Consumer Reports Publishes
A helmet article on the Web
Summary: Consumer Reports has published its best report on bicycle helmets in recent years. CU 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.
Impact protection ratings
The Consumers Union lab tested 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. Most others were Very Good, and the single lowest-ranked Good model (Bern Macon EPS) would still pass the CPSC standard.
We focus on the impact tests as CU's biggest contribution to consumer information, and our key criterion for helmet choice. Most helmets regardless of price are designed to the same impact standard, and not to exceed it by very much. CU provides the only publicly published window to those who do.
Interestingly, the only tested helmet with a radically different liner, the Smith Forefront, scored only Very Good, lower than seven helmets with standard EPS foam liners.
Fit is our second key criterion, and CU rated excellent the Scott Arx Plus, Smith Forefront, Bell Array and Bontrager Solstice Youth. Rated Poor were the Giro Reverb, Razor V17 and Raskullz Mohawk.
Only the Specialized Echelon rated Excellent for ventilation. Again the Smith Forefront, with a liner partially made of hollow Koroyd[tm] straws, was rated only Good. Eight models rated Poor.
CU has a sidebar with the helmets they recommend for various needs: Customizable fit, ventilation, pricey but worth it, cheap and safe, lightweight, multisport. We would begin with the best impact performers, eliminate those with poor ventilation and try the remaining ones for best fit.
We did not agree with the CU rejection of the Cannondale's Teramo because it that helmet apparently passes the CPSC standard strap test. We have a page up on that. This video on the CU Web site presents the broken buckles and the Cannondale response. CU reported the buckles to CPSC, but there has been no recall of the Cannondale helmets, the most telling indicator that the helmets meet the relevant standard. The CU test was not much more severe than the standard, but the standard already requires a very strong strap.
CU did a good job of discussing recent concussion concerns and the state of the art in helmet design. They dispensed with the MIPS technology claims in a very level-headed assessment.
What We Missed
This is CU's best recent helmet article and certainly worth a look if you are researching a new helmet, although the number of helmets included was small. Most of the models are available only in bike stores, leaving out the millions of helmets sold in discount stores. There were no Bell True Fit models tested, the only major advance in helmet fitting in the past decade. But testing is expensive, and no single lab, including the US Government, can afford to test every helmet on the market. Our own listing of helmets for this season is much more comprehensive, but has no lab test results for impact performance, severely limiting its usefulness.
Here is a link to our reviews of previous Consumer Reports articles.
This page was updated or partially revised on: June 7, 2015.