Bicycle Helmets for the 2006 Season
Summary: Our review of helmets being sold in 2006.
Trends first, then individual models.
Index to manufacturers last.
Trends this year
There are new helmets in 2006 that are worth a look if you are inclined to replace yours. There are some new models appearing with the rounder, smoother profile that we think is best for crashing. (We have a page on snag points.) At least one of them has been rated superior by Consumer Reports lab testing. Other than that there is no major technological advance that compels you to replace your current helmet.
- At the high end, you will still find big vents and high prices, but no verifiable improvement in safety performance. You can pay more than $200 if you want to, but Target and Wal-Mart both have models that meet the same CPSC impact standard at an everyday price of $7.14. And for about $15 they both have better looking and better fitting models.
- Rounder, smoother "commuter" models are growing in number. Most are mid-range in price while the elongated, pointy styles predominate in the higher price points, yet another reason not to spend $200 for a helmet. The Bell Impulse or Deuce (identical youth model) are in big box stores for under $25.
- Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, are even more widespread this year. They work well for some, but not at all for others, who find that they have to tighten the ring uncomfortably to get a stable fit. We have a page on ring fit systems for background. To compare on your own head, try a Bell Citi and Metro, essentially the same helmet except for the fit systems.
- A slow-release buckle to prevent children from "hanging" themselves on playground equipment or trees may become available in Europe later in 2006, developed by Etto of Norway.
- Foams are slowly evolving. In addition to EPS, EPP and Zorbium there is now a foam on the market called Tau ReUp foam used by Shain that encapsulates EPS beads in EPU to provide a limited level of multi-impact protection. Pro Tec has a modified EPP as well, and some Hopus models have a layer of resilient APE foam in addition to EPS for multi-impact performance. Finally, there is a product called Brock Foam that is not new, but finally made it into helmets this year. See Bern Unlimited below. We have a page on foams for details.
- Carbon fiber use is spreading. It does allow lighter construction, but there is so little of it used in a bike helmet that the weight saved is minimal. Because it has an aura of high tech, and because there is little else of high tech in a standard bike helmet, it is showing up more in high end 2006 models. BMX helmets, with their heavy composite shells, can actually save weight with carbon fiber, but the cost is $30 or more per ounce saved. Manufacturers are also searching for ways to use titanium for similar reasons.
- Kevlar in strap materials is another tech innovation that adds little to the already strong nylon, polypro or other low-cost strap materials already in use. Buckle manufacturers actually count on a strap giving a little to avoid buckle breakage.
- Strap adjustment fittings are not improving much. We find many of them slip too easily, resulting in the "strap creep" that is responsible for many of the too-loose straps out there. We have noted the really good ones.
- Strap anchors on many helmets still stick up above the shell and are an unnecessary impediment to smooth sliding when you hit the pavement. The best helmets put the anchors below the surface of the shell, or at least recess the anchors to make a smooth surface.
We recommend looking for a helmet that:
1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.
We always recommend checking Consumer Reports for brand and model recommendations. They had a helmet article in their June, 2006 issue, but tested only a fraction of the models described below.
2. Meets the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard if you will use it for skateboarding. (Look for the sticker inside)
3. Fits you well.
4. Has a rounded, smooth exterior with no snag points.
5. Has no more vents than you need. More vents = less foam.
We wish we had more lab test data available to make brand and model recommendations. We always recommend steering away from models with obvious disadvantages like snag points on the outer surface. And it will not surprise you that for the softest landing it helps to have lots of thicker, less dense foam in a helmet, leading to our recommendation that you find one with no more vents than you need. It is frustrating for us not to have specific model recommendations based on impact performance, but apart from the periodic Consumer Reports articles, the data just does not exist in the public domain.
Some Interesting New Models
We were delighted in 2004 when Bell introduced their rounder, smoother Metro design. The next year brought the Bell Citi, SixSixOne All Ride and the very similar Limar 801, a fine design. There are more rounded models for 2006, including the Bell Deuce/Impulse discount helmet, Giro Xen, GPR/PLIM Urbanus, KED, Kent, Michelin MX Urban, Shain BK51 Urban, Specialized Instinct, THE F14, Vcan S22-C and Vigor X3. Consumer Reports rated the Bell Citi at the very top of its list, a Best Buy and one of four they tested with better impact protection. They also like the Specialized Aurora for its impact protection, and continue to recommend the Bell Boomerang for toddlers.
Many manufacturers now have quality molded in the shell helmets priced in the $30 to $40 range. That includes the Bell Solar, Briko Mistral, Cratoni Neon, Giant Talos, Giro Transfer Sport, Lazer Topaz, Louis Garneau Pacifica, Rudy Project Pyovra, Schwinn Atlas, Serfas Cosmos Plus, Specialized Air Force, Trek Vapor 3, Uvex Hawk and Vigor Fast Traxx. Consumer Reports found another Best Buy in the Schwinn Intercept, a $17 youth model. Ebay prices may run even lower.
New Technology Helmets
- Shain BK 1000: a multi-impact helmet using their "Tau Multi Impact Technology" foam, with huge vents, a moderate rear snag point and internal strap anchors. Shain's catalog includes results of lab tests that show their helmet handling four hard impacts in the same spot before registering over 300g. Retail price is $218, up there with Lance Armstrong's Giro.
- Bern Unlimited: Two of Bern's new line of skate/ski style helmets have hard shells and Brock foam inside, the first time we have seen Brock foam in a helmet. We have a description of their helmets below. We have not tried a sample to see if these are rideable, but the ventilation is minimal at best. We don't know for sure yet what standards they meet.
Chrono Time Trial Helmets
Chrono models represent a small niche market but most manufacturers have one for image purposes. For time trialing and pursuit events on a track the exaggerated aero tail of a teardrop-shaped helmet probably poses minimal snagging problems, and the rest of the shape is ideal for meeting the pavement very hard. A growing number of them now meet the CPSC standard and can be sold in the US. We have a separate page on chrono models. They do not make sense for street use.
Most women-specific designs differ only cosmetically from a "male" helmet. Hold up the two together and you will readily see that they came from the same mold, and the only difference is in colors and graphics. The pony tail port all but disappeared after males stopped wearing their hair long. The addition of rear stabilizers to helmets made the pony tail port more difficult to use, but a few helmets like the Bell Metro, Serfas Curva and Serfas Rookie will take a good three-to-four fingers of pony tail if you are willing to thread it through. Most women now wear their pony tails lower down on the head or tuck the hair up under the helmet to keep it off their neck.
Smallest and Largest Helmets
Bell's Kinghead remains the biggest lid you can find at 8 1/4 (26 inches / 66 cm), but others are nearly as large at 64 cm. We have a page up on helmets for large heads. The smallest helmet advertised is the Etto Ettino, said to fit down to 41 cm heads. Following that are the L.A.S Baby, the Atlas Hardtop Mini and the Atlas Drago, all for 45 cm heads, available in Europe but not in a US model, and several others with 46 cm helmets. Pryme has a heavy BMX helmet nearly as small at 46 cm., if you can imagine putting that kind of weight on your baby. Ask your pediatrician about this one before buying! We have a page explaining tiny helmets, and another page asking if you really want to take your baby along.
The "skateboard" helmets now on the market are mostly bicycle helmets in the classic skate style. They are fine for bike riding, as long as the sticker inside certifies that they meet the CPSC standard. If you need a multi-impact helmet for aggressive, trick, extreme skating or skateboarding with daily crashes, look for a true multi-impact skate model that has a sticker inside saying it meets ASTM F1492. A search for "dual certified" on this page will bring them up, or we have them listed on our page of dual certified helmets. This is the biggest advance in skateboard helmets in recent years. Different sizes of the same helmet may have different certifications, so the only way to be sure the one you are about to buy is to look at the sticker inside the helmet.
Helmets for Rounder Heads
If your head is the rounder shape sometimes associated with Asian parentage, only one current manufacturer in the US market claims to fit rounder heads: Selev. We have a page up on fitting rounder heads.
Outside the US
In markets outside the US you will probably find helmets that meet your national standard or the European standard. The European CEN bicycle helmet standard can be met with thinner foam and a less protective helmet than the helmet required to meet the US CPSC standard. (We have a page up on that.) Some European helmets may exceed the CEN standard by a wide margin and pass CPSC, but there is no data available to us to find out which ones they are. Even major US brands sometimes produce less protective models for the European market to make them a little bit thinner and lighter so they can be competitive there. (We can usually pick up a CEN standard helmet and feel the difference.) For that reason we recommend buying a helmet with a US CPSC sticker inside if you can, even if you live in Europe, for the better impact protection. Those helmets are available from a number of European or Asian manufacturers as well as US producers. If there is no CPSC sticker inside the helmet it most likely does not meet the CPSC standard. Note that you can order a Euro model from a European retailer over the Internet for delivery in the US, but we obviously do not recommend that.
Although we don't calculate averages, prices seem about the same as last year, with older models usually lower as the design ages. The lowest prices in discount stores begin at $7.14 (Wal-Mart and Target) but are mostly in the $15 to $35 range. In bike stores where you can get help with selection and fitting you would expect to pay more, and the prices generally start over $30 and go up as high as you want. For many buyers the fitting help is worth the extra you pay in a bike store. For and idea of what the lowest prices would be you can check Ebay, particularly for the brands you don't see in discount stores or the European brands seldom carried by US bike shops.
What We Did Not Find Again This Year
There is still no helmet on the market identified as an "anti-concussion" or softest-landing helmet. Current helmets provide good protection from catastrophic injury, but lesser blows are assumed to be survivable. And nobody advertises that their helmet can take blows that exceed the CPSC standard by a wide margin or provide softer landings, although Consumer Reports ratings based on their lab testing have indicated in the past that some can. With our legal climate we may never see that happen, since advertising a helmet like that would expose the manufacturer to lawsuits whenever someone was injured in it, whether or not the helmet performed well.
There has been very little effort to apply standard electronic and wireless technologies to bicycle helmets. You should be able in 2006 to find a helmet with a mainstream helmet with a rear-facing camera and a heads-up display to replace your old mirror, but you can not. The Bluetooth headsets for use with an intercom system or cell phone are not in bike helmets, although the German company Vemar is selling a motorcycle helmet equipped that way. There are a few helmets with LED flashers built into the rear and you can always add a flasher with a hook-and-loop mount. There is one company making built-in batteries to power helmet accessories, but we have not seen one in the market yet. It looks like we will have to wait another year for those things to develop.
Here is an index to our reports for other years.
The typical helmet listed below is made of EPS foam with a thin plastic shell taped or glued onto the foam. It has at least some vents, nylon or polypro straps, a plastic buckle, no reflective trim and either a ring fit ("one size fits all) or squishy foam fitting pads inside. The BMX models are "full face" (with chinbar) and have hard shells shaped like a motorcycle helmet. Downhill racing models are similar but lighter, and unless noted are certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard rather than the ASTM F1952 standard for downhill racing helmets. Chrono helmets are teardrop-shaped time trial helmets. "Skate style" helmets are the classic Pro Tec round, smooth shape with ABS hard shells. If no contrary information is in the writeup for each brand or model, those features are assumed. Here is a page of helmet definitions that describes each of the helmet types. Many have a rear stabilizer wrapping around the back of the head, which we note only if it has some unusual feature. They add some stability comfort but do not substitute for careful strap adjustment. We also note the largest and smallest sizes available where relevant, and any bright colors. Prices are the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price, the price you might pay at your local bike shop with fitting services included or at a discount store. Internet pricing is lower (no fitting help included!), particularly on closeouts of prior years' models. If you are searching for a particular model and don't find it here, use our search function to check our writeups for previous years to see if it has been discontinued.
Abus is a German company also known as a manufacturer of high-security padlocks. They have a unique ratcheting strap fastener with a toothed tab sliding into a slot that we have only seen on Abus and Uvex helmets. It would have to be adjusted carefully to be sure it does not bear against the line of the jaw. Their rear stabilizers are also adjusted by a ratchet device. Visors mount with pins. Some models may have bug-proof mesh for the front vents. Abus' bicycle helmets include helmets for toddlers, youth and adults. All of the models on their Web site are certified only to European standards and will not be sold in the US. Sizes run from 46 to 62 cm. Some of their models appear to be reasonably well rounded, but we have not seen them in person for more than four years, so it is difficult to comment based on the photos on the Web. Pricing is not on the Web.
The Acclaim line of helmets produced for Action Bicycle includes the Metro, a nicely rounded design with a ring fit system, and the Evo II, a standard adult helmet with visor, rear stabilizer and ring fit system that retails for $35. Other models include a full face BMX helmet for $80, a vented child helmet called the Solo at $20, and a skateboard helmet that retails for $36, or $40 in full chrome.
See Lucky Bell below.
See Fox below.
See THH below.
All Pro and All Top
Alpha helmets have previously been found in the US under two brands, but not as Alpha. Some are made by Mien Yow Industries Ltd. in Taiwan. They have a line of well-rounded models led by the complex-looking Vortex and including one model with a flashing LED taillight built in. For 2002 they added the C-Tec, with squared-off ribs but a rounded shape overall. In 2003 they introduced some models that are molded in the shell, notably their G4 model, although most still have taped on shells. Their Pro-Alpha skate model was added in 2006, along with their MF2 Skater Classic. They are also introducing a "four season" model for bike and ski. The manufacturer says their retail prices run in the $35 range. Alpha also makes hockey, ski and batting helmets.
See Knucklebone below.
Armor is the brand distributed by San Diego Speed in the US. They have a skate model with the usual hard ABS shell that comes as the Old School Series, Pro Series, Graphic Series and Camouflage Series It is the classic skate shape with small vents and CPSC certification. They also list a CSA Canadian standard and the ASTM F1447 bicycle helmet standard, but not the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Retail runs from $20 to $35. Their snowboard helmet has adjustable vents and is called the Nightstalker. It retails for $20 to $25.
We have also seen the Armor brand used by Taiwan Johnson Industries Co, Ltd as the Armor Manufacturing Corporation, but do not know if the two companies are related.
Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. We have not seen them in the US. Their Web site is dated 2003. It says their helmets meet the European CEN standard. They have an extensive line, including:
- Sport: Elongated vents, visor, somewhat protected rear snag point.
- Marlin: Nicely rounded, visor, fits up to 61 cm.
- Stingray: Standard adult helmet.
- Drago: Unique shape -- wish we knew Swedish -- fits 45 to 57 cm.
- Hotshot: Basic adult helmet, should be cheap.
- Hotshot Inmold: Molded in the shell version, nicer colors, visor, rear snag point.
- Hardtop Mini: A toddler helmet that fits heads
as small as 45 cm (17.8 inches) in diameter that they say is for 6 months up to 2 years. (The six months is not recommended!--see this page). Colors include a nice visible yellow.
- Hardtop: Another toddler helmet for 2 to 7 years.
- Twinky: One size larger helmet for 2 to 7 years in adult shape, with ring fit system and molded in visor.
- Dolphin: Another 2 to 7 years helmet in elongated adult shape, molded in the shell.
- Rockskipper: Youth helmet in elongated adult shape, molded in the shell.
- X-treme Sport: Skate style on top with scooped in rear to avoid a round shape.
The Avenir brand is distributed by Raleigh. They have a variety of molded in the shell and taped-on models, mostly with moderate rear snag points, rear stabilizers, pinned-on visors, and prices ranging from about $40 to $60. Models include:
- S9-C: Molded in the shell with a two-piece shell covering both upper and lower sections, with a pronounced rear snag point, a dial fit stabilizer and recessed strap anchors. Retail $50.
- TX1: Taped-on shell, internal strap anchors, with a large area of reflective trim in the rear.
- R-17: Rounded shape, recessed strap anchors, locking strap junctions, and a dial fit rear stabilizer. $35 retail.
- Sonic TXIB: Taped shell, dial fit, moderate snag point in rear, reflective material in rear. Retail is $25.
- Sonic Comp: Molded in the shell, very small rear snag point, retails for $40.
- Sonic Jr.: Toddler helmet with ring fit, dial adjustment. $15 retail.
- Diamondback BMX Hucker: Classic skate-shaped model in glossy or matte black for $20.
- Diamondback FF: BMX model with a fiberglass shell and bolted on visor. $80.
- ACF BMX: BMX model with full chinbar and a complete carbon fiber shell. Bolted-on visor. Retail is $190.
Azonic/O'Neal USA has mostly hard shell, no-vent full face helmets for BMX. They have removable inner liners for cleaning and the standard large bolted-on BMX visors, a potential snagging hazard. Their BMX helmets are made by KBC in Korea or THH in Taiwan, and are said to all be certified to the Snell M-2000 or M-2005 motorcycle helmet standards, exceeding by a wide margin any bicycle helmet standard in the world. (We are not able to identify the models on the Snell lists, where they probably appear under KBC or THH. Look for the Snell sticker inside the helmet to be sure.)
- 906: Comes as the Axion, Threat and Torch. Carbon fiber and Kevlar shell, full chinbar, retails for $300. The visor is bolted on, but the bolts are plastic and hopefully might break when you need them to.
- 548: A classic motorcycle-style BMX helmet with ABS plastic shell and a bolted-on visor, a potential snagging hazard. Retail is $110. Comes in a child size for $100.
- Apex: Polycarbonate (plastic, Lexan or similar) shell, Snell 2000, retails for $110.
- ASX: Similar to the 548, with a fiberglass shell, retailing for $90. For 2006 Azonic has apparently dropped the rubber "roost deflector" covering the nose and cheeks.
- T-55: Another fiberglass shell BMX helmet, but this time with vents and meeting the CPSC bike helmet standard, not Snell. Retails for $100. For 2006 Azonic has dropped their color options and offers only black.
- Fury: New model for 2005-6. Retails for $70.
- Skid: A vented skate helmet with an ABS shell and some angular lines unlike the classic skate shape. Retails for $27 in matte black or gray.
Barbieri Accessories began in 1985 with a revolving brush chain cleaner, adding other accessories like carbon fiber and titanium mini pumps. Perhaps to round out their accessory line, they have a single helmet model for 2006, called simply "Helmet." It is a distinctive design with visor and rear dial stabilizer. It is certified to the CEN standard for the European market.
Bell is still the largest company in the bicycle helmet market. They also own Giro, although the two have separate helmet models. They have been making bicycle helmets since 1975. We spend more space on their line than most others because people want the info. Bell has 20 models in this year's lineup, but some are the same model without a visor, or in a larger size for big heads or a smaller size and pastel color for women. Some models have Bell's no-pinch buckle, a nice design with a tab behind it that keeps the skin from getting in while you push the two pieces together, now included on the adult "sport" models. Their 2005 Citi model is a less expensive variation of the 2004 Metro, a rounder design pitched to urban commuters. Bell reintroduced a reflective logo in 2005, and is no longer using hook-and-loop to hold padding in. (The adhesive on hook-and-loop pads tends to deteriorate over time, particularly in a hot car or trunk.)
At the top of Bell's line are their molded-in-the-shell models, called the Fusion Series:
- Citi/Metro: The Metro was introduced in 2004, with a unique rounded exterior. It is pitched for the commuter market, as a "Life+Style" type helmet, "distinctively non-Lycra and intentionally toned-down." The Metro did not sell well in 2004, partly because Bell did not advertise it, as if they did not really believe in it. But for 2005 they introduced a less expensive version called the Citi. It eliminates the rubberized coating on the lower half of the helmet, and changes the fit system from pads to a "universal" ring fit. That may or may not work out well for you. The Citi was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmet they tested with superior impact performance. Both models come with plenty of vents and a visor, and have only partially recessed strap anchors. Both have a useful pony tail port in the stabilizer that makes it easier for those with long hair. The Metro can be outfitted with a whole range of expensive accessories: a flimsy mirror that folds back into the visor for storage, an innovative winterizing kit with ear muffs and vent plugs, a rain cover with hot reflective trim and a red LED flasher that attaches to the helmet's rubber strip in the back. Unfortunately Bell has eliminated the yellow Citi and white Metropolis in 2006, so neither helmet is available in a bright color for safety in traffic. Retail is about $70 for the Metropolis and $45 for the Citi. These two are worth a look for their rounded exterior, and if the ring fit works for your head the Citi would be preferable if only because it eliminates the rubberized section that could interfere with sliding when you hit the pavement and jerk your neck. We found that the straps on the Metro would not stay in place when adjusted, and would have to be sewn or locked with rubber bands snugged under the strap fittings to be useable. For a less-expensive but equally well-rounded alternative, see the Impulse below. At $15 to $35 it is still molded in the shell, and seems like a real bargain at Wal-Mart's $25 price.
- Slant: New for 2006 in the mid range is the $50 Slant. It has three modest snag points in the rear. This one was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmet they tested with superior impact performance, and awarded the CR Best Buy tag. Definitely worht a look.
- Sweep: Bell's top of the line for 2006, with 11 choppy snag points on the rear giving it a porcupine effect. Has a lower shell molded on, and some nice bright colors. Retails for $115 to $130 depending on the model. Bicycling magazine gave the Sweep its lightweight and ventilation high marks in its Jan/Feb 2005 issue, but complained that the helmet did not have any carbon fiber in it. That tells you more about the magazine than the helmet.
- Ghisallo: Bell's top of the line for 2002 was this design named for an Italian saint. Somewhat better rounded than some of Bell's other top models, but still features a rear snag point. It has fewer but very large vents, and a few bright colors. Retail price is still $100.
- Furio: Another Bell road model with more rounded lines than some but still sporting a snag point in the tail. No visor. Retail is $60, down $15 from last year.
- X-Ray: This model was Bell's top of the line for 2001. It features a top and bottom outer shell. It is a hyper-ventilated model with long vents and a rear overhang with points that present a potential snag hazard. It has Bell's rear stabilizer that tightens by turning a small geared wheel. For 2005 it got Bell's new visor, with height adjustment. Two-tone colors, none of them very bright. Retail is still $100.
- Influx: A Mountain bike helmet with visor and a modest rear snag point. What appears to be the same helmet is available in the Euro market as the Alchera, or with visor as the Delirium. Internet discounters in the US market have the Alchera for $43 and up, while the 2005 Influx retails here for $60. Models from prior years are heavily discounted. Not all of Bell's Euro models are certified to the CPSC standard, but those sold by US dealers must be.
- Venture: Another new 2006 design for Bell's "entry level" helmet, with a single snag point in the rear. (It replaces last year's Arc, a better-rounded helmet now closing out at about $20.) The same design is known as the Solar when it has no visor, and the Vela with feminine graphics. Bell is producing an extra large size and calling it the Triton, fitting heads up to 25.5 inches/65 cm in circumference. All have a one-size-fits-all ring fit. Retail is $30 for the Solar and $35 for the three with visors. The same design is also available as a "youth" helmet as the Alibi with multi-color graphic designs and a visor, retailing for $35 or as the Trigger without visor for $30. This is the least expensive molded in the shell Bell model for adults and youth sold in bike stores, and probably one of the better values in the Bell lineup, except for the Deuce/Impulse below under Bell's discount line.
- Amigo: A new design in 2000, upgraded in 2004 to molded in the shell construction. The Amigo is a helmet for kids that is built like the one their parents use. The very nicely rounded exterior is smoother than Bell's adult helmets. Has a rear stabilizer, visor and bug net in the vents. Nice selection of graphics including one orange model. Retail is $30.
- Kinghead: This $30 helmet is highly recommended for those who fit it, but it is made only in Extra Large for riders with head sizes up to 8 1/4 (25.9 inches/65.8 cm around). It is still the largest bicycle helmet we know of, at .4 inches larger than the Triton above. It has a beautifully rounded exterior and internal strap anchors. We had asked numerous manufacturers to make this helmet, but only Bell stepped up to the plate. This is Bell's contribution to consumer safety, not corporate profits, since the helmet will fit only a very small number of riders, and is never expected to make the company any money. Note that the Kinghead is an older design with a taped-on shell rather than having the Triton's molded in the shell construction, but its impact performance meets the same CPSC standard. The Kinghead also fits with pads rather than the "universal" ring fit system on the Triton. The Kinghead is not in the current Bell catalog, but if you need a very large helmet you can contact a Bell dealer, or check out mail order outlets on the Internet. There are still some left in a warehouse, and Bell still has the tooling if they ever need to make more. If you have a head that large and the Triton won't fit, check out our page on helmets for large heads.
- L'il Bell Shell: a toddler helmet with vents, previously known as the Half Pint and not related to the L'il Bell Shell of the 1980's and 90's. Has such a well-rounded shape that even we have no complaints. There are sticker kits available to allow kids to personalize their helmet. Retail is still $30.
- Boomerang: A 2000 model, somewhat like an Amigo, but made for toddlers, with the additional rear coverage required by the CPSC toddler helmet standard. Looks much more like an adult helmet than the L'il Bell Shell, and is almost as well-rounded on the exterior. Cartoon graphics, but in 2006 the bright yellow model is gone. Has a soft foam visor and a no-pinch buckle. Retail is $30. The Boomerang was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmets they tested with superior impact performance. It was the only toddler model with that distinction.
- Bellistic: Bell's BMX/downhill racing model is still in the lineup for this year. It has a fiberglass shell, vents and the well-rounded shape that is traditional in BMX helmets. It also has the traditional bolted-on visor, providing a potential snag point. It has a full chinguard but like most other downhill racing helmets there is no impact foam padding in it. It resembles a motorcycle helmet with vents, weighing two full pounds. There is one bright red and white color combination. Made for Bell in China. The retail price is $75.
- Faction: Bell's "skate-inspired" BMX/skate model is a 2004 hard shell design with a dual-density foam liner. In previous designs by LT back in 1991 this technique was used to take the sting out of lesser bumps with the softer layer, but backed up by a harder layer that could still perform in the big hits. In the Faction the technique is used to provide a different liner density in the front to meet the CPSC standard while avoiding a thicker helmet. The Faction has the admirably round, smooth exterior of the classic skate helmet, with small rectangular vents on top, front and rear. There is a nice selection of graphics featuring five different skateboard celebs and including visible white. This model has dual certification to both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and the ASTM F-1492 multi impact skateboard standard, but only for the larger sizes. The small size does not have the ASTM F1492 skateboard sticker. The Faction retails for $30.
Bell's European Market Helmets
Bell has helmets made to the CEN European standard that according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News will not pass the US CPSC standard and cannot be sold in the US market. Foremost among them is the Bell Meteor II chrono helmet for time trials. This is one you may have seen in Tour de France time trials.
Bell's Discount Line
Bell has another entire line of low-priced helmets sold at discount stores and mass-merchant outlets. (More than one fourth of the company's sales are through Wal-Mart alone.) They are occasionally discontinued models from the bike store line, but seldom include the molded in the shell models. The cheaper ones generally have low-end graphics, chintzy fit pads, slippy straps and cheaper packaging. Most do not have rear stabilizers. But they are designed to the same CPSC standard as any other helmet on today's US market, so they provide fine impact protection. Many of them are still produced in the US--millions of helmets each year. The rounded profiles we consider optimum still persist in this line, since they are cheaper to produce, and Consumer Reports testing of other brands indicated that the thicker foam may actually provide better impact protection than some of the thinner, more ventilated, more expensive pro models. Models include the adult Reflex, Radar, Adrenaline, Protos and Impulse. Youth sizes include the Edge, Aero, Blade and Deuce. Child helmet models are the Star, Racer and Rex. Toddler helmets include the Shadow, Zoomer and Bellino.
Two models in the low-priced line deserve special attention: the Deuce and the Impulse are the same helmet in youth and adult sizes. Both have the same radically round, smooth shape of the Bell Metro and Citi. Both are molded in the shell, the only models in the discount store series that are made with that higher-quality construction. They have reasonable vents. The price will likely be right when you find them in a big box store. We found a sample at Wal-Mart for $24.88 in May, 2006. The Impulse is made in USA.
Bell's skate models in this low-priced series include the Rage, Mirra and Wicked. Some are dual certified to the CPSC bicycle and ASTM F-1492 skateboard standards, at least in the medium and large sizes. They may not be dual certified in the small size. You must look at the sticker inside the helmet to be sure. We bought a size S/M Wicked in October of 2006 that did not have the ASTM sticker inside, so that one is not dual certified.
This line sells for low prices: $15 to $40. They are available to non-profits for much less than that, through Safe Kids USA. Because of Bell's name recognition, they are among the best sellers in the low end market. (Check our page on inexpensive helmets for further info on sources of low-cost helmets from various manufacturers for helmet programs.) Bell also produces toddler, skate and child bike helmets for the Fisher-Price brand, and you may see them as X-Games, Barbie, or Hot Wheels brands. Some models come bundled with bike or skate accessories. Reports from the field indicate that you should steer clear of the Bell models with plastic "self-fitting" straps, an uncomfortable feature that led kids to avoid fastening the straps at all. For current production Bell has returned to fabric straps.
Bell's Replacement Policy
For Bell's crash replacement policy it is best to call 1-800-BELL or search their Web site. We found it in the helmet manuals, in .pdf format. As of January, 2005 you send back the damaged helmet with a letter describing your crash "in as much detail as possible," a dated cash register receipt (you did save your receipt, and you can find it, right?) with a check:
- For Fusion series helmets: $35
- For cheaper models: $20.
In 2001 Bell became the only helmet manufacturer who joined the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Product Safety Circle. We are not sure how much that actually means to the consumer, but they have pledged to follow ten safety principles, designate a corporate safety officer and publicize their successes in implementing the principles.
In 2004 Bell Sports was purchased by Fenway Partners, a private-equity holding company that also owns Riddell, a manufacturer of football helmets. Through them Bell Sports in early 2005 repurchased the Bell motorcycle helmet manufacturing company that it had spun off in 1991. Fenway-Bell also owns Sports Instruments, a maker of heart rate monitors, bike computers and watches. Most consumers were probably unaware of those changes.
Bern's motto is "Head Protection for Any Action Sport." Their helmets are skate/ski shaped, so they are very well rounded except for the rigid visor on one. Two of them use Brock Foam, a formulation that provides multi-impact protection. Some are molded in the shell. The manufacturer believes that at least one model can be shown to meet the CPSC standard as well as CEN 1078 bicycle, ASTM 2040 snow sports and the CE 1385 standard. Others have interchangeable liners for water sports, ski and winter sport use, including underneath layers and a knit winter cap. There is a pony tail port on ladies models. There is a channel in the foam liner for glasses and a removable goggle strap clip on the rear. An optional earbud music system works on magnetic technology rather than radio frequency waves. Sizes range from 49 cm to 62.5 cm. They have paired male/female models, with pastels for the ladies. We are waiting for more info on certification to the CPSC standard before describing individual models. Retail prices for Bern's models are in the $40 to $110 range.
Bianchi markets team helmets to match their bikes. They have several models: the Team Bianchi 909 at $180 and the Team Bianchi 530 at $120 are available in the US. There is also the Celeste Puro F105 at $120, and Motorex Racing F-107 at $120 (available in trademark Bianchi celeste blue), The helmets are made by Limar of Italy, and correspond to Limar models of the same number. See Limar below.
Bravo is the house brand of Asctechs.com/El Sol Trading. They have a skate-style helmet said to be certified for bicycling, skateboarding and snowboarding. The helmet has the classic skate shape. It may be dual certified to bicycle and skateboard standards, but we have not seen it and cannot comment on what standards it actually meets, since the Web site is vague on that. Pricing is in the $20 range, and there are some bright colors along with the usual black and moss green.
Briko is an Italian company who began breaking into the U.S. market in 1998 but has been slow to push its line here. All of their helmets are made in Italy. They have an innovative "twin cap" construction technique bonding two separate liners to leave air channels. They use reflective trim on their US models, and all of their models for the US market are molded in the shell. Prices are approximate and are not current.
- Solo: Introduced in 2003, the Solo is a slick looking design with a two piece cover molded in the shell. It has a ring fit and a medium snag point on the back. It retails for $140.
- Zonda: Another road model, also molded in the shell, with noticeable exterior strap anchors, usually avoided in top of the line helmets.
- Twinner: One of Briko's older designs. Has three very large vents in the front, setting this helmet apart from any current US design, but the vents narrow considerably as they pass into the double layer liner. There is a rear shelf but it is rounded. In 2002 Briko added a full lower wrap-around plastic shell. Graphics accent the unusual features. Retail is $120.
- Spark: A slightly more conventional design with twin layers, multiple vents and sharp ribs, with a pronounced snag point in the rear. Has a unique visor mount with hollow fittings that go in the front vents. Retail in the US is $120.
- Mistral: a single layer road helmet with conventional lines and conventional vents. Retail is $40.
- Toronado: A nicely rounded helmet made in a single layer, with conventional venting. Retail is $80.
- Taku: A child's helmet in the adult style, with a medium snag point on the rear, a dial fit system and a pinned-on visor. Retail is $25.
Briko has a number of other helmets for the European market that are not available in the US. These include:
- Crono: Briko's entry in the time trial/pursuit aerodynamic helmet market. It has two large rear vents, a clear plastic face shield, and comes in three graphics combinations. It is certified to the European EN 1078 standard.
Carrera is an Italian company better known for winter sport helmets that is bringing their line to the US market slowly. Their helmets have Italian stylishness, moderate to large rear snag points, large vents, and some reflective trim. External strap anchors stick up, and one of their models even has a spoiler.
- Energy: introduced in 2005 with striking graphics and a unique fit system. The wedge shape slopes up to a center ridge, then down in back to a moderate rear snag point. Molded in the shell construction with a separate lower shell. It retails for $120. For $12 more you can get an All Weather Protector, a plastic shell that fits over the helmet and covers the front vents, anchored by those protruding external strap anchors. Comes in a nice bright yellow as well as red and white.
- Dragon Fly: a normal helmet made truly strange by the addition of a spoiler in the rear that provides a sharp and pronounced snag point. There is a winter vent-blocking add-on shell, and another "MTB" shell that leaves the vents open but provides a visor.
- Apache: more rounded top profile but ends in a moderate but high snag point giving it a blocky appearance in the rear. Smaller vents than the Energy
- Carapacho: a truly unique design with only six vents, but they are huge, raising questions about what standard it could pass since it would seem that a normal hemispheric anvil would be likely to crash right through a vent. Has a rear visor and an optional front clear plastic windshield. To top it off, there is a thick serrated rubber spine down the center from back to front. We would have to rate this one the helmet we would least want to crash in.
Casco is a German company whose helmets we have not seen. In addition to bike helmets they make helmets for equestrian, snow and firefighting use. Their upscale helmets include the Warp II used by Jens Fiedler, an almost perfectly round and smooth track sprinter's helmet with an above-the-nose shield completing the rounding. It has no vents, costs 250 Euros and only meets the CEN standard, but the shape is flawless for crashing. Casco claims it is equally flawless for aerodynamics "according to the latest findings of the automobile industry." Could this possibly signal the end of the aero tails that have set the fashion in bicycle helmets for the last decade? We certainly hope so.
Casco's other upscale lines, called the Upsolute models, are molded in the shell. Some are unique designs, but since we have not seen them we refer you to the Web site for a look. They include a Skate and Bike model that according to the Web page received an award for easy fitting from a German consumer magazine. There is also a Generation II helmet for all ages, with a nice shape and apparently good coverage but a strange screwed-on perforated plate in the front. Some of their less expensive Classix models are also molded in the shell, but the cheapest ones are not. Classix include a full-face BMX model, a classic skate helmet and a toddler model.
Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, whose bicycle racing nickname was "the cat." Their line includes eight models. All are molded in the shell except the toddler helmet. We don't know about standards or market availability, so check the Web site if you are interested. In the fall of 2005 they were looking for a US distributor. Catlike had a recall in 2003 of its Kompact model, so check our recalls page if you need info on that.
- Whisper: New for 2006, the Whisper has a unique nubby outer shape and many small oval vents. We would reject it for the external shape, but if you want something different you will not see many of these on the road. Molded in the shell. Some very visible colors including orange.
- Diablo: complete with small "horns" on the outer shell. Has rotating cam locks on the strap adjustments, but they slip. Available in women's colors.
- Kompact Pro: Large oval vents, full shell wrapping around the bottom. Molded in the shell. Has pronounced rear snag points as well as external strap anchors sticking up. Nylon visors with push-point attachments. Many graphic combinations including solid and multi colors, some highly visible, helping to match team colors. There are also women's colors. Lots of reflective trim.
- Shield 2: a skate-shaped helmet with large oval vents. It has a "ducktail" effect in the rear, with what Catlike says is additional lower rear protection. Molded in the shell. Retail is $80.
- Tiger: Toddler helmet with vents and child graphics. Has a molded in visor. Taped on shell.
- Chrono: Catlike introduced a chrono helmet in 2005 that they said would meet the European standard, as required in European races.
- Viper: Full-coverage motorcycle style helmet for downhill racing with face bar and vents. Has a visor fastened with the usual two bolts to make it a snag hazard. There are both fiberglass and carbon fiber versions.
- Junior: Youth model.
This German company has an extensive lineup of 20 models, although not all are available in the U.S. market. All but their child models are molded in the shell. Some models have a "soft shock" liner, but the catalog and Web site fail to explain what that is all about. Cratoni's child models fit heads as small as 18.5 inches / 47 cm and their largest adult model fits up to 25.6 inches / 65 cm. Their ring fit models cover from 20.5" to 23.5" / 52 cm to 60 cm. Cratoni's suggested retail prices seem higher than most, but dealers may adjust that.
- Ceron: The top of Cratoni's line is a hyper-vented helmet with sharp shell lines and the usual rear snag points. Molded in the shell, with a lower shell as well. Uses visible carbon fiber bridges in the front shell. Has the Soft Shock liner. The scarlet red version is bright and visible. Retail is about $130.
- Achillon: The Ceron design without carbon fiber. Retails for just under $100. Not a US model.
- Tremor XC and Tremor Tribal: A somewhat better-rounded helmet but with a very pronounced rear snag point. Molded in the shell, with ring fit for 53 to 60 cm. Not a US model.
- Zethos: Lots of long skinny vents and what might be described as a flat deck or spoiler sticking out at the top rear. Comes in five shades of black, including "used-look graphite." Cratoni bills it as a competition model. Not a US model. Also comes as a "Crocodile Trophy" model with sunglasses included.
- Xenon: A somewhat better-rounded helmet with many large vents and a strange "rim" around the rear. Molded in the shell, with the Head Ring adjustable headband to fit heads 53 to 60 cm. Retails for about $75. Not a US model.
- Radon: New for 2005, and probably Cratoni's best-rounded model, with large vents, bug net in the front vents and available in an XXL model that fits up to 25.6 inch/65 cm heads. This is a US model meeting the CPSC standard.
- Argon: Mountain bike (with visor) model with squared off ribs but no rear snag point. Has bug net. All colors are dark. Not a US model.
- Neon: Another well-rounded design, again with bug net in the vents and retailing in the US for $35.
- Heli: A "junior" helmet molded in the shell with visor, reasonably rounded lines and modest vents. Ring fit, bug net in the front vents. Retails for $60. Not a US model.
- Mad XL: a vaguely skate-style helmet with limited vents and the ring fit system. The shell wedge shape slopes upward in an almost flat plane to the top, then angles down again to large square vents in the rear. Also comes as the Mad X child helmet, with a 40 piece sticker set for personalization.
- Rapper: Another youth model, with more squared-off lines giving it a snazzier appearance, but no rear snag point. Ring fit system and bug net in the front vents. There is a visible red/silver finish available. Not a US model.
- Kid Cross: A well-rounded youth helmet with minimal venting, visor and bug mesh in the front vents. Available in a Crocodile Trophy version. Not a US model.
- Honey: A toddler model with vents that comes in a beautiful yellow. Ring fit system for 48 to 52 cm heads. Not a US model.
- Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents and ring fit. Rounded shape but has a molded in visor. Bug mesh in front vents. Not a US model. Fits heads as small as 18.5 inches/47 cm. Retails for about $30. Not a US model.
- Interceptor: Cratoni's upscale downhill racing model, with full chinbar, a fiberglass/carbon fiber shell and a visor bolted on. It comes in flashy graphics or solid colors and has mesh protecting the front vents. It retails for $400. We do not know which standards it meets.
- Ramp: Another full-face downhill racing model, with a hard shell. Vented. Comes in white or black. Not a US model.
- Chrono: Cratoni's time trial and pursuit event model, now upgraded to meet the European impact standard as required for UCI racing. Short shell does not fully meet the shoulder or back. Not available in the US.
Cratoni will replace a crashed helmet for 50 per cent of the recommended retail price.
Embon is made by Co-Union Industries in Taiwan. Their helmets are molded in the shell with modest-to-pronounced rear snag points. They use a ring fit system, and their strap adjustment pieces slip too easily. Visors are attached with pins to flip off in a crash. Prices should be in the $25 and up range.
Ecko has been around since the early 1980's, first in California, then Idaho, now Arizona. Although they don't have a Web site and we have not seen their current catalog, Ecko has usually produced BMX racing and skateboard helmets. The BMX shells are fiberglass, with both open face and chinbar models. Visors are snap on, and are designed to pop off in an impact to avoid a snagging hazard, a very desirable safety feature. Sizing is U.S. 6 to 7 3/4. Ecko also distributes the RAD, billed as a multisport helmet. It has very small vents and a very well-rounded exterior surface, but we don't know what standards it might meet. We have not seen their 2006 line, and do not know if they are actually still manufacturing, but their helmets are available from some suppliers.
Esco Sport Product Corp. is a Chinese company producing electric and gas scooters, bicycles and carts. Their bike helmets are certified to CEN standards, not CPSC, so they are not available in the US market.
See Bravo above.
Epsira Oy is the Finnish manufacturer of Knock helmets, advertised as CEN approved (European standard) and in one case as meeting a Swedish standard. They are supplied to such organizations as the Finnish postal service (in very visible yellow). Most of their designs appear to have nicely rounded contours and would be called commuter helmets in the US. They have several models, including the H3, Knock, Inmotion 2 and Champion. Their Yad model is easily the strangest shape of any helmet we have seen on the Web, with a huge bumpout in back that we would not recommend.
Some of their Knock child helmets have large team logos and cartoon characters called Moomins. One previous model had reflective straps, a feature we have not seen before or since. Epsira Oy has other EPS products and some info up on EPS. We are not aware of a U.S. distributor for their products, or if they meet our CPSC standard. Sizes run 48 to 62 cm.
Etto is a Scandinavian manufacturer with 18 helmet models on their Web site. Some are interesting designs, but unfortunately they are never seen in the US. The Web site does not discuss standards or pricing. All Etto models have at least some reflective material on the back. Their most innovative feature--a slow release buckle for youth helmets to prevent "hanging" on playground equipment--was still under development when we checked with them at the end of December, 2005.
- Typhoon: Etto's top of the line, molded in the shell with a very long snag point on the rear. Ring fit.
- Impact XX: Downhill racing helmet with what appears to be a bolt-on chin bar and small vents. Pad fit.
- On edge: molded in the shell with many small rear snag points. Ring fit.
- Road: molded in the shell with much more rounded lines than the Ettos above. Ring fit.
- Cyclone: one of Etto's newer designs, molded in the shell with a little tab on the rear that appears as if it were added as an afterthought to make sure there was a snag point. Nice visible yellow available. Ring fit.
- Coolhead: molded in the shell with many vents reminiscent of the Giro Pneumo. Modest snag point in the rear. Ring fit.
- Psycho: classic skate style helmet with a hard ABS shell and small vents. Comes in chrome, colors and a "psycho" graphic with a skull and bones. Pad fit. Reflective material on the back.
- Mack 1: glued on shell with rounded snag point in the rear and generally rounded lines. Modest vents. Ring fit.
- Esperito: molded in the shell, with rounded lines that are chopped off flat in the back. Ring fit.
- Kolibri: molded in the shell, nicely rounded with a minimal rear point, the Kolibri is described by Etto as: "smooth shape and delicate design, has the characteristics that will appeal to the female part of the biking population."
- Mosquito: molded in the shell youth helmet with nicely rounded lines. Ring fit. Also comes in a Mosquito Girl female color scheme. Padded buckle to prevent pinching.
- Freesbee: child/youth helmet with a taped on shell, nicely rounded lines, good vents and ring fit. The model is called the Freesbee because it was intended to be equipped with a unique buckle-release system to open the buckle hydraulically if the child is "hung" on playground equipment or a tree for more than a few seconds. Etto says they are still tweaking it and it isn't ready for prime time, despite the feature info on their Web site, and the Freesbee seems to have disappeared from vendors Web sites. It sold for a brief time in Europe for about $40. We ordered three samples and had a lab ready to test them, but are expecting the helmets to arrive with standard buckles.
- Ettino: vented toddler helmet with rounded lines and taped on shell. Fits heads as small as 41 cm, the smallest helmet advertised by any producer. Shaped like an adult helmet, so it is not likely to meet the coverage requirements of the CPSC standard for US sale. Padded buckle to prevent pinching. Ring fit. Has a visor. May require that a child in a trailer or high-backed child seat have a thick pad behind the child's back to prevent the rear section of the helmet from pushing the child's head forward and down. If you are searching for a helmet his small, please see our page on taking your baby along.
Etto dealers will replace crashed and damaged helmets "at only a small part of the cost."
Fly Racing has a line of motorcycle BMX racing equipment, including full face helmets. All have bolted on visors, but at least the screws are plastic rather than metal, and would be more likely to
break off when you need them to, rather than jerking your neck.
If you want another snag point, Fly will sell you a rear fin to add to your helmet. It mounts without screws or glue, so hopefully would pop off in a crash. Fly's catalog has replacement parts for their helmets, including mouthpieces, visors, screws, pads and buckles. Sizing runs from 52 cm/6 1/2 inch up to 66 cm/8 1/4 inch, a very wide range indeed. Along with their own brand, they distribute helmets made by Gmax and by THH. All of their models meet the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Their Lite and 606 models, as well as the THH TX-10 model that they sell, are on the Snell M-2005 motorcycle helmet standard list as well, offering a level of protection considerably above that of any normal bicycle helmet.
Fox Racing has two BMX models in sizes from 18 3/8" to 25 3/4". Both appear on Snell's M-2005 motorcycle helmet certification list and of course are certified to the less demanding US DOT motorcycle helmet standard as well. :
- FL606 IV: Meets both the DOT and Snell 2005 motorcycle helmet standards. It has a snap-out liner and comes in six outer adult shell sizes and three youth sizes. No vents. Retails for $90 with the matte chrome model $10 extra.
- FL-303 II: Fiberglass shell, retails for $70 in painted colors or $80 in chrome. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
- Gmax GMX-36X: Updated for 2005, with polycarbonate shell, retailing for $70 or $85 for matte chrome. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
- Gmax GM-36Y Youth: Polycarbonate shell, smaller and lighter youth size. $70 retail, $75 for chrome. Meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard.
- Gmax GMX-56X: Polycarbonate shell, comes in nine sizes from XXS to XXXX. Retails for $90, or in chrome for $100.
- FL-39 II: BMX and downhill racing model with full-face fiberglass shell retailing for $70. Has small vents and radical graphics. Updated for 2005.
- Lite IV: New for 2006, an "aero" model with more contours than other Fly helmets and a vented mouthpiece. Made with carbon fiber/kevlar, weighing in at 2.75 pounds for the large size, and meets DOT and the tough Snell M-2005 motorcycle helmet standard. No vents. Snap out liner. Retails for $200 or $190 for the solid color model. "Replica" models with team member graphics are $240.
- THH TX-10: Full-face DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. ABS plastic shell, relatively lightweight for this type of helmet. Retails for $60 in black, $70 with graphics and $80 in chrome. Meets both the DOT and Snell 2005 motorcycle helmet standards.
- V3 Pro Pilot: A ventilated BMX helmet updated in 2005 with a carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass shell. Titanium hardware. Retails for $375 with bag and extra visor.
- Tracer Pro: a standard BMX helmet with a chin bar for face protection and a bolted on visor. It has a polycarbonate shell and small vents under the visor. It retails for $140 depending on finish and graphics, with a kids version running $100.
Fox Racing helmets are made by AGV, an Italian company that has made motorcycle helmets since 1949.
Free Agent has a very well-rounded classic skateboard-style helmet that comes in one shell size with three pad sets of different thickness. It has an EPP liner, good for multiple impacts. It is dual certified to meet the CPSC standard for bike helmets. It retails for $25 to $35 in standard colors or $5 more with a chrome finish, and can be found on the Internet for as little as $20 plus shipping. It may fit larger heads better than most skate-style helmets. They supply a full face BMX helmet to their team riders, but we have not seen that one.
See Louis Garneau below under "L"
See Headstart below.
Geartec is handled by KHS Bicycles in the US as Geartec or DBX. In 2004 they recalled their DBX Engage (Geartec VT-3), DBX Ravage (Geartec FX-2), and Geartec ESPY. See our recall page for details. We don't seem to see their helmets marketed to bicyclists any more.
Giant supplies a full line of bikes and accessories to bike shops. Their helmets have good quality locking strap fittings.
- Ares: pronounced rear snag point, carbon fiber bridge showing and internal reinforcement, full wrap microshell. Three sizes fitted with pads. Retails for $100.
- Ixion: another pronounced snag point, this time with an aluminum bridge and internal reinforcing, full wrap shell, lever-flip strap locks and nice internal strap anchors. Three sizes fitted with pads. The women's model is the Athena. Retail for either is $75.
- Orion: pronounced snag point, recessed strap anchors in the full wrap shell. Ring fit, lavender for women. The larger version is called the Heracles. Retail is $50.
- Talos: moderate snag point, ring fit with a dial adjuster. Molded in the shell, with nice internal strap anchors. Retail is $35.
- Scion: youth helmet, new for 2005. Has ring fit and a rear snag point. Retails for $35.
- Skeeter/Jewel: youth model, ring fit system, with taped-on shell and a very small snag point in the rear. Retail is $25.
- Pup: toddler model, very round and smooth, retails for $25.
In its eighth year as a subsidiary of Bell, Giro's production facilities and testing are fully integrated with Bell's, but Giro designs still have a unique fit. Giro has been a trend leader for both style and construction techniques, and sometimes has a radical new model at the top of their line. In 2006 they will be selling Lance Armstrong's Atmos again, but are adding several models and dropping two. In 2004 they extended molded in the shell construction to even the less expensive helmets in their line. The line had been gradually evolving toward a more rounded profile over the past several years, but still has high-end models with more pronounced snagging points and the lower end of the line got more pointy in 2005. All high-end Giros use fitting pads, but the least expensive ones are ring fit. Most are available in white or another visible color. Some of Giro's helmets have reflective surfaces on the rear stabilizers, an ideal place for those who ride in the bent-over position. Visors are mounted with pins that snap into the helmet shell and have an adjustable angle. Our unscientific hand test showed them to pop out easily on impact. Consumer Reports found Giro's cheaper models more protective than the top of the line in their 2002 article, probably because the cheaper ones have smaller vents and more foam. Giro and other manufacturers have hyper-ventilated models produced for the European market that meet the CEN standard but are not certified to meet the tougher US CPSC standard. Pricing below on older models is from 2005.
- Atmos: The top of Giro's line, introduced in 2004, selling at a steep $190 retail or $225 for Lance Armstrong's Lone Star version. The Atmos has interior "roll cage" reinforcing, exterior carbon fiber reinforcing and an extensive three-piece shell molded on. All that is primarily to permit opening up bigger vents while still meeting the CPSC standard, not necessarily improving the impact performance above prior levels. Bicycling magazine named the Atmos tops in cooling (along with the 2004 Specialized S1) in its January/February 2005 issue. In addition to several moderate snag points in the rear, this model has forward facing points in the middle. We would avoid this one for that feature if no other, since it contributes nothing at all to the function of the helmet. But if you want Lance's helmet, this is it. Comes with a carrying case. Uses fit pads.
- Monza: A 2004 design, the Monza manages to be pointy both coming and going. Although the snag points are moderate, they contribute nothing to the function of the helmet and in our opinion should be avoided. Uses fit pads Retail is $100. Chosen by Bicycling magazine in their June 2006 issue as best helmet for $100 or less.
- Pneumo: Introduced in 2001, this model broke new ground in ventilation. The oversize vents, channels and graphics combined to make it appear to have less material than any other CPSC helmet we had seen at that time. It still has external strap anchors, a cheap construction technique that we always find surprising in a high-cost helmet, but since the shell is not round and smooth anyway it probably does not make much difference in sliding resistance. There is a pronounced rear snag point. Upper and lower shells are molded in. Comes with a visor. Uses fit pads. Retail is $140. For better Giro impact protection, you have to pay less, according to Consumer Reports.
- Eclipse: A 2000 design, this one has a rounded exterior that unfortunately ends in a severely pointed shelf projection in the rear. Recessed strap anchors. Uses fit pads. Giro says it is their "classic" model. Retail is $80.
- Xen: We thought of this as a skate-style helmet when we first saw it in the 2003 lineup, but when mounted on a head and positioned for best coverage in front, the apparent extra rear coverage turns out to be mostly an illusion. That should not deter you too much, since this helmet has good features if you ignore the advertising. Now billed as a "mountain" helmet, the Xen (pronounced zen) has a nicely rounded shape far superior to most Giro models, but retains the huge Giro vents and the Giro price at $125 retail (or $140 for the Special Edition camouflage with matching carrying case). The shell is a full wrap-around. Worth a look for the shape if you are a Giro fan. If you really want additional rear coverage in a Giro, see the Flak below.
- E2: The top of Giro's "mountain" line in 2000. The E2 has squared off lines and huge vents. The lines were somewhat more rounded than Giro's 1999 models, but they used one very pronounced rear "shelf" projection that almost looks as if it were designed to hook something in a fall. $125 retail.
- Hex: New for 2006, a reasonably round and smooth "trail riding" helmet with a minimal rear snag point. Retails for $80.
- Havoc: The Havoc was Giro's roundest, smoothest high-end model in prior years. It is still in the 2006 lineup. The rear snag point has been almost eliminated in this model. The Havoc unfortunately has external strap anchors, surprising in a helmet at this price, marring that otherwise improved outer shell line with a potential friction point. Very large vents, molded-in upper and lower shell. Retails for $70, a lot less than when it was first introduced.
- Animas: The Animas has the usual rear snag point and a two piece molded shell. It retails for $100.
- Encinal Sport: Giro's mid range model with a more rounded shape than other Giro road models and well-recessed strap anchors. Plenty of vents. Retails for $45. Received Bicycling Magazine's award as Best Helmet Under $50 in their July, 2004 issue.
- Indicator Sport: Giro' least expensive 2006 model at $35. A step backward, since the Indicator has a pronounced rear snag point, but at least the strap anchors are under the shell. Has a ring fit system. Also comes in a "women's" model called the Skyla Sport. Without a visor, it's the Transfer Sport at $30, Giro's lowest adult price point and still molded in the shell. For youth it's the
Flume and is priced at $35.
- Atlas II: The extra large size version of the former Torrent II, fitting 60 cm to 64 cm heads, and retained in the line as Giro's largest helmet. Compared to other Giros the design is smooth and round, with a minimal snag point in the rear. Retail is $35.
- Flak: A "straight-up skate-style" model with small vents and good coverage. Plain colors or camo. Meets only CPSC, not the skateboard standard. Retail is $30. For only $10 more you can have the Makai, the same helmet with graphics or in Ice Blue for women, pitched as a "street cruiser" for the non-helmet wearer.
- Rodeo: A "youth" helmet for kids who are old enough to pedal. Nicely rounded except for a front overhang providing a rigid visor. Has the universal ring fit system, which may make good sense for child helmets where parents want a quick fit and no worries about head growth. Bug net in the front vents. The shell is taped on, not molded. Retails for $30. In the smallest size it becomes the
Me2, a toddler helmet with a different fit system. Said to have a low profile in the rear to permit a more natural seating position in trailers, where thicker helmets can push a kid's head forward unless they have a pad behind their back.
- Remedy CF and Remedy: A new 2006 downhill racing helmet with a motorcycle-style chin bar, replacing the Mad Max. This one is the only helmet we have seen advertised as meeting the ASTM F1952 downhill racing standard as well as CPSC. It has a nicely rounded exterior, marred only by the bolt-on visor, and is well vented for this type of helmet. It retails for $100 in fiberglass (1050g/37 oz.) or $250 for carbon fiber (900g/32 oz.).
Giro has a time trial/pursuit helmet that according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News will not be sold to consumers. Lance Armstrong and the Posties used the Giro Advantage and Rev VI time trial helmets in the 2004 Tour de France time trials. The Advantage may some day be available to consumers, but the Rev VI was designed only for Lance. We don't know what impact standards they may meet, but probably they are designed for the European CEN standard.
This year Giro helmets fit heads from 18.75" (48 cm) to 25" (64 cm).
Giro will sell you a uniquely-shaped case called a "pod" or another called the Tour Bag that is to keep that expensive helmet pristine, but let your helmet dry out after a summer ride before putting it in there!
Giro recommends replacing their helmets after 3 years. Their crash warranty is a discount from retail prices for the first three years. They also offer a credit toward the purchase of a larger Giro helmet for parents whose children outgrow a child model.
See Fly Racing above.
Go On Sport is the first new Australian company entering the US market in years. They hoped to introduce 5 models here beginning in 2005, in the $20 to $50 range. Their helmets are molded in the shell, and some have two-piece full wrap shells. They are manufactured in China.
Go On Sport - GOS
Golex (Zhuhai Golex)
Golex is a Chinese producer of bicycle, skateboard, BMX, motorcycle and other types of helmets. There are at least 24 models in their catalog. Three appear on the Snell B-95 certification list, the N6, the V10 and the V-12. They should be available in mass merchant channels, and some may find their way into bike stores.
GPR makes helmets in China to be sold under other brands. They are a large manufacturer for the European market, and have been looking to bring their lines to the US for some time. You can see at least one of their interesting new designs in this patent. We do not have pricing for GPR. Their models include:
- Urbanus: a round, smooth commuter-style helmet with glued on shell and ring fit system. Net on front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Bike Helmet (Adults): molded in the shell with four shell pieces, rear snag point, ring fit. Net on front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Spina: molded in the shell with a moderate snag point, visor, ring fit. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Venimos: molded in the shell with two shell pieces, recessed strap anchors, many vents, visor, ring fit. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Virtus: glued on shell but still has external strap anchors in the front, many small vents, rear snag point, visor, ring fit. Net on front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Vici: glued on shell with fewer but much large vents. Net on front vents. European model certified to the CEN standard.
- Vidi: glued on shell, very round and smooth with only seven vents, visor. Net on front vents. Certified to CPSC as well as the CEN standard.
- Aventicum II: glued on shell, well rounded profile, visor. Net on front vents. Two shell sizes accommodate up to 62 cm heads. Certified to CPSC as well as the CEN standard.
- Caddy: child helmet with six vents, net on front vents and certified only to the CEN standard.
- Veni: (completes the veni, vidi, vici model series) youth model with glued on shell, net on front vents, CPSC as well as CEN certification. Two sizes fit 46 to 56 cm heads.
- X: classic skate style helmet with hard ABS shell, small vents, pad fit, CEN certification.
We have not seen the GT helmet line this year.
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets. All are fully molded in the shell models, including the D2 and the Vivid for adults and a G6 model for toddlers. They are near the $40 retail level. Adding a rear stabilizer or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a half each. The EPU makes the helmet a little heavier than an EPS helmet, but some consumers like the solid feel of them. Happy Way sells mostly in Europe, but in the US they sell to importers and OEM's with their own brands. Their sizing fits 47 to 62 cm. heads.
Once one of at least three helmet companies called Headstart. This one had nine adult models under the Gear brand name. Their Web page is "under construction" with a 2004 copyright notice.
This Headstart is located in Malaysia, and should not be confused with the Canadian manufacturer called Headstart Technologies or the Australian company above. When we last heard, Malaysia's Headstart was represented by Damar in New York. We are not familiar with their helmets.
This formerly Canadian manufacturer and user of EPP foam has moved to the US and changed its line, supplying helmets imported from China with the usual EPS liners. We have not seen their new line.
This unique West Coast distributor of bicycle products has taken on the Zhuhai Safety lines labeled T-Star and Celuk to sell to dealers or non-profits at very low prices. They will fill small orders. Their models start at about $5 each, with skateboard helmets at $6.50 and downhill mountain bike helmets that look identical to major brands for just $30. See the writeup below on Zhuhai Safety for descriptions. They are mostly certified to Snell's tough B-95 standard. They have rear stabilizers and full cover shells, features almost never seen in this price range. Sizes range from 19.3 inches to 24.5 inches (49 to 62 cm).
Helmets R Us (formerly Century Cycles)
HKS has five helmets on Snell's B-90 list, including the M3, M5 V-01 and two Schwinn models. They manufacture for a number of other US brands as well, some of them well known.
Hong Kong Sports
Hopus is a Taiwanese company with an extensive line of helmets featuring the only hard shell bicycle-style helmets we are aware of for 2006. They say their hard shells are all made with industrial grade ABS for best impact performance. Some of them have a layer of resilient foam for multi-impact performance, a feature they call SIS. Hopus also has thin-shell models, some molded in the shell. Their US models are all CPSC, but others may meet only CEN and be intended for the European market. Most of their models are sold with other brands on them. They have an extensive line, including:
- A-6 Plus, E-2 Epoch Ex-1 Extreme and Ex-5 Extreme: Four road-style helmets, all molded in the shell, and all featuring a lower shell for full coverage. They have a nicely rounded shape with minimal rear snag points. The A-6 Plus is new this year and is the top of the Hopus line at $75. It has aluminum mesh molded into the shell and covering the vents.
- A-8 Plus and Elf-1 Elf polycarbonate hard shell bike helmets with very nicely rounded lines. All are molded in the shell.
- B-1 Bravo: An unusual molded in the shell toddler helmet with vents, fitting sizes as small as 50 cm.
- MF-2, MF-5, MF-6, MF-7, MF-8 and MF-9 May Flower all skate style models that debuted in 2004, with similar hard shells but variations in the vents. The are molded in the shell with hard polycarbonate shells, a unique combination. They have the well-rounded shape of skate helmets.
- MF-6: Skate style helmet molded in the shell with an ABS shell. It meets the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard but not the CPSC bicycle standard, so will not be sold in the US market. Retail is $30.
- AG-2 Argo: Rounded skate-style helmet with hard ABS shell.
- FSK Free Skating a hard shell skate-style helmet with an ABS shell and EPS foam liner.
- MF-3 Avenger is billed as a multi-sport helmet and available as a "snow series" model with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in back, although it is advertised as meeting only the CPSC and CEN bicycle helmet standards. Has a very round smooth skate-style shape, and the ABS hard shell, with more vents than the MF-2 below. There is a very visible metallic yellow model. Retails for $20 to $40.
- MF-2 Classic is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with minimal vents. This snow series model for winter sport use has ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear. Certified to the ASTM F2040 snow sport standard as well as the CPSC and CEN bike standards. Can be had with very visible flame graphics and a nice metallic orange.
- AG-2 Argo is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with a hard ABS shell and minimal vents. It is molded in the shell. Has a snow series model for winter sport use with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear.
- MI-4 Mission is a skate-style helmet with angular vents and a mostly round and smooth outer shape. Has the same inflatable airbag rear pads as the AG-3. Certified to the CPSC and European bike helmet standards.
- D-1 Diki a rare child helmet with ABS hard shell. Has vents and an overhang in front to provide a partial visor. The XS fits heads as small as 52 cm.
Hopus has sizes in most models to fit 50 to 62 cm heads, but some models only go to 60 cm. This company is your best bet if you are looking for a bike-style helmet with a hard shell. You can contact them through their Web site to ask who sells their helmets in your market.
IHT has one model, with sharp-ridged lines and a modest rear snag point. It has a unique rechargeable Lithium ion battery system powering rear LED flashers. The lithium cell is protected from charging problems, as it should be. For some reason the company says on their Web page that the LED's "give off no heat" unlike every other LED ever made. (Really powerful LED's require heat-sinking.) The battery is said to be good for 15 hours. IHT is currently selling
only to public service organizations such as police, fire and EMS departments. The price is $70.
Ironman helmets are produced by Kuji Sports. For 2006 there are three models, all with rear snag points, large vents and ring fit systems. All are molded in the shell, making the low-end model probably a good value.
- Extreme: the Wal-Mart model, selling for $30.
- Pro Series: for Big Box stores, selling for $80. Has a second wrap-under shell and some reflective surfaces using the same technology Kuji uses for the Reflectek line.
- Kona Elite Series: for bike shops and running shops, selling for $200. Includes some carbon fiber internal reinforcing and some reflective surfaces. Comes with a carrying case.
J&B is an old established bicycle wholesaler with warehouses all over the US. Their products are sold in bike stores. J&B's lower cost Airius line for 2006 has models beginning at about $15 retail to about $30. The profiles tend to be the well-rounded ones we favor. Colors are solid, with some metallic finishes. Their add-on visors should run about $4 in a bike store, and are mounted with hook-and-loop. They have Airius helmet pad replacements retailing at about $3. J&B has an active program for schools and non-profits either through a local shop or direct. Their Airius helmets are made in China.
Abbreviation for Knucklebone below.
KBC has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China. They have one model on the Snell B-95A bicycle helmet standard list, the AZX. They have 14 additional motorcycle helmet models on the tough Snell M-2005 motorcycle helmet list. We have never seen the AZX model, but the KBC helmets available from dealers on the Web are full-face motorcycle-style helmets for BMX selling for about $200. If you have the KBC Midnight Flame, Classic Cruiser or TK-9 model, check here for the DOT report of failure to meet the DOT motorcycle helmet standard, dated October of 2003. That standard is much more severe than bicycle helmet standards, but if a manufacturer labels a helmet as DOT-compliant and it is not, we consider it serious. Note that unlike CPSC, DOT makes its reports public.
KED is a German company that has manufactured helmets for other brands for more than ten years, but now has its own line. Many of their models have LED flashers built into the rear, with a replaceable $3 battery/chip unit to power them for 120 hours. (We were not particularly impressed with the light output.) Their helmets with glued on shells are made with a cold-gluing process that leaves no space underneath the shell and makes the helmet look molded in the shell. Gluing the shells on allows them to put the strap anchors under the shell, a good feature. KED's strap adjusters tend to slip. They put a thoughtful pad under the buckle to prevent skin pinches. All models have bug mesh in the front vents. Models include:
- Esox: moderate vents and somewhat blunted rear snag points, ring fit with unique side adjustment, LED flasher, includes a separate very thin helmet lock that retracts into a plastic housing. (Sometimes used in the US for minimal short-term bike security.) CE and CPSC certification. Optional visor. Retail is $150.
- Champion: pronounced rear snag point, very large vents, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification. Optional visor. Retail will be $100.
- Race Visor: pronounced rear snag point, very large vents, LED flasher. CE certification only.
- Alien: slightly upswept rear snag point, double line of parallel vents that evokes the appearance of some aliens on TV, LED flasher. CE certification only.
- Spiri: rounded rear treatment with moderate snag point, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification. Retail will be $95.
- Street: well-rounded with a slightly upswept but minimal rear snag point, LED flasher, CPSC certification "only for American market," whatever that means, and CEN. Will retail for $90. Also comes as the Street Junior for youth.
- City: despite the name, the rear snag point is more elongated than the Event. Has the LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- Event: well-rounded with no rear snag point, elongated vents and LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- Drive: well-rounded with a minimal rear snag point and LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- VS: rounded rear treatment with minimal snag point, LED flasher. CE and CPSC certification.
- Joker: Well-rounded profile, LED flasher, European model that meets the CEN standard for Euro market but not CPSC.
- Alien Junior: youth model that has adult appeal, with minimal snag point, LED flasher, CEN certification only.
- Swingo kids model with very nicely rounded lines, some vents and nice graphics, LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- Meggy: toddler helmet with good-sized vents and both CE and CPSC certification "only for American market." LED flasher. There are some licensed cartoon character graphics.
- Freeride: classic skate style. Has a visible white option. No LED flasher or bug mesh. CEN certification only.
- Cross: skate helmet with angular shape and larger vents than the classic style. LED flasher, ring fit, visor. CEN certification only.
- Downhill: full face helmet with chinbar and bolted on visor. Bug mesh in vents, no LED flasher. CEN certification only.
- Zeitfahren: KED's chrono model comes in long and short versions. The short looks like a regular bike helmet but smooth-skinned and with no vents except in the rear. The long version has a long tail that will extend to the rider's back. It has no vents. Both have CEN certification only.
KED's catalog has a listing of useful spare parts for their helmets, an unusual feature. It includes visors, fit pads, ring fit parts, the led battery/chip replacement, buckles and more.
Kent is a supplier of low-cost helmets to toy and discount stores as well as bike shops, some labeled XFactor. They have adult, youth and toddler models at retail price points of $11 to $22. Their child helmet called the V9 for $11 also comes as the V9 Pro with a lower shell and nicer graphics for $17. Some of their youth and adult models are nicely rounded while others have longer overhangs in the rear. Their adult V-10 model is very smooth and round. They have a youth BMX helmet at $30 with an ABS shell and an unfortunate bolted-on visor. Kent has an "Aggressive Series" skate style helmet with a hard shell in the classic skate shape and a multi-impact EPP liner for $20 to $22 depending on finish. If it is dual certified it would be a good bike/skateboard helmet, but we have not seen one and the catalog mentions only the CPSC standard.
Knucklebone brand accessories and clothing for BMX are from
Answer Products. Their "KB" branded Jumper Pro model is the familiar skateboarders profile, very smooth and round, with an EPS foam liner. The Web site says "Many have followed since we first introduced the Jumper, but no one has been able to match the level of protection and quality the KB Jumper helmet offers." This despite the fact that the helmet is not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard, as a number of competitors are. It has a painted and clear-coated shell that includes a chrome model and a very visible white or orange, and retails for $40. The Web page (dated 2002) lists a BMX Holeshot model with a full chinbar and sliding forehead vents, and a cheaper version called the HS-1.
Kong is an Italian climbing company. (Probably named for the King Kong gorilla movie character who climbs all over the New York skyscrapers.) They have one helmet called the Scarab that goes beyond dual certified to be certified to European standards for rock climbing, skateboarding, bicycling, equestrian use and whitewater. All of those standards are easier to meet than the US equivalent, and the Scarab can't be sold in the US as a bicycle helmet unless it meets the CPSC standard, but it is an interesting concept. The Scarab has a ring fit system with dial adjustment. It appears to have external strap anchors. It is also used for spelunking. The retail price appears to be about $150.
Kryptonics is a skateboard equipment manufacturer originally founded to make skateboard wheels in 1965. Their helmets are made by Mien Yow in China. We see them in discount sporting goods stores. They are one of the companies marketing helmets that are dual certified to both the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard and the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Some of their helmets come with kits that include other padding for skaters.
- Signature Series: dual certified, with a transparent colored shell and black and white EPS molded together. $35 to $40 retail.
- Limited Series: dual certified, comes in three themes: a spiked helmet (!), a camo model and a bright stars and bars. ABS hard shell, EPS liner. We would avoid the spiked model on general principles, although we have never actually seen the spike or how it is mounted and do not know how dangerous it might be in actual use. The Web text says it is detachable foam. $40 retail, but boxes also have a printed price of $30 in some stores.
- Kore Series: dual certified, classic skate style. Can be had in white for visibility. $30 retail. Also comes in ladies' colors, pink and blue, with "ponytail friendly" padding.
- Ladies Series: dual certified, classic skate style. Comes in ladies' colors, pink and blue, with what is described as "ponytail friendly" padding. Looks like the Kore series in pretty pink. $30 retail.
Kuji Sports is a Chinese company whose Web site says they ship over 3 million helmets to the US every year, but you have not seen their brand here because the helmets are made for other companies. They have many models in bicycle styles, including toddler and full-face models. Their Reflectek line has reflective shells and should be available at big box stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Academy Sports, Dunham Sports, and others, some selling for under $20. Retail prices are $7.14 to $35. Kuji also produces Ironman brand helmets.
LAS (or L.A.S.) is an Italian company with a line of high-end helmets that have been made in Italy since 1974. They are available for 2006 in US bike stores with distribution handled this year by Trialtir, who have a catalog of US models. Some models available in 2005 in the US market are not being brought over here this year. LAS has some radical designs, with the emphasis on style. There are some nice bright colors available. Models include:
LAS has one additional non-bicycling helmet worthy of mention. Its Mistral model is designed for short track speed ice skating. Although the Web page does not say so, some vendors here are saying that it meets the ASTM 1849 Short Track Speed Ice Skating helmet standard. Check for a sticker inside the helmet to be sure. Retail in the US is $89.
The regular LAS line can fit heads from 20 7/8" to 24"/51 cm to 64 cm. Only the Baby is sized at 45 cm.
Lazer is produced by a Belgian company, Cross HM S.A., established in 1919. Their helmets have not been well known in the US in the past, but Lazer is now marketing through Quality Bicycle Products, a major distributor to US bike shops. Their high end models have recessed external strap anchors. Lazer says their helmets meet the relevant standards of each market: Europe, the US and Australia, so some models will not be available in some markets.
- Genesis: new for 2006, a high end model molded in the shell with multiple shell pieces wrapping around even the lower foam sections. Has the usual rear snag points and a new ring fit system adjusted with a toothed wheel at the top rear that turns a long screw. Even though the Genesis is CPSC certified, we would avoid this model because we would not want to crash on that spot. Retail is $150.
- Cannibal: introduced in 2005, named for fabled Belgian racer Eddie Mercks' famous nickname. Molded in the four-piece shell for overall shell cover. Carbon fiber reinforcement, moderate rear snag point. Comes with front vent plug for winter if you want a warm wet head, probably most useful for those occasions when you discover during a ride that your clothing is too light. Retail is $74. Only the XXL size fitting up to 64 cm heads is imported into the US for 2006.
- Blade: introduced in 2004, the Blade has a five-part shell that comes all the way down the rear, many vents, and a hard nylon piece in the rear to keep the snag point from getting dull. Has external strap anchors that should have been eliminated at this price point. It sells for $109. US model.
- X3M Molded in the shell, with a rear snag point. Retails for $50. Without visor it becomes the O2 but still costs $50. With visor in smaller sizes it is the Cyclone youth model at $50, all US models. The same helmet appears in some markets as the CycleOne women's or youth model at $45 with a zebra stripe option.
- Devil: introduced in 2005, molded in the shell with four pieces providing full coverage, including the rear snag points. Has two heart-shaped vents, two forward facing horns along the surface and of course a red option to fit the name, along with a highly visible yellow. The external strap anchors are painted in this model. Ring fit for 54 to 61 cm heads with an XXL model fitting up the 64 cm, Lazer's largest helmet. Retail is $75. CPSC certification but not imported into the US in 2006. With four fewer vents, a visor and some cosmetic changes it become the Magma, and is on the list for the US at the same price.
- Topaz: new in 2006, the roundest and smoothest helmet in Lazer's line, molded in the shell with moderate vents, a ring fit system and CPSC certification. Retails for $36.
- Max Deluxe: a well-vented toddler helmet with cute graphics, some reflective, and an insect mesh in the vents. The Max Dolphin and Max Shark models have a fin on the top, a potential snag point that seems unnecessary in a helmet that already has a rigid visor molded in to snag on. US/Australian model. It retails for $30, or and extra five for the models with the fin.
- Factory Rider: a vented BMX or downhill helmet with full chinbar and carbon fiber shell. It has an unfortunate fin on the top adding style and a snag point to a helmet that already has a bolted on visor you can snag. They actually refer to the fin as a "stabilizer," perhaps because if it catches on something it will tend to stabilize your head in one place while your neck and body move on. Euro model only. Retail is a steep $300.
- Excalibur: BMX full face model with a nicely rounded exterior and a fiberglass shell. Euro model. It sells for $250.
- X5 Boomerang: downhill/BMX helmet, this time with an injection molded plastic shell instead of laminated fiberglass. That adds about 25 per cent to the weight. Meets the US DOT motorcycle helmet standard. Available in XXXS size fitting 49 cm heads. Retail is $275.
- One a classic skate helmet with EPS liner meeting the CPSC standard, but not available in 2006 in the US. Retail is $30, or $40 in chrome.
- Chrono 3: Lazer's version of the chrono shape has a short tail style. It is molded in the shell with unfortunate external strap anchors, three small vents and a ring fit system. It has both CEN and CPSC certification. Retails for $160.
Limar is an Italian brand marketed in the US by Bikeline. Their models usually have some bright color choices and nice graphics. Some of them are not available in the US market. Many of the molded in the shell models have unfortunate external strap anchors sticking up above the surface of the shell. Kid's models have pinch protectors on the buckle. Pricing is in a range of $5 to $10, so we cite the high end of the range, and you may find it for less. Limar has rounded out its line with helmets from other manufacturers, a common practice.
- 960: A new 2006 model, molded in the shell with a two piece shell, pronounced rear snag point and carbon fiber internal reinforcing. The strap anchors are fully recessed, as you would expect on a helmet retailing for $150.
- 950: Introduced in 2005, molded in the shell with a modest rear snag point and external surface strap anchors that should have been recessed on a helmet selling for $150.
- 907: another 2005 model, this one is molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell and a ring fit system. The retail price is $150.
- 911: the top of Limar's line when introduced in 2004. It is molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell. Although it has angular lines, it is reasonably well-rounded and the rear has small snag points. Many narrow longitudinal vents, some very small, give it a stylish look. Retail is $125.
- 909: The 909 is molded in the shell with very large vents including a heart-shaped one in the front. It has external strap anchors and pronounced rear snag points. Retail is $175.
- 908: molded in the shell with a two piece shell. Sloping front and rear give a somewhat angular wedge shape rather than curved top. Rear snag points.
- 907: molded in the shell with a two piece shell. Elongated lines and rear snag points. Ring fit.
- 801: new to Limar in 2005, this commuter-style helmet is molded in the shell with a full two piece shell. It has rounder, smoother lines and is the shape we recommend. This one has mesh in the vents for bug protection and a ring-fit system. It retails for $80. We praised this helmet in our 2005 review (when it also sold as the SixSixOne All Ride) as the best looking commuter design we had seen, and there is still nothing on the market that surpasses it.
- 730: molded in the shell with better rounded lines than most Limars. Ring fit. $110
- 720: molded in the shell including a lower shell. Long narrow vents in the front. Small but sharp rear snag point. Retail is $96.
- 710: fewer but very large front vents, molded in the shell with wrap under shell piece. Small rear snag point. Ring fit. This one retails for $75.
- Big One: molded in the shell and available only in XXL size to fit heads from 59 to 63 cm. Elongated vents with a cat ear effect from the two rear snag points.
- 610: molded in the shell with a modest rear snag point and a ring fit system. $55 retail.
- 520: molded in the shell with angular lines and modest rear snag point. Ring fit. $45 retail.
- 320: taped on shell and rounder rear lines. Retail is $35.
- 315: Limar's least expensive adult helmet has rounded lines with a modest rear snag point, small vents and a ring fit system.
Retail is $30.
- 310: youth helmet with a glued on shell, ring fit system and bug mesh in the front vents. Ring fit. Retail is $35.
- Junior: vented toddler helmet with a glued-on shell and a ring fit system. Retail is $30.
- Chrono 05: Limar's 2005 aerodynamic pursuit and time trial helmet with CPSC certification. Molded in the shell with small vents in the rear and three unfortunate lumpy external strap anchors. Face shield optional. Ring fit. Retails for $200.
- Superchrono: Limar's CEN-only chrono with ring fit system and a taped on shell has two large front vents. Not for the US market.
Some Limar models are available in Bianchi colors.
Limar has a 3 year crash replacement guarantee, offering a replacement helmet to the original purchaser "at a nominal fee should the Polystyrene shell of the helmet be broken in an accident while being worn." Bikemine's catalog has replacement pads, visors and chrono lenses.
Louis Garneau is a Canadian designer and manufacturer with an extensive helmet line along with many other bicycle products. Some of their helmets are molded in the shell. On others they use polypropylene lower sections, and some models have a molded in lower shell to protect the foam from nicks (reducing sliding resistance as well). Visors are mounted with pins.
A few of Louis Garneau models still have only partial shells, leaving EPS foam exposed. Bell pioneered that design quirk years back with its Evo Pro and eventually dropped it. We have always believed it is an inferior design technique, given the evidence that plastic slides much better on pavement in an impact than foam. (Check this link for more on that) We would recommend steering away from those models. In fairness, Mr. Garneau points out that he has kept the foam sections slightly lower than the plastic shell-covered parts and that wrapping the shell over the squared off ribs on some models reinforces them against impact. If that reassures you, you can ignore our advice, but we think the foam will still hit the road if you hit hard enough, and there is no reason to risk that when there are lots of full plastic shells out there, including some nice ones from Louis Garneau.
For the European market, Garneau has insect mesh in the vents of some models. Some models are available without visor for $5 less. Custom team graphics or stickers are available for 2006. Some Louis Garneau models are designed for the Canadian market and may not be available in the US, but all of the ones listed below are sold here.
- Titan Carbon: Louis Garneau's new 2006 entry into the carbon fiber race is the Titan, with visible carbon-reinforced bridges to allow opening up longer vents. It also has an internal titanium ring. Molded in the shell, of course. The rear snag point is there, but considerably smaller than the Oz-zy that it replaced as top of the line. Unfortunately the strap fittings didn't hold as tightly as we would like in the sample we saw. Retail is $170.
- Oz-zy: Former top of the Louis Garneau line, introduced in 2004. It is molded in the shell with large front vents, curlicue shaped top vents, a wrap under shell, nicely recessed strap anchors and a moderate rear snag point. It comes in visible white and orange, and the front label is reflective. A carrying bag is included. The price is reduced for 2006 to $130.
- King Pin: Last year's Energy is the King Pin for 2006. It is molded in the shell and still has the exaggerated ribs and exposed foam that we advise you to avoid, particularly at the $95 price point. Without visor it becomes the Europa at $90.
- Rev: the Rev's exposed foam is well recessed, but the shell is taped rather than molded in the shell. It's shape is a lot rounder and smoother than the upscale models, with almost no rear snag point at all. This is Garneau's largest helmet, fitting up to size 24 7/8 - 63 cm. Retail is $50.
- Quattro: Although the same price as the Rev at $50, this one is molded in the shell, and has only a moderate rear snag point. Without visor it is the Murano and sells for $45.
- Equinox: The value end of Louis Garneau's line is this molded in the shell 2006 design. Plainer graphics, but no exposed foam and a minimal rear snag point. Ring fit. Retail is $35. The women's version is the Diva at the same price, and there is a Pacifica version with no visor for $30. The youth version, with somewhat better graphics, is the Ruckus, with visor, for $35.
- Grunge-X: introduced in 2001 for the youth market aged 6 to 15, this one has some angular lines and a rear overhang, with a glued-on shell and a visor. Wild graphics, some very bright. Retails for $30.
- Baby Boomer-X: Toddler helmet for the 5 and under crowd, round and smooth, with a few vents and cute graphics, including the black and white Felix graphic that is styled after Louis' own Dalmatian, as well as Felix-the-fireman and several for the feminine side. The smallest model is size 6, for a 48 cm (18 7/8 inch) head. Retail is $30.
- Terrible-X: Toddler helmet whose name ironically echoes the French phrase "l'enfant terrible." Has a molded in visor extension and glued-on shell. Graphics include Felix again in firefighter garb. Designed for kids 5 to 10. This one has a dial-fit rear stabilizer. The retail price is $30.
- Street: A skateboard-style helmet with a hard shell and the beautifully rounded traditional skateboard profile. The vents are skimpy and the colors are drab or black, but if you are crashing at high speed this is the profile you want. Has CPSC bicycle helmet certification and ASTM snowboard certification but is not dual certified to the ASTM skateboard standard. Retails for $35, or you can have the camo version for $45.
- Buzz 2: Garneau's downhill helmet. Molded in the shell with vents covered with mesh to keep the bees out. It has a full face guard with vents and mesh of its own. Unfortunately the hook-and-loop visor attachment has been replaced with the usual BMX/downhill bolts, so if you catch your visor on a low hanging limb, look out! The retail price has been lowered considerably to $140.
- Rocket: A 2005 chrono design from LG, the maker of the first chrono meeting the CPSC standard in 2002. This is Garneau's second generation, and there are improvements in the form of a longer, slicker shape with a full shell covering all the impact foam, a curved buckle that fits facial contours and can be manipulated with one hand, and four small vents in the front. Retail price is $180. The windscreen is available separately for $30.
- Prologue-V: The most exciting thing in the 2002 Louis Garneau lineup was the world's first chrono model with CPSC impact protection. Designed for time trialing. Round and smooth in front, with a long aero tail. Glued on shell, polycarbonate face shield. Retail this year is $125 with visor.
- Chrono 2006: Looks to us like the original chrono model. At least one vendor says that in addition to the CPSC standard it also meets ASTM 1849, the short track speed ice skating standard. We were unable to confirm that in Garneau's catalog or on their Web site, so look for a sticker inside the helmet to be sure.
- Windscreen: Not a helmet, but an accessory, this is a polycarbonate lens that wraps around a helmet--almost any helmet--and is held on by hook and loop. The edges are unprotected, and you could probably slice meat with them, even if it did not shatter in a crash. We would favor something with protected edges, like a pair of glasses or goggles. Not offered in the US market.
Louis Garneau still has a free replacement guarantee for the first year.
Lucky Bell is a Hong Kong company producing EPU helmets mostly for other brands but with their own Aerogo brand. They have 11 bicycle models, most of them round and smooth, with small to reasonable vents, nicely recessed strap anchors and visors. They include the
390, 391, 392, 393, 395, 396, 397 (with upturned rear snag point) and 399 (with diagonal ribs) for adults.
There are also two skate-style models, including the 801 with vents in blue or a bright yellow and the 901 classic skate style, as well as the 991 snow sports helmet.
MET is an Italian manufacturer whose helmet line we have not seen, but they have a fine Web site. The comments below are vague because we are limited to the info on the Web. MET has models for road and offroad biking, a BMX model, youth and toddler models and a chrono shaped time trial racing helmet. Almost all of them have snag points in the rear and the elongated shapes that we do not consider optimal. MET says their road and off-road helmets differ in the placement of the vents to optimize them for the type of riding intended, in addition to adding a visor for off road use. Most of their helmets are molded in the shell, and some have lower wrap around shells as well. Strap anchors are under the shell in some models, a nice touch. Logos are reflective, although generally small. The top of the line models are radically different in appearance. Their Element model is described with the line "We have not just designed a helmet and then put holes in it, we have created a helmet around the air flow." That is great advertising copy. Among others on the Web site, the Bad Boy and Drop Off models seemed to have very nicely rounded contours. For 2006 there are "Commuting" models, Volo and the very nicely rounded Maxtrack. The unique Parachute "Free-Ride" model has a skeleton-like removable chin guard that splits into two pieces to fit in your pack. An interesting concept, although it is hard to say how rigid it would be in a crash, and it apparently has no impact padding. There are two models for large heads, the Testagrossa and the Predatore. Both fit up to 64 cm. The chrono model is the Pac III, a long-tailed design with two vents. The Loopy toddler model is said to have a flattened rear to avoid cocking a child's head forward when sitting in a child carrier, and to be "22% stronger" because it is molded in the shell. Met's helmets are all made in Italy. You can order replacement visors and replacement pads directly from them through their Web site. We wish more manufacturers would do that, since finding replacement pads is sometimes a real challenge. MET's helmets are not available in the US and Canada. You can read their fascinating explanation for that on the Web site. Regarding standards, all they say is "Each and every Met helmet passes the safety standards that apply in the countries in which they are sold, EN 1078 label in Europe or AS/NZS 2063 in Australia/New Zealand for instance." They candidly say they have not designed a helmet specifically for women, but all their helmets are designed for both men and women.
Michelin, best known in the US for tires, launched a new line of helmets in 2005 in conjunction with Zefal, best known in the US market for pumps. Michelin has a network to distribute tires, lubricants and other accessories to bicycle stores, so adding helmets will help to round out their product line. Since known brands sell more helmets, they may be hoping that the well-known brand name will help. The helmets all have at least some reflective trim. The comments below are on the 2005 line, since we have not seen their helmets this year.
- MX Sport: molded in the shell with reasonable vents and a moderate rear snag point. Also known as the MX Tribal for the mountain bike market. Both retail for $40.
- MX Pro Race: molded in the shell with a medium snag point, very large vents and a ring fit system. The visor can be replaced with an air flow deflector.
- MX Comp: small rear snag points, ring fit system, $70 retail.
- MX Urban: a commuter style helmet with very large vents and rounded lines, but not as round and smooth as some. Molded in the shell with a ring-fit system. Translucent gray visor. Retails for $45. With a black visor and different graphics it is the Street.
- MX Adventure: child helmet with large vents, elongated shape, rounded rear profile. Retail is $35.
- MX Bib: toddler helmet with vents, molded in the shell as few toddler helmets are, nice bright colors and graphics. The extra small size fits 48 to 52 cm heads. Retail is $25.
Mien Yow Industry
See Alpha above.
Mongoose is a supplier of a full line of bicycles and accessories targeting the "extreme sports kid," a male between 7 and 17 years of age "driven by attitude." We have not seen their line for 2006, so the comments below are for the 2005 helmets, supplied to them by PTI.
- All Terrain: although it is an ABS hardshell helmet, this one has a very thin shell. It has the elongated bicycle helmet shape with a modest snag point in the rear and a visor. Made in China. Retails for $20.
- Explorer: minimal rear snag point, glued on shell with no tape, snap-on visor, ring fit system with dial fit. Retail is $20.
- Full Face: an ABS hard shell BMX-style helmet open-face helmet with the usual bolted-on visor. Retail is $60.
- BMX Hard Shell: A skate-style helmet departing from the round and smooth style to add lines that the auto industry would call "muscular." No chin bar. Retail is $17.
- BMX Child Full Face Helmet: This is the full face model from PTI that is the only child's full face model on the market. It may have vision obstruction problems for the wearer, so be sure to take the rider to the store to try it on. Sold at Toys 'R Us and other discount stores for under $20, this one has a full wraparound chinbar with full thickness EPS padding. There is no other helmet in this price range with full thickness EPS padding in the chinbar. There is a visor, and the helmet is vented for active pedaling by kids who are "driven by attitude." PTI has these made in China.
Netti is an Australian company that has been around since 1948 as a distributor of cycling goods. They say they are Australia's biggest manufacturer and distributor of bicycle clothing and helmets. We have not seen their helmets in the US market for a long time, but their Web site is very good about identifying the standards met, and they do have models certified to meet the US CPSC standard as well as the Australian AS2063 standard, which is in some respects more advanced than our own. Netti models for 2006 include:
- Cyclone: Molded in the shell with a two piece shell. AUS$100
- GTi Competition i-Series - Molded in the shell. Kevlar fibers in the straps, with a claim of "simple to achieve absolutely perfect fit." AUS$70
- Pangea: Upper and Lower glued on micro shell. AUS$50
- STRIKE: "Extra strength" glued on micro shell. AUS$45
- Qantum Pro: Nicely rounded shape, two piece glued-on shell, comes in an extra large size rated to 64 cm heads. AUS$40
- Qantum: Nicely rounded shape, AS2063 certification, comes in small and medium only.
- Climax: Full face downhill racing or BMX helmet with vents, a composite carbon fiber shell and CPSC certification. AUS$380
- Instinct: Full face BMX-style helmet with a fiberglass shell and vents. AUS$150
- AXN: Full face for Down Hill & BMX, fiberglass shell with more vents than usual for this type of helmet. CPSC Certification. Retail is AUS$200 or AUS$230 for the model with graphics.
- Assault-Jr: Full face downhill or BMX helmet with CPSC Certification. XS/S only. AUS$140
- Blade 2: Hard ABS shell, classic skate shape, but certified to the CPSC and AS2063 bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard. AUS$45 Also in graphics model for AUS$50.
- Minimax 3: Toddler model with heart-shaped vents and full shell cover. Comes in extra small. No certification listed. AUS$40
- Pilot: Child/youth model with ring fit, bright graphics and AS2063 Certification. AUS$45.
Oktos is a French company selling accessories and sunglasses as well as helmets. They sponsor European racing teams. Their helmets are made in China to the European CEN standard and marketed in Europe. All appear to have taped on shells except the Aereo. They fit sizes 54 to 62 cm. We have not seen their 2006 line, but for 2005 Oktos had six models:
- Aereo: top-of-the-line with a pronounced snag point in a unique rounded shelf selling for 56 Euros.
- V17: nicely rounded profile, may be molded in the shell, retailing for 56 Euros.
- V13 Trainer: a 2004 design with nicely rounded profile, glued-on tapeless shell and bug net retailing for 32 Euros.
- V16: reasonable vents, rounded lines, ring fit system, bug net, retailing for 25 Euros.
- Quick Fly: a vented child's helmet with molded in visor and glued, tapeless shell, that comes in yellow with a Dalmatian motif like Louis Garneau's Felix. Retail is 19 Euros.
- W10: nicely rounded profile, lower shell, bug net, retailing for 30 Euros.
See Schwinn below.
Polybid is an Israeli company. They produce a unique folding helmet we reviewed in prior years under the Motorika brand name. That helmet seems to have disappeared from the US market. The last time we saw them their other helmet designs were all round and smooth, and all featured glued-on shells.
(Not to be confused with Pryme)
For 2005 Primal Wear had helmets with wild graphics to go with their similarly designed clothing line. We don't find them on the Web site in 2006, but last year's models included:
- Epok: elongated shape with rear snag point, retailing for $50.
- Vision: another elongated model, but with a much smoother rear and larger front vents. Molded in the shell, dial ring fit. Retail is $40.
- Evolution: Smaller vents, rear snag point, ring fit, retailing for $30.
- Scream: a classic skate-style helmet with small round vents. Unlike most skate helmet models, they have a very visible yellow/black color scheme. Retail is $25.
- Discovery: toddler and child helmet with an adult shape and vents. Retail price is $20. Should not be used on a child in a trailer without adding a cushion behind the child's back to prevent the elongated shape from pushing the child's head forward.
ProRider is a supplier of BMX and bicycle helmets from China and is also the home of the CNS (Children - N - Safety) National Helmet Program, selling directly to schools and non-profit organizations. Many of their helmets are Snell-certified in addition to meeting the CPSC standard, and have the rounder, smoother shapes that are best for crashing. Pro Rider is one of only two companies with a helmet on the Snell N-94 multisport list, their "7-Vent" model. Prices are very low, in the under $10 range and as low as $4 including shipping when purchasing in large quantities for a helmet program. They will also sell to individuals at slightly higher prices but still below $10.
Pro Supergo is apparently not affiliated with the Supergo bike shops in California or with the former Supergo helmets we remember from the 1970's. The helmets are produced in Taiwan by Prowell. (See below)
Pro-Tec was one of the original skate helmet companies in the 1970's, and popularized the classic skateboard-style helmet with a round, smooth hard shell and small round vents. The company has changed hands a couple of times since then, and in 2004 they brought out an almost completely revamped line, much improved from earlier years. Pro-Tec now uses a new foam they call SXP that replaced the lower grade protection of prior years with full performance liners that are dual certified to meet both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and ASTM F1492 Skateboard requirements. The SXP foam is a different formulation of Expanded PolyPropylene, allowing Pro-Tec to upgrade their protection while still meeting multiple impact tests without making the helmets thicker. It is a multi-impact foam, although it does lose some performance with multiple hits in the same location. We have more comments on our foam page. The helmets look exactly the same as older Pro Tec models, and Pro Tec continues to sell the older designs through skate shops, so you will have to examine them in the store for the standards sticker inside or be very careful about the model you buy.
We were encouraged by the changes Pro Tec made in 2004. They supply so many helmets to the skateboard community that the long overdue improvements in their line represented significant progress. If you have an older Pro-Tec and want to stay with the brand, it would make sense to replace it with a new one now. For an alternate manufacturer using the same new foam, see Shain below.
- Classic: round and smooth, with small round vents and good coverage, the classic Pro Tec design but updated with the higher-performance multi-impact foam it always needed and is now dual certified to meet both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and ASTM F1492 Skateboard requirements. Comes in visible white and yellow as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $40. In its ">June 2006 issue Consumer Reports says that their test labs broke about half the buckles on their Classic samples. They don't recommend the Classic for that reason. In the past their lab has broken buckles without any reports from the field that there were failures in actual use. See this report and the links on the page if you are concerned.
- B-2: another round and smooth design, but this time with oval vents, a rad departure for the skate crowd. Dual certified. Comes in visible yellow as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $40.
- Ace Freestyle Signature: An updated skateboard style helmet with larger oval vents and minor reshaping of the shell lines. It still has a round and smooth shape. For bicycle riding you must get the dual certified Ace Freestyle, not the outwardly similar Ace Skate, which is sold for skating in skate shops rather than bicycling and is not certified to the CPSC standard. Add a big bolted-on visor to the Ace Freestyle and you have the Dig. Add a chinbar and you get the AceSpade, retailing for $70.
- Shovel-Head: a BMX design with a full face chinbar, fiberglass shell and vents. It has a snap-in liner that you can wash separately. Retails for $120.
Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets in EPU foam. Several of their models are molded in the shell, some with lower shells as well. They generally have a high quality appearance, seeming solid (if a bit heavy) in the hand, including the F-22 introduced in 2000. It has moderate vents, but a substantial lip projecting out in the rear. Most of Prowell's models should retail for about $20. The company manufactures helmets for other brands, notably Vigor, and supplies the Pro Supergo line for Supergo.
(Not to be confused with Prime above.)
Pryme is owned by Seattle Bicycle Supply. The line has helmets for BMX, downhill racing, whitewater, snowboarding and skate use, most of them with catchy names.
- Pryme Evil Carbon: introduced in 2004, a full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Hard shell, minimal vents, bolted on visor. Retails for $170.
- Pryme US: introduced in 2004, a full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Hard shell, vents, bolted on visor and a cool skull medallion on the chinbar. Retails for $90.
- Pryme Al: Another full face model, with mesh-protected vents, fiberglass shell, bolted on visor. Retail is $90.
- Pryme 8 Skateboard style helmet similar in shape to the classic Pro-Tec. Has small vents, EPS liner, meets the CPSC standard. Retails for $30, or maybe a little less, with the chrome and "high fiber" finishes more expensive.
- Pryme Mortal: Skateboard style helmet similar in shape to the Pryme 8 but with a skull logo replacing the vents in the front and only four small ones in the top. Retail is $25.
- Pryme Vario: a snow helmet also certified to the ASTM snow sports standard and the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. It has small vents Retail is $40.
Pryme has a useful sizing chart on their Web site. Their helmets are made in China.
Originally known as Protective Technologies International, PTI Sports is one of the largest and perhaps least known helmet producers in the US. They claimed in 2003 that their $62 million in sales in that year made them the second largest US helmet and accessory company after Bell. Their products are marketed as Schwinn, Mongoose or PTI brands through discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Toys `R Us, usually at prices in the $10 to $30 range. In mid-2002 PTI licensed the Schwinn brand from its current owner, Pacific Cycle USA, and have been marketing Schwinn-branded helmets since then. You will find PTI products under Mongoose above and Schwinn below. PTI had a helmet recall in 2004 involving three toddler helmet models and a total of 9,000 helmets outstanding. We have details on our recalls page.
Rage has one model, a round smooth skate-style helmet. It is certified to CPSC, with no indication that it meets the ASTM skateboard standard even though it has a skateboard on the box. This one's unusual feature is twin speakers molded into the helmet liner, with a jack at the rear to plug in your mp3, CD player or skateman. We found the music sound quality abysmal, worse than the little stuffed bears with voices inside. Fit pads cover the speakers if you are not careful. Might work ok for voice intercoms or news, and it's better than riding with your ears plugged up with earbuds. Retails for $39. Rage is produced by Gen-X Sports of Canada, bought by Huffy in 2002. In 2004 they sold the Gen-X name to produce products under the Huffy brand. Huffy filed for bankruptcy later in 2004, and we don't have further news.
Rage with Solo Sound System
Rand sells through mass merchant channels like Kmart and Rose's. Their helmets feature Barbie and Sesame Street characters among others. They had to recall their L.A. Crusin' helmet during 2000. See our recalls page for more information, or this CPSC link.
Reevu has had two models of a unique helmet with a built in rear view mirror in a housing that begins at the front lip of the helmet and curves back over the center to provide a wide angle mirror. The housing is made of nylon, and can be popped off to clean the polycarbonate mirrors inside. We tried one and posted a review, finding it an interesting concept but not a great helmet or a great mirror. We have not seen it for sale in the US yet, so we would steer clear of this one until there is a model that is certified to meet the CPSC standard. The company has evidently ceased to manufacture the two models, and is said to be working on a new one. In January of 2006 we found only obsolete references to the bike helmets on their Web site, and they are now marketing a new motorcycle helmet.
Reflectek is produced by Kuji Sports. They have one model with a fully reflective shell and another with a partially reflective shell that sell in discount stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Academy Sports, Dunham Sports, and others, sometimes selling for under $20. They are reasonably rounded helmets with a glued on shell, small snag point in the rear, adequate but not large vents and a ring fit system. There is also a molded in the shell "Pro" model too with a partially reflective shell at $40 retail, probably more often seen in bike shops. It has larger vents and a sharper rear snag point. The same reflective technology has been used on parts of two Ironman models as well. This photo probably overstates the reflectivity, but the contrast with the "normal" helmets is made evident by the camera's flash.
We have comments and photos of one of the Reflectek helmets on our page on reflective helmets. It was also reviewed by Cycling Reviews. The Swedish company Headlight has a more extensive line of reflective helmets, but they are certified only to European standards.
REM is an Italian brand with a line of molded in the shell helmets. We don't see them in the US market. Models include the X-5, X-2, Spry, Delfino, Frizz, Blackride full face, Free Ride full face, R-105 toddler and two skate style helmets: the R-206 and Sport. Some of their models have vent "pipes" and some have double layer liners, with an upper cap molded in the shell and a softer liner below. There are air channels between the layers. Their Web site mentions only European standards, but says their helmets meet the standard of any country where they are sold.
Roar Helmets come from Shang Yang Industrial Co. of Taiwan and Vietnam. They have a line of nicely made CPSC-certified helmets, and their adult models are molded in the shell. Some have multiple shell pieces covering lower areas of the helmet. Most have modest rear snag points and recessed strap anchors. There are bright color options for each model. They have a unique strap fitting that tightens with a screw. They should all sell in the under-$50 range, but we don't have US pricing.
This European manufacturer markets sunglasses and sporting attire from founder Rudy Barbazza. We are not sure which models you may find in which markets, but their US Web page says the ones noted below are certified to the CPSC standard. Most have partially recessed strap anchors and some have small reflective patches in the rear. They are nice looking helmets, most with bright color options including USA red, white and blue, and some Canadian graphics with maple leaves. Models include:
- Kontact: a 2006 design with pronounced rear snag point, big vents and good cam lock strap fittings that don't seem to slip. Ring fit. $110 retail.
- Ayron: Introduced in 2004, molded in the shell with a lower shell, elongated vents and a moderate snag point, ring fit, the good cam locks and another $110 price tag. CPSC certified.
- Skura: Molded in the shell with a lower shell, moderate snag point, ring fit, good cam locks on the strap fittings and a retail price of $90. CPSC certified.
- Kaena: molded in the shell, moderate snag point, reflective patch on the rear, $65 retail. CPSC certified.
- T-rex Ferox : a 2000 design, molded in the shell with a small snag point in the rear. Strap adjustors did not hold as well as other Rudy Project helmets. $65 retail. CPSC certified.
- Pyovra: the best value in the Rudy Project line, molded in the shell with a small rear snag point, ring fit, the good strap adjustors, reflective rear patch and some vents that are a lot smaller than they appear to be on the outside. Retails for $40. CPSC certified.
- Skylet: modest rear snag point with moderate vents, ring fit, $50 retail.
- Bayor: Rudy Project's roundest and smoothest model. May be on its way out, since the Web site says it is available only in plain red. CPSC certified.
- Skyanto: A skate model retailing for $40.
- Korassa: full face BMX/downhill racing model with vented chinbar with mesh in the vent and a bolted on visor. $200 retail.
- Syton Supercomp: a 2005 chrono model with more vents than most, a face shield and a split tail. There are unique pieces on the sides that extend down to about the cheekbones, called "bionic wings." Medium length tail does not get all the way down to the shoulder. Comes with plugs for the front vents. CPSC certification. $200.
- Syton Open: the Supercomp without side pieces or face shield, retailing for $160.
Rudy Project has some interesting innovations, and perhaps they will get wider US distribution at some point. You may have seen their helmets on Tour de France riders. We have one complaint from a rider who experiences strap creep with his Rudy Project helmet and suggests you look carefully at the strap locking mechanism before buying. That would actually apply to any helmet in this review. We found that all of the samples we saw had cam locks that locked the strap very well except for the older T-Rex Ferox.
See Armor above.
The Schwinn brand is now the property of Pacific Cycle USA. In mid-2002 they licensed the Schwinn brand to PTI. We usually see them in big box stores or on the Internet at retailers like Amazon. They have some very inexpensive models, and some better ones that can be fitted well starting at about $16. Most of their adult models also have a "youth" size. The line changes periodically during any given year, and we may not be up to date on them.
- Atlas: a molded in the shell design with a moderate rear snag point, and a two-piece shell with ridges and many vents. It has a dial fit system and external strap anchors but they are faired-in reasonably well. Retail is $40.
- Thrasher: updated for 2005, reasonably rounded except for a small snag points in the rear, with strap anchors below the shell. It is not molded in the shell, but uses glue to attach the shell and boasts of "tapeless technology." Retail is $25.
- Rocket: taped on shell with faired-in strap anchors, moderate rear snag point, sells for about $25.
- Titan: another glued and "not-taped-on" design with moderate rear snag points that is included with other accessories in a package selling for about $25.
- Aeros: sharp ridges on the taped-on shell but a small snag point on the rear. Vents are small and taper down to very small by the time they get through the liner. Retail is $10.
- Kids Toddler or Playschool: Taped shell with a small visor effect in the front. Also comes in a package with other accessories. Has vents and the appearance of an adult helmet. In a larger size it is the Kids Child model.
- Missing Link: a vented "multisport" design, but certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Well rounded, with some edges showing but no rear snag point. ABS hard shell. Retails for $20.
Selev is an Italian company with models mostly for the upscale road rider market. They obviously make an effort to produce unique-looking designs. Most of their helmets are molded in the shell, and the more expensive they are, the more snag points you get on the rear. The Italian Web site says they meet EN1078, the European standard. Two of them are said by the manufacturer to fit rounder Asian heads better than others. Selev has a truly unique page explaining with painstaking honesty their failure to deliver a chromed model. Their models include:
- Formula TOUR: molded in the shell with two pronounced rear snag points, lower shell, elongated vents, recessed strap anchors, ring fit with dial, retailing for $150. With a "NOT removable" visor it becomes the MTB Formula. We don't know what "NOT removable" means, but visors should always separate easily when you snag in a fall.
- Matrix: molded in the shell with a large rear snag point, four piece full shell, angular lines with ridges, brow vent reminiscent of the Specialized Cobra models, lots of vents and a click-slide tab rear stabilizer. Comes in regular colors or team designs. Some have mesh in the vents. All have reflective spots on the rear stabilizer. Retails for $130.
- Ego: top of the line in 2005 at $169 retail, with three pronounced rear snag points, lots of vents, external strap anchors and a ring fit with dial. Said to fit rounder heads well.
- Atom: molded in the shell with a pronounced rear snag point, curvy elongated vents and four unique round vents at the brow that tunnel horizontally back through the foam. Recessed strap anchors, ring fit with dial, retailing for $150. Said to fit rounder heads well. Includes US and British flag graphics. The Atom Millennium model is made of blue foam.
- Alien: Really pronounced rear snag point, lots of vents, recessed strap anchors, click-slide tab rear stabilizer, retails for $110. We can't figure out the name, since the Matrix with its mouth port looks more alien to us.
- Storm: Selev's entry level molded in the shell model, more rounded than most of the Selev line with a very modest rear snag point and very long grooves going over the top.
- Felix: a less expensive rendering of the Formula Tour design, molded in the shell with external strap anchors. Retails for $100.
- Chrono: a unique chrono with an all-carbon fiber shell that follows the external line of the Alien road model, but has a full lower cover that comes all the way down to the neck. Meets the EN1078 standard.
- Tuo: Toddler/Child helmet with vents.
- Amico: Child/youth helmet with the lines of an adult helmet, vents and a taped on shell.
- Roby: Toddler helmet with large square vents and a taped on shell.
Despite the Euro-sounding name, Serfas is a US-based company, known for grips and for saddles, where Serfas must have learned that there should be actual differences between men's and women's models. All Serfas helmets have a ring fit system that accommodates sizes from 52 to 63 cm. Their helmets are made in China. This year's lineup includes:
Serfas has a one year crash replacement policy, through the dealer.
- Cosmos Plus: A 2005 design, molded in the shell, still the roundest, smoothest helmet in the Serfas line and the least expensive at $35. It has no snag point, recessed strap anchors, and a dial fit. In youth size it is the Flea Plus, also retailing at $35. The same design base is used for the Curva Plus. It has a notched area in back that is one of the last surviving pony tail ports, again retailing for $35.
- Rookie: a well-vented toddler helmet with an elongated but well-rounded shape and taped on shell. Comes in Boys and Girls models. Dial fit and one of the last remaining ponytail ports. Retails for $30.
Seven 20 is a skate brand. They have one skate-style helmet made for Mosa Sports (Pro Tec) in China. The ones we have seen are certified only to a European standard, EN 1385. Retail is about $25, but we have seen them at Sports Authority and Modell's for $15. Not recommended for bicycle riding because it is not certified to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Not recommended for skateboarding because it is not certified to the ASTM F-1492 skateboard standard.
Shain (pronounced "shine") is an established Italian brand that was new to the US market in 2004. In 2005 they began using a new foam they call Re-Up, or "Tau Multi Impact Technology." Their unique catalog courageously includes results of lab tests that show their helmet handling four hard impacts in the same spot before registering over 300g. That is not true multi-impact performance, but a lot closer to it than any standard EPS helmet can manage and is similar to the testing for ASTM's F1492 skateboard standard. Under normal bicycle use you would not have to throw the helmet away after the first impact, so even if you ride a lot this helmet should be good for five to ten years of normal crashes. This is the same foam formulation that Pro Tec is using for some of its skate helmets. All of Shain's helmets meet the US CPSC standard.
Shain has another wrinkle as well, supported by data published in their catalog. They have added an inner shell to some of their standard EPS helmets, and claim that it permits EPS to withstand two hits in the same spot. Inner shells are not a new idea--Louis Garneau and others have had them for years--but Shain is the first to claim that they can meet standards with two hits at the same spot due to the inner shell. We have a page on helmet foams.
Shain helmets have some European features like bug mesh in the forward vents on some models. All are molded in the shell except the toddler helmet. They have the best strap fittings we have seen, the Duraflex 2, holding their setting despite any combination of pulling and tugging we could devise. They also have reflective logos, a feature we appreciate even though the logos are too small to add much to the cyclist's visibility at night. Shain has an extensive line, but not all are available in the US. The line includes:
- BK51 Urban: Shain's commuter helmet is this 2005 design. This is a round, smooth helmet! The external strap anchors are partly recessed, and the vents are very unusual crescent shapes. It appears to have better than usual rear coverage, but we have not measured it. It has a light or light mount on the rear. Standard EPS foam, no inner shell, removable visor. We don't have the retail price. This one is worth a look.
- BK1000: introduced in 2005, the top of Shain's line is molded in the shell using their new multi-impact foam, with huge vents, a moderate rear snag point and nice internal strap anchors. The fit foam is layered for wicking and snaps in and out for washing. Retail price is $218, up there with Giro and the other high end helmets.
- BK 100: formerly the top of Shain's road line, a molded in the shell model, with plenty of vents and plenty of snag points both in the rear and projecting up from the front surface. We are surprised that the front projection meets the CPSC limit on surface projections. Updated in 2005 with their new foam. The shell wraps under and there is an inner shell for full coverage. The strap anchors stick up entirely above the shell, adding another potential snag point that we would not normally expect to see with a retail price as high as $157.
- BK 90: another high-end molded in the shell design with a pointy rear snag point and external strap anchors. It got the new foam in 2005, and has the inner shell as well. It has metal mesh in the vents. One version has a visor. Retail is $159.
- BK 81 and BK 82: a much better-rounded helmet, this one has only one objectionable bump on top that is done for pure style. Molded in the shell in both a full inner shell version for $116 and a single shell for $55. There is also a "mountain bike" version with visor.
- BK 71: the exterior of this one has lots of ridges and a small rear snag point. Retail is $115. It comes in a very pretty Lady version and another less expensive version selling for $80.
- BK 40: rounded exterior except for a modest rear snag point and a molded in visor lip. Molded in the shell. Retails for $55.
- BK500: Shain's chrono time trial model is actually a road helmet with an additional fairing added on the exterior and a clear face shield. There are three small front vents, five in all. Normal EPS foam with the inner shell. It retails for $197. Certified to the CPSC standard.
- BK11: Toddler helmet with vents. Taped on shell. Retail is $34 with graphics, or $26 in solid colors.
- RK540: new for 2005, an adaptation of a ski helmet. Very round and smooth except for the external strap anchors and strange studs with elastic cord for mounting front and rear lamps. Normal EPS foam. Extended coverage, minimal vents. Might be a winter helmet. In Alaska. Retail is $133. Colors include a nice visible yellow and a white.
A Chinese manufacturer located in Shenzhen. We have not seen their line, but they have informed us that they produce 15 models, including some BMX style with fiberglass shells and some rated as bicycle/skate helmets. They say they export to 20 countries, including the US, but we don't know what brands they manufacture for.
Shenzhen Hezhen Bicycle Inc.
Although we have not seen their 2006 line, this Taiwanese manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU helmets are molded in the shell, and they attempt to assuage the environmental concerns about EPU on their site. The styles are well-rounded, but vents look small. They have a fiberglass BMX model. We don't have current pricing. You may see their helmets with other brands on them.
Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development
SixSixOne is primarily a BMX and skate equipment company. They have bicycle, BMX/Downhill and skate style models in their line. They seem to have many dealers in the UK. We were disappointed that they dropped their All Ride model this year, but you can buy it this year as the Limar 801, and a very similar helmet is being sold by Vcan as their S-22C.
- Bravo XC bicycle model with pronounced rear snag points and lots of vents. Ring fit. Retail is $70.
- Comp XC bicycle model, molded in the shell with a moderate rear snag point and squared-off shell ridges. Ring fit. Retails for $50.
- Hurricane Flight: introduced in 2005, this is a full-blown motorcycle helmet meeting the tough Snell M2000 standard. Full-face, and the Snell standard requires that the chinbar be padded. There are small vents in the chinbar and the rear. The otherwise round and smooth shell has an unfortunate little tailpiece sticking up in the back for style, and we are surprised that Snell permits that kind of projection. The visor is bolted on with "oversize" bolts, making a bad feature potentially worse. The shell materials include Kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Retail is $375. The catalog contains the curious statement "EPS foam liner conforms to your shape for a perfect fit." We suspect they meant the fitting foam, not the EPS liner, which normally conforms to your shape only when you hit something and the hard foam crushes.
- Launch: another 2005 design, this one a lighter weight motorcycle-style helmet meeting only the DOT standard instead of Snell. The shell material is polycarbonate. Vented chinbar. Retail is $120.
- Strike: A new 2006 BMX model with a polycarbonate shell and small vents. Retails for $110.
- Full Comp: downhill model is vented, with a polycarbonate shell and bolted on visor, retailing for $80
- Full Bravo: downhill model is vented, with a fiberglass shell and bolted on visor, retailing for $140.
- Full Bravo Carbon: a full-face BMX model with vents, with carbon fiber in the shell, retailing for $200.
- Dirt Lid: skate helmet is the classic round, smooth design with round vents and ABS hard shell, retailing for $20. It meets only bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard.
- Pro-Lite Dirt Lid: skate helmet is the classic round, smooth design with round vents, but this time it has a micro-shell instead of a hard shell. It meets only bicycle helmet standards, not skateboard. Retail is $70, perhaps the most expensive skate helmet on the market.
- Mullet: another skate model with slightly updated lines and larger vents at $30. Certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, not to a skateboard standard.
Smith is a supplier of skateboard protectors and other gear. Their skateboard helmet is a classic Pro-Tec style with the small round front vents, and squishy EVA foam. It is not certified to the CPSC standard, and not recommended for bicycling. Carries the Scabs brand, a name that may resonate with 'boarders. It retails for $33 or less. We don't know what standard it may meet. The Scabs brand also appears on the Ricks Thorne Signature Pro Model, which is certified to the CPSC standard for bicycling and promoted as a BMX helmet. Available in visible white in addition to the standard dark colors. The two are similar, so check for the CPSC label if you want a helmet for bicycling. If you need a skateboard helmet, look for one that meets the ASTM F1492 standard instead, or one of the dual certified models.
This Swedish manufacturer has adult and child helmets under their Solid brand with reflective outer shells in silver, yellow, red, blue and black. The silver and yellow would probably be a lot more reflective than the blue and black, but they say all of their helmets meet the Swedish standard for reflectivity, even after ageing. The site mentions only European standards. Shell designs are well-rounded, with minimal rear snag points.
Specialized is one of the major U.S. helmet manufacturers sold through bike shops and a supplier of a wide range of bicycles and components. All of their adult bicycle-style helmets are molded in the shell. They have the straps in one model attached directly to the interior nylon and carbon fiber reinforcing, eliminating the nasty external strap anchors found on some competitors' high-end helmets. They also have a "U Turn" strap junction piece with a fliptab lock that they claim will eliminate strap creep. We found it slipped too easily on at least one of their models. Most of the models below are available in a women's color scheme. In addition to the CPSC standard, many Specialized models are certified to Snell's older B-90 bicycle helmet standard, and the Deviant and Deviant carbon to the B-95 standard, slightly tougher than CPSC. Specialized is the last major US bike helmet maker to use Snell certification. They have also now certified the Deviant and Deviant Carbon to the ASTM downhill mountain biking standard, F1952.
Specialized is one of the few manufacturers who make available after market pads and visors. You can find them on their Web site under spare parts.
- Aurora: a 2005 design, similar to the Decibel but with slightly smaller vents and no carbon struts, but still has the Specialized brow vent and no external strap anchors. Ring fit. Retail is $100. The Aurora was rated by Consumer Reports in their June, 2006 article as one of only four helmet they tested with superior impact performance, so if you like Specialized, look a this one first!
- Instinct: new in 2006, molded in the shell with a two-piece shell. Pitched as a mountain bike helmet. Like Giro's Xen model, it has the rounder profile we recommend and appeared to us at first to have more coverage than it actually does. The shell has raised ridges, and is not a smooth as a commuter helmet. Recessed strap anchors, but the U-Turn strap adjustment pieces did not hold well on the sample we saw. Ring fit. Matte finishes with matching color visors. Retail is $100.
- Decibel: introduced in 2005, this one has carbon reinforcing struts visible, the standard pointy rear snag points and huge vents. Has the trademark Specialized brow vent. Has the straps attached directly to the interior nylon reinforcing, eliminating external strap anchors and has the "U Turn" strap junction piece. Ring fit. Bicycling magazine rated its cooling below that of the old Specialized S1 and the Giro Atmos in the January/February 2005 issue. Available in a nice bright yellow as well as white. Retails for $170
- Air-8: somewhat better rounded than most Specialized models with minimal rear snag points that look like little cat ears. Molded in the shell, ring fit, retail $60.
- Telluride: a mountain bike helmet that has very large top vents to let air rise out of the helmet when the rider has low forward speed while riding off road. This is perhaps the only adaptation we have seen to date that is actually specific to mountain biking, but we don't know if it works or not. Molded in the shell, with lots of ridges and some rear snag points. The outside shell rises to a ridge toward the center of the helmet in a wedge shape, sloping down in back. Ring fit. Retail is $60, but the Telluride
- Chamonix: another road/mountain model. It has more rounded lines, with some shelf effect in the rear but a minimal snag point. Molded in the shell. Ring fit. Retails for $45.
- AirForce: Specialized's lowest-cost molded in the shell design retails for $35. It has a ring fit system with two sizes, visor and eleven colors, including three for women. Also available as the Air Force Youth.
- Small Fry: a classic round, smooth toddler and child size helmet, but molded in the shell as few are, and with some vents. Ring fit, bug mesh in vents. Retail is $40.
- Kid Cobra: another toddler helmet with slightly squarer lines. Glued-on shell, vents, cute graphics. Comes in toddler and child sizes for $30, but it is disappearing from the line this year when current stock is gone.
- Deviant and Deviant Carbon: full-face downhill racing helmet with decent vents, chinbar vents and a visor bolted on with plastic bolts that hopefully will break when you snag it on something. There is bug mesh in the vents. It was designed as a bike helmet, not a motorcycle helmet, so it is much lighter than some, and Specialized advertises the carbon model as the lightest full-face helmet you can buy. (They have not seen the Mongoose kids BMX helmet, obviously, or they would have at least put "adult" in that.) Certified to CPSC and Snell's tougher B-95 standard. They have also now certified the Deviant and Deviant Carbon to the ASTM downhill mountain biking standard, F1952. Retail is $130 for the fiberglass shell version and a whopping $350 for the carbon fiber shell version.
- Time Trial: a chrono model said to have larger vents than other TT helmets. The tail is open underneath and the fit system is based on the Specialized Decibel road model. Not sold in the US. Rumor has it that it is available from some dealers in Europe, and that they are telling buyers that it meets European standards.
- Skillet: a 2006 hard shell skate-style helmet for bicycling with a hard shell and small distinctive slits for vents. CPSC certified, but not certified to the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Retails for $50, the upper range for a skate-style helmet. We recommend looking for one that is dual certified instead.
Specialized will provide a 20% discount voucher for any crashed helmet, but requires proof of purchase and may substitute another helmet if the one that was crashed is no longer available.
Spiuk is a Spanish supplier of a wide range of bicycles, components and clothing. They have some nice bright color combinations on all models including team graphics. Their models for this year include:
We do not know anything about what standards the Spiuk products might meet.
- Nexion: molded in the shell with large front vents, a full shell on the lower portion, and pointy rear snag points.
- Atom: molded in the shell with a full wrap-under shell and two rear snag points. There is cotton bug net in the front vents.
- Child helmet - Casco de niņo: a toddler helmet with vents and nice graphics.
- Chronos: a time trialing shape with two large rear vents.
Sportcraft (Sportscope) has one basic model, introduced in mid-year 1999, constructed of thick segments of foam closely connected by an inner mesh and able to flex slightly. It may help those with a rounder Asian head who find that most US-made helmets feel like they have corners inside. During 2003 the Sportscope brand was apparently sold to Sportcraft, a different company entirely despite the similarity in names. You can find the helmets on the Sportcraft Web site. There is at least one model with a "Lighted Jewelry Design," that runs on AAA batteries and is motion-activated, but we have not seen it. In fact, we are not seeing the Sportscope/Sportcraft helmets around any more in the US market, although their Web site is still up.
Star Helmets (formerly Zhuhai H.N.Z. Star Safety Helmets), located in Zhuhai, China, produces a number of models under the Star Sport brand. Some are certified to the tough Snell B-95 standard, but we are unable to match the model numbers, so check the Snell list for details. Most should sell in the $10 to $20 range in the US market, with the BMX models around $65 and ski models probably in the same range.
Strategic Sports produces helmets for a number of U.S. and European companies with the company's brand, and have informed us that they rank among the world's largest helmet producers, with annual sales in the millions of helmets. For 2006 ten of their helmets appear on Snell's list. We have comments on models under a number of other brands in this review, but you are not likely to see a Strategic Sports brand name, since they avoid publicity.
THE is one of Vigor's brands, best known for its mountain bike fenders. In 2006 the company added helmets to its product line, with two helmets from Vigor Sports:
TKLI sends its line to the U.S. through Trans National Trading Company of Vernon, California. In China they are known as Shanghai Tung Kuang, or in Taiwan as Tung Kuang I Light Industry Co. Ltd., appearing on the Snell certification list as Tung Kuang I. They market their own Alltop and Allpro brands, but also produce helmets for other companies under different brand names. Their EPS models are probably all made in China and have taped-on shells, while the EPP models would come from Taiwan and may be molded in the shell. Most of their designs feature the round, smooth shapes that we prefer, but some of the models have vents that we would find too small for summer use in the US. Their 2005 models include:
Tung Kuang / Tong Ho Hsing (THH or TKLI)
STKI also produces helmets for other uses, including military, baseball, motorcycle, equestrian, football and snow sports.
- T-91: replacing an older T-91, this 2006 model is a newer style bicycle helmet, molded in the shell with a reduced rear snag point and external strap anchors. Some bright colors.
- T-38: a nicely rounded design with moderate vents and visor. Bright new graphics added in 2005. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $16.
- T-37: a generally rounded but somewhat elongated design with moderate vents. Dark colors and red. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $16.
- T-36: a nicely rounded design with smaller vents and visor. Has three vents in front, three in the top and only one in the rear. Available in a bright yellow. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
- T-35: a nicely rounded design with fewer vents.
The graphics update in 2005 included some bright colors. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
- T-29 : toddler helmet with small vents, very round and smooth. Available in orange. Snell B-95 certified. Should retail for about $10.
- T-22: Smaller vents than the T-23, updated graphics for 2005. EPU foam (heavier than EPS, has a solid feel and very uniform cell structure), visor, dial fit system. Molded in the shell as most EPU helmets are. Retail about $13.
- T-21: Smaller vents, EPU foam, some bright graphics, visor. Molded in the shell. Retail should be about $12.
- T-40: Downhill racing helmet with chinbar and an ABS shell. Some bright colors, including all white. Bolted on visor.
- T-39: Downhill racing helmet with chinbar. ABS shell, bolted on visor, retail around $65.
- AP-86 and AP-87: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmets with full chinbars and polycarbonate shells.
- AP-89: motorcycle-style BMX/downhill helmet with full chinbars and carbon fiber-kevlar shell.
- A-77: classic skate helmet with standard dark colors plus some impressive gold, silver and stars-and-stripes colors rarely seen in skate style helmets. We don't know what standards it may meet, so it may not be certified for bike riding or skateboarding.
Trek supplies a wide line of bikes and accessories to dealers, and their helmet graphics are designed to complement your Trek bike. Some models have reflective panels. Their line for 2006 includes molded in the shell models made here and taped-on shell designs made for them in China. Most have ring fit systems. Trek is one of the few suppliers who raised their prices during 2005, by $10 for all models.
- Anthem Elite: introduced in 2005, molded in the shell with very large vents, a multi-piece shell and a small but sharp rear snag point. Ring fit system with dial adjustment and three shell sizes. The carbon model has been dropped for 2006. Retail is $110. In May of 2006 Trek recalled the Anthem C Elite and Anthem C Elite WSD models. See this CPSC press release for details. Other Anthems were not recalled.
- Sonic Elite: molded in the shell design with rounded front lines but a pronounced rear snag point. It has a lower shell. Ring fit system with three shell sizes. Retail is $90.
- Interval 2: molded in the shell with a minimal rear snag point and recessed strap anchors at $70. Also available in a women's pastel color.
- Vapor 3: molded in the shell with squared-off ridge lines but a minimal rear shelf projection and the roundest, smoothest profile in Trek's current lineup. reflective panel and a visor for $35 retail. Available with labels: Police, Sheriff, EMT and Fire. Also available in a women's pastel color. Retail is $50.
- Scout 3: molded in the shell youth helmet with an adult design, selling for $50.
- Little Dipper 2: Infant-toddler model with a taped-on shell updated in 2000 with more vents, better graphics, a soft rubber visor, an anti-pinch chin pad and a $40 price tag.
Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed helmets.
Troxel is a long-time producer of bicycle components that still markets some bicycle helmets under other brands, formerly producing for GT, and now known as SafeTech. We have not seen their line for 2006, but they have four models on the Web site, including toddler, youth, skate and adult models. Troxel is better known for their equestrian helmets.
Troy Lee is a motorcycle helmet and gear manufacturer with a BMX line known for rad graphics. Their top of the line $375 D2 Carbon model has exposed carbon fiber mesh in a sunken rear section, a style quirk that we would avoid. The $295 D2 Composite has a fiberglass shell with kevlar and carbon fiber reinforcements. Troy Lee pioneered the bolted-on BMX visor, claiming that the plastic mounts in the helmet will pull out when the visor is snagged. Unfortunately there is no standard for testing that, and nobody will do it for you at the bike shop or bike show, either, so we regard the visors as potential snag points. The D2 fits heads from 53 to 62 cm (21 to 24.5 inches). Troy Lee will replace helmet liners after a crash if the shell is not damaged.
This German company sells a TSG skate helmet in the US in the classic skate style. It is advertised as certified to EN1078 and CPSC, both bicycle helmet standards. Unfortunately this year TSG dropped the very visible fluorescent yellow and orange. For 2006 they added a new Evolution model at $64 with small rectangular vents. It comes in a "rubber finish" model that we would avoid as a novelty that may not slide as well on pavement as the regular ABS shells do. TSG had to recall one of their models during 2000. See our recalls page for details. Note that the company has a snowboard helmet that is very similar in appearance but has a rear goggle strap anchor. We don't know what standard it may be certified to, so for bicycle use be sure a TSG has a label inside that says it complies with the CPSC standard.
TSG has a matched set that includes a helmet and protective pads for skate park rental programs. To deter theft, the helmet and pads are the same unusual blue. The helmet has "Rental" woven into the strap and on a prominent decal. The pads have "rental" on them as well, and are supplied in a "super durable/washable" material. We do not understand why this idea has not been developed by a bicycle helmet manufacturer, preferably with an easy-to-clean interior to prevent passing lice to the next wearer. It is possible that renters don't want a helmet that says "Rental" on it, or possible that some would steal it for the same reason!
TSG has a free crash replacement policy. Their helmets are made in Taiwan by Kar Cen.
See THH above.
Tung I Hsing
Ultrawheels is a supplier of skateboard equipment. They have been marketing a skateboard helmet that appears more like a very smooth-profiled bike helmet, with few but very large vents. It is plain black and smooth like a skate helmet, but elongated like a bike helmet. It is now available at bargain prices around $7 plus shipping from Internet sources such as Amazon. The Ultrawheels brand was acquired in 2005 by Lifestyle Brands, Ltd of Toronto, a company that according to the Web site is seeking to license the brand elsewhere. That could explain the bargain price of the closeout helmets.
Uvex is best known for its optical products. They introduced their helmet line in the US market in late 2002. The helmets are designed and made in Germany, and all of them are molded in the shell using Bayer's polycarbonate material. The have reflective logos, nicely recessed strap anchors and front vent mesh for insect protection. They have a unique buckle that uses a ridged tab that inserts and zips in, that we have only seen on Abus and Uvex helmets. It is adjustable with one hand while riding, particularly useful to take out slack as you sweat and the strap loosens. All of their helmets have a ring fit system with a dial adjuster. For 2006 the line includes:
- Hawk: new for 2006, the Hawk model is a $30 molded in the shell helmet with a nicely rounded profile. It has reasonable vents, a visor, bug mesh, and all of the best Uvex features except the lower shell. It meets the CPSC standard in addition to the European and German standards. This one is worth a look.
- Factory Pilot 1 - FP1: top of the Uvex line, with huge vents, nylon internal reinforcing and a rounded profile, retailing for $200, or $225 for the T-Mobile Team colors. Billed as "the lightest helmet in the world" at 200 grams for the small size and 260 grams for the large. Also available for women and youth.
- Wing RS: full wrap under shell, many vents and two rear snag points. Retail is $120, up $10 from last year.
- Supersonic RS: a more rounded design with much larger vents. Retails for $99. Bicycling magazine picked it as the best value of the three helmets they reported on in their January/February 2005 issue. For 2006 Uvex has added the Supersonic GT, with a special matte finish for $10 more.
- Bladenight GT: large vents and squared-off rear treatment, but skate-style coverage. Uvex considers the style "aggressive and hip." Retail is $99.
- Fight: New for 2006, a dual shell model with small rear snag points retailing for $100. The only Uvex model without bug mesh in the vents.
- Sport Boss: New for 2006, a dual shell model in only two colors and one shell size. Retails for $90.
- Helix: introduced in 2005 when it was called the Superhelix, with a reasonably rounded profile, visor and one bright color combination. Retail is $70.
- Cobra RS: well rounded, with a single shell that does not wrap under, selling for $60. The same helmet without visor is the Explorer 2 for $50. It comes in a visible pearl white. For 2006 Uvex added a second shell on the lower portion to get the XB501, retailing for $60.
- FP Junior: A smooth and very nicely rounded youth helmet with no rear snag point and large vents. Retail is $49.
- Speedy: a child helmet with molded in visor. Molded in the shell, and has the same fit system and buckle as the adult models. Reflective sticker. Fits 53 to 57 cm heads. Retail is $40.
- Cartoon: a toddler helmet, and one of the few that is molded in the shell. Large vents. Reflective sticker. Fits 49 to 55 cm. heads and retails for $40.
- Downhill: introduced in 2005, molded in the shell, with chinbar and flame graphics, $150 retail. Not in the 2006 US catalog.
- Factory Pilot 2: a time trail chrono model that meets only European standards. It hums when it is off-center to alert the rider to less-than-ideal aero performance. Would retail for $500, the most expensive helmet in this review, but Uvex reps say it is not available through retail channels. Look for it on the T-Mobile team.
Variflex is an importer of helmets selling mostly skate equipment, scooters and accessories through mass merchant channels such as Sears, Target, and Toys R Us. For 2006 they have a line of skate, bike and toddler helmets under the brands Maple, VFX Gear, World Industries, Shrek and Nickelodeon. We have not seen them and do not have their retail pricing. Variflex had to recall their X-Games Aggressive and some of their TSG models during 2000. See our recalls page for more information, and see TSG above. They bill a number of their models as "multisport" helmets, but the Web site mentions only the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. One of their skate models is a unique licensed Spongebob Squarepants model in bright yellow called the Spongehead. Unfortunately there is no adult size.
Vcan is produced by Shanghai Hehui Safety Products, and includes a line of helmets that vary from beautifully rounded and smooth to angular with very large rear snag points. Some are molded in the shell. Price points run from $9 to $30 or $40 retail, and there are some nice designs at that modest level, including strap anchors that are recessed or internal on all models. All are ring fit. Most are sold under other brands. Their most notable model is the S-22C. It is a round, smooth design that is well vented and looks as good as the elongated models. It is very similar to the Limar 801, but the sample we have has only a CEN sticker in it. Vcan also has skate and snow helmets, including a new ski helmet for 2006 in a striking woodgrain finish.
Vigor Sports (Hong Jin Cycle Corp.) is a Korean company with a large and varied line of helmets, some made for them by other companies. They have some EPU "double impact" foam helmets as well as more conventional EPS. Their models that are not molded in the shell have a band of 3M reflective tape around the shell edge, a nice feature seldom seen in this price range. The black tape is not 3M's most reflective product, but it represents a substantial additional cost and an effort to make the helmets safer that we wish more manufacturers would adopt. See our cautionary note below about their skate helmets. Some of their models have strap fittings that lock very well. Most are ring fit, and all but two of the adult models have visors. Vigor made many changes in their line for 2006.
- Quicksilver: a new 2006 model with modest rear snag points, molded in the shell with a lower shell piece and Vigor's locking strap fittings that actually lock. Ring fit. Retail is $70, high for the Vigor line.
- Atomic: a 2006 model, molded in the shell with a second lower shell piece and a pronounced rear snag point. Retail is $50.
- Fast Traxx: another 2006 model, molded in the shell with nicely recessed strap anchors and a modest rear snag point. Ring fit, visor. Retails for $40.
- Lightning: made of EPU foam and molded in the shell, but the shell is taped for style anyway. Rear snag point. Retail is $40. Also comes with a lower shell as the Pro Lightning or Lightning Pro for $60.
- X3: a very interesting EPU design, with skate helmet-style coverage. Has a rounded shape with some ripples but no rear snag point and elongated vents retailing for $25. No visor.
- NOX: once Vigor's top of the line, made of EPU foam and molded in the shell. Has an upper and lower shell and a minimal protruding rear shelf. The ribs are reasonably rounded. Has external strap anchors, but they are tucked in among the ribs. Retails for $30.
- Jr. Nox / Avenger has four fewer vents than the NOX and an elongated front visor molded in, but the same rear treatment for $25. The Jr. comes in XXS, but with its elongated rear it would not be suitable for a child in a trailer or high-backed child seat unless you put a thick pad behind the child's back to prevent the helmet tail from pushing the child's head forward and down.
- Sequel: introduced in 2001, this is another EPU model, also molded in the shell, with upper and lower shell. It resembles the NOX, but has fewer vents. For 2006 it has in a very bright yellow option and retails for $25. No visor.
- L'il Tyke: A toddler helmet, of course, with a very nicely rounded profile, vents, a pinch proof buckle, 3M reflective tape and an adjustable sizing ring. Comes only in xxs for 50 to 52 cm heads and retails for $20.
- Vamoose II: A downhill racing design redone in 2001 with a shell made with "Kevlar, Spectra and F.R.P." It has some vents, but they are smaller than last year's Vamoose, and has a Troy Lee-style lump in the center rear, spoiling the rounded profile. Retail is $120.
- V-10: full face BMX model with ABS shell and bolted-on visor. Retails for $80.
- X5: a downhill/BMX model with a fiberglass shell with vents and a bolted on visor. Certified to the Snell N-94 multipurpose standard. Retail is $120.
- Ten-Eighty (1080): A skate helmet design with the classic smooth, round exterior, round vents, polyethylene shell and an EPS liner. It is listed as a bike, snow or skate helmet, but certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Has a nice bright yellow option, a white option, and also comes in chrome. The strap adjustors are simple buckles that do not lock. It retails for $25 to $32 depending on the graphics.
- Royal: Skate-style helmet with oval vents and cheap buckle strap adjustors that slip easily, retailing for $25 to $30.
Vigor's crash replacement policy provides a replacement of the same helmet or another current one at 30 per cent off of retail cost for the lifetime of the helmet.
W Helmets (sometimes still referred to as Team Wendy) has one unique BMX/skate helmet for 2006, the Ripper 2. It has the classic smooth skate shape and small round vents. The small and medium sizes are dual certified and recommended for bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, mountain biking and snowboarding. It has a hard polycarbonate shell, a round, smooth shape and minimal vents with mesh protectors. There is a model with optional vent covers for winter use. The helmet is made with a unique foam liner they call Zorbium, designed to flex slightly in lighter impacts to cushion more, but stiffen up in heavy impacts to avoid bottoming out. The technical term for that is "rate sensitive foam." The foam produces a true multi-impact helmet. It also absorbs sweat like no other foam we have ever used, and gets very heavy when wet. The W Helmets Web site says their helmets are certified to the CPSC adult and child standards as well as the ASTM F2040 standard for snow sports and the ASTM F1492 skateboard standard. Size large has been pulled from the Web site, but small and medium are still available, and if the heat and weight and sweat build-up do not bother you, this is a versatile helmet. There is a ring fit system with a dial adjustment. Weight is supposed to be 500 to 550 grams (heavy for a bicycle helmet) but our large sample actually weighed 670 grams when dry, or about a pound and a half. Retail price is $79 for the adult model and $69 for the youth model.
World Industries is a skateboard company with a line of skateboard helmets that are certified to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Models include the Skullbo, Rockstar, Battle Helmet, Black Metal Helmet and Heavy Metal Helmet. The helmets they sold from October, 2000 to May 2001, imported by Variflex, were recalled. We have a page up with the details. World Industries also markets Banshee helmet earphones that you attach to a skate helmet or snow sports helmet. "No more having your headphones come off your head when you fall."
See Kent International.
YoLite supplies reflective helmets from China in quantities of 3,000 or more. They say that the entire surface of the helmet is reflective. We have not seen them and the Web site does not have them listed, so we do not know what standards they might meet. At the consumer level they would probably have a different brand name.
Zefal helmets appear in the US under the Michelin brand.
See Golex above.
This Chinese manufacturer (Zhuhai Hindun Safety Helmets, also Zhu Hai Safety Helmet Manufacture Co. Ltd and Zhuhai USA Safety) has an extensive line of bicycle and BMX helmets. Most are sold by others under their own brands, including some of the best-known in the US, with others labeled with the Caluk or T-Star brand. Their numerous adult, youth and toddler models feature both nicely-rounded and sharply-edged shells. Some are molded in the shell, and some have lower shells. Their Series 08 model is on Snell's B-95 bicycle helmet standard list. One of their helmets made for Bell was recalled for a strap anchor problem in 1995, but there have been no further recalls of their products. Sizing runs from 49 cm/19.3 inches for the smallest to 64 cm/25.2 inches for the large. Zhuhai Safety helmets are provided at low prices for helmet promotion programs through Helmets R Us (above).
See Star Helmets above.
Zhuhai Star Safety
This article is frequently updated during the model year.
Index to Manufacturers
This page was last revised on: November 23, 2009.