Receptor + with an EPS (the industry standard) liner, so this one would not be multi-impact. Retail is $88.
- Cortex DH: a BMX full face helmet constructed with the double shell. The outer shell is carbon fiber, with the thin polycarbonate inner shell reinforced by aramid patches behind the outer vents. EPP multi-impact liner, an unusual feature in a full face helmet. Retails for a very high $525.
- Cortex Flow: Shaped like the Cortex DH but has open vents for more ventilation and a fiberglass shell rather than carbon. Retail is $265.
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 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.
- Pantheon Pro: molded in the shell with an elongated but reasonably smooth shape with only one rear snag point.
- Pavè (Pavè, not the French Pavé): a well rounded, smooth design with reasonable vents and a taped on shell. We don't know why they reversed the accent mark on the e in the name.
- Piccolo: a toddler model with the usual round, smooth taped on shell. It has minimal vents.
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 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 molded in the shell. At least four are listed as CPSC certified, so they may be available in the US. The Web site for 2009 features "Hot! New Products for 2005-2006."
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.
- Cyphon: introduced in 2007, a hard shell bike helmet from Pro-Tec with round, smooth lines and extended rear coverage. Molded in the shell with ABS/PE hard shell and normal vents. Has a visor. Retail is $90. This one is worth a look for the extended rear coverage with bicycle helmet vents.
- Classic: round and smooth, with small round vents and good coverage, the classic Pro-Tec design. In 2009 Pro-Tec says it will again have the certification stickers for the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard and be a dual-certified helmet. Comes in visible white and bright red as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $30. In its June 2006 issue Consumer Reports said that their test labs broke about half the buckles on their Classic samples. They don't recommend the Classic for that reason. In the past their lab has broken buckles without any reports from the field that there were failures in actual use. Pro-Tec has informed us that CPSC also broke their buckles in its lab, but did not force a recall. We suspect that is related to differences in lab equipment. The 2009 Classic with EPS liner is not the same model CU tested. There is an outwardly similar Classic Skate but it is not certified to either the CPSC bicycle standard or the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard and therefore to be avoided.
- Classic Full Cut: another version of the Classic that according to Pro-Tec is not certified to either standard, and therefore to be avoided.
- B-2 SXP: another round and smooth design, but this time with oval vents, a rad departure for the skate crowd. Dual certified to bicycle and skateboard standards, if you find the sticker inside attesting to that. Comes in visible white as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $40. It is also available as the B-2 2-Stage with a different liner, not certified to bike or skateboard standards and therefore to be avoided.
- Ace SXP: An updated skateboard style helmet with larger oval vents and minor reshaping of the shell lines. It still has a round and smooth shape. Only the Ace SXP meets the CPSC standard for bicycle riding, not the outwardly similar Ace 2-Stage, sold for skating in skate shops rather than bicycling and not certified to the CPSC or ASTM skateboard standards. Retail is $40. Add a big bolted-on visor to the Ace Freestyle and you have the Dig for $45. Add a chinbar and you get the AceSpade, retailing for $75.
- Shovel-Head: a BMX design with a full face chinbar, fiberglass shell and vents. It has a snap-in liner that you can wash separately. Retails for $120.
- Mercenary: this one is an "audio helmet" so it must have speakers inside, but we have not seen one. Retails for $80.
- Auger: introduced in 2008, a downhill mountain bike racing helmet with a fiberglass shell and vents. Certified to the ASTM F1952 downhill standard, indicating better protection than a CPSC helmet. There is an unusual and very visible white option. Retails for $160.
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 is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets in EPU foam. Most of their models are molded in the shell, 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.
(Not to be confused with Prime above.)
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 Evil Pro: a full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Hard shell, minimal vents, bolted on visor. Retails for $120.
- Pryme US: a full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Hard shell, vents, bolted on visor and a cool skull medallion on the chinbar. Retails for $90.
- Pryme Al: another full face model, with net-protected vents, fiberglass shell and a bolted on visor. Retail is $110.
- Pryme 8: a classic skateboard style helmet. Has small vents and an EPS liner. Meets the CPSC standard. Retails for $20 to $30, with the chrome and "high fiber" finishes more expensive. There is also a Pryme 8 Tat 2 with skull logo strap rivets that comes with graphics you can apply.
- Pryme Mortal: skate style helmet similar in shape to the Pryme 8 but with a skull logo insert replacing the vents in the front and only four small ones in the top. Retail is $25.
- Pryme Vario: a snow helmet also certified to the ASTM snow sports standard and the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. It has small vents Retail is $40.
Pryme has a useful sizing chart on their Web site. Their helmets are made in China.
Originally known as Protective Technologies International, PTI Sports is one of the largest and perhaps least known helmet producers in the US. They claimed in 2003 that their $62 million in sales in that year made them the second largest US helmet and accessory company after Bell. Their products are marketed as Schwinn, Mongoose or PTI brands through discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Toys `R Us, usually at prices in the $10 to $30 range. 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.
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 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 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 a molded in the shell "Pro" model too with a partially reflective shell at $40 retail, probably more often seen in bike shops. It has larger vents and a sharper rear snag point. The same reflective technology has been used on parts of two Ironman models as well. This photo probably overstates the reflectivity, but the contrast with the "normal" helmets is made evident by the camera's flash.
We have comments and photos of one of the Reflectek helmets on our page on reflective helmets. It was also reviewed by Cycling Reviews.
REM is an Italian brand with a line of molded in the shell helmets. We don't see them in the US market. Models include the X-5, X-2, Spry, Delfino, Frizz, Blackride full face, Free Ride full face, R-105 toddler and two skate style helmets: the R-206 and Sport. Some of their models have vent "pipes" and some have double layer liners, with an upper cap molded in the shell and a less dense liner below. There are air channels between the layers. Their Web site mentions only European standards, but says their helmets meet the standard of any country where they are sold.
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 molded in the shell. 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.
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:
- Slinger: new for 2009, a very light compact style helmet certified to the CPSC standard. Molded in the shell. Retails for $100.
- Actyum: an elongated molded in the shell model with pronounced rear snag points and many vents.
- Zuma: introduced in 2008, molded in the shell with a two piece shell for full cover and the good cam lock strap fittings that hold well. Retails for $90.
- Kontact +: a 2006 design with pronounced rear snag point, big vents and the good cam lock strap fittings that hold well. Ring fit. $120 retail.
- Ayron +: molded in the shell with a lower shell, elongated vents and a moderate snag point, ring fit, the good strap fittings and another $110 price tag. CPSC certified.
- Skyanto: A skate model retailing for $40.
- Koyna: renamed in 2009, a full face BMX/downhill racing model with vented chinbar with mesh in the vents and a bolted on visor. $200 retail.
- Syton Supercomp: a chrono model with more vents than most, a face shield and a split tail. It includes unique pieces on the sides that extend down to about the cheekbones, called "bionic wings." Medium length tail does not get all the way down to the shoulder. Comes with plugs for the front vents. CPSC certification. Retails for $200. In carbon fiber it is known as the Syton Carbon and retails for $600.
- Syton Open: the Supercomp chrono model without side pieces or face shield, retailing for $160.
Rudy Project has some interesting innovations, and perhaps they will get wider US distribution at some point. You may have seen their helmets on Tour de France riders.
See Armor above.
SDS / San Diego Speed
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 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 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 molded in the shell, and the more expensive they are, the more snag points you get on the rear. The Italian Web site says they meet EN 1078, the European standard. Their models include:
- Atlas: a molded in the shell design with a moderate rear snag point, and a two-piece shell with ridges and many vents. It has a dial fit system and external strap anchors but they are faired-in reasonably well. Retail is $40.
- Thrasher: small snag point in the rear and recessed strap anchors. It is not molded in the shell, but uses glue to attach the shell and boasts of "tapeless technology." Retail is $25.
- Rocket: taped on shell with faired-in strap anchors, moderate rear snag point, sells for about $25.
- Titan: another glued and "not-taped-on" design with moderate rear snag points that is included with other accessories in a package selling for about $25.
- Aeros: sharp ridges on the taped-on shell but a small snag point on the rear. Vents are small and taper down to very small by the time they get through the liner. Retail is $10.
- Intercept: a youth helmet. The Intercept was the only youth helmet awarded the Consumer Reports Best Buy tag in their June, 2006 article.
- Kids Toddler or Playschool: Taped shell with a small visor effect in the front. Also comes in a package with other accessories. Has vents and the appearance of an adult helmet. In a larger size it is the Kids Child model.
- Missing Link: a vented design said to be "multisport," but actually certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Well rounded, with some edges showing but no rear snag point. ABS hard shell. Retails for $20.
Serfas is a US-based company, known for grips, saddles and other accessories. Helmets disappeared from their Web site in 2007. A company rep told us they don't market in the US due to concern about legal problems but on Serfas Web sites in other countries helmets are still featured.
- Zenith: a newer compact model with squared-off rear and no snag points making for nicely rounded profile. Worth a look for that alone. Reasonable vents.
- XP: molded in the shell with lots of long vents and snag points facing both front and rear. Recessed strap anchors, bug mesh. Two rear reflectors. Has the brow vent reminiscent of the Specialized Cobra models. There are some very bright color options.
- Matrix: molded in the shell with a large rear snag point, four piece full shell, angular lines with ridges, brow vent reminiscent of the Specialized Cobra models, lots of vents and a click-slide tab rear stabilizer. Comes in regular colors including visible white or team colors that can be customized for different combinations. Some versions of this model have bug net in the vents. All have reflective spots on the rear stabilizer, a good location for those who ride in the bent-over position. Retails for $130.
- Blitz: new for 2009, a more compact design but still has many small snag points on the rear and one on top in the front. There are white and bright color options.
- Nitro: new for 2009, another compact design with only one rear snag point. Some bright color choices.
- Alien: molded in the shell with a really pronounced rear overhang and snag points, lots of longitudinal vents and partially recessed strap anchors.
- Tempo: Selev's chrono model with a full lower cover that comes all the way down to the neck. Meets the EN 1078 standard. Has an internal radio wire channel. Fits sizes 54 to 59 cm. (21.6 to 23.2 inches).
- Kids: Toddler/Child helmet with vents and a taped on shell.
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 (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 Web site 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 Web site, 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 molded in the shell 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:
- BK 100 Corsa: the top of Shain's road line, a molded in the shell model, with plenty of vents and plenty of snag points both in the rear and projecting up and forward from the front surface. Updated in 2005 with their new foam. The shell wraps under and there is an inner shell for full coverage. The strap anchors stick up entirely above the shell, adding another potential snag point that we would not normally expect to see with a retail price as high as $157. There is a mountain model with visor and one in Olympic colors.
- BK 100 Tour the BK 100 model with ordinary EPS foam.
- BK 90 Corsa: another high-end molded in the shell design with a pointy rear snag point and external strap anchors. It got the new foam in 2005, and has the inner shell as well. It has metal bug screen in the vents. Retail is $159.
- BK 90 Tour: the BK 90 model with ordinary EPS foam. There is also a mountain model with visor.
- BK 71 Pirata: the exterior of this one has lots of ridges and a small rear snag point. Has a standard EPS liner. Retail is $115. Also comes in a touring model as the BK 71 Tour, a mountain model with visor, and a very pretty woman's version, the Lady, selling for $80.
- BK 40 Solid: rounded exterior except for a modest rear snag point and a molded in visor lip. EPS foam. Molded in the shell. This one also comes in visor and the woman's Lady version. Retails for $55.
- BK 500: Shain's chrono time trial model is actually an EPS foam helmet liner with an additional fairing added on the exterior and a clear face shield. There are three small front vents, five in all. It retails for $197. Certified to the CEN standard.
- BK 11-15: Toddler helmet with vents. Taped on shell. Retail is $34 with graphics, or $26 in solid colors.
Shain will replace a damaged helmet "at a substantially reduced cost to the original owner."
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 Hezhen Bicycle Inc.
Although we have not seen their 2009 line, this Taiwanese manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU helmets are molded in the shell. 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.
Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development
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 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 molded in the shell. 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.
- Hurricane Flight: a full-blown motorcycle helmet meeting the tough Snell M2000 standard. Full-face, and the Snell standard requires that the chinbar be padded for impact attenuation. There are small vents in the chinbar and the rear. The otherwise round and smooth shell has an unfortunate little tailpiece sticking up in the back for style, and we are surprised that Snell permits that kind of projection. The visor is bolted on with "oversize" bolts, making a bad feature potentially worse. The shell materials include Kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Retail is $300. The catalog contains the curious statement "EPS foam liner conforms to your shape for a perfect fit." We suspect they meant the fitting foam, not the EPS liner. EPS normally conforms to your shape only when you hit something and the stiff foam crushes. There is a highly visible orange available.
- Charger: a 2007 BMX full face design with polycarbonate shell and a big rear fin sticking up to spoil the profile. Has a groove that holds your goggles. Retail is $130.
- Strike: a BMX model with a mostly smooth polycarbonate shell and small vents. Retails for $100.
- Full Comp: a vented downhill model with a smooth, round polycarbonate shell and bolted on visor, retailing for $70
- Pro Bravo: a vented downhill model with a fiberglass shell and bolted on visor, rear lump sticking up to spoil the profile, retailing for $150.
- Pro Bravo Carbon: a full-face BMX model with vents, with visible carbon fiber in the shell and a lump in the rear, retailing for $220.
- Dirt Lid: a skate helmet in the classic round, smooth design with round vents and ABS hard shell, retailing for $22. It meets only the CPSC and ASTM bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard.
- Mullet: another skate model with slightly updated lines and larger vents at $30. Certified only to the CPSC and ASTM bicycle helmet standards, not to a skateboard standard.
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 CPSC's press release on the recall for details. The 2D still appears on the current Snell certification list.
- S-Works : new in 2008, this is a major new Specialized project with new technology that attempts to produce a much lighter helmet than their former top of the line. We regard weight reduction as misplaced effort, but it may sell helmets and may appeal to you.
The weight saved is less than your keys and pocket change, but maybe you have a pushbutton door lock and leave the change at home. The S-Works is molded in the shell with a four piece shell for full coverage. Designed with a dual-density foam liner to cut weight, it has huge vents and kevlar inner reinforcement. It has extra-light polyester strap material that the manufacturer says will not stretch when you sweat on it, a worthwhile advance. And it has a drilled-out buckle to save a gram or two of plastic. It has a large Specialized vent at the brow level, and a large rear snag point despite the overall compact shape. Can be had in visible white and bright red. The retail price is $230. We would rather crash in a cheaper helmet with more foam in it and a rounder, smoother shape, but if helmet weight is your main concern you might be interested in this one. (We would advise weighing any helmet before buying, since we find that published weights often differ from reality.) There are other helmets on the market this light but they meet only the European CEN standard.
- Propero: introduced in 2008. Looks almost exactly like the S-Works above, and has the four piece shell. Has almost all of the light weight features too, including the no-stretch straps, but there is more foam, and the price is much lower at $120. Visible white and some bright colors are available.
- Echelon: new for 2009, this one is molded in the shell with a three piece shell. It has the newer compact shape, but retains some rear snag points. It retails for $55.
- Tactic: new for 2009, molded in the shell with a full coverage shell. It has the newer compact shape, but retains a high shelf snag point in the rear. It retails for $65.
- Instinct: introduced in 2006, molded in the shell with a two-piece shell. Listed as a mountain bike helmet. Like Giro's Xen model, it has the compact, rounder profile we recommend and appeared to us at first to have more coverage than it actually does. The shell has some raised ridges, and is not quite as smooth as a commuter helmet. Recessed strap anchors, but the "U-Turn" strap adjustment pieces did not hold well on the sample we saw. Ring fit. Matte finishes with matching color visors. If you like Specialized, look at this one first. Retail is $110.
- AirForce 3: Specialized's lowest-cost design, still molded in the shell, retails for $40. It has a compact profile and ring fit system with three shell sizes, visor and eleven colors, including three for women. Has reflective strips on the sides of the straps. Also available as the Air Force Youth. Specialized sells this helmet with the same fit pads in Asia, so it apparently is compatible with rounder Asian heads. Dealers can order the XXL largest shell size for you, fitting up to 65 cm (25.6 inch) heads, the largest Specialized model.
- Small Fry: a classic round, smooth toddler and child size helmet, but molded in the shell and has some vents. Ring fit, bug net in front vents. Has some reflective patches. In 2009 the smallest size is the toddler model advertised to fit 44-52 cm (17.25-20.5"). Retail is $40.
- Deviant and Deviant Carbon: full-face downhill racing helmet with decent vents, chinbar vents and a visor bolted on with plastic bolts that hopefully will break when you snag it on something. There is bug net in the vents. Specialized advertises the carbon model as the lightest full-face helmet you can buy. Certified to CPSC and Snell's tougher B-95 standard. They have also now certified the Deviant and Deviant Carbon to the ASTM downhill mountain biking standard, F 1952, exceeding some parts of the CPSC standard. Look for the sticker inside to be sure. That makes this one worth a look. Retail is $130 for the fiberglass shell version and $360 for the carbon fiber shell version.
- Skillet: a hard shell skate-style helmet for bicycling. It has a hard shell and small distinctive slits for vents. CPSC certified, but not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Retails for $60, the upper range for a skate-style helmet. We recommend looking for one that is dual certified instead.
- Chrono: The Specialized chrono model does not appear in their retail or catalog literature, except for a catalog photo of the Cofidis team wearing them. Press reports indicate that it has larger vents than other chrono helmets. The tail is open underneath and the fit system is based on the Specialized Decibel road model. It is reserved for team use and is not available in retail channels.
Specialized sells replacement pads and visors. You can find them on their Web site under spare parts.
Specialized will provide a 20% discount voucher for any crashed helmet, but requires proof of purchase and may substitute another helmet if the one that was crashed is no longer available.
Spiuk is a Spanish supplier of a wide range of bicycles, components and clothing. 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.
- Input: new for 2009, a compact design with one pronounced rear snag point. Molded in the shell with a full coverage shell and some carbon fiber reinforcements. Visor. Retails for $170.
- Daggon: new for 2009, still has the elongated shape with medium rear snag points. Molded in the shell with full coverage. Has some carbon fiber reinforcements. Comes with bug net the user can install if wanted, and a case. Retail is $200.
- Kowter: new for 2009, molded in the shell with a single shell. Compact shape but still has one shelf-like rear snag point. Retails for $65.
- Nexion: molded in the shell with large front vents, a full shell on the lower portion, and pointy rear snag points. US model meeting the CPSC standard. Worn in competition by teams supplied by Spiuk, comes in team colors or world champion stripes. Retail is $145.
- Zirion: introduced in 2007, molded in the shell with a very large snag point on the rear. Ring fit, visor. $85 retail, including the team graphics model.
- Rasgo: introduced in 2008, and available after April. An interesting cross between skate style hard shell and coverage, along with bike style vents and a couple of very minor rear snag points. There is a visible white option. Retail is $60. CEN model not available in the US market.
- Gothic: introduced in 2008, a classic skate design with small vents and some sculpting of the exterior lines. No bright colors. Retail is $40. CEN model not available in the US.
- Child helmet - Casco de niño: a toddler helmet with vents and nice graphics. Meets only the CEN European standard, so will not be sold in the US.
- Kronos: a time trial teardrop shape with two small front vents and a rear vent through the tail. Ring fit. Meets the US CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Appears to be a fairing that was put over a normal EPS foam liner. Retail is $235.
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 molded in the shell. 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 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 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 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, and 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.
- F-14: a well vented molded in the shell bicycle-style helmet with extended skate-style coverage in the back and sides. The shell is round and smooth, and the vents extend down the back. Comes with extra padding to adjust the sizing. Should appeal to those who want more coverage for bike riding. Retail price is about $80.
- B1: very similar in profile to the F-14 above, but it is a skate model with an ABS shell and smaller vents. Retail is about $40.
- X-25: a road model with long vents, carbon fiber inserts, a compact shape, lumpy external strap anchors and rear snag points.
- BMX styles: THE has a full complement of full face BMX/downhill racing models, including carbon fiber, fiberglass and ABS shells. The fiberglass shell version retails for $250 and the vented carbon fiber shell model is $350. Has a "dual EPS liner," but we don't have any info on its performance.
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 molded in the shell. 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:
Tung Kuang / Tong Ho Hsing (THH or TKLI)
STKI also produces helmets for other uses, including military, baseball, motorcycle, equestrian, football and snow sports.
- T-91: replacing an older T-91, this 2006 model is a newer style bicycle helmet, molded in the shell with EPS foam, with a reduced rear snag point and external strap anchors. Some bright colors. Retail is $35.
- T-38: a nicely rounded design with moderate vents and visor. Bright graphics. Snell B-95 certified. Taped on shell, visor. Retail should be about $16.
- T-37: a generally rounded but somewhat elongated design with moderate vents. Dark colors and red. Snell B-95 certified. Taped on shell. Retail should be about $16.
- T-36: a nicely rounded design with smaller vents and visor. Has three vents in front, three in the top and only one in the rear. Available in a bright yellow. Taped shell, visor. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
- T-35: a nicely rounded design with fewer vents.
Some bright colors available. Snell B-95 certified. Taped on shell. Retail should be about $12.
- T-29 : toddler helmet with small vents, very round and smooth. Available in orange. Taped on shell. Snell B-95 certified. Should retail for about $10.
- T-22: smaller vents, updated graphics. EPU foam (heavier than EPS, has a solid feel and very uniform cell structure), visor, dial fit system. Elongated shape but without a sharp rear snag point. Molded in the shell as most EPU helmets are. Retail about $13.
- T-21: Smaller vents, EPU foam, some bright graphics, visor. Molded in the shell. Retail should be about $12.
- T-40: Downhill racing helmet with chinbar and an ABS shell. Some bright colors, including all white. Bolted on visor.
- T-39: Downhill racing helmet with chinbar. ABS shell, bolted on visor, vents. Retail is around $65.
- AP-866: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmet with full chinbar and polycarbonate shell. A nice visible orange is an option. No vents. Certified to the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
- AP-87: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmet with full chinbar and polycarbonate shell. No vents. Snell certified.
- AP-89: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmet with full chinbar and carbon fiber-kevlar shell. No front vents. Snell certified.
- TA-78: classic ABS hard shell skate helmet with standard dark colors plus white, pink and flame graphics. Has a little sculpted line and two unexplained snaps in front, probably for a visor. No vents, so it looks more like a ski helmet than a skate helmet. We don't know what standards it may meet, so it may not be certified for bike riding or skateboarding. Comes in an extra small size.
- TA-77: classic skate helmet with standard dark colors plus some impressive gold, silver and stars-and-stripes colors rarely seen in skate style helmets. Smooth, round ABS hard shell with small vents. We don't know what standards it may meet, so it may not be certified for bike riding or skateboarding.
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 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 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 this CPSC press release for details. Other Anthems were not recalled, but have dropped out of the line. Current models are:
- Zone: introduced in 2008, an interesting model listed as a mountain bike helmet. Molded in the shell with a lower shell covering the whole surface. Has a compact shape and angular lines but is well-rounded in the rear with no snag point. Comes with a visor. No bright colors available. Retails for $100.
- Sonic Elite: molded in the shell design with a lower shell and a pronounced rear snag point. Ring fit system with three shell sizes. Available in visible white and two women's colors. Retail is $100.
- Interval Sport: molded in the shell with a minimal rear snag point and recessed strap anchors. Available in visible white and in two women's pastel colors. Retail is $75. Also comes in XXL size as the Interval XL Sport fitting heads up to 26"/66 cm
- Vapor: introduced in 2008, molded in the shell with a pronounced rear snag point. Also comes as a Vapor Youth. Retail is $55. Trek has a Police decal available for the Vapor.
- Little Dipper 2: Infant-toddler model with a taped-on shell, vents, graphics, a soft rubber visor, an anti-pinch chin pad. At least one color is listed on the Web as fitting down to size 47cm. Retail is $40.
Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed helmets. They have helmet replacement parts on their Web site and available through their dealers, including buckles, pads and visors.
Triple Eight appears to be primarily a skate and ski helmet company. We have not seen their helmets, but their Web site 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 Web site 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 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.
- '09 D2 Carbon: a classic BMX/motorcycle model with a shell made of 60% carbon fiber, 20% aramid and 20% fiberglass. Has titanium visor screws to hold on that big visor. The carbon has exposed carbon fiber mesh in a sunken rear section they term "cosmetic," a style quirk but probably not a serious snag hazard. Four small vents. Meets the ASTM F1952 downhill racing helmet standard and the ASTM BMX cycling standard, easily exceeding the CPSC standard. Strong and durable D-ring buckle. Retail is $375.
- '09 D2 Composite: another classic BMX/motorcycle model, this time with a shell made of 50% fiberglass, 20% aramid and 30% carbon replacing the Kevlar in previous models. Four small vents. Meets the ASTM F1952 downhill racing helmet standard and the ASTM BMX cycling standard, easily exceeding the CPSC standard. Comes in somewhat more visible gold. Strong and durable D-ring buckle. Retail is $295.
The D2 fits heads from 53 to 62 cm (21 to 24.5 inches).
- '09 D2 Open Face: recently added to the Troy Lee line and described as a "retro-style open face" this model has no chinbar, but otherwise is the classic BMX/motorcycle style, with the ever-present big visor. The shell material is not specified, but probably fiberglass. Small vents. Meets the ASTM F1952 downhill racing helmet standard and the ASTM BMX cycling standard (neither standard requires a chinbar), easily exceeding the CPSC standard. Comes in visible white. Retail is $225 for composite, and there is a '09 D2 Open Face Carbon model for $300.
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 Web site.
Troy Lee will replace helmet liners after a crash if the shell is not damaged.
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.
- Fly: introduced in 2007, this one has the classic skate shape and few vents, but with a thin shell instead of ABS. Molded in the shell with an inward curve in the lower shell achieved with a special molding system and four piece shell. Comes in visible white as well as dark colors. Advertised as a skate/bike helmet, but listed as meeting the ASTM F2040 snow helmet standard and the European CEN bicycle standard, not the US CPSC bike helmet standard or the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Retail is $70.
- Evolution: almost the same skate model as the Fly, with small rectangular vents and an ABS plastic hard shell. This one meets the CPSC bicycle standard. Available in many colors and graphic schemes. There is a "rubber finish" model that we would avoid as a novelty that may not slide as well on pavement as the regular ABS shells do. Retail is $45 or $50 for graphic models. Also comes with different graphics as the Evolution Pro Design, in XXL size fitting up to 62.5 cm (24.6 inches) and in a kid's model fitting heads as small as 52 cm (20.5 inches). There is even a Wakeboarding model with ear flaps.
- Skate/BMX: a classic ABS plastic hard shell skate design with one less vent than the Evolution, meeting the CPSC bicycle helmet standard but not the ASTM skateboard standard. Colors include visible white. Retail is $30. This one is available in a matched set that includes a helmet and protective pads for skate park rental programs. To deter theft, the helmet and pads are the same unusual "rental blue." The helmet has "Rental" woven into the strap and on a prominent decal in the back. The pads have "rental" on them as well, and are supplied in a "super durable/washable" material. We do not understand why this idea has not been developed by a bicycle helmet manufacturer, preferably with an easy-to-clean interior to prevent passing lice to the next wearer. It is possible that renters don't want a helmet that says "Rental" on it, or possible that some would steal it as a cool souvenir.
- Dragon/Stealth/Classic Junior: classic BMX/motorcycle style helmets with chinbar and a big visor. Fiberglass hard shell with vents. Certified to the Snell B-95 bicycle helmet standard, exceeding the CPSC standard. Retail price is 120 euros.
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.
See THH above.
Tung I Hsing
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 molded in the shell. 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 molded in the shell models. The LEDs can either blink or shine continuously. The line includes six new models for 2009.
- Urban: introduced in 2008, molded in the shell with the round and smooth profile we think is optimal. Unfortunately it also has the rubberized finish that we don't think is optimal. Still worth a look. Retail is $60.
- Xenova: new for 2009, a compact shape but elongated at the rear. Molded in the shell, bug screen in the front vents. Retail is $80.
- X Ride: introduced in 2008, in the compact shape with a small rear snag point that Uvex aptly calls a "spoiler." Fits up to 65 cm (25.6 inch) heads, the largest Uvex model. Retail is $130. There is an optional package with sunglasses for $150.
- Boss Race: a molded in the shell model with a dual shell covering all the foam, rear snag points and some shell ridges. Retails for $110, and also comes as the Sport Boss RS with visor for the same price, and in a version with plainer graphics and no visor called the Sport Boss for $95. Uvex says the Sport Boss is their best seller.
- Supersonic RS: a molded in the shell model with a more rounded design with large vents. Retails for $110. Bicycling magazine picked it as the best value of the three helmets they reported on in their January/February 2005 issue. Molded in the shell, has bug net in the front vents.
- XP 100: large vents and squared-off rear treatment with a blunt snag point, but skate-style coverage. Medium size only. Molded in the shell. Visor. Retail is $90.
- Magnum: introduced in 2007, this one is a reasonably rounded compact profile model with extra coverage in the back and on the sides. Molded in the shell with large vents and a visor. Retail is $75.
- Touring: reasonably well rounded, molded in the shell with a single shell that does not wrap under. Retail is $55.
- Viva: introduced in 2008, molded in the shell in a generally compact shape, but has an extended rear shelf snag point and a ridge all the way around that gives an upswept surface from the front brow. Has a reflective sticker. Retails for $40, the lowest price point in the Uvex line. Not our favorite Uvex model.
- Onyx: a youth helmet for smaller heads with a rounded profile, almost no snag point, visor and one bright color choice. This is the former Superhelix. Molded in the shell. Small ponytail port. Fits sizes 52 to 57 cm (20.5 to 22.4 inches). Retail is $65.
- Uvision Junior: a 2007 child helmet with fairly large vents that Uvex says do not let any direct sunlight through to the head. If that is true, there would be a market for an adult version for bald riders. Molded in the shell. Fits 52 to 57 cm (20.5 to 22.4 inches) heads. Retail is $50.
- Cartoon: a toddler helmet, molded in the shell. Large vents. Reflective sticker. Fits 49 to 55 cm. heads and retails for $40.
- Aero: new for 2009, a long-tailed time trial helmet with many ribs on the surface and four adjustable long skinny vents in the front. Molded in the shell, with vent adjustors added later. Made in Asia. Meets the CPSC standard. Fits heads up to 62 cm. Retails for $190.
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.
- Factory Pilot 2 - fp2 Time Trial: a time trail chrono model that meets only European standards. It hums when it is off-center to alert the rider to less-than-ideal aero performance. Uvex reps say it would retail for $500 but is not available through retail channels. Look for it on the T-Mobile team. Kristen Anderson won gold for the US in this helmet at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Uvex did not pay her a promotional fee to wear their helmet. Meets the CEN standard, but not CPSC, so cannot be used in USA Cycling races after January 1, 2010. Uvex says this helmet would sell for $400 if they sold it.
- fp 1: new for 2009, a compact model with modest rear snag points, molded in the shell with an inner shell also co-molded. Many vents. Fits heads 50 to 59 cm. Some bright color combinations and "carbon white." Said to be "for competition only." Would sell for $160 if they sold it. Maybe they do.
- fp 3.0 : new for 2009, and scheduled for spring availability. Large vents and a chopped off rear that makes it compact, but still has sharp snag points. Strap anchors are internal, eliminating any bump on the surface. Would retail for $190, but it's "for competition only." Uvex has other models with better outer configuration for less.
Uvex offers a crash replacement discount of 30% off the retail price.
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 molded in the shell. 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 (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 molded in the shell 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.
- X25: a new for 2009 high-end road helmet that breaks new ground in Vigor's line by retailing for a pricey $130.
- Quicksilver: a 2006 design with modest rear snag points, molded in the shell with a lower shell piece and Vigor's locking strap fittings that actually lock and hold well. Ring fit. Retail is $70.
- Atomic: a 2006 model, molded in the shell with a second lower shell piece and a pronounced rear snag point. Retail is $50.
- Fast Traxx: another 2006 model, molded in the shell with nicely recessed strap anchors and a modest rear snag point. Ring fit, visor. Visible white option. Retails for $40.
- NOX: once Vigor's top of the line, made of EPU foam and molded in the shell. Has an upper and lower shell and a minimal protruding rear shelf. The ribs are reasonably rounded. Has external strap anchors, but they are tucked in among the ribs. Retails for $30.
- Jr. Nox / Avenger has four fewer vents than the NOX and an elongated front visor molded in, but the same rear treatment for $25. The Jr. comes in XXS, but with its elongated rear it would not be suitable for a child in a trailer or high-backed child seat unless you put a thick pad behind the child's back to prevent the helmet tail from pushing the child's head forward and down.
- X3: another EPU model, more compact and rounded than the NOX, with smaller vents.
- Sequel: introduced in 2001, this is another EPU model, also molded in the shell, with upper and lower shell. It resembles the NOX, but has fewer vents. It has in a very bright yellow option and retails for $25. No visor. This one comes in size XXL to fit heads up to 64 cm.
- L'il Tyke: a toddler helmet with a very nicely rounded profile, vents, a pinch proof buckle tab, 3M reflective tape and ring fit. Comes only in xxs for 50 to 52 cm (19.7 to 20.5 inches) heads and retails for $20.
- The One: a 2007 downhill racing/BMX model with carbon shell for $300 or in fiberglass for $200 (both down $50 from 2007 prices). Has soft rubberized paint that we would steer clear of for sliding resistance questions on a helmet for road use, but for off-road biking it would probably not make much difference.
- X5: a downhill/BMX model with a fiberglass shell with vents and a bolted on visor. Certified to the Snell N-94 multipurpose standard. Retail is $120.
- Ten-Eighty (1080): A skate helmet design with the classic smooth, round exterior, round vents, polyethylene shell and an EPS liner. It is listed as a bike, snow or skate helmet, but certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Has a nice bright yellow option and a white option. The strap adjustors are simple buckles that do not lock, and they move readily, so they will not hold adjustment well. It retails for $25 to $32 depending on the graphics.
- B1: a new 2009 skate helmet with hard ABS outer shell and graphics similar to a road helmet.
- Royal: Skate-style helmet with oval vents and cheap buckle strap adjustors that slip easily, retailing for $25 to $30. Has a visible white option and a chrome model. Comes in X-Large fitting really big heads.
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.
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.
See Kent International.
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.
- X396P IPS: an EPU model with modest rear snag point and a rounded overall profile. Has a shell molded in, even though EPU skins over on the surface and some EPU helmets are made with no shell. It has front and rear single LED lights built in, and includes a visor. Retail is $60.
- X371 Pro Trail: Another EPU model molded in the shell, with medium snag points in the rear, modest vents and a visor. Retails for $45.
- X375 High Ridge: another EPU model molded in the shell, this time with pronounced rear snag points and a retail price of $40.
- X3763 Excel: another EPU model with a single shell, with many small vents and many small snag points in the rear. Retails for $33.
- X395 Endurance: another EPU model, this time with smaller vents and a single rear snag point. Retails for $30.
- X399 Performance: an EPU model with larger vents and minimal rear snag points. Has a single shell molded in. One of the prototype models we saw had some unfinished shell protruding around the vents. It is normal to have a worker touch up those spots, and that will probably be done on production models.
- XV15 Back Trail: this one is made of EPS, the most common bike helmet foam. It has a taped on shell and pronounced rear snag point. Retail is only $20.
- XSK515A Edge: an ABS hard shell with EPS foam. Xterra calls this their hybrid helmet, since it has skate shape and coverage with commuter/road helmet vents and look. Unfortunately it also has many tiny snag points in the rear. There is a visible yellow option. This helmet fits rounder heads and is worth a look by those of Asian parentage looking for a round helmet.
- XS1AC Glo-Tec: a toddler helmet with glued on shell in the adult elongated shape, with a snag point on the rear. Has reflective surface all around. Retails for $23.
- XS14Y/A Glo-Tec: a better rounded reflective helmet with glued on shell in both youth and adult sizes, retailing for $25.
Xterra has plans to bring a premium line of helmets to market later in the year.
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 Web site 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 helmets appear in the US under the Michelin brand.
See Golex above.
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 molded in the shell, 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).
See Star Helmets above.
Zhuhai Star Safety
This article is frequently updated during the model year.
Index to Manufacturers