Tested: AGV K1 motorcycle helmet review
Date reviewed: June | Tested by: BikeSocial Test Team | Price: From £ | www.agv.co.uk
The K1 is AGV’s lower-priced helmet, starting at £ for plain colours, up to £ for the Soleluna ; Andrew Wolfe of the BikeSocial Test Team has been using it for two months over a variety of roads on his Yamaha MT…
The thermoplastic resin shell comes in two sizes across the range of XS-2XL. Finish is great – this has a deep gloss to the plain black, and an overall quality feel with good detailing and an aggressive-looking spoiler on the rear, paired with a deep swoop to the chin.
When first wearing this helmet, I found the low chin would occasionally brush the shoulder straps of my backpack when checking blind spots; however I found this stopped after I adjusted to it.
The shape is great for those wet days when it sits on my desk drying; with the entire helmet elevated on just two small flattened points at the chin and rear centre, the bottom lining doesn’t spend the day in a puddle soaking up moisture.
This is a small-sized lid, and weighs g, which is among the lighter sub-£ helmets tested by BikeSocial.
The double chin vent is operated by an internal slider that works very easily with one finger when on the move in summer gloves. Truth be told it took me a day or two to discover that it even existed until trying to identify what the access slit in the chin curtain was for!
This chin configuration looks very slick and is functional, provided you’re not wearing winter gloves with the chin curtain installed, when there’s too much fabric in the way to locate and move the slider.
Chin curtain installed
Chin vent functionality
The two outer forehead vents are more cumbersome, and I never really got the hang of them in my summer gloves. I just found that there wasn’t much of a lip to grip onto, making them tricky to locate. Perhaps a result of me being used to the scroll wheels on my current HJC Rpha
From an airflow perspective, the vents on this helmet function well, with the exhaust ports in the rear spoiler working well to keep constant flow and removing warm air. When removing the lining, there are clear channels between intakes and exhausts to aid airflow. Even on a humid summers day, this helmet performed well in keeping my head cool.
When first wearing this helmet on the road, the large aperture was very noticeable and great for all round visibility. Until wearing this, I hadn’t realised quite how obscured peripheral vision can be in some lids. When changing lanes on the motorway for example, I found that I didn’t have to turn my head over my shoulder quite as much to cover blind spots.
The aperture is also tall, which provided good forward visibility for those that like to get their chin tucked into the tank.
The visor opens easily, and fully out of view with a tab on the left-hand side, which is plenty big enough to locate while riding in both summer and winter gloves. I’ve always preferred centrally located opening tabs so that I can open the visor with my right hand while stopped with my clutch depressed with my left.
The visor mechanism itself is secure, remaining open in any of the pre-set positions at speed, even when exceeding the limit on a naked bike. The mechanism makes for very quick and effortless tool-free removal of the visor, all constructed from durable plastic with no springs, which is a plus point in my opinion.
The rubber seal between the helmet and visor is perfectly functional, and I didn’t have any problem with water ingress even in torrential downpours.
The visor can take a Pinlock anti-fog insert, but one isn’t included. As it is, a heavy breath will mist the visor as expected, however ventilation is plenty adequate to dissipate this immediately while travelling at speed; the removal of the chin curtain will also allow even more air to flow.
As standard, the AGV K1 features a six-position micro-opening visor system that allows the visor to be cracked open the tiniest amount; a nice idea but personally I found it unnecessary at speed, and not enough for demisting at low carpark speeds.
The ratchet is customisable, with two other pairs of inserts in the box - the green pair gives a larger cracked open stage (for urban use) and the 'race' pair only has latches at fully open and fully closed.
The lining is fully-removable in two parts, plus the chin skirt. There are obvious spaces inside for speakers. My biggest criticism with this helmet is a slightly exposed piece of Velcro in the centre of the forehead to help secure the lining. While only around mm, its rough edge rubbing on my forehead was a major annoyance, though it wouldn’t always happen, depending on how I put the helmet on.
No matter how much I tried to shift the lining across, or remove the lining entirely to refit, I couldn’t get this exposed section of Velcro covered entirely. This could be partly my head shape, and the problem reduced somewhat with time as the lining began to compress.
This helmet is fitted with a Double-D buckle – simple, reliable and in my opinion the safest option with no ratchets to go wrong. I’d personally always opt for this, although some may find a potential drawback in that it’s pretty much impossible to fasten with gloves on.
The padding around the strap is soft and comfortable and remains in place while riding. There’s a plastic popper to secure the end of the strap to stop it flapping.
Fit is of course subjective, and I found the K1 a little hard to get on and off at first, but it seems to soften enough after the first few wears; nothing uncommon here. The fit overall is very comfortable with no odd protrusions, quirks or pressure points.
I don’t wear spectacles, but after briefly borrowing a pair I can say that this helmet accommodates them very well, enabling you to sit them exactly where you want.
I’ve never required an additional layer for warmth under my current HJC Rpha 10, even on long trips in sub-zero temperatures, however I found my ears getting cold in the AGV on short trips in temperatures around 7°C (with the chin curtain installed).
While the channels for spectacles leave your ears more exposed, I wouldn’t complain and call this helmet noisy by any means. I’ve never worn earplugs while riding and this helmet hasn’t changed that. This helmet is relatively quiet, with no external whistling noises or anything like that, and the lid is very stable at speed.
We always recommend wearing earplugs with any helmet – once you realise the damage that’s been happening, it’s too late. And sitting at home with a constant whistling in your ears is very annoying. John Milbank, Consumer Editor
This is a bloody good entry-level sportsbike helmet from a premium maker that many will trust. You won’t be blown away with features, but it delivers the basics very well.
If you’re looking for a cheap and decent quality helmet, this is a good place to start, however it’s worth noting that a dark tint visor (if you want one) will set you back a further £45; many other helmets at this price come with drop-down sunshields fitted.
Despite this, I’m very impressed and would recommend this lid.
Specialized Ambush Helmet - Review
Ending a ride with eyeballs filled with mud is one of my pet peeves, which is why I regularly commit the fashion faux pas of riding with goggles and a half shell. The Ambush provides plenty of room for goggles to be worn without causing the helmet to tip towards the back of the head, and the visor tips up far enough to accommodate them when they're not in use. Sunglasses didn't pose any problems either - even ones with larger frames didn't come in contact with the shell of the helmet. Regarding ventilation, the Ambush doesn't suffer from the lack of effective airflow that's the Achilles' heel of many all-mountain helmets, and even on hot and humid climbs up shade-free logging roads I never felt like I was overheating.
Riders whose checklists of must-haves for a new lid include 'helmet cam mount' or 'MIPS liner' won't be able to tick those boxes, but other than those two items, the Ambush possesses all of the features that you'd expect from a high end mountain bike helmet. Specialized have combined an excellent fit, light weight, and extended rear and side coverage into an attractive package that's one of the best options currently on the market. The price is a touch higher than some of its contemporaries, but the Ambush backs this up with stellar performance out on the trail. - Mike Kazimer
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This is history!
Current year here
Bicycle Helmets for the Season
Summary: Our review finds no radical safety improvement this year that would compel you to replace your current helmet, although new technology has finally come to the marketplace. Some new developments, including MIPS, we consider unproven. Almost all of the helmets described below meet standards and offer good if not excellent protection. We have tested a sample of cheap and expensive helmets and found no real performance differences by price. We recommend looking for a helmet that fits you well and has a rounded, smooth exterior with no major snag points.
Trends this year
A slip-plane addition to some helmets exploded in the market in late when Bell bought a large chunk of the MIPS patent holder company. We still regard MIPS as unproven technology unless you have a helmet that couples so closely to your head that you can't move it even a quarter inch. Your scalp is nature's MIPS. We have more on that on our MIPS page.
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 particular model exceeds the requirements of the standard and offers superior protection. Most of them probably do not, even those that provide additional coverage. There are unpublished indications that the lightest and thinnest helmets do not perform well when impact levels exceed those required by the CPSC standard.
- There are many new helmets using the MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System - tm) slip plane technology. The trend was boosted by Bell's purchase of a big chunk of the MIPS patent-holder company in mid Most are implemented by a thin layer of material in the top that slides.
Unfortunately, the road models have nothing in the rear, a frequent impact location, because it interferes with ring fit and stabilizer mechanisms. Some skate models have full coverage MIPS layers. We still regard MIPS as unprovent technology unless your helmet is so closely coupled to your head that it can't move on impact even a quarter inch.
Impact liners are finally evolving this year. Smith has models that use collapsible plastic modules looking like hollow straws in place of foam, but with some EPS still included in the liner.
POC has a liner partially composed of a honeycomb material. There are more Conehead designs with dual density impact foam in helmet liners. Conehead helmets have two layers of standard EPS foam. One is lower density, and should crush more easily at lower impact levels, possibly offering an advantage in avoiding concussions. Abus has shown a model with a cardboard liner section, backed by standard EPS, and there may someday be a full cardboard liner helmet. In football, hockey and lacrosse there have been helmets using collapsible plastic modules in place of foam for some time. The debate rages over whether or not they reduce concussions.
Many models come with Icedot stickers, a system for linking to an emergency call system. If you ride solo in isolated places, you might want to look into it.
"Enduro" helmets have appeared in many lines for They are designed for enduro racing--stage races with riders racing the clock over timed downhill courses. Between downhill stages, the racers have to climb to get to the next course, so there is a premium on ventilation and light weight, and riders are sometimes willing to compromise on protection to get that. Some manufacturers just designate road models as their enduro models, but the form generally resembles a downhill mountain bike racing helmet with chinbar. The level of protection needed would seem to call for downhill helmets, but enduro models may or may not meet the more demanding ASTM F downhill mountain bike racing standard.
The new helmet for was the aero road helmet. Not as slick as a chrono time trial helmet, but made more aerodynamic than a normal road helmet, often just by covering vents with a plastic cover. Some have adjustable vents, or use vent plugs. They are used by pros in some races, but abandoned for stages where ventilation becomes critical. They will not improve the average road rider's performance very much, but you might want one for the image, and some have the rounder, smoother profile that we recommend. Some examples are the Bell Star Pro, Cratoni Evolution, Giro Synthe, Kask Protone, KED Wayron Race, Lazer Z-1 Fast, Limar Velov, POC Aero Octal, Seleve TT Octal, Smith Overtake and Specialized S-Works Evade. A search of this page for aero road will find them.
A slip-plane helmet appeared in with a second shell or liner that can slide over the inner shell a few millimeters at the moment of impact. This is claimed to mitigate the rotational force on the head, and in some cases that has been measured by some labs. The hope is to reduce rotational brain injury. Search for "MIPS," the patent holder licensing the technology. Others are working on similar concepts. Most helmets slip anyway on impact, and we regard MIPS as unproven.
High visibility colors have returned. After the bright neon color craze of the 90's died, dealers could not sell neon anything, including helmets. But about neon came back, usually referred to as Hi Viz, and never called neon. POC was actively promoting hi viz for , with screaming orange helmets and screaming orange clothing. Others have followed suit. If you like neon colors, buy them now before they go out of fashion.
Green helmets are growing, pioneered by Urge and later by Kali. They use renewable materials, but still rely on EPS for energy management, and recycled EPS is just getting to the stage where it can be incorporated into helmets without too much performance penalty. When the time comes to dispose of the helmet, it is still difficult for the consumer to get EPS to a recycler. Life cycle management for helmets is just not there yet.
Rounder profile "city," "urban" or "commuter" models are in almost every manufacturer's lineup.
Higher priced helmets usually have big vents, but no verifiable advantage in impact performance. Our testing showed that the sample of very expensive helmets and very cheap helmets we had tested had about the same impact protection.
Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, have taken over for most of the market. 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, but you may have to look for them, and you may pay more.
Several manufacturers now have fit systems with fixed side straps to compete with Bell's True Fit system. But they do not have the internal strap anchor cage that makes the True Fit system work, and we found that they do not work for us as well as the True Fit helmets do. That includes Bell's own bike shop line of helmets, the Giro version and the ones from Specialized. True Fit is still sold only in big box discount retail stores, in helmets priced around $
Strap adjustment fittings--buckles and side pieces--still badly need improvement. Most of them slip too easily, resulting in the "strap creep" that can loosen straps even on riders who have adjusted their straps carefully.
Expensive materials: Carbon fiber has come back in some high-end motorcycle-style helmets and a few bike models. It allows slightly lighter construction, but saves minimal weight except in the heaviest full face BMX or downhill racing helmets. Manufacturers are still searching for ways to use titanium, another glamorous and expensive product that saves very little weight in a helmet. Kevlar, Graphene and Aramid are found in a few helmets, mostly in the internal reinforcing. There is no verifiable impact performance advantage in any of the helmets that have these materials, since they are mostly used to make the helmet thinner and lighter or open up bigger vents.
Rubber finishes and a fabric finish are still found in some helmets. We do not recommend them for road use because rubber or fabric surfaces might increase the sliding resistance of a helmet when it hits the pavement. If you doubt that, scrub a pair on pavement while holding them down hard and see the difference for yourself.
LED flashers in the rear of helmets are more frequent, but most of them are too small and have disappointing output compared to this year's best third-party flashers with always-improving LEDs. You may need to add your own. with a breakaway mount.
Anti-microbial pad materials are increasingly used in high-end models. Most use silver or other chemicals, and might be useful if you are having unusual helmet odor problems. If you are seeking to reduce your exposure to industrial chemicals and metals they may not be something you want to have held against your sweating head on every ride.
Helmets for electric bike riders: designs for e-bikes began to appear in , typified by the Casco E-Motion Cruiser. There is no separate ASTM or CPSC standard for ebikes. Some are mystified that they have not caught on in the US as they have in Europe.
POC, Volvo and Erickssen have collaborated on a new system connecting cars drivers and bike riders via cell phone and GPS location technology. It's a concept at this point, but should be on the market soon.
Price adjustments are more up than down for , particularly at the high end of the price spectrum.
Some Interesting New Models
Smith Optics began marketing their Forefront model in , with a new German liner material called Koroyd(tm). The "road" model is called the Overtake and has larger vents.
The liner looks like a bundle of short, small-diameter drinking straws, perpendicular to the head. In the Smith helmet they are surrounded by normal EPS foam. The straws collapse along their length when impacted, managing the impact energy by slowing the transmission of energy and reducing the peak impact, just as other helmet liners do. Smith says that the new material works better than foam, but we have not seen test results of their helmet, and it still uses foam in some areas. Riders who tried the helmet in Nevada heat said the ventilation through the straws was excellent. Consumer Reports rated the Forefront as Very Good for impact protection, below seven standard EPS models they tested. And they gave the Forefront only Good for ventilation.
POC has responded to the demand for hyper-ventilated helmets with this model:
They also have had a honeycomb material called Supracor (tm) in their hard-shell Super Skull Comp ski helmet, but it still has an EPP foam liner as well. They have a project helmet, perhaps coming in , with the first Koroyd liner made from a flat sheet of the material and formed into the liner. You can see this page with photos of the Skull Comp DH Koroyd where the liner resembles porcupine quills. We don't see it on the POC website yet.
Bell has a new kids helmet in their discount store line with a hard shell and a chinbar lined with EVA (football helmet foam) energy management foam. It is dual certified to the CPSC bike standard and the ASTM F skateboard standard.
It is round and smooth, the shape we prefer, but has minimal vents. Colors are bright or dark and the price is right at $30 in your local Wal-Mart. Unfortunately it only comes in one very limited size.
Kask has a high-end Prtotone aero road model, but instead of a covered shell this one has very large vents in the front and rear coupled by a ventless midsection. Retail will be $
Bell: has brought their calibrated breakaway camera mount to market, and are chairing an ASTM task group to develop a standard for when the mount should pop off if you snag it.
Kali has a new round and smooth urban design with a polycarbonate blend shell and ConeHead dual-density liner called the Citi. It has an integrated eye shield and retails for $
Leatt has a new motorcycle-style full face helmet that integrates well with their neck brace, if you like those. It uses a dual density Conehead liner and round Armourgel pads that are designed to allow the liner to move in the helmet in a manner similar to MIPS.
Nutcase has a new Metroride that retains the round, smooth shape of the classic skate helmet but adds two very large front vents. It will retail for $
KH+ has the Shake for , a road helmet with a nicely rounded compact shape. Angular lines wrap around to add some interest to the rear. Retail is $
Specialized has a new "value" helmet, the Centro. It is a road model promoted as urban with well-rounded shape and large vents with a blocky appearance on the sides. Retail is $
Promised: manufacturers tell us as they did last year to expect new folding helmets, new models fitting Asian heads and new helmet liner materials, all "coming soon" to the US market.
Not promised: nobody is working on new models for heads larger than 65cm, although we keep pointing out the need.
Extended coverage appearanceMany companies are now producing chunky "mountain style" helmets with the appearance of enhanced rear coverage. The first we saw five years ago was a Toby Henderson design, the THE F. Many others now have similar models. All are worth a look if you want a helmet with more rear coverage like a skate helmet, but big vents for bicycling. In addition to the extended coverage there is a fit advantage, since helmets with lower rear coverage are less likely to ride up in front to expose your forehead, and are generally easier to fit well. They may seem to be the answer if your helmet seems to perch way up on top of your head.
Note, however that not every helmet in this style actually has additional rear coverage. Manufacturers know that many buyers are looking for that, so they are designed with the L shape from the side, but when you put on many of them and position them correctly on your head the "additional coverage" disappears as the front edge comes down to your brow line. We refer to all of them as "has the appearance of additional coverage" below, and you have to verify on your own head whether or not they actually work out that way when correctly positioned.
Rounder, Smoother HelmetsWe recommend smooth helmets that do not have points to snag when you crash. The selection of well-rounded models is extensive for , and nearly every manufacturer has one or more. They include almost all "skate-style" and BMX helmets, most toddler helmets, most urban helmets and many aero road helmets. You can find them below by searching on "rounder".
Consumer Reports PicksWe recommend checking Consumer Reports for the only available brand and model recommendations based on actual test lab results. Their most recent helmet article appeared in the June, edition of their print magazine, and rated 23 models. They gave Excellent impact protection ratings to the Scott Arx Plus, Bontrager Circuit, Lazer Cyclone, Poc Trabec, Louis Garneau Sharp, Giro Reverb and Raskullz Mohawk. A Cannondale was rated as a Don't Buy Safety Risk after questionable buckle testing. The only Excellent for ventilation was for the Specialized Echelon.
Value HelmetsMany manufacturers have quality inmolded helmets priced in the $30 to $40 range. There are many, many more very decent inexpensive helmets on the market that are not inmolded, but have their shell taped or glued on. 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. Our sampling with lab tests showed that cheap and expensive helmet performance was strikingly similar.
Bell's True Fit models produce a good fit with minimal fiddling in some competitively priced helmets found in discount stores.
Extra Large HelmetsSee our page on helmets for very large heads.
Extra Small Helmets - XXS sizeThe smallest helmets advertised are for 44 cm ( inch) heads. We have a page with brands, explaining why it is difficult to find tiny helmets.
Helmets for Rounder Head ShapesSome heads have the rounder shape often associated with Asian parentage. The OGK-Kabuto catalog has a graphic explaining it. A few manufacturers in the US market have models they have identified as providing a good fit for rounder heads. Most are using a different pad set in an otherwise standard helmet, or use ring fit. Kask has a new Mojito XL model fitting larger heads up to 64cm/". We have more details on our page on fitting rounder heads. You can search the rest of this page for "Asian head" to find some current models.
Helmets for Narrow HeadsAt least two manufacturers have identified for us their models for longer, narrower heads: Cratoni and Lazer. In addition, riders have said that the Lazer Genesis/Helium fits their longer head better. (The Genesis was also praised by one user with a rounder Asian head.) TSG and Bell have helmets with a segmented liner that they say can adapt to narrow heads. Most other helmet manufacturers expect you to fit narrow heads with thick side pads.
Downhill Mountain Bike Racing HelmetsMore manufacturers now have helmets certified to the ASTM F Downhill Mountain Bike Racing Helmet standard. Coverage and impact requirements are tougher than the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Note that these still fall short of the impact protection offered by the motorcycle helmets used by some downhill racers.
Hard Shell Bike HelmetsSome riders still prefer a vented hard shell bike helmet for road or trail riding. There are a few real bicycle helmet designs, including the Abus Hyban and the Pro-Tec Cyphon. There is an Aegis model as well. Alpha has at least one model as well, and the Spiuk Rasgo comes close. If you can make do with small vents there are many skate style helmets with hard ABS shells and a few urban style helmets that are designed to meet the CPSC bike helmet standard and have CPSC stickers inside.
Folding HelmetsThere are more folding designs available or coming to market in , spurred in part by the need for them by users of shared bicycle programs. There is at least one new folder that meets the CPSC standard for sale in the US, the Closca. We have a page up on folding helmets.
Chrono or Time Trial HelmetsChrono models are long-tailed, short-tailed or super-round time trial helmets designed only for pursuit racing and time trials. Many are unvented, and the ones with tails do not make sense for normal road riding. You will know you need one when your coach says so. See our page on chrono models for more detailed writeups on them, or search for chrono below.
"Women-Specific" DesignsMost women-specific designs differ only in colors and graphics from the "male" helmet model they are based on, but some of them are lovely helmets. Ponytail ports are usually limited to small spaces above the rear stabilizer. Many helmets 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 carefully. A few of the others who claim "ponytail compatibility" are noted below. Many riders find it better to 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. Manufacturers of hat-style helmets, including Abus, Bandbox, Yakkay and Casqu' en Ville, normally have female fashion designs among their covers. The hats could be a snagging hazard, but there is no test in the CPSC standard for snagging. See our page on hat-style helmets for more.
Giro's catalog had an unusually frank statement on the subject: "What about fit for women? - While it is obvious that anatomical differences between men and women can dictate different patterning and fit for many items worn on the body, the head and skull are somewhat unique. When measuring men and women's heads, there is no significant difference in the skull shape, location of skull features or the scale of the ears, eyes and nose between men and women." That was written, of course, by a person with no pony tail. Some other manufacturers just say their helmets are made for men and women.
Bern is almost unique among the manufacturers in this writeup for making different helmets for women. Their women's models are not just pastel color and graphics changes, but different helmets made with different molds. Sizes are smaller, but there is more room for hair. Some Specialized models have more space for ponytails in women's models, created by reducing the EPS liner profile in the rear and narrowing the rear stabilizer. We won't speculate on what that might do to the protection, but are sure the helmets still meet the CPSC impact standard.
Skateboard helmetsThe "skateboard" helmets now on the market in big retail stores are almost all bicycle helmets in the classic old school skate style that Pro-Tec made popular decades ago. They have small vents, but their impact protection is designed for bike riding if the sticker inside only certifies that they meet the CPSC bike helmet standard. Most have better rear coverage than road bike helmets do, and are more stable on the head because of that.
If you need a multi-impact helmet for aggressive, trick, extreme skating or skateboarding with frequent crashes, look for a true multi-impact skate model meeting the ASTM F skateboard helmet standard. The ideal is a helmet that meets both standards. We have a page listing helmets certified to both standards. Dual certification to bike and skateboard standards is the biggest advance in skateboard helmets in recent years, denoting superior protection verified in lab testing.
Made in USA HelmetsSome consumers ask us where to find a helmet made in the US, or in another country. We have a page up on where helmets are made.
If you are outside the USIn most markets you will find helmets that meet your national standard, or the European EN standard, and at least some that meet the US CPSC standard. The European bicycle helmet standard can be met with thinner impact liners and a less protective helmet than the helmet required to meet the US CPSC standard. (We have a comparison page up.) Helmets that meet the CPSC impact standard virtually always meet CEN, but the reverse is not true. Some European helmets may exceed the CEN standard by a wide margin and pass CPSC, but unless identified with a CPSC sticker inside you will not know that. Major US brands often produce less protective models with the same model names 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 judge by the brand, model or even the external appearance of the helmet, and must check the sticker inside. The Australian standard is comparable to CPSC, so US manufacturers usually market the same models there. Canada has its own standard, but it is similar to the CPSC standard and most models sold there are US models.
Cooling performanceWe 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. 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. But in wind tunnel testing the angle of the head shows up as critical, with huge performance differences when the angle moves as little as two degrees. That means cooling can vary enormously for different riders. We don't recommend that you make any purchasing decisions based on our comments on ventilation. Our primary focus is on impact protection.
PricesAlthough we don't calculate averages, manufacturers' suggested retail prices seem to be about the same as last year. Some are adjusted up or down every year, but we see mostly older models reduced this year and some high prices on new models. Whatever the MSRP is, competition forces many street prices lower, particularly on high end models. The lowest prices in discount stores in the US market have increased now to a range of $10 to $18, and are mostly in the $20 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 $35 and go up as high as you want. For many buyers we think the fitting service is well worth the extra you pay in a bike store. The exception would be the Bell True Fit models in discount stores, with easy adjustment. 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 at current exchange rates, particularly in Europe.
What We Did Not Find Again This Year
The Concussion Helmet: There is still no reasonably vented bicycle helmet on the market identified as an "anti-concussion" or softest-landing helmet. The concussion issue, so much in the news since , is not simple. A softer landing will usually help, but there are other factors in a crash, some that a helmet design can't even address. Many point to rotational force as a prime concussion mechanism, but that does not mean simply jerking the head in a rotational direction, since rotational forces in the brain can result from a simple straight-on impact. The MIPS slip-plane patent holders say it addresses the concussion issue but that is not proven yet with field experience. We think that if you choose a helmet with a round, smooth shape it will shift on your head when you hit anyway, so we question the value of the MIPS slip-plane design. A skate-style or BMX helmet with more coverage may be coupled more closely with the head, though, and for those the slip-plane could make a difference.
We have a page up on anti-concussion helmets.
For those who have had a recent concussion: we recommend that you stop looking for an anti-concussion helmet. The second concussion will occur with much less impact. No helmet will stop that. Listen to your doctor about when you can return to cycling.
The Seniors' Helmet: There are no helmets promoted for the needs of those over 65, who need softer landings in an impact. 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. Brain tolerance is calculated for younger people and there is not much research on the tolerance for seniors. But since everything in your body is less flexible and more brittle it is likely that the brain is too.
The More Severe Impact Helmet: 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 the constant threat of lawsuits we may never see that kind of advertising. The alternative is to select a motorcycle helmet, tested to more severe standards.
The Electronic Rearview Mirror Helmet: Electronics have still not been applied to make bicycle helmets safer. We have yet to see on our market a mainstream helmet with a rear-facing camera and a heads-up display to replace your old mirror. The introduction of the Video Head model with a built-in video camera in indicated that may be getting closer. Bell bought Video Head in , so there may be more development coming.
If no other information is in the writeup for each brand or model, these features are assumed:
- The typical bicycle helmet listed below is a road, urban, aero road enduro or mountain bike helmet with a thin plastic shell outside and a thick Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam liner inside. Except for the cheaper models, the foam liner is inmolded, meaning that the plastic shell is placed in the mold and the foam material of the liner is expanded into it, forming one solid piece. For lower-priced models the shell is generally molded separately and then taped or glued on the foam liner. The typical helmet 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. Most aero road helmets are made for aerodynamic performance, usually with few vents.
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 inside. Vents are usually minimal, and there is normally a very large visor bolted firmly on, a possible snagging hazard. Most manufacturers are unable to tell us what force level causes their visors and other mounts to detach in testing. (ASTM is working on a breakaway helmet accessories standard but it is not yet ready.) The ASTM standard for BMX helmets is F Some BMX models meet more demanding motorcycle helmet standards for impact management.
Downhill mountain bike racing models are similar to BMX but generally lighter and have vents. Most of them have minimal or no impact padding inside the chinbar. Unless noted they are certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard rather than the tougher ASTM F standard for downhill helmets.
Chrono helmets are teardrop-shaped for time trials and pursuit events. They may have extremely elongated aero tails, medium tails or no tails at all. They usually have minimal vents if any. They are not suitable for street riding. We have a page up on chrono models.
Skate style helmets are the classic round, smooth shape pioneered by Pro-Tec in the 's with ABS plastic hard shells and small vents. Most now have EPS liners and are certified to the CPSC one-hit bicycle helmet standard rather than the ASTM F Skateboard standard that requires multiple impact protection. Some are dual certified to both standards, and we recommend looking for that.
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. With a hard blow the helmet can still be knocked out of position or even fly off if the straps are not adjusted correctly.
We note the largest and smallest sizes available where relevant, and comment on 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 will usually be lower. There are often deals on closeouts of prior year models either online or in bike stores.
We have a page of definitions for most of the terms used below in addition to the page explaining helmet types.
You can find additional info on each of the helmets below at the manufacturer's site. Many of them are also demonstrated on YouTube videos, and many sites have detailed reviews.
Brands and Models
6D has a high-end BMX motorcycle-style helmet, the ATB-1 with a full chinbar and carbon fiber shell. It has their proprietary liner, with a layer of EPS supplemented by plastic constructs between the inner liner and the shell that are claimed to help manage energy by allowing angular movement similar to the MIPS concept. It is certified to the ASTM F downhill mountain bike racing standard as well as CPSC. It has the usual large bolted-on visor, but with plastic mounting screws designed to shear off on impact or if the visor is snagged, although the force level necessary to shear the pins is not noted. The website says it is "For bicycle competition use only" whatever that means. The low-impact technology comparisons are all with helmets that meet motorcycle standards, and must of necessity pass much more severe impact tests, raising questions about how the 6D might compare to other F downhill helmets. The retail price is $ Worth a look because it meets the downhill standard. The LA Times has published a good article about the design, and its competitors.
Abus is a German company also known in the US as a manufacturer of locks. 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 provides strap adjustment every time you fasten it and would be easy to tighten with one hand when your strap loosens from sweat on a ride. (Few riders would think to do that.) Their rear stabilizers are also adjusted by a ratchet device. Visors mount with breakaway pins. Some models have bug net in the front vents. The company's philosophy on vents and safety is summed up: "The more air openings a helmet has, the harder the absorbing material must be to compensate the weight saved. However, the protection level suffers thereby. The challenge is to find the best solution for a fresh head and good shock absorption." We agree with that, but some models below raise questions. Abus has a "universal" rain cap in neon yellow that covers the whole helmet without vents. We don't have an Abus price sheet, so prices below are from websites. Abus gives a separate name to the visor version of its models, and we don't always figure that out. Abus is making progress in bringing their brand to the US market. bicycle helmets include:
- Hyban: new for , an urban model with an ABS hard shell that has the round, smooth shape we recommend. Similar to other urban models with blocky, rectangular vents, but with a hard shell instead of thin polycarbonate. Has insect mesh in the front vents, a rain cover and a rear LED light. Retail is $ Mount K: new for , elongated style road helmet with a rounded profile but tabs in the rear. Inmolded, and comes with rain cover and built in LED light. Ring fit. Also comes as the Mount X: for kids and youth. In-Vizz: Introduced in , this road helmet has huge vents and an unfortunate upswept tab in the rear. It has an integrated polycarbonate eye shield that pulls down to protect the eyes or slides up into the helmet if not needed. Comes in a visible white option or in black with neon stripes. There is a neon yellow rain cover available. Abus has been selling this one in Europe and Canada, and expects to introduce it in the US in Cyclonaut: A cloth-covered skate-style helmet for urban use. We don't like cloth covers substituting for plastic that slides well in impacts. No vents. Abus is positioning this one as stylish urban wear. Performance: This helmet has a unique liner that combines one layer of conventional EPS expanded polystyrene and one layer of cardboard honeycomb. We have a page up on the Kranium technology with more photos of this helmet. Retail in the UK is 80 pounds.
The cardboard layer of the liner can be made from recycled materials and would be considered sustainable, but the EPS layer is no better than other helmets in this review. Urbanaut: A nicely rounded commuter-style helmet with many innovations. The foam liner is dual-density, and the shell uses both ABS and polycarbonate. The liner is inmolded. The two long narrow vents can be closed with a winter kit when used as a ski helmet or for cold or rainy weather. There is a tartan "Scots" version, but it appears to have external cloth and ridges. Straps are leather. Ring fit. An interesting helmet. Meets the European CEN bike and ski helmet standards. Retail is 85 Euros and up. Pedelec: sold as a helmet for electric bike riders, a nicely rounded profile with modest vents and inmolded. Has nicely integrated rain cover that stows in a rear pocket. An interesting helmet, but Abus apparently certifies it only to the CEN bike helmet standard. LED rear light. Ring fit. Retail is about 85 euros. Metronaut: a hat-style urban helmet designed to look like an oversized cap, with a cloth cover and long visor. No vents. Comes in tweed and solid colors. Retails for 55 to 70 euros. The hats could be a snagging hazard, but there is no test in the CPSC standard for snagging. See our page on hat-style helmets for more. Aven-U: a skate-style helmet but has a thin shell and is inmolded. Has narrow rectangular vents. Retails for 45 to 60 euros. The hard shell version of the same design is the Scraper, retailing for 20 to 45 euros, and in small sizes as the Scraper Kid. Urban-I: a road helmet with reasonable vents and a well-rounded external profile. It is inmolded with reflective vent frames. There is a bright "Signal Yellow" or Signal Orange options with LED flasher and reflective shell. There is also a Signal Red, as well as a Signal Grey with reflectors. Magnetic buckle. Comes in XL size for up to 65cm heads. Retail is 45 to 60 euros online. Lane-U: a road model with reasonable vents and a well-rounded external profile, similar to the Urban-I. There is also a Signal model with extra reflectors. Retail is 35 to 60 euros. Appears to be another good compromise between vent area and foam. Arica: a road model with large vents. With visor it is the Aduro. The child size is the Chaox. The retail price varies a lot for either model, centering around 50 euros. Raxtor: a road model with large vents and a single high point in the rear. Mostly dark colors. Win-R: a road model with large vents and a high shelf with small points in the rear. Billed as a "crossover" model for urban and touring. Hill Bill: pitched as a mountain bike helmet, with one unfortunate pronounced snag point on the top rear. There is a very visible Signal Orange option. Retail is about 90 to euros. S-Force Mark IV: a lightweight road helmet with a compact profile with rear points and big vents. Retail is 75 to euros. Also available with visor as the S-Force Peak. We don't know how this one ties into the Abus philosophy statement in the intro above about keeping the vents reasonable to maintain plenty of foam. S-Force Pro: a lightweight road helmet with a single high rear point and big vents. Comes with visor. Tec Tical Pro V.2: a racy road helmet with lots of rear points and big, long vents. Retail is 75 to euros. There is a team model for the Bora-Argon 18 pro cycling team. New Gambit: a road helmet with reasonable vents and a very nicely rounded external profile. The value helmet in Abus' line, at 35 to 40 euros. Chaox: a road model for kids and youth with points in the rear, based on the Arica. Scraper v.2: a skate-style model with round ABS hard shell and small rectangular vents in two rows. Has a brim molded in. Comes in some colors as well as black and blue. Ring fit. Also available in bright colors as the Scraper Kid v.2 for kids with heads as small as 51cm. Chilly: a child model with good-sized vents retailing for about 26 to 45 euros. Also comes as the Super Chilly with nicer fittings and an LED light in the rear. Smiley: new for , a toddler model with vents, insect net and some bright colors available. Flattened rear to avoid tipping the child's head forward when riding in a trailer or bike carrier. Fits heads 45 to 50cm. Rookie: similar to the Smiley, a child's and youth model with vents, insect net and some bright colors available. Flattened rear to avoid tipping the child's head forward when riding in a trailer or bike carrier. Fits heads 46 to 57cm. Hubble: a toddler model with front vents and an innovative system that prevents direct sunlight from striking the head. Has a flattened rear profile to prevent the helmet from pushing the child's head forward while riding in a bike carrier or trailer. Ring fit, and the XS size starts at 45cm. Retail is about 25 euros online.
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. Action has models from other manufacturers as well.
Action Bicycle - Acclaim helmets
Action and Senhai are both brands produced by Guangdong Senhai Sporting Goods in China. They have a wide range of bicycle, skate and ski helmets. Their models are mostly sized between 48 and 61cm, but one large one goes up to 64cm.
Aegis is a Taiwanese company with an extensive line of helmets, who recently began using their brand Aegis rather than Hopus as the company identifier. 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. Aegis also has thin-shell models, some inmolded, and a unique fiberglass model that is inmolded. Some have stainless steel bug net in the vents. 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, but in Aegis launched their own Aegis brand. They have a unique halo lighting system that uses LED's to light a 30 cm diameter ring around the helmet, on an inmolded model that retails for a very modest $20 to $ We found the light output of the halo ring disappointing. Aegis now sells mainly in Europe. They use dual-density liners, making the helmet lighter and perhaps improving low impact performance. Aegis has sizes in most models to fit 50 to 62 cm heads, but some models only go to 60 cm.
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 Tung Kuang below.
All Pro and All Top
Alpha helmets have previously been found in the US under two other 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 very well-rounded Argo Nuts 2 with an ABS hard shell and a flashing LED taillight built in. They have skate and toddler models as well. 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 cm (18 inches). It is advertised as meeting both the CPSC standard and the Snell B95A standard, but we were unable to identify it among those on the current Snell certification list. As of December, , the Best Price Toys site still includes an incredible statement: "Safety Tip: For maximum protection, CPSC recommends replacing after 1 year of use." Whoever wrote that should be ashamed--CPSC has never made that recommendation.
Answer Racing has BMX models and motorcycle helmets bearing their ANSR brand and complementing their line of racing gear. Models include:
- Faze: full chinbar downhill racing helmet, retailing for $ SNX : another motorcycle style model, meeting the DOT motorcycle helmet standard and retailing for $ Also comes in smaller sizes as the SNX Youth. Evolve II fiberglass shell model meeting the Snell motorcycle helmet standard, selling for $
This Armor is the brand distributed by SDS Skateboards in the US. They have a skate model with the usual hard ABS shell that comes as the Youth Series, Old School Series and Graphic Series. It is the classic skate shape with small vents and CPSC certification, but is not certified to the ASTM F skateboard standard. There are some bright, very visible colors along with drab camouflage. Retail runs from $20 to $ You can ignore the statement that their helmets use "high density ABS foam." That's the shell material, not the foam. And the ace skateboarders in videos on the SDS page don't have a helmet on, either. See below for a second Armor. We don't know if they are related.
This Armor is a brand of kid's helmets. The web address is vikingxkids.com.
Armor Manufacturing Corporation
Ascent helmets are made in Taiwan, and sold in the US market by Performance and Bike Nashbar. There are at least five models, none of which we have seen. Some are inmolded, others have less expensive glued-on shells. Retail prices start at $20 plus shipping. The Strada at $40 has more radical lines and rear point.
Aurora is a Chinese company with an extensive line of helmets that are made to be branded by the importer in the country of sale. Some of their helmets are shown on the website with the Tecmotion brand.
Aurora Sport / Tecmotion
See O'Neal below
Bandbox makes hat-style helmets. They use a compact basic helmet with small round vents, and sell separate covers that disguise it as a hat. They are more hat-like than most similar brands. According to the company's video, they are produced as a cottage industry with a lot of manual labor, using an elastomeric foam that they say meets the CPSC standard. It is designed to be thinner than most helmets. There are models shaped like ladies hats, leather caps, cowboy hats and many other styles, all hand-made and all with the same small vents in the crown. The hats could be a snagging hazard, and according to the website they are attached securely enough to withstand a 35mph downhill, but there is no test in the CPSC standard for snagging. See our page on hat-style helmets for more. Sized to fit heads from 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61cm). The basic helmet is $60, plus the cost of a hat add-on from $40 to $ The FAQ page says "All Bandbox Helmets have lifetime guarantees. If you are in a serious collision which caused impact to the helmet, please return it with the cost of shipping. We will replace it with a new helmet shell." Bandbox helmets are made in USA.
Barbieri Accessories began in 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 two adult helmets and one toddler model. All are certified to European standards.
- CAS/IN: a road model with rear points, inmolded, with larger vents. CAS/IN: Another road model with rear points, introduced in with glued-on shell. Helmet: Barbieri's original model, with a distinctive bumpout in the back. No longer in their web catalog but still on the web page. Kid Adjustable: A vented toddler helmet with ring fit and taped on shell. Also comes as the Kid Small, apparently in a smaller size, but also with a ring fit.
BBB (Bikeparts for Bikers by Bikers) is an aftermarket bike component manufacturing company founded in the Netherlands in They distribute a wide variety of bike parts and accessories, and have been expanding to new markets. In Europe they have 27 helmet models. Some part of their helmet line may reach the US as well. High end models have anti-bacterial pads and insect mesh in the front vents. Most have reflective rear stickers. BBB attempts to position itself as a value brand.
- Varallo may be the most interesting helmet in the BBB line, an inmolded "mountain bike" helmet with chunky lines and possibly more coverage in the rear. Recessed strap anchors, visor. Falcon is the top of the line road model, inmolded with carbon fiber and aluminum reinforcements. The vents are very large. It has the usual high end points at the rear, nicely recessed strap anchors and flip-open strap adjustors. There is a visible white option. Retail is about euros. With visor it's the Everest at about 10 euros more. Also comes as the Fenix without the carbon and aluminum for about euros, and in that version as the Moco with a visor for a little more. Griffon has a more rounded rear profile than the Falcon, and is inmolded for about 65 euros. Also comes for a little more as the Taurus with visor. Kite: road model, available with visor as the Elbrus. Hawk: an inmolded road model with large vents and a pronounced rear overhang, also available with visor as the Jaya. Traffic: a nice take on the commuter style, with lots of vents and a very rounded profile unfortunately spoiled for no good reason by a pronounced lip sticking up at the top. Rapido: No side vents, and the camo model has a definitely military look. Also available as the Police model in white with Police markings. Available only in size medium. Tabletop: a classic skate-shape. Child and toddler: BBB has at least six child and toddler helmets. Tribase: time trial model with a medium long tail in back and four narrow adjustable vents. Can be found for less than euros.
Bell is still the largest company in the US bicycle helmet market. They also own the Giro brand. They have been making bicycle helmets since We spend more space on their line than most others because people want the info.
Bell's big news for is the MIPS slip-plane system. You can find full descriptions of it on our MIPS page. We regard it as unproven technology, but Bell has bought a large chunk of the MIPS patent-holder company, and has provided much of the impetus for the buzz about MIPS this year. As with other MIPS models we have seen, we are not impressed with the lack of slip-plane coverage in the rear, a frequent impact area, on Bell's models.
The other big news this year is the introduction of inexpensive dual certified skate and full face helmets in Bell's discount mass-market line. You will find them in the big-box discount stores or on the web. We cover them below the bike store line.
Bell has developed a fit system called True Fit for some of their discount store models. It attempts to make fitting easier and more automatic, and in our testing it succeeded. You can check it out on our True Fit page. We consider it their most significant achievement in recent years. It is not available in bike stores, only discount stores like Target and Wal-Mart.
All of Bell's adult and youth models are now inmolded. Their toddler helmets and their mass merchant line have taped or glued-on shells. All of the models below come in white or at least one bright color combination. We found that the straps on many Bell models 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. Some models now come with Icedot stickers, a means of linking to an emergency call system. Bell's big BMX visors are held by nylon bolts, designed to shear off in a crash. Their new camera mounts are also designed to shear.
Some Bell models have a no-pinch buckle with a tab behind it that keeps skin folds out while you push the two pieces together. It is now on some adult models, presumably for seniors and others with loose neck skin.
Bell has made many changes in their line this year:
- Stoker: a round, smooth road helmet, the shape we prefer, with reasonable vents, a visible white option and an XL size that fits heads up to 65cm.
Has the appearance of extended rear coverage, but check it when level on your head to be sure. Updated in with a new visor. Retail price is $75, or $95 with MIPS. If you are hoping that MIPS will help reduce rotational forces in a crash, this is the external shape that best complements that system. Star Pro: a entry in the aero road segment, with the rounder profile we recommend and a dual density foam liner that uses less dense foam on the interior, possibly improving performance in lower energy impacts. It has vents you can close with shutters for downhill segments if you believe that will improve your performance, and at least one hi-viz yellow option. A large section of the front has no vents, and other vents neck down as they pass through the liner, raising questions about the cooling airflow. Retail is $ There is an optional clear or tinted aero eyeshield that is magnetically attached and can be stowed in the helmet for $ Gage: the top of Bell's road helmet line, introduced in , with very large vents and big points on the back. Retail is $ Muni: Bell's commuter helmet has a nicely rounded "urban commuter" profile with a full-cover shell. Has a ratcheting tab buckle that readjusts the chin strap every time it is fastened, and could be snugged up while riding if sweat causes the strap to slacken.
The Muni has a visor with a rain gutter, and a flimsy but very adjustable mirror for $15 extra that unfortunately requires you to use the visor. It comes standard with a pair of blinking LED lights built into the rear stabilizer, and it accommodates the optional Bell/Blackburn Flea series of very small head and tail lights, including one that comes with a solar charger and a "fuel gauge." Unfortunately the front Flea light also mounts on the visor. For there are hi-vis white and yellow options and reflective decals. Retail is $ Bell has a YouTube video up on the Muni. Piston: Bell's value helmet in the bike store line, retailing for $ It has reasonable vents and a well-rounded compact shape. For there is a "soft brim" version with a cap-like visor under the front line, adding $5 to the price. In women's graphics it is the Strut, the youth version is the Octane and the child version is the Buzz. For extra-large heads it is the XLP fitting heads up to 65cm. All have a one-size-fits-all ring fit. Retail is $40 for any of them. They are among the least expensive Bell models for adults and youth sold in bike stores, and probably among the better values in the Bell lineup, along with the models in Bell's discount line listed below. Solar Flare: an older design road helmet with a single pronounced shelf in the rear that retails for $ In women's graphics it is the Solara and the youth model is the Trigger. Volt RL: redesigned for , but still has pronounced points in the rear. Has a lower shell for full cover. The retail price is $ without visor or as the Volt XC with visor at $ Array: a compact road model with minimal rear bumps. Retails for $ Event: new for , a compact model retailing for $65, or with visor as the Event XC for $ Sequence: the mostly round, smooth model you should check out if the Muni or Citi are too round for your taste. It has enough edges and ridges to retain design interest. Bell is pitching it to mountain bike and city riders. For there is a visible hi-viz orange option as well as white. Vents in the Sequence are larger than the very similar Variant below, and considerably larger than the Muni. So is the price, at $ Variant: pitched for mountain biking. Like the Sequence, it has the new "compact" shape without an elongated rear, and qualifies as a "rounder, smoother" helmet, although it has one tiny shelf sticking out in the rear. It has top and bottom outer shells for full cover. Retail price is $ Slant: full-cover shell and rear overhang with points. The Slant was one of only four helmets rated by Consumer Reports in their June, article as providing superior impact performance and awarded the Best Buy tag. The design looks dated now. Retail is $ Overdrive: new for , a compact model retaining reduced points in the rear. Has nicely recessed strap anchors. The XL size fits up to 65cm heads. Retails for $ Zipper: new for , a helmet for toddlers with a compact shape that improves over last year's model, retailing for $ Full 9: a high-end downhill mountain bike racing helmet with full carbon fiber shell, chinbar. motorcycle-style design certified to CPSC, ASTM F downhill and ASTM F BMX standards, verifying the performance of the additional coverage. A carbon shell bridge keeps hair out of vents. There is a breakaway mount for cameras. Interior vent channels, with an add-on Ipod Shuffle accessory for riding up those lift lines. Magnetic cheek pads for easy removal. Compatible with the Eject removal system that alerts EMT's to features that facilitate helmet removal. Retail is $ Transfer 9: introduced in , a downhill mountain bike racing helmet with fiberglass shell and chinbar. Like the Full 9, it is certified to CPSC, ASTM F downhill and ASTM F BMX standards, verifying the performance of the additional coverage. It has most of the Full 9 features, including a breakaway mount for cameras. Compatible with the Eject removal system. The fiberglass shell adds about 5 ounces ( grams), but the price is half that of the Full 9 at $, so replacing it after a crash would be a lot less painful. Super 2: a downhill helmet updated in with the appearance of skate-style coverage, but in fact when adjusted level on the head it does not come down much further in back than the usual bike helmet. It has oval vents and a unique design at the sides with angular lines. Meets only the CPSC or CEN bike helmet standards, not the ASTM F downhill mountain bike racing standard, so the impact performance of the additional rear protection is not tested and therefore not known. Whatever the marketing, this is a helmet designed for regular bicycling, where the additional rear coverage is as welcome as it is for racing. Bolted on visor, with brow vents underneath. Goggle arms. Breakaway camera mount. Icedot sticker. Retail is $ or $ with MIPS. Also available with removable chinbar as the Super 2R retailing for $ or $ with MIPS. Sanction: a BMX/downhill full face model that replaced the venerable Bellistic. Does not meet the ASTM F downhill mountain bike standard, so its impact protection is not as good as the Transfer or Full 9. It still has a fiberglass shell, however, a nice feature at this price point. The retail price is $ The only cheaper full-face Bell is the $52 Servo in their mass-market discount line, but it lacks the fiberglass shell and looks cheap. Segment: skate-style helmet combining an ABS hard shell and a segmented EPS liner. The liner segments are joined by embedded mesh and can move a little, perhaps helping the helmet to conform to a hard-to-fit head.
The shell is flexible as well. Certified to CPSC, EN and the more demanding ASTM F BMX helmet standard, and for the first time in it is also dual certified to the ASTM F skate helmet standard that requires multiple hits on the same location. Certainly worth a look for that reason. This year there are visible white and yellow options. The youth model is the Segment Jr. Retail is $ Intersect: introduced in , another skate-style helmet combining an ABS hard shell and a segmented EPS liner. The liner segments are joined by embedded mesh and can move a little, perhaps helping the helmet to conform to a hard-to-fit head. The Intersect has very small rectangular vents rather than the round vent holes that make the Segment look old-school, and is not advertised as meeting the ASTM BMX standard although it is slightly heavier than the Segment. Retail is $ Full Flex: new for , a motorcycle-styled skate helmet that uses the segmented liner design, with a hard ABS shell and EPP foam that recovers most of its energy management capabilities after a crash. It is dual certified to both the CPSC bike standard and the ASTM F skate helmet standard, as we think all skate-style helmets should be. The moto styling comes from a side panel extending down with metal mesh vents, with the single chin strap attached. Styling aside, that makes for a very stable helmet. There is a visible white option that looks a lot less moto than the black model. This one is worth a look. Retail is $ We do not understand why there is no MIPS model available for this one, where the improved coupling of helmet and head could make that system more useful if it works. Reflex: new for , a skate-style version of the Full Flex, still dual certified but with normal skate styling on the sides and a Y-shaped retention strap. Retail is $ Javelin: a long-tailed chrono model for time trials. It has flexible side pieces to make it easier to get on and off, and a channeled liner with two front vents. Ring fit. Has a removable face shield. The tri-glides--side buckles--are fixed and cannot be adjusted, but this is not a True Fit helmet, so be sure to try it on before you buy and try to yank it off to see if it will work on your head. Retail is $
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. Models sold in Europe, even with the same name as a US model, may meet only the European CEN standard required there, not CPSC. Buyers have to check the sticker inside to be sure.
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 total sales are through Wal-Mart alone.) They are occasionally related to models from the bike store line. 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. You may need to either sew the straps after adjusting or use rubber bands under the edge of the buckles to hold the adjustments, but that is true of some of the most expensive models. Some are inmolded and others have glued-on shells referred to as "tapeless." They start around $15 to $ Many of these helmets are still produced in the US--millions of helmets each year--but labeled as containing US and Chinese components. For there is one skate-style model, the Bell USA made entirely in the US. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports does not even test the helmets in this line, since the model names change and go out of date by the time their article is published.
The rounded profiles we consider optimum have always persisted in this line, since they are cheaper to produce. And some of them have Bell's True Fit fitting system, which we recommend. Some of the skate models are dual certified to both CPSC and the ASTM F skate standard, the type of helmet we recommend for skate use.
Adult models for include the Knack, Explorer, Reflex, Rig, Torque, Surge, Connect, Impel Thalia, Hera, Bia, Moda unvented urban helmet and Surge downhill full face model, as well as the skate-style Trans, Manifold and Manifold XL for larger heads. The Trans is dual certified to CPSC and the ASTM F skate helmet standard that requires multiple hits on the same location. The Surge is certified to the same standard as Bell's full face Sanction, although it looks cheaper. Youth sizes include the Edge, Richter, Axle, Banter, Psycho, Maniac and Injector, Trans, Bike Candy and Exodus The Bike Candy is a dual certified skate helmet, and the Exodus is a smaller version of the Surge full face model. Child helmet models include the Shadow, Zoomer, Bellino, Sprite, Star, Rally, Dragster, Blast, Rival, Psycho, Injection and Shield. The Shield is new for , a unique dual certified bike/skate helmet with a chinbar lined with EPS foam (football helmet foam) "designed with the junior shredder in mind." The Maniac, Psycho and Injector are also dual certified.
Bell recalled their Exodus full-face model in May of We have more on our recalls page. It had been sold at Wal-Mart and on Amazon. It is a youth sized helmet, and is back in the lineup.
The Impulse model has been discontinued or renamed for
This line sells for low prices: $20 to $ Some models are available to non-profits in large quantities for much less than that, through an arrangement for 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"If your Bell cycling or Bell powersports helmet has been involved in an accident, you may be eligible for a discount on a new Bell replacement helmet." To learn if your helmet qualifies, please email us at [email protected] with the below information: Picture(s) of the damaged Bell helmet, Bell helmet model and serial number, Bell helmet size and color, Bell helmet manufacture date, Your full name, Your phone number, Your shipping address."
In 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 repurchased the Bell motorcycle helmet manufacturing company that it had spun off in Then Bell merged with Riddell, known as a football helmet maker. In Riddell Bell merged with Easton Sports, and after 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.
Bern's helmets are skate or ski shaped, so they are very well-rounded except for the rigid visor on one. They usually have small vents, and only one now has enough ventilation for most riders 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 action sports head protection standards" but may work better in lesser multiple impacts to prevent concussion. Just don't hit too hard! Their catalog is very clear on the helmet liners that meet impact standards and the ones that do not. You can check the sticker inside to be sure. You have to be careful: some of Bern's models come with different liners that do or don't meet the CPSC bike helmet standard. That includes their Macon, Brentwood, Watts and Brighton models. Since they look exactly the same on the outside, you must find the standards sticker inside and be very careful about the model you buy for bicycling.
For their helmet articleConsumer Reports tested the CPSC version of the Brighton, and found that it did not meet the impact performance requirements of the CPSC standard, rating it Poor.
Bern has a trademarked "Zip Mold" foam that they say uses liquid injected foam that is inmolded and is used in helmets that meet the CPSC bike helmet standard. It is expanded polyurethane (EPU) a foam in use for many years by a few Taiwanese manufacturers, and now produced by some in China as well. EPU feels so hard to the touch that it is difficult to imagine that it would manage much crash energy in lower end crashes, but it can meet the CPSC standard because there is no test at low impact velocities.
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. All models have the mount hole for the clip.
Bern is unique among the manufacturers in this writeup for making different helmets for women. Their women's models are not just pastel color and graphics changes, but different helmets made with different molds. Sizes are smaller, and there is more room left for hair.
Bern's models all have hook and loop adjusted rear stabilizers, unusual in skate-style helmets. The Morrison, Allston and Diablo all have sewn side strap junctions rather than a sliding adjustor, so make sure it fits without adjustment before buying one.
Bern's new model for was the Morrison, last year's Allston with a visor added. It is an unusual design, round and smooth with angular vents that are much larger than any other Bern model, and a unique visor that plugs into the shell with no vertical adjustment. It retails for $, or $90 as the Allston without visor.
Other bicycle models include the Nino for kids, also meeting the CEN and CPSC bicycle helmet standards and the ASTM F ski helmet standard. There is a visible white option. The girl's model is the Nina, in white and pastels. Retail is $
In the spring Bern will bring out a new model called the Prescott, inmolded with a pinned visor, retailing for $
Bern's sizes range from 48 cm in the Nino model to cm. in the Macon and Brentwood models. Those two models have three sizes of shell, with fit pads handling the intermediate sizes.
Some Bern models with EPS or Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) "Zip Mold" liners are sold in the US market, labeled with stickers certifying that they meet the CPSC standard and the ASTM F ski helmet standard. That would include the Allston, Brentwood, Berkeley, Brighton, Carbon Fiber, G2, Nino, Nina, Macon, Morrison and Watts. But the multi-impact Brock foam version of the same models would not meet CPSC. They could not be sold here as a bicycle helmet, but could legally be sold as a skateboard helmet since there is no US government standard for skate helmets. Others are certified to the CE Canoe/Kayak standard. No Bern model is listed as meeting the ASTM F skateboard helmet standard, although most of them are skate style helmets made for use by skateboarders.
For rounder (Asian) heads, Bern has a special pad kit they call the "Japan Fit" kit with top pads and inserts for their "Hard Hat" models that convert them to fit rounder heads. The kit can be ordered directly from Bern. Longer heads are accommodated by adding fit pads on the sides.
The side strap adjustors on Bern helmets hold very well, among the best we have seen. They are Bern's own brand. For Bern added some bright neon colors in their line.
Retail prices for Bern's models are mostly in the $45 to $ range, but can be much higher with options, and the carbon models are $
Bern will replace crashed helmets with EPS (one crash) liners for half the retail price.
Bianchi markets team helmets to match their bikes. They have several models, mostly available in trademark Bianchi celeste blue. The helmets are made by Lazer of Belgium, and correspond to Lazer models of the same number. We found six models on the Bianchi website, ranging from 49 to euros. Two of them fit heads up to 64cm. In the US market they have the Neon at $60 and the Spear at $
Biologic has a unique folding helmet called the Pango. It was formerly marketed by Dahon in Europe. It is the most interesting design of the folding helmets we have seen over the years. It has a round, smooth profile, although the surface is a plastic mesh. Here it is unfolded:
Then the sides slide up into the top.
And the back folds down.
Here is a YouTube clip with Biologic's Josh demonstrating the folding and unfolding, and the ratcheting fit using rear tabs, something the rider does each time. Josh's head appears to be of Asian parentage, so perhaps the Pango fits rounder heads. Fits 55 to 61 cm heads. Outer panels are replaceable. The Pango is not certified to the CPSC standard, so it is not be available in the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. The Pango has a visible white option, and still retails for $ on the Biologic site. Biologic is an international company, shipping from Taiwan.
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:
"The cranium comprises zones of maximum resistance called also the resistance pillars of cranium and fragile zones. Certain fragile zones are crossed by arteries located in furrows situated on the inner surface of the skull. The fractures of the fragile zones may wound the brain by intracranial haemorrhages.
BiOS is the first helmet in the world designed to distribute the impact in a way adapted to the resistance of the various zones of the head. Because of its patented anatomical design, BiOS better absorbs the energy by deviating the impact towards the resistance pillars of the cranium and thus better protecting its fragile zones."
There are few skull fractures in bike crashes if the rider is wearing a decent helmet. It is difficult to see how redirecting impact toward stronger areas of the skull could protect better against the total g forces to the brain that are causing the injury.
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 impact angles vary so much, while 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. Thinner helmets have to stop the head in less distance than thicker helmets, so they stop the head faster. That's based on the laws of physics that cannot be repealed by tricky design.
Bios also maintains that the design is adapted to brain vulnerabilities and not just to skull strength.
BiOS says their helmets are for bicycling, roller skating, skateboarding, kite surfing, rafting, kayaking, jet skiing, paragliding "and other outdoor or indoor sports." The only statement we can find on their site says: "BiOS was tested in conformity with standards NF EN , NF EN The results are spectacular: up to 6 times better than the requirements of the standards." 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 about 1/6 of the permitted g in the test. A sample of the helmet that we bought in December of 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 times better than required by the standards." There is more info on their French page than the English version.
Prices on the website are reduced this year to 99 euros, plus shipping of another 10 to 21 euros. There are custom logos available for 19 euros more, reflective stickers for 10 euros, extra pad sets recommended for "intensive use" at 6 euros for a pair and a signature model for an additional euros. We paid $ US with shipping for the sample we ordered in December of before prices were lowered. 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. The site says they are custom molded, but there is no selection for a size greater than 61cm.
At the bottom of the BiOS web pages appears a small "Made in France." Bios informs us that all of the major components of their helmets are made in France.
BiOS will replace a helmet for the original owner if it is structurally damaged by a head impact for 10% to 50% of its original price depending on "the importance of the head impact." They don't explain that further on their website. The offer is valid for the Carbone and Bix for 2 years after the original purchase date, and for the Anatomic for one year.
Whimsically named for its low wages, this company has one full face motorcycle-styled model for BMX that sells for $
Black Market Mercenary Labor
Trek supplies a wide line of bikes and accessories to dealers, and their helmet graphics are designed to complement your Trek or Bontrager bike. They market the helmet line now under the Bontrager brand . All are inmolded. Some models have reflective panels. Most have ring fit systems. Many have a women's model with different colors and graphics. Current models are:
Bontrager - Trek
- Bontrager Velocis: Trek's top of the line road model, inmolded with a lower shell covering the whole surface. Has a compact shape, pronounced rear points and large vents. Carbon-look bridging between vents, and carbon internal reinforcement with internal strap anchors to avoid bumps on the shell. Visor. Retails for $ Bontrager Specter: road model with a compact shape and rear points. Has two sections with composite reinforcement showing. Internal strap anchors to avoid bumps. Retails for $, or for $ as the Specter XR with visor. Bontrager Circuit: an elongated road model with sharp rear points, inmolded and retailing for $ Also available in a women's model. Consumer Reports rated the impact performance of this helmet in June, as Excellent. Bontrager Starvos: Trek says "reduce your risk of injury by wearing the Bontrager Starvos helmet." Their other models emphasize putting you ahead of the racing pack. The Starvos is their "entry level" helmet, an elongated road model with sharp rear points, inmolded with the same internal strap anchors providing a smooth surface on the shell. It retails for $ Bontrager Rally: road model with long vents coming to a rear point. Ring fit. Retail is $ Bontrager Quantum: road model with long vents coming to a rear point. Ring fit. Retail is $ Also comes in a "Women Specific Design" model. Bontrager Solstice: road model with long vents coming to a blunt rear point. Ring fit. Also comes in a youth size as the Bontrager Solstice Youth, rated highly in by Consumer Reports. Retail is $45, or $40 for the Youth. Bontrager Big Dipper: very nicely rounded child helmet fitting heads 48 to 52 cm. with large oval vents on the top only, graphics and an anti-pinch chin pad. For it is also back as the Little Dipper, an infant-toddler model fitting down to size 46 cm. Retail for either is $
Bravo (or "Bravo?" with a question mark added) is the house brand of Asctechs.com/El Sol Trading. They have Signature Series and Classic Series skate-style helmets in the classic skate shape. Said to be certified for bicycling, inline skating, skateboarding and snowboarding, although specific standards they may pass are not identified. If the website is to be taken at face value, it would have to be dual certified to bicycle and skateboard standards, but searching their site for "standard" did not return any hits. The helmets 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 $50 range, and there are some bright colors including chrome along with the usual black and moss green. For , Asctechs has added an Atlas X-treme Sport model. It has unusual styling, with a round and smooth upper section seemingly grafted onto a lower slotted section in the rear. We suspect the coverage is not as good as the first impression would indicate once you level the helmet on the head. There is nothing on the website about certification for this one, but it is listed in XXL sizes to fit up to 68cm heads (US size 8 1/2, /8 inches). That would be the largest helmet available, but we can't find it anywhere on a retail dealers page, so it may not really be in the market. Asctechs has motorcycle helmets as well, labeled as meeting the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
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 helmets under the brands Kryptonics, Pulse, VFX Gear and World Industries. We have not seen the helmets and do not have their retail pricing.
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. All are inmolded. Most have bug net in the vents. All are listed as meeting the CEN bike helmet standard and some meet the US CPSC standard. Our retail prices are outdated. Their models include:
- City Bike>: Round, smooth road helmet with many vents. May be on its way out, but still available on Briko's site. : introduced in , a compact style helmet with a rear shelf spoiling the profile. The chinstrap is covered with leather. Ring fit with a roller adjustment. Retail is $ Liberty: worth a look for its very round and smooth profile and available hi-visibility neon yellow. Has a small built-in lip in the front forming a partial visor. Extended coverage on the sides. Retail is $80, or $85 for the high vis. Also comes as the Junior in small and medium, including a clunky-looking visor. Mustang: An updated compact design, nicely rounded with a minimal rear point. Has an internal carbon fiber cage and a lower shell covers almost all of the foam in the rear. The carbon model has exposed composite. Nicely recessed strap anchors and excellent strap fittings that should hold adjustment very well. This one meets the CPSC standard for the US market. Retail is $ The Mustang Carbon has been dropped. Falco: a compact-profile road model with a modest rear point. Retail is $ Raptor: an older elongated road model with a pronounced rear point. European model. Retail is $ Shire: an elongated design with many rear points. Shares the same excellent strap fittings with the Mustang. Retail is $80, and it comes in neon yellow. This is Briko's best seller in the US. Paint: a youth (small) helmet that is reasonably well-rounded but has a strange profile that rises in a flat plane to a ridge before dropping off in the rear. Comes in bright colors. European model. Pony: toddler model with vents and a very nicely rounded profile. Inmolded. Has bug net in the front vents, and some bright color options. European model. Street: Briko's skate style model with hard ABS shell and small vents.
All of Cannondale's models are inmolded. We have not seen their line yet, so these comments are based on their website and emails with Cannondale staff.
- Cypher: top of Cannondale's line, a road helmet with long rear snag points. The dual density foam is used to lower weight and open up larger vents. With some trim and feature upgrades from the Teramo, it retails for $ Teramo: a road helmet with long rear snag points. Retail for the Teramo is $, or $ for matte black with green visor. Consumer Reports broke this helmets buckle their testing and rated it in June, as "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" We disagree and have a page up on that. Ryker: a more compact road model with better-rounded rear profile, but a single-density liner. Retail is $ Radius: road model with rear points. Retail is $ Quick: the value helmet in the Cannondale line is a road helmet with projecting rear shelf. Still inmolded at $40 retail. Kid's Quick: a toddler helmet that bears no resemblance to the adult Quick above. Inmolded with vents and Cannondale's only nicely rounded profile. Single density liner. Retail is $
Cannondale says their helmets meet the appropriate standard for the market where they are sold, so we would not buy one of their European models that was certified only to the CEN standard.
Cannondale will replace your crashed helmet for 50% of the retail price, but there are many requirements to meet.
Capix is a Canadian brand marketed in Canada through the Canadian Tire stores. Most of their helmets are skate-style models with ABS hard shells, but there is one inmolded bicycle model, the Hellion. It is a nicely rounded urban commuter style helmet with reasonably large vents. The side strap buckles do not hold well. Retail for the Hellion is $70 Canadian.
Carnac, a noted French bike shoe maker, introduced its first helmet model, the Hades in The Hades is constructed with uniquely angular planes rather than flowing or aerodynamic lines. In black, it appears to be inspired by the F Stealth fighter plane, itself a 25 year old design that is being phased out. The Hades is inmolded with slippery strap adjustors and a padded chin strap. Sizes fit 54 to 62 cm heads. We find little to recommend about it, unless you like the unusual style. Here is the Carnac catalog for occasions when their site is unreachable.
Carrera is an Italian company better known for winter sport helmets. Their helmets have Italian stylishness, moderate to large rear points, large vents, and some reflective trim. All are inmolded. We don't know which models may be CPSC certified for sale in the US market. All of Carrera's models are available in bright visible colors, and have good locking side buckles on the straps.
Accordion: a folding helmet initially dubbed the "Accordion" model. It is made of strips joined by an elastic frame that opens to provide vents between the strips and folds into a solid piece to reduce the width for storage. Said to be inspired by the old racers' "hairnets." This YouTube clip from the Eurobike show shows it in action, and there is more on it here. Carrera says it fits well because of the folding construction. We don't like the gaps between the strips on the front edge, leaving corners that might do more damage to your face in a crash than a continuous edge would. It is on the Carrera web page. Designed only to the European EN standard, so not available in the US. Retail on the web is about $80 for the standard model, and there is a Premium model as well. Radius: an elongated shape with unique aluminum cross braces between the vents, and Carrera's top of the line. The same shape with different trim and features comes as the Razor, C-Storm, Artiglio and Aria. Cyclone: inmolded with a lower shell coming all the way down, with a rounded top profile and a compact shape but ending in a moderate but high point giving it a blocky appearance in the rear. Blitz: lines sweep around to points in the rear. The same shape with different trim and features comes as the Gravity and Breeze. Velodrome: lines sweep around to the rear, but this is the compact shape with minimal rear points. The same shape with different trim and features comes as the Rocket, Shake, Joy, Hook and the Hurricane. Edge: larger and fewer vents, with the compact shape and a modest rear shelf. Boogiee: a child's helmet with large vents and a smooth, rounded profile. Pepe: a toddler helmet with vents along the centerline and bug net in the front vents. X: Carrera's skate model, in the classic skate configuration. TT Viper: a long-tail time trial helmet, with soft contours in the shell, no vents and a section designed to lie flat on the shoulder.
Casco is a German company whose helmets we do not see in the US market. In addition to about a dozen bike helmet models they make helmets for equestrian, snow and firefighting use. Their Upsolute models are inmolded. They make some of the roundest, smoothest shell configurations available. Some are unique designs, but our descriptions come from the website and catalog since the only Casco model we have seen is the Warp II. Their website info on standards includes only CEN and the German DIN standard, not the US CPSC standard, probably explaining why we do not see them in the US market. Back in , Casco informed us that they are looking into CPSC certification, and we hope to see them here soon.
The website says that inmolded CASCO helmets with their add-on Monocoque-Inmold are heat-resistant up to degrees C ( degrees F), a claim we have never seen before from any manufacturer. Baking EPS foam at that temperature for any period of time normally results in deterioration, with the foam eventually 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. Most come in two models, fitting 52 to 57 cm heads or cm.
Casco has several models with nearly perfect round profiles and numerous vents. Those CEN-standard helmets would be worth a look if you are willing to settle for less than full CPSC protection. Our
Casco models include:
- Warp-Sprint: an almost perfectly round and smooth track sprinter/pursuit helmet with an above-the-nose shield completing the rounding. It has 12 tiny vents that look like hollow rivets, costs euros and only meets the CE standard, but the shape is flawless for crashing. It has a section of six raised rubber dimples in the rear to lower air adhesion there. 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 earlier Warp II sample we bought. The same shape has been used in other Casco helmets, without the face shield and with different construction. It retails for Euros ( with visor) and according to the CASCO site it is certified to the CPSC standard. E-Motion Cruiser: designed for users of electric bikes, the E-Motion looks a lot like the Warp II, with a very round, smooth profile and tiny round vents. Also comes as the E-Motion Air Control, eliminating even the tiny round vents and using small rear vents that can be closed by a slider. It is also sold as a ski helmet. Meets only the CEN bike helmet standard. Retail is euros for the Cruiser and euros for the Air Control. Ares Mountain: a conventional road helmet with points everywhere, and a roll bar visible in the center vent, retailing for euros. Inmolded. The bright red model has a color-matched red visor. One mm larger than most Casco models, fitting 55 to 63 cm heads. Retail is euros. Becomes the Ares Road when sold without visor, for euros. Activ-TC: an urban helmet with a very round profile despite some angular lines that give it some style. Has reflective material, and a unique Casco buckle. Retail is 70 euros. Cuda: a very nicely rounded profile, almost as well-rounded as the Warp, but with vents. Inmolded, with apparent extra coverage in the rear. If it met the CPSC standard it would be a strong competitor in the US with less-ventilated urban helmets. Retail is euros. Daimor Mountain: inmolded with rear points, retailing for 90 euros, or 80 euros without visor as the Daimor Road. Also comes as the Rebell in youth size fitting 55 to 59 cm ( to inches) or the Rebell Lady for women, each selling for 70 euros. Viper MX: a downhill racing model in the older elongated form with a removable chinbar. Inmolded, with the aluminum roll bar. It retails for euros plus another 60 euros for the chinbar. G2 Generation: a skate-shaped helmet with bicycle-style vents, with a nicely rounded shape and apparently very good coverage but a strange screwed-on perforated plate in the front. Inmolded. Comes as the Mini-Generation in a "junior" version fitting heads as small as 50 cm ( inches). There is a Fun Generation in bright colors and small sizes, and an FM-Generation with more graphics. Retails for 40 to 50 euros. 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. Sportiv-TC: a very well-rounded road helmet similar to the Activ-TC but with more vents and a different visor. Has a raised center ridge that seems out of keeping with Casco's normally smooth designs. Retail is 90 euros. Urban-TC: a skate-style helmet with the Warp lines and a few small vents. Retail is 80 euros. The Urban-TC Plus looks very similar, but has more vents in the crown and retails for euros. The Casco Scarab is sold by Kong as a four sport helmet. See Kong below.
Casqu' En Ville produces helmets in Vietnam with a plain round "liner" helmet and a cap that turns it into an urban fashion statement, a hat-style helmet. There are two basic liners and a number of caps and hats in different styles. CEN standard only, and you can order online for shipment in Europe. Prices run 65 euros for the liner helmet and 30 to 35 euros for the cap or hat to cover it, plus about 9 euros for shipping. The hats could be a snagging hazard, but there is no test in the CPSC standard for snagging. See our page on hat-style helmets for more.
Casqu' En Ville
Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, a former bicycle racer who was known as "The Cat." All of their helmets are inmolded. Most of their line had been designed to the European CE standard and sold only in Europe, but now they are producing US models. The strap side pieces on their models slip easily, a common problem. All of their helmets are made in Spain of Spanish and Asian components.
- Whisper: updated with a new suspension system in , the Whisper has a unique nubby outer shape and 39 small oval vents giving an almost Swiss cheese appearance. If you want something different you will not see many of these on the road. Inmolded. The pads have been updated to accommodate four head shapes, including Asian heads. Pads come in 2, 4, and 6 mm thicknesses. This one is often seen on European racers, and Mountain Bike World Champion Julian Absalon wears it. Some very visible colors. Strap anchors are mostly recessed. There is a high-viz rain cover available that covers all vents for a more aero shape. Retail is $ in the US for the CPSC-certified version, although it can be found online for much less. Mixino: Catlike's top of the line, an upgrade of the Whisper design with the same external honeycomb shape, but with Catlike's "Graphene nanotech" internal reinforcing permitting lower density foam and slightly lower weight. Made in Spain, a US model. There are many color combinations. Retails for $, including a carrying bag. Also comes as the Mixino VD , with a fixed outer shell covering the front and side vents to permit it to qualify as a chrono helmet under UCI rules. Some front and rear vents are still open because Catlike believes some venting improves performance on hot days. Retails for $ Vacuum: a road/mountain model with long curved vents and tiny rear points. It has a one-piece full cover shell and retails for $ Kompact'O: inmolded with a full shell wrapping around the bottom and large oval vents. Has pronounced rear 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 $ Leaf: has a rounded compact shell and large blocky vents. Two position visor. Retail is $ Tako: Road-MTB-Commuter model with a compact shape and big vents. This is Catlike's largest model, fitting heads up to 62cm. Retail is $ Kitten: a child model with vents reminiscent of the Whisper and a much more stylish shell than most. Inmolded. Fits down to 46cm heads. Retail is $ Chrono Aero Plus: a long-tailed time trial helmet that meets the European standard. It is inmolded, and has two small vents in front and rear. It fits 55 to 60 cm heads. It retails for $, with visor optional. Aero Chrono WT: a long-tailed time trial helmet that is certified by Catlike to meet the CPSC and European standards. It is inmolded, and has one large vent in front and rear, with covers if you prefer them. The vents are in the shape of the Catlike logo, probably not chosen for its aerodynamic qualities. Ring fit, for 54 to 60 cm heads. Made in Spain. It retails for $ with visor and bag. degree: a skate style helmet with larger vents than most, probably reflecting Spain's warm climate. Fits 54 to 58 cm heads. Retail is $
Closca is a new company offering folding helmets made of three concentric rings that press down on the top to make a compacted ring for carrying. The company believes that their product is more "trendy" than a sport helmet. In they notified us that their folder now has been certified to the CPSC standard, and is for sale in the US. Unfortunately it has a cloth cover rather than plastic. The covers come in various styles and have a built in visor. It retails on their website for 62 euros.
Dan Coyle of Corvalis, Oregon, produces wooden helmets that are unique. The shell is made of wood, machined from a block of wood and treated with "HMVK Polyurea impact shielding." Some of the interiors are made of sustainable cork, but the ones that would perhaps pass a standards test are lined with conventional EPS liners. There are four models, including one shaped like a classic skate-style helmet. They are nicely rounded, with no snag points, and all have round vents. The maker says that some models will pass the CPSC standard, but he has not had a full test series done for certification. We don't know how they would test after soaking in water for 4 hours as required for the wet sample, and we don't know how you would test one-off creations when five identical samples are required for lab testing to the CPSC standard. For that reason we don't consider these as bicycle helmets. Weight could be considerable, and splintering on impact might be a hazard. The maker says the wood shell aids in impact management. They can even build to a custom size or shape. Available only from Coyle, and we have seen only photos on the web page and blog reports so far. Prices are in the $and-up range, depending on choice of wood and liner.
Coyle Wooden Helmets
This German company has an extensive lineup. Some of their models are for Europe, while others are also available in the U.S. market and meet the CPSC standard. All of their helmets are inmolded. All have at least some reflective trim. The company has developed a bright red 6 LED flasher that can be added to the rear stabilizer of any Cratoni helmet for $ Cratoni's strap fittings seem to hold better than many other manufacturers, including the side pieces that lock by twisting a cam. 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.) Cratoni is now represented in the US market by SKS, so their helmets may be seen here again. Our pricing may be outdated on some models.
- Velon: New for , a nicely rounded compact road model with big blocky vents, sweeping lines and a rear LED flasher built in. Alltrack: New for , a well-rounded mountain design with long but still blocky vents and the appearance of lower rear coverage (check on your head to be sure). Has a camera mount that meets Cratoni's standard for breakaway and a goggle clip. Matte/rubberized finish. Velon/Rearlight: Introduced in , a nicely rounded road helmet with reasonable vents and a small removable visor under the front lip. The XXL fits up to 65cm heads. Visors can be plastic or fabric. Retails for 80 euros, or 90 euros with the textile visor. Miuro: Introduced in , a road model with many vents and a compact shape spoiled by a single point sticking up in the rear. Retails for 80 euros. Agravic: new for , a road model with fewer but larger vents, and a compact shape spoiled only by a single pronounced snag point in the rear. Evolution: a very round, smooth urban or aero road helmet with a visor and an optional face shield. It has vent covers and a rear LED flasher. Retails for euros, or for euros as the Evolution Light with face shield and rear light included. C-Loom: a very round, smooth urban helmet with a small visor and small slit vents on the sides where vents usually don't work very well. Has an integrated LED flasher in the rear. Retails for euros. Vigor: New for , a very round aero road or perhaps ski helmet with vents covered with pinhole-perforated panels. Has the C-Loom's integrated LED flasher in the rear and a groove all around for a goggle strap. C-Stream: a blocky-looking road model with the compact shape that a gives a rounded profile despite the style lines and ridges. Retails for 70 euros with rear LED light included. C-Bolt: another road model with large front vents. With visor it's the C-Tracer. Retail is euros. Siron: a road model with reasonable vents and a mostly rounded compact shape. Ring fit. Retails for 50 euros. C-Breeze: another road model with large front vents, with CPSC certification for the US market. Retail is $, or With visor it's the C-Hawk at the same price. The European C-Shot retails for euros, and the C-Limit with visor is euros. C-Blaze: road model with a compact shape and minimal rear points. Large front vents. Certified to CPSC for the US market. Ring fit. Retails for $ In Europe the C-Blaze RD sells for 60 euros. C-Flash: road model with a compact shape and large, blocky vents. Retails for 90 euros. ???Bullet: Cratoni's entry in the lowest weight competition, said to weigh just g and to be the "Road helmet for weight fetishists." It has the older elongated shape, with rear points and the partial shell strips pioneered by Louis Garneau a decade ago. With visor it is the Rocket. Both are CPSC certified for the US market, and both retail for $ The European versions retail for euros. ????Terron: the top of Cratoni's line is a road design with huge vents and an unfortunate flair upward in the rear leaving a pronounced point. Carbon reinforcing. With visor it is the Terrox. Retail is euros for either model. C-Smart: a compact design with angular planes and minimal points in the rear. Bug net in the front vents, metallic colors. Rapper: a kid's helmet with a visor effect in front and a pronounced point that accommodates an LED flasher in the rear. Ring fit system and bug net in the front vents. There are some bright colors available. Retail is 50 euros. Akino: a vented toddler helmet with a well-rounded shape and no rear point. Inmolded. Retail is 40 euros. Shakedown: a full-face downhill racing model, with a hard ABS shell, removable chinbar and bolted on visor. Small top vents. Comes in visible white. Retails for euros. C-Maniac: Redesigned for , a youth model in small and medium with a detachable face guard. It has a compact profile and minimal rear points. The chinbar is EVA padded. Retail is 80 euros. C-Pace: Cratoni's first chrono model, with a classic chrono shape with "shoulders" in the back that taper to a very long downturned tail. It has large front vents and smaller rear ones, six in all. It is inmolded and fits sizes 53 to 59 cm. Retails for euros. C-Reel: a classic skate-style helmet but a thinshell design inmolded. Small top vents. There is a visible white option. Retail is 60 euros. Lexo: a skate-style helmet labeled as an urban design with an ABS hard shell and a few thin, elongated vents. Ring fit. There is a visible white option. Retail is 80 euros.
Cratoni will replace a crashed helmet for 50 per cent of the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
Crazy Stuff is a Danish company with a line of European-standard helmets for kids 3 to 8 years old. The helmets are fanciful cartoon characters. Unfortunately, they have snag points all over the shell in the form of rigid ears, horns and fins. Many models have rigid teeth along the front edge, the same edge that often contacts the nose and face when a helmet is takes a hit on the back. You can see a brochure with the designs laid out here.
We appreciate the motivation to add play value to helmets so that kids will take to them readily. But this particular line strikes us as a very bad idea. The helmets could not be sold in the US because the horns, ears and fins would not meet the CPSC limits on projections from the shell, even if the impact protection were sufficient. But the teeth along the front edge are particularly troublesome. Parents do not realize the potential for facial injury that they represent. We can only think that if these helmets meet the EN helmet standard, that standard needs to be amended.
D-6See Shaun White Supply Company below.
DahonDahon is a manufacturer of folding bicycles. They have two helmets that accompany their line:
- Vapor: a well-rounded road helmet with jillion of very small vents that could easily be mistaken for the Catlike Whisper. The extra-large fits heads up to 64cm. Ring fit. White option available. Aero 33: a rounded road helmet design with elongated vents. Ring fit. Bright red, white and blue option.
Diadora has a full line of bicycles, and gear to accompany them. In previous years they had added six helmet models. All are inmolded. Three have feminine graphics available. Almost all come in dull grey and black colors with low visibility on the road. For we don't find their helmets on the Diadora web page any more, but have seen the Pro Racer models on dealers' sites.
- Free Ride : a familiar design with the rounded shell we recommend and reasonable vents. Retail is $ Free Ride : Nicely rounded exterior, very similar to the Free Ride , but retail is $ Pro Racer : Compact design with minimal rear points, inmolded with a two-piece shell for full coverage. Retail is $ Pro Racer : road model with big points in the back. Retail is $ Pro Racer Jr.: youth model with a reasonably rounded shell, retailing for $ Grom Free Ride: Skate style, but a well-ventilated thin shell model. Comes only in size M. Retail is $
DK Bicycle Company has one skate-style helmet, the Synth, made in China and certified to the CPSC standard. It is inmolded, fits heads from 55 to 61 cm and comes in green, white or black. It retails for $
Docmeter is a French company with a line of bicycle and other helmets. They have one current bicycle model 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. We had concerns in the past about the long term durability of the bladders. Although the website mentions only the CEN European standard, the company has informed us that their helmets meet the CPSC standard as well. As always, check for the CPSC sticker inside any particular model. This one is priced at 80 euros. Docmeter has a second road helmet now, with a conventional liner and no airbag.
Dux is a Canadian company with a single road model in various versions that has a retractable eye shield. It has big vents and a big upswept tab at the rear. The strap fittings did not hold well on the sample we saw. Inmolded with a full coverage shell. The eye shield is polycarbonate, and comes in amber, clear and tinted, with a UV coating. A magnet holds it in the retracted position. Meets the CPSC standard for sale in the US. Retail pricing runs from $ to $ US.
Ebon is made by Co-Union Industry of Taiwan. Their bike helmets are inmolded, including the toddler models, with modest-to-pronounced rear points. They also have skate models. They use a ring fit system. Some models have well-recessed strap anchors. Their strap adjustment pieces slip too easily. Visors are attached with pins to flip off in a crash, as they should. There is a rainbow graphics option, the only rainbow bike helmet we have seen. Some models have rear LED flashers, and a few have front LED's as well. Ebon's 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.
Egg is a Dutch company with yet another series of cute helmet designs to appeal to kids by adding snag points on the exterior. Their helmets are skate style. Beginning with the round, smooth "Naked" version, you add a fabric skin and then various add-ons mount by shoving them into holes in the shell, including crowns, mohawks, horns and more. According to Egg, "This does not compromise the helmet's safety and effectiveness as they are designed to pop-off in the event of an impact." There is a proprietary buckle located on the side where it should not pinch skin. Meets the EU standard for sale there, using an EVA/EPP liner. In the US the liners are EPP. We don't like adding projections to the outside of a round smooth helmet, but at least these seem to readily pop off. The helmet retails for $90, with either skin or projections adding another $
This French company with a high-tech bicycle clothing and accessories image has a full line of helmet models. All are ring fit. Lowered prices on some models sometimes indicate they are selling out and will disappear soon. The prices below are from their Canadian site, and may be in Canadian dollars. Ekoi has a page up explaining their company philosophy and brand name. They favor bright colors in all their equipment.
- Corsa Lite : a road model with a nicely rounded compact shape and no rear points, inmolded. Retail is $ Also available in smaller sizes as the Corsa Lite at the same price point. Fast: road model, inmolded with a full interior cover as well. The requisite rear points are rounded. Said to be designed to match a 3D study of the head shape of an adult European male. The website says it meets CE, ANSI and "SELL" standards. ANSI could be the ASTM F standard, identical to CPSC, but CPSC is not listed. Ekoi does not appear on Snell's list, so "SELL" may be another standard, or the helmet may be among those listed by Snell from several Chinese manufacturers but not under the Ekoi brand name. Comes in bleu, blanc or rouge. Retail is $ Air X2: road model with a high point in the back. Inmolded. Retail is 50 euros. Also comes as the X2MTB: with visor, and "real white carbon" bridges. That's a new term for us, since we have never seen white carbon fiber. Retail is $ The Air X2 MTB with visor is marked down to $ R12: a road model with large vents and rear points. A two-piece shell covers the whole exterior. Retail is euros. Squadra: a road model with large vents and rear points. A two-piece shell covers the whole exterior. Retail is euros. Ekcel: a road model with elongated profile, rear points and carbon bridges. Retail is $ Ekcel Aero: Ekoi's Ekcel model with a full, ventless skin that improve aerodynamics by covering the vents. Magnetic buckle. Retail is $ Chrono CRX11: a classic long tail time trial helmet with some vents in front and rear. Retail is marked down to $ Chrono CXR13: a very round and smooth "aerodynamic" helmet for time trialing, with sides that come much further down than a skate helmet. No vents. Retails for $ DH Silver: a vented downhill helmet with a fiberglass shell, full face chinbar and bolted on visor. On sale for $
The Eleven81 helmet line is mostly distributed in the US market by Hawley Company, but the Hawley web page only has a portion of the line for All models are inmolded and have a ring fit system. Most are available in white or other bright and visible colors. The male buckle pieces are all red to highlight the release tabs. The strap sidepieces do not hold well on Eleve81 models. Models include:
- Cross Town: a "commuter style" helmet with a very round and smooth exterior, reflective plug in the rear and a ring fit system. Inmolded with two shells. Visor. Pastel colors and a visible white option. This is the most remarkable model in the Eleven81 line. It is the same design as the SixSixOne AllRide that we praised in prior years. It has been Eleven81's best seller in the past and retails for $ Open Road Pro: a road helmet with a compact rounded rear treatment with only modest points. Inmolded with a double shell. Ring fit, and the side strap pieces slip too easily to hold good adjustment. Visor. Retail is about $45 to $ Open Road: a road model different from the Open Road Pro, with one elongated point in the rear. Inmolded with single shell and the ring fit system. Retail is about $ 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 $ Pot Hole: a skate style helmet with a wrap-around ridge added for style. CPSC certified only, not certified to the ASTM F skateboard standard. Comes in visible red and white. Retail is about $ 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.
Elustar helmets are distributed in the US market by Q Cycle. They also have European models certified only to the CEN standard. They have a range of models included inmolded designs and others with taped on shells. All are ring fit, and the samples we saw had side strap adjustors that did not hold well. All have rear points except the child models.
Esco Sport Product Corp. is a Chinese company producing electric and gas scooters, bicycles and carts. It appears that some of their bike helmets are made with EPS foam and others with EPU, but that's about all we can tell from the website.
Etto is a Scandinavian manufacturer with 21 helmet models on their website. Some are interesting designs, but unfortunately they are never seen in the US. The website does not discuss standards or pricing. All Etto models have at least some reflective material on the back, and most have bug net in the front vents. Some of Etto's models have strap anchors that are not recessed at all, sitting up on top of the shell.
City Safe: a road or urban helmet, inmolded with large vents. There is a very similar Bernina model for kids. Champery MTB: a unique model with huge vents and the appearance of extended rear coverage. Comes with visor.
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 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 models, as well as the THH TX model that they sell, are on the Snell M motorcycle helmet standard list as well, offering a level of impact protection considerably above that of any normal bicycle helmet, including a chinbar with effective energy managing padding. Some Fly models have the rubber debris deflectors known as roost guards. All of their DOT models are made with dual-density foam liners.
- Freestone MTB: introduced in , Fly's only inmolded thinshell bike helmet. Made with Conehead dual-density foam that may offer some additional protection from brain injury in lower level impacts. It is a road/mountain bike model with minimal rear points, Large vents with bug mesh, bright colors including hi-viz and good rear coverage. Retail is $ Worth a look. : a full face motorcycle style helmet that meets the Snell M motorcycle helmet standard. Has a dual-density foam liner and EVA foam in the chinbar for the chinbar energy management required by Snell. Retail is $ Default: Fly's entry into the downhill mountain bike racing helmet category has only CPSC certification. It is not certified to the ASTM F downhill standard. That makes it lighter than many full-face helmets, but gives a lot less protection than the others in the Fly Racing lineup. Has vents, and the standard large bolted-on visor. With CPSC certification, that visor is required to "readily break away" when impacted. Retail is $ F2 Carbon: designed for BMX, MTB and motocross, has a carbon fiber-Kevlar shell. It uses the same shell as the Formula below, with a different liner and less expensive aluminum hardware. This one meets both the DOT motorcycle helmet standard and the tougher Snell Foundation M standard. Retail is $ for flat black or $ with graphics. Formula: Fly's top of the line, a BMX/Motocross crossover helmet with a carbon fiber and Kevlar shell, small vents, stainless steel vents and titanium visor screws. Meets both the DOT motorcycle helmet standard and the tougher Snell Foundation M standard. Retail is $ Gmax GMXX: Polycarbonate shell, comes in four shell sizes from Youth Small to Adult extra-large. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Gmax is a separate brand from Fly. Available in XXL size. Retails for $ Gmax GMXY: smaller and lighter youth version of the GMXX. Gmax is a separate brand from Fly. Available in XXL size. Retails for $ The Special Edition models come in pink, yellow and orange. Gmax GM: full face model with a polycarbonate shell. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Retails for $ Kinetic: another full face model, with vents protected by exterior and interior stainless steel mesh. Roost deflector. Retails for $
Fly's catalog has replacement parts for their helmets, including mouthpieces, visors, screws, pads and buckles. Sizing runs from 52 cm ( inch) up to 66 cm (8 1/4 inch), a very wide range. Along with their own brand, they distribute helmets made by Gmax and by THH.
Fly will replace a crashed helmet "at a discount."
Fox Racing has BMX and skate style helmets to complement their line of racing accessories.
- Striker: introduced in , a road helmet with compact lines and small snag points in the rear. Has inserts to strengthen vents. Retail is $ Rampage: a downhill racing model with more coverage in the rear than most bicycle helmets. It has a full face chinbar. Retail is $, or $ for the Rampage Carbon with carbon fiber shell. It also has a MIPS version at $ There is also the Rampage Comp with fiberglass shell for $ Flux: a rounded profile helmet marketed as a skate model but looking more like a road model because of the large vents. It is inmolded with a two-piece shell and a "spoiler" in the rear that hopefully would detach if snagged. If you removed the spoiler, it would qualify as one of our "rounder, smoother" designs. Meets the CPSC standard but not the ASTM skateboard standard. There is a women's version. Retail is $ Transition Hardshell: a skate style helmet with a hard ABS shell, small rectangular vents and a round smooth shape. Comes in visible white. Retails for $
Free Agent is a KHS Bicycles brand. They have a very well-rounded classic Street skateboard-style helmet that comes in one shell size with three pad sets of different thicknesses. It has an EPS liner and meets only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. It retails for $25 to $35 in standard colors or $5 more with a chrome finish, and can be found on line 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 $, used by their team riders. It has the standard BMX rigid visor that could be a snagging hazard. Retail is $
Fuji has been a major bicycle supplier to the US market for many years. In they added a helmet line to complement their bikes, with model names matching bike models in most cases. Their helmets generally do not seem to be available in the US market, but here are some out-of-date descriptions. Most can be found on the Brainpails site:
- NB : road model with an elongated shape with a rear point. Inmolded. Ring fit. Retails for $40 with visor. Team: another inmolded model, this time with two shell pieces for full coverage. One rear point. Ring fit. Retail is $ Crosstown: a road helmet with an elongated shape but generally rounded in the rear. There was a similar youth model called the Blaster. Retail was $ L'il Fuji: toddler model. Taped or glued shell. Retail was $ SE: a skate helmet with hard ABS shell. Retail was $
Funkier is an Israeli company with a line of Chinese-made helmets that meet only the European CE standard. They have three models. The ones we saw had slippy side strap adjustors. The MV is the most rounded profile of the three, with Ebay pricing seemingly on the high side at $$
Fuse is primarily a maker of protective padding, but they have one skate-style helmet to complement their pad line. It is a hard shell classic skate helmet, but meets only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, not the ASTM F skate standard.
Louis Garneau is an independent Canadian designer and manufacturer with an extensive helmet line along with many other bicycle products. All of their helmets are inmolded except as noted below. 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. Louis Garneau is one of the sponsors of Team Type 1, a racing team that includes riders with type one diabetes.
- Course: introduced in , Louis Garneau's top of the line road model is a nicely rounded compact design except for one little rear point left sticking up in the air. Very large lengthwise vents. Includes an LED light that attaches to the rear stabilizer. Retails for a steep $ The web page is a triumph of marketing attempting to convince you that this apparently conventional road helmet is somehow more aero. Le Tour Road: introduced in , this one is also a road model but has a very pointy rear treatment that already looks dated. Retail is $ Sharp: a road model with compact design and rear points. Consumer Reports rated this helmet in June, as Excellent for impact protection.Retail is $ X-Lite: Louis Garneau's entry in the superlight helmet competition sparked by Specialized and attempting to produce a CPSC-certified helmet that is as light as a CEN-only European helmet. The Garneau version looks like a normal road helmet with somewhat angular lines, but they have shaved every gram they could in foam, shell, stabilizer and fittings. CPSC and ASTM certified. For there is a women's model. Retail is $ Edge: elongated design with high rear point and large vents. Retail is $ Carve: mostly compact design with high rear points. Retail is $ Quartz II: nicely rounded profile except for a single pronounced point at the rear. The very large vents run lengthwise, with internal supports of course and visible composite reinforcements. Garneau's wind tunnel tests showed this model and the Diamond to be cooler than a bare head. Recessed strap anchors. Had the best strap adjustors in the LG lineup. There is a bright orange option. Four sizes, including an XXL that fits heads up to 65 cm ("). The extra effort to add the fourth size indicates that Garneau expects this to be a popular helmet. Can use the LED light that attaches to the rear stabilizer. Retail in the US is $ Diamond II: a road helmet with many large vents and a sharp rear point. Garneau's wind tunnel tests showed this model and the Quartz to be cooler than a bare head. Has partially exposed composite reinforcements. The shell pieces wrap under all the way around the rim for extra strength. There is a visible yellow option, and the white option includes team color decals. There is a matching Garneau jersey. Compatible with their rear LED blinker. There is a case for this model. Retails for $, with another $40 for the case. Eagle: new for , the value model of Louis Garneau's line is this inmolded compact design with a rear shelf point. Plainer graphics, ring fit. Retail is $ There is an extra-large size called the Majestic that fits up to 65cm heads and replaces the Arcterus. The women's version is the Tiffany at the same price. The youth version, with somewhat better graphics, is the Razz, and the child size is the Nino. Flow: Toddler helmet with a molded in visor extension and glued-on shell. Bug net in the front vents. Designed for kids 5 to This one has a dial-fit rear stabilizer. The Charlie Brown version has Peanuts graphics. The retail price is $ Baby Boomer: Toddler helmet for the 5 and under crowd, round and smooth, with a few vents and cute graphics. The shell is glued on. Strap junctions do not hold well. The smallest model is size 6, for a 48 cm (18 7/8 inch) head. Retail is $ P09: a chrono model representing another generation of Louis Garneau chrono models. It has the traditional curved surfaces in front, but with Garneau's dimpled surface, sweeping back to a short tail. There is one front vent, but it can be plugged. Garneau's marketing says they thinned the liner for a smaller front profile. There is flip-up visor to avoid fogging in triathlon transition areas. Retail is $ P06: a chrono time trial helmet design from Louis Garneau, the first manufacturer to make a chrono helmet that passed the CPSC standard. This one continued that tradition, and represents the fourth generation of Louis Garneau chrono models. The Superleggera is dimpled like a golf ball in front for aerodynamics. Unlike most chrono helmets it has large vents--two in front and three in the rear. It has a medium long tail. The shell is glued to the liner, not molded. 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. Retail is $, with an additional $45 for the Rocket Case and $35 for the windscreen. 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. It fits all of the LG chrono models. Comes in clear, smoked or contrast-enhancing yellow. The edges are unprotected except at the nose, 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. Retail is $ H-Cover: Garneau's helmet cover is made of waterproof but breathable fabric. It comes in black or a very visible bright yellow for $
See Headstart below.
Giant supplies a full line of bikes and accessories to bike shops. Their helmets have good quality locking side strap fittings that hold well. There are women's colors for some models.
- Ares: pronounced rear point, carbon fiber bridge showing and internal reinforcement, full wrap microshell. Three sizes fitted with pads. Retails for $ Realm: a very nicely rounded, well-vented road model that appears to have extended rear coverage, but may not when level on your head. Retail is $ Orion: pronounced point, recessed strap anchors in the full wrap shell. Ring fit, lavender for women. Retail is $ Talos: moderate point, ring fit with a dial adjuster. Inmolded, with a full shell and nice internal strap anchors. Retail is $ Vault: skate model with a thinshell, inmolded. Has two front vents and comes in black, white, pink and blue. Retail is $ The smallest size is the Vault Jr, retailing for $
Giro is a Bell brand, and since their design and production facilities have been fully integrated with Bell's. Giro designs have been known for a unique fit and a trend leader. Five Giro helmets come in MIPS versions for The line has been evolving and adding rounded compact profile models, but the most expensive high-end models still have the elongated shape and pronounced external points. All Giro helmets are inmolded, and high end models have lower shells molded in as well. High-end models use fitting pads, but the less expensive ones are ring fit. The Giro line has highly visible neon color options. 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 those on the Aeon and Rift models do hold well. 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.
Giro has women's models, but their catalog was unusually frank about them: "What about fit for women? - While it is obvious that anatomical differences between men and women can dictate different patterning and fit for many items worn on the body, the head and skull are somewhat unique. When measuring men and women's heads, there is no significant difference in the skull shape, location of skull features or the scale of the ears, eyes and nose between men and women." Written, of course, by a person with no pony tail.
- Synthe introduced in late , with the rounder profile that we recommend. Although it looks like a standard road helmet with elongated vents, Giro is claiming that it provides better aero performance than previous models. Worth a look for the improved profile, but retail will be a steep $ Aspect: introduced in , a high-end, smooth and very well rounded road model, the shape we recommend. It has unique fore and aft slots for vents, a small visor tucked in under the front lip, and side panels below the protection zone that are made of aluminum and rubber. The effect is striking. For there is a women's version called the Ash. Retail is $ Sutton: new for , an inmolded, thin shell skate-style "urban" model with small vents and good coverage. It has reinforced reflective rear vents to put your lock through. Meets only CPSC, not the skateboard standard. Retail is $80, or $ for the MIPS version. Reverb: an urban model with well-rounded lines and a smooth exterior. It has long vents and a soft "cap-style" visor. The strap adjustments are sewn like Bell's True Fit system, but the resulting fit did not feel as secure to us, so be sure this one fits you well before buying, since there is no adjustment possible. There are three shell sizes (S/M/L) with fitting pads, and extra pads are included. Since this is a commuter model, Giro has a high viz yellow available in addition to white. Consumer Reports rated this helmet in June, as Excellent for impact protection. Retails for $ Feature: a unique design, round and smooth like an urban helmet, but promoted by Giro as an offroad model. Giro says it has a little more coverage than others, but it is certified only to the CPSC standard, so there is no proof of that. It has Giro's fixed strap adjustments on the sides that mimic the successful Bell True Fit system, but we found the fit did not feel secure at all for us, so be sure it fits you well before buying. The shape is what we recommend, and the vents are adequate for most riding in most climates. The visor is styled like a mini BMX visor, with pins at the sides. We hope it will break off readily on impact, but you can always just take it off if you don't need it. There is a neon color available as well as white. Riders who find the Reverb too plain may want to look at this one, but be careful to test the fit before buying. Available as a women's model as the Feather. Retail is $ There is a MIPS version for $ Aeon: the former top of Giro's road lineup, retailing at $, down $50 from last year. Similar to Giro's other high-end helmets, with huge vents and points in the back. Following Specialized's lead, Giro optimized every part of this model to reduce weight, including the straps, buckle and even the basic shape. We regard that as wasted effort, since nobody complains about the slightly higher weight of other thin-shell helmets. But if an ounce makes a ton of difference to you, you may disagree. Savant: has a compact shape while retaining some points in the back for those who favor that style. We think the strap anchors protrude more than they should on a $90 helmet. Available as the women's Sonnet. Also comes in XL, fitting heads up to 65cm. There is a MIPS version retailing for $ Xar: a compact shape, well-vented road helmet with a tiny little lip in the rear to suggest the old elongated styling. More angular lines and not quite as well-rounded as the Hex or Phase (below). High vis yellow as well as white options. The women's model is the Xara. Retail is $ Atmos II: This was Lance Armstrong's helmet back in The Atmos has interior reinforcing, exterior carbon fiber reinforcing and an extensive three-piece shell molded on. In addition to several moderate 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 rather than ring fit. Retail is $ without visor, or it is available with visor as the Fathom for $ or in a women's model as the Amare II for $ Saros: a compact shape road model with large vents and points on the rear. It has partially recessed strap anchors. This one has a three piece shell covering all the foam. Uses fit pads. Retail is $, or it comes as the Athlon with visor. Hex: a reasonably rounded "trail riding" helmet with a shape similar to the former Xen and many vents. It is not really smooth, but has a compact profile with minimal rear lip. Available in XL, fitting heads up to 65cm. Retails for $ Phase: 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 $ Rift: the mid range inmolded Giro model with a more rounded shape than other Giro road/mountain models and just one modest point. Plenty of vents. Ring fit. The same Giro strap fittings that slip on other models seem to hold securely on this one. There is a visible white option but no neon. Retails for $ Revel: the least expensive Giro model at $40 has a pronounced rear 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 Verona. Without a visor, it's the Trinity at $35, the lowest adult price point for a Giro, and still inmolded. In youth size it is the Raze, and in child size it is the Tempest, fitting down to inches (50 cm) and sells for $ Giro has also scaled the design up for very large heads 58 to 65 cm ("), and calls that one the Bishop. There are neon yellow options available. Section: A skate-style model without the usual ABS hard shell. This one has a thin shell, but the usual small vents. It is inmolded, and Giro says it has a reduced profile. That was accomplished by putting a section of higher-density foam in the front part of the liner, hence the name Section. It is also cut a little higher in the front than a skate helmet to clear glasses. Plain colors or a very visible neon yellow or white. Meets only CPSC, not the skateboard standard, so this is a bike helmet for those who like the skate style and very small vents. Retail is $ We are not fans of higher-density foam, so would avoid this one, even though we chose it for other reasons for our experiment with substances that damage helmets. Rascal: an inmolded youth helmet. Reasonably rounded profile. This one has the new fit system called One Step for bike store helmets, similar to the one that Bell calls True Fit for its discount helmet line. Has two LED blinkers incorporated in the rear stabilizer. Retails for $ Rodeo: A youth helmet with a taped-on shell, not molded. Nicely rounded. Has a ring fit system. Bug net in the front vents. Color choices include the yellow and black Livestrong combination. Retails for $ 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 ("). Retail is $ Both models are available in neon yellow. Quarter: new for , an ABS hard shell skate style helmet with very small rectangular vents. In youth size it is the Dime. Retail for either is $ Cipher: A downhill racing helmet with a fiberglass shell and a motorcycle-style chinbar. Meets the ASTM F Downhill Mountain Bike Racing standard, and is still Giro's enduro helmet. It has a reasonably rounded exterior, marred only by the industry-standard bolted on visor, and small vents. There is at least some vinyl nitrile foam (football helmet foam) padding in the chinbar. Has a breakaway camera mount. It retails for $ Air Attack Shield: Giro has taken a page from Casco's book and produced an aero helmet that is almost as round and smooth as the Casco Warp. It even has an eye shield to extend the roundness down on the face. The Giro has more vents than the Casco, and lacks the golf ball dimpled surface. The Giro is a thin-shell rather than a hard shell. Casco claims the round shape is ideal for those who do not keep the aero "tail" tucked down on the shoulders. Also comes as the Air Attack without the shield. Both are listed among Giro's aero helmets, but for most climates they should be rideable on the street in three seasons even with the modest vents and internal channels. The suspension leaves 3mm in front for air to enter between head and helmet, and Giro claims it has 90 per cent of the airflow of their Aeon model. The shape is exactly what we have advocated for years--round and smooth. We would ditch the face shield for street use, since it is made of polycarbonate and could probably slice meat. It has a magnetic release mechanism that would facilitate detachment in a crash. Retail is $ Advantage 2: A chrono time trial helmet meeting the US CPSC standard. Inmolded with five small front vents and a long tail. Like all chrono helmets, it only makes sense for time trialers or track use, when your coach tells you it's needed. Retail is $ Selector: Giro's newer chrono model with no front vents, small rear vents and a shorter tail. Giro says it accommodates new time trial positions and off center yaw better than the long tail models. There is a removable piece that attaches to the bottom of the tail to extend it downward if that configuration closes a gap in the rider's hunched over position. It retails for a steep $ with face shield.
Giro still has Livestrong Foundation colors for the Rift, Aeon, Saros, Indicator and Rascal models, in their catalog. They announced in October of that they were terminating their sponsorship of Lance Armstrong, but would continue to support the cancer community through support of the Livestrong Foundation. (Armstrong is no longer chairman of the foundation.) That option adds $5 to the cost of the helmet, donated to the foundation. It is predominantly black, with yellow accents.
This year Giro helmets fit heads from 48 cm (") to 65 cm ("). A graphic in their catalog showed that at that time 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 , and another centimeter when the Venti replaced it in
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.
Golex is a Chinese producer of bicycle, skateboard, BMX, motorcycle and other types of helmets. There are at least 29 models in their catalog. Golex helmets should be available in mass merchant channels, and some may be found in bike stores, probably under other brand names. Their K is a familiar round, smooth design made by several manufacturers.
Golex (Zhuhai Golex)
Synergy Sport has one helmet in their Gray line for triathletes, the Aerodome. It is a full chrono or time trial helmet, not suitable for street use. It is inmolded with the long teardrop shape of the classic chrono, with six small slit vents in the front and partially recessed strap anchors. It has soft "wings" on the sides. Strap junctions do not hold well. It is CPSC certified and comes in one size. It retails for $ Synergy Sport has a "Life Time Crash Replacement Warranty" and the consumer can return a crashed helmet for a free replacement.
Greenline is a bicycle company with a toddler helmet that goes along with their bikes. It has a taped-on shell with vents and a reasonably rounded profile. We don't see an adult helmet model on their site any more. They have a unique warning: "Caution!: If foam changes shape, please replace your helmet."
Guangzhou Longsheng Sporting Goods Company is a Chinese manufacturer of a line of adult, toddler and skate style helmets. They market to both the US and Europe. Profiles are generally well-rounded, but there are points on the high-end road models. The inmolded models are priced about $30, while glued shells are $15 and those with taped-on shells go for $ Visors on some models add about $ to the price. The side strap adjustors are simple buckles, and do not hold their adjustment at all, a serious oversight.
GUB Bike International is a Chinese company with a full line of bicycles and accessories. They distribute a number of brands, including their own GUB helmets. Models range from a full-bore long-tail chrono helmet to pointy-backed road helmets including one that has a raised point on two arms floating above the rear shell and another with what looks like a metal spoiler raised above the rear. They mention only the European CE standard on their website. We don't know their retail pricing.
Haloglow is a Hong Kong company with helmets that have 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. The light output of the ones we have seen was not impressive. The light can be flashing or steady. The helmets come in various models, including one that is admirably round and smooth. They are certified to US and European standards. Note that the same halo effect using LED's and fiber optics is incorporated in some Aegis designs.
Hamax is a Norwegian company that develops and produces bicycle and ski helmets under the brand name ETTO. See Etto above.
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a nice looking line of Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets. All are fully inmolded models, including the D2 and the Vivid for adults and a G6 model for toddlers. They are near the $40 retail level. Adding a rear stabilizer or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a half each. The EPU makes the helmet a little heavier than an EPS helmet, but some consumers like the solid feel of them. Happy Way sells mostly in Europe, but in the US they sell to importers and OEM's with their own brands. Their sizing fits 47 to 62 cm. heads.
Happy Way Enterprises
Harsh has one skate-style model, the HX1 Classic. The website is confused about the shell material, saying in text that it is an ABS hard shell, but in graphics that it is a polycarbonate thin shell. Since they tout its light weight, it is probably a thin shell. It has no front vents, but several on top. Retail is $
Harsh Protective Gear
Headlight is a Swedish company with a line of reflective helmets. 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.
This unique West Coast distributor of bicycle products provides helmets 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 $ and downhill mountain bike helmets that look identical to major brands for just $ (Prices are much higher for individual orders.) Some models 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, the Model 17, that has the stickers inside attesting to the fact that it is certified to both the ASTM F and CPSC bicycle helmet standards, at a very low price. Sizes range from 49 to 62 cm ( to inches).
Helmets R Us
The Hong Kong Sports 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
See Aegis above.
IXS is a Swiss company with motorcycle history going back to Their entry into clothing and helmets is more recent. Most of their models are motorcycle-style full face helmets, but they also have road and skate-style models. All of their helmets are either compact shape with minimal rear points or very well-rounded. All of their adult bicycle helmets are inmolded, but child models are taped or glued on. Most are European models but there are some models certified to the CPSC standard for sale in the US, listed in the top three below. The current models include:
- Trail RS: new for , a road model with rounded profile, big blocky vents and the appearance of additional coverage in the rear. Has a large bolted on visor, but the website says it detaches in a crash. Colorful options. Retail is $ Metis : a full-face US model with vents, big visor, ABS shell, D-ring buckle and shaped to be compatible with neck braces. Retail is $ Kronos-Evo: road model with a two-piece shell covering all of the outside. Despite the name, it is not a time trial helmet. Large vents. Ring fit. Compact shape with minimal points. Has bug net in the front vents. Has a visible black and white option. Retail is 80 euros. Phobos: full-face downhill model with the standard big visor and an ABS hard shell with small vents. Six sizes fit heads from 51 to 62 cm (20 to inches), making it one of the smallest full face helmets available. US model. Retail is euros
J&B is a long-established bicycle wholesaler with warehouses all over the US. Their products are sold in bike stores. J&B's Airius line has models beginning at about $24 retail to about $30, with a few high end models ranging as high as $ Their inmolded models start at $20 and qualify as value helmets. The profiles vary from the well-rounded ones we favor to elongated models with rear points. For they have added a new urban helmet in the Airius line, priced at $ Colors are solid on the lower cost models, with higher end graphics as prices rise. Their largest helmets are 63 cm/ inches. They have an unfortunately named "Skid Lid" (a name from the past) skate-style helmet, certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. With a built-in speaker it is $ J&B has an active program for schools and non-profits either through a local shop or direct. They offer an unusual lifetime crash replacement for all of their models. J&B distributes the Limar line in the US as well. In they launched a new "KidZamo" branded line of graphically-coordinated child accessories, including helmets at about $20 retail.
J&B Importers - JBI.Bike
Hangzhou Joy Kie Industrial and Trading Co exports an extensive line of bicycle, motorcycle and other helmets. The range from nicely rounded road helmets to elongated designs with rear points. There are toddler models, skate style models and downhill mountain bike models with full chinbars. Pricing is low but we don't have exact retail in the US.
Kali has some unique manufacturing techniques that produce a full line of helmets that are all inmolded, some with dual-density foam liners molded together so there is no gap between them, and no gap between liner and shell, using all the shell space for foam. Liner density can be different in various areas of the helmet, or there can be "ConeHead" cones of less dense foam extending into the dense section.
We have more on that on our page on helmet foams.
Kali can make full face helmets with chinbars this way, a unique capability among manufacturers. The resultant helmet is lighter and has a thicker liner than normal motorcycle helmets. Visors have Kali's Pop Out breakaway mount to avoid snagging hazards. Some motorcycle/BMX models mate with body protectors. The Kali models all have Sanskrit names:
- Citi: new for , a round and smooth urban design with a polycarbonate blend shell and ConeHead dual-density liner. Has an integrated eye shield. Retails for $ Worth a second look. Maya Enduro: a new design with the ConeHead liner, this time in a compact road model rising to a single rear point. It is labeled as enduro but meets only the CPSC bike standard. Retail is $ Maraka: this was Kali's first bike helmet with the conehead dual-density liner. It is a compact model with blocky lines and some unfortunate rear points. Carbon and polycarbonate shell, pad fit, "breakaway" visor. Retail is $ Avita: a road model with what appears to be extended rear coverage, with a reasonably rounded compact shape exterior marred only by very small rear points. The appearance is dominated by big blocky vents. The shell is polycarbonate. Retail is $70, about half what it had been in the past with other shell materials. Loka: a new road model with big vents and big points in the rear. Has a dual-density Conehead foam liner. Retail is $ Avana Enduro: Introduced in Based on the Avita, a compact road model with very small points on the rear. Kali says it has more rear coverage than the Avita, and attaches the enduro label on it despite the lack of a chinbar and meeting only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Retail is $ Amara: compact, nicely rounded road helmet profile despite some blocky lines. Polycarbonate shell. Has a unique platform on top to attach mounts for camera or light. Kali says it has extended rear coverage, but we have not seen test results. Visible white option. Retail is $90 with camera and light mounts. Chakra: Kali's value model, with many vents and a well-rounded compact profile despite suggestions of rear points. Sells for $45 in the standard version, or $50 with full wraparound shell, bug mesh and upscale graphics as the Chakra Plus. There is a youth model for $30 and a child model for $ This model is Kali's best seller. Saha: New for , Kali's green helmet. It has a classic skate shape with a hard Polylactide shell made from a polymer derived from corn. The liner is per cent recycled EPS, and all fabrics are unbleached cotton or flax. Marketed as an urban helmet meeting only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Retail is $ Viva: New for , a classic skate shape helmet with a hard ABS shell. Kali manages to mold the liner in the hard shell, using all the space for foam, and place triangular blocks within the liner with different density. That makes it a very high-end skate helmet. But it is not certified to the ASTM F skateboard standard, just to the CPSC bike helmet standard. There is a visible white option. Retail is $ Samra A classic skate shape helmet with the dual-density liner, small vents and composite shell, making it a very high-end skate helmet. But it is certified only to the CPSC bike helmet standard. Retail is $ Maha: classic skate shape helmet with ABS hard shell and single-density EPS foam. Traditional small, round or oval vents. Certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. There are some bright color combinations available. Retail is $40 for the graphics version, or $30 for the Maha Solid in plain colors. Shiva: new for , a full face helmet model with carbon shell, meeting the DOT motorcycle helmet standard with reduced weight and profile by using all of Kali's technological features in "the helmet Kali Protectives was born to design." There is energy management foam in the chinbar. Retails for $ Avatar II: a high-end full face helmet, with carbon shell and dual-density foam liner inmolded, producing a light helmet certified to the ASTM BMX standard. Big BMX visor, very small vents. Retails for $ Also comes as the Avatar with Kevlar and fiberglass shell for $ Durgana A vented full-face downhill mountain bike helmet, although it is certified only to CPSC, not the ASTM F downhill mountain bike racing helmet standard. Has the requisite stiff visor bolted on. The shell is ABS. The retail price is $ Savara: A full face motorcycle or motocross helmet that meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. ABS shell. Kali's "entry level" full face helmet, retailing for $
Kask is an Italian manufacturer. All of their US helmets meet the US CPSC standard, European CE standard and the Australian standard as well. There are some nice bright color combinations in the line. Their strap adjustors are average in holding power. Straps have a unique Coolmax pad or vinyl section at the chin, and some are reflective. Pads are treated with Sanitized brand chemicals. Kask informs us that their helmets are produced in Italy with no Asian components. Their helmets are expensive in the US. The road models all have a "mountain" version with visor. Custom graphics are available. Models are sometimes renamed when graphics change. Kask bike helmet models include:
- Protone: new for , a high-end "aero" road model, but instead of a covered shell like the Infinity below this one has very large vents in the front and rear coupled by a ventless midsection. It is molded in the polycarbonate shell, joined to an inner polystyrene cap for strength. Retail will be $ Infinity: introduced in , a unique aero road helmet with a very round profile except for a shelf in the rear. Has three huge vents in front with a panel that slides forward to cover them for lowest drag or slides back, adjustable while riding. There are small vents with the panel closed. US model, retails for $ Rapido: introduced in , a compact style road helmet with long vents and minimal snag points in the rear. US model. Lifestyle: the Lifestyle is a very round and smooth helmet, with small vent slits in the top. It is a thin shell, and inmolded. It comes in Vintage trim looking more like a skate helmet or in more stylish Lifestyle trim. Flip up face shield available, giving it an even rounder look. Euro model only. Retail is $ for the Vintage and $ for the Lifestyle. Mojito: a road helmet with an unfortunate point the flips up in the back. There is a version with women's graphics. The Mojito XL is an Asian-fit helmet for rounder heads that fits up to 64cm/" heads. Retails for $ US model. Vertigo: Kask's top of the line, a road helmet with compact profile but rear points. US and Australian model. Has all of Kask's high-end details, and is available in women's and Sky team colors. Retail is $ 50NTA: Road model with large rear point. Strap anchors are not recessed. US and Australian model. TT-Bambino: introduced in , a chrono helmet in the Casco style that is almost as round and smooth as any helmet in the world, with just a hint of oval in the shape. Inmolded with a thin shell. There is a face shield that completes the round profile. Thin "micro vents" with channels underneath provide some air flow. Has a magnetic visor mount. Meets the CPSC standard for sale in the US. Retail is $
Kask has some interesting helmets. They are one of the few helmet manufacturers who say they are not using any Asian components. Their replacement guarantee depends on the distributor, so check with the dealer.
KBC has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China. They have more than 20 motorcycle helmet models on the Snell M motorcycle helmet list and one on the newer M list. KBC has a range of helmets ranging from full-face motorcycle-style helmets for BMX selling for about $ to "half helmets" for the Harley crowd.
KED is a German company that had manufactured helmets in Germany for other brands for more than ten years before introducing its own line. Most of their models are inmolded, some with the internal reinforcing that many manufacturers use to strengthen the shell and permit larger vents.
Some of their models have LED flashers built into the rear, with a replaceable $3 battery/chip unit to power them for hours. (We were not particularly impressed with the light output.) Their helmets with glued on shells are made with a cold-gluing process that leaves no space underneath the shell and makes the helmet look inmolded. Gluing the shells on allows them to put the strap anchors under the shell, a good feature. KED's strap adjusters tend to slip, a common problem. They put a thoughtful pad under the buckle to prevent skin pinches. All models have bug net in the front vents except the Paganini Race. Their US distributor for CPSC models is Cycle Force. The website emphasizes that the helmets are made in Germany. Models include:
- Wayron: a compact design that has angles but a rounded profile with modest rear points. Has bug net in the front vents. There is a visible white option, and four blinking LEDs in the rear stabilizer. It retails for 60 euros. With visor it is the Wayron Visor or Wayron Visor Pro with upscale fittings. With a ventless aero road helmet shell it is the Wayron Race. Zenith: a compact design that has angles but a well-rounded profile without pronounced rear points. Replaced the Xantos. LED flasher. Neo Visor: a lumpy exterior design with rounded off rear lines. With rear LED flasher it is the Neo Visor Quicksafe Tronic. Available in XXL fitting up to 64 cm heads. Virus: a compact road helmet with minimal rear point. Champion: pronounced rear point, very large vents, LED flasher. Retail is $ With visor it becomes the Champion Visor. Certus: nicely rounded compact shape model with big vents. There is a Certus Pro with upgraded fittings and graphics. Tronus: a very well-rounded compact model with many vents. It avoids the blank look of some urban helmets. Opus: compact shape, many vents, modest rear points. Spiri Two: road model with another lumpy outer shell with large front vents and rear points. LED flasher. CPSC and CEN certified. VS: elongated but nicely rounded design with a minimal point. LED flasher. CPSC and CEN certified. City: elongated road model but better rounded than some with an upswept rear point. Certainly not a classic city or commuter shape. This is KED's model for large heads, coming only in XXL fitting sizes 60 cm to 64 cm ( to inches). Sky: the Sky has the round, smooth urban shape, with modest sized vents covered with a plastic grill with small holes. Comes in some notably visible colors, including orange. It is pitched as a "hybrid" helmet, and has overtones of an equestrian helmet. Fits sizes 52 cm to 64 cm ( to inches). No longer on the KED site, but the toddler version is, and it is said to be certified for bike and equestrian. Joker: nicely rounded road helmet with double shell protecting lower edges and an LED flasher in the rear. Available in flower or star graphics. Flitzi: another rounded road style, pitched for youth. Has the LED flashers. CPSC and CEN certified. TK2: a child's helmet shaped with flat planes to look "futuristic." Fits 53 to 59cm heads. Meggy: toddler helmet with good-sized vents and both CEN and CPSC certification "only for American market." LED flasher. There is a Meggy Originals version with licensed cartoon character graphics, and the Meggy Reflex has a visor. Meggy Rescue comes in EMS red, and Meggy Reptile has a snake theme. The XXS size fits heads as small as 44 cm. Fazer Junior and Street Junior Two: extra small versions of adult models that have been dropped from KED's line. Like the Status Junior they are road-style helmets with many vents in child or youth sizes. Risco: new for , a thin-shell skate-style helmet with small rectangular vents. Similar to the 5Forty and the child's Control. Frox: a skate-style helmet with small rectangular vents. Sizes go up to 64 cm. Razorblade: a downhill racing model with a chinbar. It has vents and a visor. CEN certified only. Zeitfahren/Time Trial: 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. There is a long version with a long rear fairing added that covers the rear vents. Both versions are CPSC and CEN certified.
Kent has a line of inexpensive helmets marketed mostly to discount retail stores and a few bicycle stores. Their helmets are branded Razor, and at least one is branded as Genesis. The line includes 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 to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. 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. Kent also markets a full face youth helmet called the Razor, fitting heads from " to 23" and selling for $41 at Target.
A Knucklehead Company entered the US market in , and is now delivering a line of bike and skate helmets that they make in China for companies who want their own helmet brand. Some of their models are inmolded, while lower priced ones have glued or taped on shells. Their Palz series has unfortunate external projections in the form of animal ears, tails, etc. Sizes run from 44 to 62 cm ( to inches). The company provides free replacement of crashed helmets.
Kong is an Italian climbing equipment company. They have one helmet from Casco called the Scarab that goes beyond dual certified to be certified to European standards for rock climbing, bicycling/skateboarding, 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.
Karanium Design was founded by a London-based designer who pioneered the use of a helmet liner made of a corrugated paper product that looks like cardboard. There is an Abus Kranium model that uses the liner but adds a conventional EPS liner layer as well. As of Kranium has been bought by a US company that intends to bring the helmets to market.
Kuji Sports Ningbo is an Asian company based in Taiwan and China. They ship over 4 million helmets annually. You have not seen their brand here because the helmets are branded for other companies, some of them well known. They produce many models in bicycle styles, including inmolded road helmets, glued or taped on shell road helmets and toddler models. They also have hard shell skate models.
Kunshan Yiyuan manufacturers a line of helmets including road, toddler and skate styles. They supply a broad range of styles and price points. Some are inmolded, other have glued or taped on shells. Some have nicely recessed strap anchors. Shells are polycarbonate or PVC, or hard ABS for skate helmets. Their helmets are sold direct to dealers by Shanghai Cathay (Shanghai Cycle).
Kunshan Yiyuan Sporting Goods
Kylin Motorcycle Fittings is a Chinese manufacturer of bicycle, motorcycle, ski and other helmets. Many of their models are motorcycle/BMX helmets, but they have 12 bicycle helmets and one classic skate style model. Some are inmolded, some taped on. Some have Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) covers. Some of the less expensive models are nicely rounded, but the upper end of the line all have rear points. All meet the CEN standard, and many are designed to CPSC. Their helmets will appear in the US market under other brands. Sizes run up to 62 cm/ inches. Prices should be around $15 to $
LAS (or L.A.S.) is an Italian company owned by Briko, with a line of high-end helmets made in Italy since They are available in US bike stores with distribution handled by Trialtir, who have info on LAS's current US models. LAS continues its emphasis on style. There are some nice bright colors available and finish quality is good. Most models have silver-impregnated liner material to retard bacterial growth, a feature that some may appreciate and others want to avoid. Strap anchors on LAS models are hidden under the shell, a nice feature that improves the smoothness of the helmet exterior. The strap junctions do not hold well on most LAS helmets. The Euro models meeting only the CEN standard are different designs from the US models we list first. LAS models are "% made in Italy."
- Diamond: a new road design with an elongated shape coming back to a high rear point. Retail is $ Victory Supreme: road design with a compact shape, but it still has pronounced rear points. Has exposed composite reinforcing. LAS uses "Carbon Aluminum Technology Absorb" in this model, claiming a % reduction in force to the head. There is a visible white option. There is also a special 40th Anniversary edition. Retail is $ Victory: compact shape and multiple rear points. Same weight as the Victory Supreme, but the design is a little different and there is no exposed composite. There is a visible white option. Retail is $ Galaxy: introduced in , a road design with a compact shape and small rear points. Bamboo fabric padding covers. Retail is $ Istrion: the LAS compact model, with reduced rear points and ring fit. There is bug net in the front vents. Made in Italy. Retail is $, with matte version at $ Squalo : inmolded with sharp sculpted lines and grooves suggesting a helmet for Frodo, with peaks sticking up at the top. Rear points, two shell sizes fitting 52 to 63 cm ( to inches) heads. Retails for $ 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 ( to inches) heads. Retail is $
- Squalo : a road model inmolded and very similar to the original Squalo , with peaks sticking up at the top and rear points, but the shell is different, and internal reinforcing allows the vents to be a little larger. Retails for $, matte version $ CXT: a very round, smooth helmet with tiny rear vents and a face shield. For pursuit and time trial riding, this is the response to Casco's Warp with a shape that drops the long tail that most riders don't keep tucked against their back, visible in all of the Trialtir site photos of the Chronometro. Infinito: the LAS "entry level" helmet in the European market. Inmolded with a shape very similar to the Squalo, but with smaller vents, and there is bug net in the front vents. Retail is an entry level $ Kripton: older style elongated road model with many vents and pronounced rear points. Bug net in the vents. Esprit 2: road model with one upswept point in the rear, with large vents. Fantastico: toddler helmet with taped on shell and small vents, fitting heads from 52 to 56 cm. Freestyle: skate style, with ABS shell and small vents.
Lazer is the brand of a Belgian company, Cross HM S.A., established in Their helmets are showing up more in US shops now, marketed through Quality Bicycle Products. Their high end models have nicely recessed strap anchors. Kid's models have bug net in the front vents and chin protectors on the straps.
Some of Lazer's models have a ring fit system called Rollsys that narrows the band as it is tightened, rather than just pushing the head forward in the helmet. Lazer sells the Rollsys helmets in Asia, where heads are rounder, and says that their fit system adjusts well for that head shape. They also have a spring-loaded version that they call Autofit.
Lazer has a four star and a five star motorcycle helmet among those tested and ranked by the British government's SHARP project.
Lazer sells some models in both Europe and the US without having to make changes to meet the CPSC standard. High end models are different for the two markets, however, since the US version is too heavy to sell well in European markets. 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 to replace. Model names change, and we don't keep track of the old ones. There are neon options for most models, with the color molded into the plastic shell. There are also sunglasses available with short side pieces that end in a magnet, matching with a rubber-covered metal piece on the helmet strap. There are plastic shells that Lazer calls Aeroshells that fit on top of some models to close the vents for time trials or winter use. Some models have a magnetic buckle. Newer models have more coverage of the temple area.
- Ultrax: a model with elongated shape, rear points, blocky vents, strap anchors that poke above the surface, Autofit and a recessed visor. Retail is $ Z1: introduced in mid, a high-end road helmet with multiple vents formed by what appears to be two layers of shell/foam strips crossing in different directions. Has one large rear tab spoiling the compact lines. Also comes as the Z1-Fast with non-removable aero shell covering all front vents to make it an aero road helmet. Unfortunately the left the tab in the rear uncovered. The women's model is the Cosmo. Retail is $, or $ with shield. Cyclone: introduced in , a road helmet with very small points in the rear. It has partially recessed strap anchors and three reflective panels. The side strap junctions lock moderately well. Consumer Reports rated this helmet in June, as Excellent for impact protection. Retail is $ Beam: a road or mountain bike helmet with large vents, blocky lines and a generally compact shape with only the suggestion of a rear point. It has Lazer's spring-loaded fit system rather than the Rollsys, so we would recommend trying it carefully for fit before you buy, and making sure it will stay in place in a crash by trying to pull it off. Retail is $50, more for the MIPS version. Helium
- Above all, the most important feature on a motorcycle helmet is safety. Make sure it fits securely and properly on your head and is manufactured to meet international standards.
- Choose a helmet that is durable enough to keep the rain out. Since it has an electronic device on it, you want to make sure the helmet is waterproof and will not leak.
- Even the best Bluetooth for motorcycle riding will lose clarity if you ride over 70 mph. Keep that in mind if you want to use Bluetooth but tend to ride fast.
- Since Bluetooth technology relies on a line of sight, it may be challenging to sustain communication with other riders over long distances using either two-way or multi-line communication.
- Make sure to measure the circumference of your head to make sure the helmet fits properly. Even the best Bluetooth motorcycle helmet won't work as well if it wobbles on your head or is so tight that it's uncomfortable.
- Helmet manufacturers recommend replacing the product every three to five years. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and other various organizations all agree with this practice. So if you purchase a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet now, you'll need to get a new one in a few years.
- Separate Bluetooth headsets tend to have a longer range and longer battery life than helmets with built-in Bluetooth connectivity. Keep this in mind if you're thinking of swapping your headset for a Bluetooth-enabled helmet so you won’t be disappointed by the different functionality.
- While Bluetooth-enabled intercoms can be paired with other riders, be aware that some helmets require the same brand and model for the intercom system to work properly.
Q: Do Bluetooth motorcycle helmets interfere with other devices?
A: In order for the Bluetooth to work properly, you need to specifically pair it with another device. As a result, it won't suddenly start working on a passing vehicle's Bluetooth earpiece.
Q: Can you use Bluetooth with a half helmet?
A: With a half helmet, your face is exposed to the wind and other elements. As a result, it will be really difficult to hear anything from the Bluetooth speakers. Full-face helmets block outside noise, allowing you to listen to music, follow GPS directions, or communicate with other riders.
Q: How many devices can I connect to a Bluetooth helmet at once?
A: It depends on the helmet. The majority of devices allow you to pair up with up to three other riders for an intercom experience. Still, some allow you to connect with as many as seven other riders.
Q: Can you fix the Bluetooth unit in a helmet if it breaks?
A: If the Bluetooth unit is assembled inside the helmet, it likely cannot be repaired. Some brands may offer replacement parts, such as batteries, but you may need to buy a new helmet if the unit stops functioning properly.
Our pick for the best Bluetooth motorcycle helmet is the TORC TB27 Full Face Helmet with Blinc Bluetooth. It's well-ventilated and comes packed with features.
For a less expensive option, consider the 1Storm Motorcycle Modular Full Face Bluetooth Helmet.
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