Bicycle Helmets for the 1999 Season:
This is history!
Here is the current year
Summary: Our report on 1999 helmets. This page is history. Select this link for reports from other years.
Researched at the Interbike trade show
Nevada, in September, 1998,
and updated since with new
The September, 1999, Interbike fall trade show continued last
year's trend to fewer new helmet manufacturers and fewer new helmets,
reflecting some continued shrinkage in the industry and thin
profit margins. There were few real innovations
this year, and most of them were at the lower end of the
price spectrum. We list more than 335 different helmets below, but not all are
readily available on the US market. All helmets manufactured after March 10 must meet the new CPSC standard, but many older ones will be sold
throughout the year. Some of those that met the ASTM standard last year will meet
the CPSC standard, but many if not most will require at least some improvement to meet CPSC.
We recommend looking for a helmet that:
Some of them are identified in the most recent Consumer Reports helmet
article. And a few are still in their 1997 article. A helmet that only meets the ASTM standard should be a lot
cheaper now than a helmet that can meet the tougher CPSC standard. In coming years the
CPSC helmet will be the legal and universal US standard.
- Meets the CPSC standard.
- Fits you
- Is molded in the shell
- Has a round, smooth exterior
Trends: Vents and Sharp Lines
A major theme for 1998 continues to be more and larger air
vents. All major manufacturers now have hyper-ventilated
models following in the footsteps of Giro's two year old
Helios model. Manufacturers are touting the number of vents
in their helmets, a meaningless parameter that we will not
below. If all else were equal, more vents would be a Good
Thing, but as usual, all else is not equal.
Unfortunately opening up new vents can involve the use of
harder, more dense foam, and squaring off the edges of the
remaining foam ribs to squeeze out the most impact
protection possible from the narrower pieces still there.
Opinions may be divided on the importance of these design
features, but we believe that rounder shells and less dense
foam are virtues.
Vents are Still Hot!
Although it may not be self-evident, most riders do not
really need the
extra vents, which is why we refer to these as "hyper
ventilated" models. The normal venting in the good helmets
of the mid-90's has proven adequate for almost all riding by
almost all riders in almost all conditions. Opening up the
big vents forces other compromises in helmet design, even
with the more expensive in-mold process. To provide impact
protection with less foam the manufacturers normally have to
harden the remaining foam, so that the force of a blow is
transmitted to the rider's head with more pressure on one
particular spot. There is no unanimity that this presents a
safety problem, and only the Australian standard tests for
"localized loading," but all things being equal we would
prefer to crash in a helmet with wider foam strips in
contact with our head than narrower ones, and a helmet with
less dense foam.
Opening up more or larger vents often is achieved by molding
the EPS part of the helmet with the plastic shell in the
same mold. In one operation this bonds the shell and expands
the foam "beads" into solid foam. The resulting helmet has
almost every millimeter of space under the shell filled with
foam (except for any quality control problems), unlike a
taped-on or glued-on shell which has voids of several
millimeters in some spots. In addition, the heat of the mold
would melt the cheaper plastic used for glued-on shells, so
molding in the shell requires the manufacturer to use a
better grade cover, normally a polycarbonate like GE's
Lexan. The shell's bonding and higher quality plastic
contribute to the strength of the helmet structure. In
addition, manufacturers can add various types of interior
reinforcement to hold the thinner foam together.
Most helmets are designed to reliably meet the standard, not
to exceed it, so designers use higher quality construction
techniques to thin the helmet out and increase vent size.
That evens out impact performance so that better
construction techniques don't often mean better impact
protection, just thinner helmets and more vents. In short,
more money will buy you more vents, but not necessarily more
safety. In general the manufacturers are designing to the
standard (now CPSC), and are not using the more expensive
construction features to surpass it. Even so, in-molding
does continue to offer two advantages: it provides more
consistent resistance to cracking and destruction of the
helmet in the first impact. And because the shell is molded
to the foam, it should show indentations after a crash to
remind you to replace the helmet, while a taped-on shell may
just pook out again and hide the damage. For those reasons
we continue to recommend it unless price is your first
All of the hyper-ventilated models we have seen this year
meet the ASTM standard, and any manufactured after March 10,
1999 must by law meet the new CPSC standard. None we have
seen so far is certified to Snell's more stringent B-95
standard introduced in 1995. All will continue to be
expensive, since consumers apparently will pay more for more
vents. Bell's Senior Product Manager Candi Whitsel was
quoted in the September 1, 1997, Bicycle Retailer and Industry
News saying "The idea is to raise prices and get the
consumer to buy up. If you have a helmet at $50 with 500
vents, how are you ever going to sell a $100 helmet?"
The fashion among helmet designers noted in last year's report continues to
favor squared-off edges of the foam remaining around the
vents, and the addition of sharp lines in the exterior
plastic just for style. The elongated "aero" shape continues
to dominate as well. This is a less than optimal design
for crashing. We believe that the ideal
surface for striking a road resembles a bowling ball. Round
shells reduce to a minimum any tendency for a helmet to
"stick" to the surface when you hit, with the possibility of
increasing impact intensity, contributing to rotational
brain injury or jerking the rider's neck. They also eliminate
the aero tail that can shove the helmet aside as you hit, exposing
your bare head. This is such a problem with today's helmets that
lab testers have to use copious amounts of duct tape to keep some helmets on
the headform in their test drops, even after they have pulled the straps
super-tight. In the real world people don't use duct tape, and they don't
even adjust their straps well. So our advice is to avoid those long aero
designs. In fact, they don't give you any aero advantage until you
reach racing speeds anyway.
Designs Still Sharper, Squared Off
To reduce potential snagging points to a minimum we would
prefer helmets with vents and ribs well faired and rounded
like the Giro Helios or Vigor's V-Tec. The Specialized Air
Speed and Trek's Elixir are similarly rounded, but feature
extra ridges for a "sculptured: look that do not contribute
to a smooth round contour. Many current designs have a
"shelf" effect in the rear that adds to helmet length but
also adds a prominent snag point, a feature we would avoid.
We would note that none of this is tested for by any of the
world's current bicycle helmet standards, despite studies
that have shown that helmets that do not slide well can
cause higher neck forces on chin straps and increase the g
level of an impact.
Unfortunately, the squared-off fashion trend tends to make
older round designs look clunky and old-fashioned unless they are graphically
very well done. The new ones look great, and perhaps that
can translate into more helmet use. We think that these
helmets will perform well in the field, but we just do not
consider the squared-off designs optimum.
Other trends this year include a continued slow movement
toward brighter colors, mirroring what is happening in bike colors and
colors for clothing and other accessories. Many
manufacturers had orange, yellow or some other brighter
colors in their mix this year. Visors have lost some ground.
Manufacturers are now using them to promote a difference
between visorless "road" helmets and visored "mountain bike"
helmets. They want to sell you two helmets. The distinction
is entirely artificial, since both are designed to the same
standard and in a majority of cases both will be used at
times for the other type of riding.
Another continuing trend is for rear stabilizers to move
down into the medium-priced helmet market. These devices
have been well accepted in the market, and most
manufacturers have been pricing their helmets with
stabilizers at the high end, pleased to have another feature
that can persuade the consumer to part with more bucks.
Another trend in the lowpriced market is packaging helmets
with other accessories, particularly in the skate market,
where a number of manufacturers including PTI and Troxel
have knee pads and wrist protectors with their "multi-sport"
helmets. We were surprised to find that most of those multi-
sport helmets are certified to the same ASTM F-1447
bicycle helmet standard as a normal bicycle helmet. The list
of those certified to Snell's N-94 multi-purpose standard is
still very short.
There were no exciting new materials or advances in
technology evident yet in this years' helmet lines. Vetta
continues to work on their new closed-cell, cross-linked
polymer that replaces the standard EPS, but it is not yet
ready for the market. We have seen one interesting new
helmet with a completely different construction technique
that offers promise for hard-to-fit heads. It was not shown
at Interbike. It should be announced before the end of
1998, but the design is radical enough to make us cautious
about its effectiveness.
As we noted last year, Bell introduced in late 1997 their
Kinghead helmet, a very large lid that fits up to size 8
1/4, with a maximum circumference of 29.5 inches. Most
people can turn it sideways. It meets the need of a small
but desperate group of riders with very very large heads,
who have been finding it increasingly difficult to ride on
club events and have even been riding unlawfully in some
jurisdictions because they could not find a
helmet large enough. We salute Bell for producing this
helmet as a service, knowing that due to the very small
market it will not make money. It is a beautiful helmet,
with the smoothly rounded exterior we consider optimal. But
due to the limited demand for this special interest item you
won't see it in any of Bell's ads, and you have to go to a
local bike shop to order one. Bell informs us that they will
be bringing the Kinghead up to CPSC's mandatory standard later in
1999, but the current stock is certified by SEI to the ASTM
standard, so if your head is that large, don't wait!
Bell Covers the Largest Heads
In March of 1999 the new CPSC bicycle helmet standard became law.. Helmets manufactured
for the US market after March 10, 1999 are required to meet that standard by law. Because of
that, some of the steam is going out of the standards issue during 1999, But there may still
be a few older models out there manufactured in 1998 that do not meet the CPSC standard.
There could still be some helmets out there that only meet the old, dead, ANSI 1984
standard, but if they were made before March 10, 1999 they are still legal for sale.
And there may be others on the market that don't meet CPSC, but just omit any reference to
being a helmet for bicycling. They can be for skating, skateboarding, surfing
or tiddlywinks, as long as they are not labeled for bicycling. They can even be
sold in bike shops or in discount stores on the same shelf as the bicycle helmets.
So a measure of "buyer beware" is still required, but that issue is fading rapidly as inventories
turn over. We recommend that you look for a sticker inside the helmet saying it meets the
CPSC standard, and if it is not there, look for an ASTM standard instead, and don't pay more than
$20 for the helmet. Some of the helmets described below did not meet the CPSC standard, so
they would have been either modified or taken off the market since this article was written.
In addition to the legally-required CPSC sticker, the independent Snell Memorial Foundation's
Snell B-95 sticker is an even better indicator of quality, but most of the
"Snell" helmets on the market meet only their older B-90 standard, comparable to CPSC.
Snell's N-94 multipurpose standard is even better, but only two manufacturers have
models certified to it at present. We can't explain all those B-numbers to most consumers,
so we no longer make a big point of telling people to look for a Snell sticker.
The Safety Equipment Institute is another independent organization certifying bicycle helmets,
this time to the ASTM and CPSC standards. So you don't have to take the manufacturer's
word for it any more if there is an SEI sticker in the helmet.
In their June, 1999, issue Consumer Reports awarded its highest impact protection
rating to the Globe model from Louis Garneau (Canada). They had previously rated the Globe
as a Best Buy. But the top rating went to a Bell model, the EVO-2 Pro, a helmet we don't
particularly like because of its partial shell, which got better ratings for its straps
and ventilation. We would favor the helmet with the best impact protection, if it fits
you well and the ventilation is adequate. We were more impressed with some of Louis Garneau's
other models, but apparently CU did not test others. We did like the very bright yellow that is
one of the Globe's available colors.
Consumer Reports Picks A Winner
You can find the helmet article on the Consumer Reports
Web Site, but it will cost you a paid subscription.
Advent had a line for 1998 with four ASTM/SEI certified
helmets, including the z-Jet, Z-Fire with rear stabilizer, z
bop and the child's Peekaboo. We do not yet have any info on their 1999 plans.
Answer Racing has two BMX racing helmets for 1999. They have
unvented fiberglass hard shells with chinbars for facial
protection and bolted on visors (a potential snagging
hazard). They are certified to the Snell's M-95 motorcycle
helmet standard and the DOT motorcycle standards, far
exceeding the requirements of any bicycle helmet standard.
Retail pricing for the adult models runs $200 to $280, and
for the juvenile model it will be $150. The Answer line is
produced in Korea by KBC for Performance Bicycle Components.
AST had four helmets for 1998 certified to Snell's tougher B
95 standard, including the Avenir Corsair, Model 40, VSR
Comp and Rascal toddler model. We have not seen their 1999
Apex is located in Finland. We have not seen their helmets, but they have
nice photos on their Web site showing a child model and an adult model
they say is 40 per cent vent. We did not see any info on standards their
helmets may meet.
Azonic/Santa Cruz/O'Neal Distributing has one BMX helmet in
its line for 1999, the SL808. It has a fiberglass, carbon
fiber and Kevlar shell, wild "O'Neal Racing" graphics, and a
big bolted-on visor for a snagging hazard. The catalog says
it exceeds SNELL 95 and D.O.T. safety standards, by which we
gather it is manufactured by KBC Corp. who appear on the
list for Snell's very severe M-95 motorcycle helmet
Bell is still the dominant company in the bicycle helmet
market, with a claimed 70 per cent of the world market. They
a number of new and updated models at Interbike,
All of their 1999 helmets meet the ASTM standard and are now
certified to CPSC's new standard as well. Some are certified by
SEI, an independent organization. But there are still 1998 Bell
models out there that Bell or SEI certify to meet only the ASTM standard,
but not CPSC. They should be dirt cheap, and the difference is
primarily about a half inch more coverage in the CPSC version.
We are still excited by Bell's Kinghead, a nice looking
helmet made only in a very large size to fit heads up to
size 8 1/4 (25.9 inches around). Smaller people with the
average 7 3/8 head can turn a Kinghead sideways. This is
Bell's contribution to consumer safety, not profits, since
the helmet will fit only a small number of riders, and is
never expected to make them any money. Before the Kinghead
was introduced last year those riders have been helmetless,
and we had been hearing from them for years in phone calls
and emails in search of something large enough. If you know
somebody who needs a very large helmet, tell them to contact their
Bell dealer, since we have yet to see any Bell ads for the Kinghead. The
Kinghead is in line to be brought up to the CPSC standard later
in 1999, but for now the older stock is certified by SEI to the
ASTM standard, and if your head is that size it is not necessary
to delay purchasing this one!
At the top of Bell's line are their molded-in-the-shell models,
called the Fusion Series. All are hyper-ventilated and all
have rear stabilizers. Among them:
- Intercooler Pro: a mid-1998 hyperventilated
design made in layers of multi-channeled foam that are
bonded together. We did not like the design when we first
saw it last year, but in retrospect the shell is more
rounded than most of Bell's Pro line, with only a moderate
"shelf" snagging point in the rear. The shell has a second
piece extending all the way down, a feature pioneered by
Louis Garneau some years back. There is no visor, so this is
a "road helmet." The price is steep, but production costs
for this model must be very high. At year's end we had yet to see one in
the market, and Bell is not emphasizing this one in their press
releases this year.
- Evo 2 Pro: another model we did not appreciate
when it was introduced in 1997 for its part-plastic and part-
foam shell, with potentially greater sliding resistance. But
its shape is much better than most of Bell's new line, so
if you are not concerned about the shell it is at least well
rounded, without a rear snag point. It was rated tops by
Consumer Reports in their June, 1999 article on helmets.
- Rubicon Pro: a new "mountain bike" (with visor)
design for 1999. Better rounded than some of Bell's models,
but the rear shelf has large potential snag points. This one
has the in-mold bottom shell. Suggested retail is $135. The
"road" version is the Envy Pro (no visor) selling for $125.
- Image 2000 Pro: A complete redesign of the old
Image Pro, apparently required to make it pass the CPSC
standard. The shape is marred by one of the worst rear shelf
points in Bell's line, but the price is considerably below
the top models at only $75.
- Esprit Pro: One of Bell's best-rounded designs,
but it has one of the worst rear "shelves".
- Nemesis 2 Pro: A 1998 design with huge vents and
the unfortunately squared-off ribs and large rear shelf to
go with them.
Bell's lower-cost helmets are produced with the shell glued
and taped on. The vents tend to be a little smaller, but
should be entirely adequate for almost all riders. Prices
are significantly lower.
- Paradox Pro: paradoxically has the lowest weight
of any of Bell's models by about one ounce at an advertised
9.3 oz. Also has large vents, and a nicely rounded shape
except for a pronounced rear shelf point. Suggested retail
with visor is $55.
- Forza 2 Pro: Another rounded
design with another moderate rear shelf.
- Vita Pro: Bell's "budget-minded" helmet based on
the Forza 2 without a visor. Retails for $30.
- Mischief Pro: A youth helmet selling for $40 with
visor, or $30 without as the Frenzy Pro. Again they
have the nicely rounded shape of Bell's non-inmolded
helmets, with moderate rear snagging points.
- Half Pint Pro: Toddler helmet with vents, also
available as the L'il Bell Shell Pro without vents.
These two have the best rounded shape and best coverage of
any helmet in Bell's line. The June, 1999 article in Consumer Reports said the
Half Pint Pro was "the clear choice" for toddler helmets.
Bell also has BMX and downhill racing models back in their
line, all with fiberglass shells imported from China, all
vented and all with the beautifully rounded shapes that are
traditional in BMX helmets. Unfortunately they also have
bolted on visors, so the rear "shelf" snag point has been
traded for the potential snagging of the rigidly-mounted
visor. They all resemble motorcycle helmets with vents, and
weigh about two pounds. The downhill model is the
Bellistic, with a full chinguard, an old name on a
new design in fiberglass for 1999. The BMX models are the
Rhythm Pro with chinguard or the Qualifier Pro with an open
face design. Prices will be very reasonable for fiberglass-
shell helmets at $125 for the chinguard models and $90 for
the Qualifier Pro.
Bell has unfortunately dropped their Oasis model, the best
shaped of any of their designs last year, along with a
number of other models. Unfortunately those were mostly the
models tested by Consumer Reports for the report in their June, 1997 issue.
Among Bell's 1999 models they liked the Evo Pro 2.
Bell has another entire line of helmets sold at discount
stores and mass-merchant outlets. They are often
discontinued models from their bike store line, and
generally have low-end graphics, chintzy fit pads and
cheaper packaging. But they are SEI certified to ASTM, and
for 1999 will meet the CPSC standard, so they provide fine impact protection,
with about a half inch more coverage in the CPSC version. The ASTM-only models
may be a lot cheaper (CPSC models were twice as expensive in
September, 1998), but the extra coverage is worth the higher cost to most
consumers, since a significant number of impacts can be expected below
the ASTM coverage line. The rounded profiles
we consider optimum will persist in this line for years to
come. They sell for amazingly low prices: $8 to
$30. Safe Kids sells them to their chapters for $7.50 each.
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 these models and other brands.
Bell still had their 53-foot tractor-trailer display at this show, but it
has since been put in mothballs.
Bell is still the largest and most successful bicycle helmet
manufacturer. With their brand recognition they are still
the one to beat. We are pleased that the Kinghead shows that
their corporate culture still retains some of the "our job
is to protect the rider" flavor the company grew up with.
Briko is an Italian company who began breaking into the U.S.
market in 1998. They have an innovative rear stabilizer design with stickers
inside showing an adjustment scale on each side, permitting
you to balance the two sides. Only their top model is molded
in the shell. Briko has 12 models for 1999:
- Twinner: This molded in the shell helmet has
only six large vents, coupled with internal air channels
claimed to suck the heat right away from your head. The
limited vents are said to "reduce the risk of sharp objects
penetrating the helmet." The Twinner has a very nicely
rounded shape, but has a potential snag point in the rear.
This is Briko's top model, selling for about $140. It was picked by
Bicycling magazine for a 1999 Editors' Choice Award. They
said if you put your hand behind it and blow through the front vents
you can feel the air coming out the back.
- Shark: A truly curious design with a fin-like
lump on top in the center (supposedly designed to increase
airflow inside). We would avoid it, even though it is Snell-
certified to their B-95 standard. Becomes the Shark MTB with the addition of a visor.
- Air Way: a smooth, sleek design with no external
snag points. Worth a look for that alone. Has a dial-
adjusted rear stabilizer. The vents are not huge on this
taped-on-shell design. Retail will be $35. With a hook and
loop fitting system inside and slightly down-graded graphics
it becomes the Air Tour Ring Fit, probably about $5
- Pin Point Ring-Fit: Fewer vents and much more
pronounced ribs give this one a less-rounded exterior. $30.
Becomes the Pin Point MTB with the addition of a
- Downtown: A smooth, less-vented design
with a slightly turned-up brim in front to give a limited
visor effect. Sells for $28 or $32 depending on the stabilizer.
With slightly different graphics the same basic helmet is
the Street Skate Ring Fit
- Racing Junior: Teens' version of the Air Way,
nicely rounded, selling in smaller sizes for about $25.
- Kid Ring Fit: A strange-looking design with
moderate sized oval vents that have wider foam frames made
by slanting the edge cutouts around the vent. The rest of
the shell is
rounded, but it seems to us that the vents are an
unnecessarily wide interruption in the profile. $23.
- Downhill: Mountain bike downhill racing helmet
with chinbar and visor.
Byke Ryder helmets are the former All American line, which
was purchased by KR Industries some time ago. They have a
fairly extensive line marketed through discount stores at
prices of $10 to $20. There are seven toddler helmets, five
youth models and five
adult helmets. Every one has a smoothly rounded exterior
shell and "normal" vents. There were no changes for 1999,
and KR is reportedly considering the sale of the Byke Ryder
Byke Ryder - KR Industries
Concord Arai Pvt. has few bicycle helmets, but will market
its Concord adult and youth helmets in 1998. Both are
certified to Snell's
Cateye will not be selling their helmet line in the U.S. in
1999, but they do offer it elsewhere, primarily in Europe.
They have seven models on Snell's B-90 certification list,
including two made by Happy Way (see below). We don't know
what their pricing will be.
Century is a West Coast distributor of bicycle products, and
has taken on the Zhuhai Safety lines labeled T-Star and
Celuk to sell to dealers or non-profits at very low prices.
The taped-on models go for $5 each. See the writeup below on
Zhuhai Safety for descriptions. We have a page up on inexpensive helmets with information
for contacting Century.
Arai has two models on Snell's B-95
list, the Concord Adult and Concord Youth. We are not
familiar with them.
Cyclelink comes from Cycle Acoustics, who make a wireless
intercom for bicyclists that can be mounted on the helmet.
Or you can buy a Snell-certified helmet from them with the
two-way radio built in. The microphone boom arm has a
breakaway mount, the helmet has an exceptionally smooth
outer profile, and one of the models has a range up to two
miles. Could be just the thing for parents towing kids in a
This German company with an Italian name has an extensive
line but is concentrating on fewer models for the U.S.
market. They advertise that the "soft shock" liner on some
models "can absorb 25% more impact" but don't say more than
what. Some models have a suspension system called the Head
Ring with an adjustable head band similar to the old Bailen
of the 1980's to adjust sizing. Like some other European
companies, their catalog shows an extreme aerodynamic time
trail helmet that will not be available for sale here
because it would have to meet the CPSC standard. Cratoni
calls that "a use-at-your-own risk helmet."
- Maniac and Road Maniac: A hyper-vented helmet
with sharp shell lines and the usual rear shelf. It has a
lower shell and a very small visor. Protection in the rear
low enough to require an arch cutout for neck clearance. The
two models have different visors. Retail will be $140.
- Mag Pro: A very nicely rounded helmet with visor
and the Head Ring adjustable sizing band. The graphics are
nice enough to keep this one from looking old-fashioned
despite its smooth contours. Retail is $60, putting it head-
to-head with Bell's less-well-rounded Paradox.
- Champ: A youth model with sharp shell lines,
visor and the Head Ring for size adjustment. Retail price
for 1999 is $50.
- Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents and the
adjustable Head Ring one-size-fits-all suspension. Rounded
shape but with a molded in visor. Sells for $30.
- Fun: A toddler helmet with a nicely rounded shape
and cut graphics, featuring the Quick Turn size adjustment
mechanism where the ring is controlled by a knob in the
rear. Retail is $40.
- V1: Cratoni's downhill racing model with full
chinbar, a fiberglass/kevlar shell and a visor bolted on.
It comes in some screaming colors, has mesh protecting the
front vents and sells for $330.
For 1998, Ecko had BMX racing and skateboard helmets with
but no ASTM certification. The shells were fiberglass, with
reasonable prices for BMX at $129 and $139 for the full-face
Visors are snap on, and designed to pop off in an impact.
U.S. 6 to 7 3/4. Ecko also distributes the RAD, billed as a
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 1999 line yet.
Edge has the Odyssey for 1999, with Snell B-95
certification. It is a hyper-vented helmet with a nice round profile similar to
the Giro Helios. It is molded in the shell, and will sell
for $85. The others in their line are BMX helmets by Troy Lee Designs, with hot
graphics and the signature Troy Lee bolted-on visors. The
TL COMP-RF has a removable chin bar and retails with a
chrome finish for $250, while the similar non-chrome model
is $150. Both are certified to Snell B-90, as is the TL-
COMP, a $120 BMX helmet without face protection.
Epsira Oy is the Finnish manufacturer of Knock
helmets, advertised as CE approved and supplied to such
organizations as the Finnish postal service (in very
visible yellow). Their 1998 designs appear to have nicely
rounded contours. One model has reflective chin straps, a
new feature we have not seen before. Epsira Oy has other
EPS products and some info up on EPS. We are not aware of a
U.S. distributor for their products, and have not seen
their 1999 line yet.
Met is a seldom-seen brand in the U.S. They have a PD800
model which is
certified to Snell's B-95 standard.
In its second year as a subsidiary of Bell, Giro still
have retained its independence in most respects. Almost all
of their models show the same tendency toward squared-off
that we moaned about in the introduction. Every one except
the two toddler models has the "shelf" effect in the rear
posing a potential snagging point in a fall, although they
sharpness of the shelf varies. Giro has dropped its hook-
and-loop visor mounts, which we considered ideal, in favor
of short plastic pieces that plug into the shell and should
pop off when needed. This year Giro has reflective
surfaces on the rear stabilizers of some of its models, an
ideal place because the surface is more likely to be
pointed directly back at the cars behind than the surface
on the helmet itself. This year the Giro line has more
In all, Giro continues to offer an impressive line of high-
end helmets, and continues to promote them with racing
- Exodus: Top of Giro's road line, essentially a
more squared-off Helios, with in-mold construction and
selling for $150 retail.
- Boreas: has the same skimpy interior foam
contact surface as the Bell Intercooler, and unfortunately
has rear "prongs" that stick out about 30 mm, which should
not be allowed under the ASTM or CPSC standards, but is.
In-mold construction. Retails for $150.
- Hammerhead: Basically the Switchblade downhill
helmet without the face guard option. More sharp lines,
but at least it avoids the rear "shelf" found on many
hypervent models. In-mold construction. Retail price is
- Helios: Giro's Helios started the hyper-
vent theme in 1997, and we were surprised that it was
identified by Consumer Reports that year as their first
pick based primarily on impact protection. That proves that
Giro is doing something right, since the Helios is probably
the first helmet you noticed that seemed more vent than
foam. And it looks even better this year for its smoothly
contoured outer shell as other models come out with sharper
lines. Unfortunately it does have a rear "shelf" providing
a potential snag point. Retail price has fallen to $100 as
this is no longer the hottest thing in Giro's line, marking
their least expensive in-molded helmet. Still on Snell's B-
90 list, although not all of them carry the sticker.
- Gila: Has some of the rear shelf effect, but
much more rounded. The shell is taped-on rather than in-
mold, marking the point in Giro's line where the in-molding
ends and taped shells begin. That brings the price down to
$75, earning it the Bicycling magazine pick in January, 1999,
as "a great sub-$100 helmet."
- Stelvio: New for 1999, That means the vents
are a little smaller and the contours a little more
rounded, but the Stelvio still manages to have a pointy
rear shelf. Retail is
- Torero: Similar to the Gila, with fewer
vents, a taped-on shell and a more rounded profile. Retail
- Ventura: Another mid-range model, with
retail pricing at $45.
- Incline: Reasonably rounded, with the minimal
Gila style rear shelf and a $45 price tag.
- Riviera: The Incline (above) without visor and
selling for $35, Giro's lowest price.
- Livewire: A very stylish helmet for juveniles,
shaped a lot like the Ventura and selling for $45.
- Wheelie: A youngster helmet for those who are old
enough to pedal. Has reflective graphics on some models and
a normal visor. $35.
- Minimoto: A toddler helmet, but vented. Has a
foam visor and retails for $35.
- Mad Max: An all-out downhill racing helmet with a
carbon fiber layer on its chinbar, lower shell and a
beautifully rounded exterior, marred only by the bolt on
visor. Weighs over 2 pounds, costs $350.
- Switchblade: Giro's lighter weight helmet for
downhill racing with the optional chinbar lets you use it on
the road without the face protection. It has larger vents
than other downhill helmets, and an in-mold shell. It
retails for $180 with chinbar or $135 without.
- Ravine: Giro's ski helmet, which they believe
will meet the ASTM ski helmet standard when it is published
(hopefully during 1999).
GT incorporates helmets made by Troxel into its full line of
bikes and bike shop accessories, offering dealers additional
discounts on bikes if they also carry the helmets. The line
is extensive, and all are ASTM/SEI certified. We are
impressed with the nicely rounded profiles on all of GT's
mid-priced helmets, and they are well worth a look for that
reason. Although some manufacturers are using harder foam
density to compensate for opening up larger vents, with the
potential drawback of increasing point loading in a crash,
GT's entire line is produced to Troxel's conservative specs
at no more than medium density. GT's visors are attached
with hook-and-loop material so they flip off easily in a
crash. All GT models have at least some reflective material
in the back and front.
- Pegasus: GT and Troxel's flag-bearer is a co-
molded helmet with vents everywhere and the kind of sharp
lines and projections in the rear that we don't appreciate.
Still, it's comparable to the Bells and Giros, and the price
is only $100.
- Stinger: A much more rounded helmet
than the Pegasus, with fewer vents and a reasonably rounded
rear "shelf." Taped shell. Retail $50.
- Gator: At $40, a nicely rounded design with no
rear shelf and a visor.
- Orion II One of the best-rounded GT designs, and
it's new for 1999! Retails for $30.
- Lightning: A youth helmet that looks slick but
has a visor that is part of a single integrated shell,
preventing it from flipping off easily in a crash. $35
- `LiL Thunder: A toddler helmet with
vents, Disney graphics and a very nicely rounded shape. Has
a rear stabilizer done in cloth rather than plastic to
respond to parents' unwillingness to put a plastic
stabilizer on a small tot. $35 retail.
- GT Stunt: The hard-shell round design pioneered
by ProTec in the 1970's and beloved of skateboarders.
that with the right foam and shell this design can meet the
- GT Racing BMX: GT's top BMX helmet, with
fiberglass shell and full chin bar. Retails for $150. The
visor bolts attach it too firmly in our opinion. No vents.
- Dyno BMX: A less expensive BMX design at $90.
Visor bolts on. No vents.
With the exception of the Pegasus it seems to us that the GT/Troxel
line is more rounded than it was last year, and offers some
Hallbay's line is mostly Snell B-95 certified, including the
951, 961 and 961g. The 111 and 111 LX are certified to B-90.
This brand is seldom seen in the U.S. market.
Hallbay Pty Ltd
Hamax is a Norwegian company whose line we first saw in
1997. At that time they were producing EPS helmets with
polycarbonate three-piece shells, certified
to the European CE standard (weaker than ASTM). They might
have to upgrade somewhat to meet the CPSC standard for 1999.
Some Hamax models have a
hard visor which would not break away in a fall, but Hamax
says it is well adapted for protecting the child's eyes when
putting the child in front of the parent in a top-tube child
carrier, very few of which are in use in this country. The
visor hides the fact that some of their toddler models and a
parent on one of their brochures have their helmets cocked
back on the head
with the entire forehead showing. Hamax has an adult helmet
with a head ring
sizing system similar to Cratoni's, like the old Bailens
sold in the
U.S. in the 1980's. They recommend their child helmets for
young as 9 months, three months sooner than any U.S.
anybody in the injury prevention community here. The child
good vents, but not the toddler models. We hope to have info
on their 1999 line soon to update this section.
Hans Johnsen is a bicycle and accessories distributor with
an extensive line of bicycle products. Their helmets are
made in China by Strategic Sports. There are two adult models and one toddler
helmet, all with nicely rounded profiles and selling for
less than $20. Their BMX helmet has a full chin bar, the
usual fiberglass shell and bolted-on visor, and sells for
Hans Johnsen Company
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of
Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets that are Snell B-95 or B
90 certified. Some are fully molded in the shell models,
while some have glued-on shells,
but prices are the same at about $40 retail. Adding a rear
stabilizer or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a
half each. Although the EPU makes the helmet a little
heavier than a Giro or Bell, if this company had more name
recognition it would be a real contender. Happy Way sells
mostly in Europe, but here they sell to importers and OEM's
with their own brands, and are looking for distributors in
the US. Their Snell B-95 models include the G-5, H-102, H-
303, H-305, H-506 and the Little Pal toddler model.
Happy Way Enterprises
This Canadian manufacturer of EPP helmets has
a number of models on Snell's B-90 and B-95 certification
lists. Their B-95 models included the 180, 380, 480, 580,
A180, A280, A380 and Infant Bicycle. Price points for the
line are low, and the EPP makes them multiple-impact helmets.
Headstart Technologies (Canada)
This Headstart is located in Malaysia, and should not be
confused with the Canadian manufacturer called
Headstart Technologies. Malaysia's Headstart is represented by
Damar in New York. They have seventeen models on Snell's B-
90 list, and eight more on the B-95 list. Aside from that,
we have no current information on their line.
HKS has nine helmets on Snell's B-90 list, and four
certified to B-95, including the HMT-105, HMT-201, HMT-J08
and the V-01. They manufacture for a number of U.S. brands,
but we do not have any info on their own branded line, if
they have one.
Hong Kong Sports
J&B's Alpha line for 1999 has four models retailing for
about $12 to $20. One has a full lower shell, unusual at
that price point. The profiles are the well-rounded ones we
favor. Colors are solid, with some metallics. Their BMX
model has bolted-on visor and full face protection.
A supplier of low-cost helmets to toy and discount stores,
Kent is one
of the few with a multi-sport helmet certified to Snell's
standard. The model is called the Concept. We have not
seen their 1999 line, but they currently have 17 models on
Snell's B-95 list.
Limar is a European brand marketed in the US by Trialtir.
They meet the CEN European standard and the more severe US
ASTM standard. For 1999 they must meet CPSC as well to be
sold here. Their models all have taped-on shells and nice
- F-107: New for 1999, this is a typical hyper
vented model, but more rounded than most, including the rear
"shelf" point. Has a lower shell.
- F-104: Available in 18 different graphics
schemes, this one is nicely rounded, has a lower shell and
has moderate ventilation.
- F-40: A mountain bike helmet with visor mounted
with hook-and-loop, as well as netting on the front vents.
Retail price is $90.
- Quack: A ducky helmet for toddlers with a yellow
visor for the beak.
- Downhill: This one has a shell and full chin bar
made of fiberglass, kevlar and carbon fiber, covering all
bases. Vented, and weighs 24 oz.
Louis Garneau is a Canadian designer whose helmet line has
grown over the years to a very impressive collection. Some
of their helmets are molded in the shell. On others they use
polypropylene lower sections, and some have a lower shell to
protect the foam from nicks (reducing sliding resistance as
well). Visors are mounted with hook-and-loop fasteners to
facilitate flipping off easily in impacts. Garneau has a
free replacement guarantee.
- Genius: The top of the line, introduced last
year, it has the requisite multitude of vents, too many ribs
on the shell to suit us and a price tag of $119. It is
molded in the shell. Small parts of the outer shell have a
washboard effect, which can only be for styling.
- Rock and Road: Another sharply-ribbed exterior,
another rear "shelf" point. Taped-on shell.
- Globe: A much better rounded design than the
upscale models, although the ribs are still pronounced.
Chosen by Consumer Reports as a Best Buy in the December,
1997 supplement to their 1997 article
on helmets. It was the only helmet in the June, 1999 Consumer Reports
article that achieved the highest impact rating. Taped-on shell.
- Wings: Somewhat similar to the Genius, but styled
for mountain bikers. Molded in the shell. No shelf in the
- Ozone MSB: One of Garneau's better-rounded
helmets, for mountain bikers. Has a taped-on shell. Retails
for around $80.
- Alien: Sharper lines and more but smaller vents
than the Ozone, again for Mountain bikers and again with a
- Century and Century V: New for 1999, with a very
nicely rounded profile. Reasonable vents, taped-on shell,
very light weight. The V model has a visor.
- Space and Space V: One of the best-rounded
profiles among all of Garneau's models. Adequate vents,
taped-on shell. The V model has a visor.
- Saturn and Saturn V: The roundest, smoothest
shell of any of Garneau's models. Fewer and smaller vents
than most, so you would not want this one in Texas. Taped-on
shell, and the V model has a visor.
- Grunge: For the juvenile crowd aged 6 to 16, this
one has a very well rounded shell and graphics including
flames and stripes of all stripes.
- Terrible: Toddler helmet no doubt named for the
French phrase "l'enfant terrible." Has a molded-in visor and
taped-on shell. Graphics include VW bugs, pink snails and
cows. Designed for kids 5 to 10.
- Baby Boomer: 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. Is the model named for Baby fall
down go Boom?
- Buzz: Garneau's downhill helmet, like all their
models, is their own unique design. It is molded in the
shell with Kevlar reinforcing and has vents covered with
mesh to keep the bees out. It has a full face guard with
vents and mesh of its own. The visor attachment is hook-and-
Knucklebone sells accessories and clothing for BMX. Their
fiberglass-shell BMX model has a full chinbar, no vents and
a price tag of $110. It has the requisite bolted-on visor,
and the catalog says it meets the ASTM and CPSC bicycle
helmet standards. Their Jumper model is the familiar
skateboarders profile, exceptionally smooth and round, with
a painted and clear-coated shell that includes a chrome
model. It retails for $40.
An offshore manufacturer for whom we have no info. They have
three models on Snell's B-90 list, the Aerogo 338, Aerogo
339 and Aerogo 388. The Aerogo 368 is Snell B-95 certified.
Lucky Bell Plastics
Another non-US brand, with four helmets on Snell's b-90
The Mongoose line is made for Brunswick and Service Cycle in
China. All models have nicely-rounded shapes, taped-on
shells and visors. They range around $20 to $25 retail, and
include the Air Flow, Echelon, Rage, Small Wonder (child),
and two BMX models, one full chin bar version at $80 and an
open-face model at $75. Both BMX models have bolted-on
In 1997 Motorika introduced its folding helmet called the
Snapit. This is a true hard shell helmet made with GECET
foam and a nylon glass-reinforced shell. The shell is made
in two pieces and designed to fold one half into the other
in a crescent-shaped form much like a piece of cantaloupe.
It comes with a hip-hugger belt so you can wear it after the
fold. It has ASTM certification, and we don't know if it is
certified to meet the 1999 CPSC standard or not. It weighs
16 oz, not bad for a hard shell, but about 6 oz more than
most of the helmets on the market today, and it feels heavy.
The introductory retail price was $79, which seemed high to
us for a niche product. We did not like the ridge where the
two pieces meet when the helmet is unfolded in the wearing
position, which we feel could present a potential snag point
For that reason alone would not recommend this one. We have
not heard from Motorika what their 1999 plans are.
Nuovo Meyster is an Italian company hoping to bring its
helmets to the U.S. market. Their line will sell in mass
merchant outlets, but when we met them at Interbike in 1997
they had not yet certified their line to any U.S. standards.
They had a Stelvio model with a very well-rounded profile,
but almost no vents that will sell for $30 to $40, and a
child helmet called the Flash. We do not know their 1999
Nuovo Meyster, SPA
Oryx has one model on Snell's B-90 list, the Vertex. We are
not in contact with them.
This Portuguese company has one basic helmet shape sold in
four different levels of graphics, visors and trim for $15
to $36 retail. They all have well-rounded contours but a
modest rear bump in the shell for a fitting that holds the
strap. The models we saw at Interbike had CE (European)
certification but had not yet been tested against the more
stringent CPSC standard.
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. They
have a multi-purpose helmet certified to Snell's N-94
multipurpose standard. They also have several bicycling-only
models certified to Snell B-95, all with nicely rounded
profiles. Their BMX helmets have a full chin bar, the usual
fiberglass shell and bolted-on visors.
We have not seen a Pro-Tec catalog or company rep, but there
were at least two of their models shown by others at
Interbike in September, 1998. One was their classic round
skateboarder's model with squishy foam, the second had a
real EPS liner and an ASTM/CPSC sticker in it and is called
the Classic Freestyle Sports. It modestly proclaimed itself
adequate for "pedal cyclers, skateboarders and
rollerskaters," although there was no standards sticker
saying it would pass the ASTM skateboard standard. The shape
is round and smooth, and the style is what skateboarders
Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets
in EPU foam, two of them appearing on Snell's B-95
certification list. The following comments are, they inform us,
about their 1998 line, not their newest 1999 models, apparently
introduced after we saw them at Interbike. Prowell's Raptor, Genesis, Cobra
and AirGlider are all molded in
the shell and beyond the Snell cachet they also have a very
high quality appearance, seeming solid (if a bit heavy) in
the hand. There are more square lines on the exteriors than
we like to see on the Raptor and AirGlider, but the Genesis
has the smoothly faired surface we consider ideal, and
overall these are well-rounded helmets. Prowell's various models all
retail for about $30. The Snell B-95 models are the F-18 and
F-18 Genesis. The company is actively seeking distributors
in the US for their products.
Protective Technologies International (PTI) is a very large
producer of bicycle helmets, mostly marketed through discount stores
such as the Sports Authority and Toys `R Us. We have not yet seen their
1999 line. For 1998, their models include the top of the
line Attack, selling for about $80, with the numerous vents
too sharply defined at the edges for our satisfaction but an
otherwise rounded profile. The other models re all very well
rounded on the exterior, including the Trip at $40, the Raw
at $30 the Wacko child helmet at $25, and a toddler model at
$20. There is one white version of the Trip with very large
letters "POLICE" down the sides selling for $20 to law
enforcement agencies. Tucked away in the back of the 1998
catalog was the "Promo" model, with exemplary roundness on
its exterior but woefully small vents, and billed as a very low price helmet
with a $6 dealer cost and a suggested retail of "FREE" said to be
suitable for giveaway programs. Some of PTI's toddler and
youth helmets in toy stores are packaged with skate
accessories like wrist guards and knee pads. In our local
Toys 'R Us are various models of PTI helmets with "Approved
to ASTM F1446.7" on the box, but a sticker in the helmet
saying only "ANSI Z90.4." That will change in 1999, as
everybody has to meet the CPSC standard. We find PTI
helmets in discount stores at prices in the $10 to $20
OGK's line for 1999 are all Snell B-95
certified. They feature the ReaQtor, a thoroughly updated,
hyper-ventilated, helmet with extensive rear coverage and a
shell covering the lower portion. The exterior has squared-
off, sharply-defined lines and the rear shelf projections
that we hope the ASTM standard will eventually prevent. It
retails for $140. There is also a downhill model called the
Kamaquazi, with facial protection, Snell B-95 certification
and a retail price of $269.
Ritchey's Tomahawk model is Snell B-90 certified, and should
be of interest primarily to people who ride Ritchey bikes.
Although this company has six models on Snell's B-90 list,
they apparently do not market in the U.S.
This year marks the return of the Schwinn helmet brand,
represented by five new models made for Schwinn in China.
Visors are hook-and-loop mounted. Some or all are Snell B-90
certified, so check the sticker inside.
The Typhoon 1.0 has the most vents, comes in bright colors
and sparkle metallics and
retails for $50. The Typhoon 2.0 has smaller vents and
lacks a rear stabilizer but retails for $35, while the $30
Typhoon 3.0 has no visor and plainer graphics. There is a youth model
and a toddler helmet as well, both Snell B-90 certified.
SCS (London) Ltd
Although we have not contacted them for their 1999 line, for
1998 this Taiwanese manufacturer had a line of EPS and EPU
helmets, which they said would meet the ASTM standard. Their
EPU helmets are molded in the shell, and are offered with or
without a plastic shell (EPU will form a "skin" in the mold
similar to a shell in any event). The helmets had a quality
appearance, with silk-screened graphics. They have a
fiberglass BMX model. Dealer prices for the standard bicycle
helmets in quantity were under $5 for the 1998 year, but if
you want a box it's another 50 cents. You may see their
helmets with other brands on them.
Specialized is one of the major U.S. helmet manufacturers
and a supplier of a wide range of bicycles and components.
Their 1999 helmets all have reflective material on the front
and rear this year, although the reflectors are small.
Specialized has sixteen models on Snell's B-90 list, including
their whole line for 1999. Specialized is producing
announcements: radio ads and print samples, and a $20 kit
for teachers. We sent for their kit in early August, but
have not received it yet. The Specialized catalog announces
a "No-fault Helmet Crash Replacement Policy," but tells you
to call them at (408) 779-6229 to find out what that means.
Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development
- King Cobra: The top of the line has "mouth port
technology" in the form of an air vent in the front where it
will channel air to a sweatband, and a lower shell patterned
on some models like a cobra skin. The shape is not smooth,
although the pronounced ribs are rounded, as is the moderate
rear projection. Molded in the shell, including the lower
shell, "which in turn lets us reduce weight and maximize
ventilation." Plastic rear stabilizer, snap-on visor.
Retail is $140. Picked by Bicycling magazine as the
"Best Helmet" in their January, 1999 issue.
- Sub Zero: another in-mold design, but without the
King Cobra's lower shell. Has a moderate rear projection and
the sweatband-level mouth port.
- Air Banshee: pitched to the off-road racer, with
rounded lines, a moderate rear shelf and a visor. Taped-on
- Air Speed: more rounded profile than the King
Cobra, although it still shares with the Cobra a rear
overhang that is not very well faired.
- New Mountain Man: New for 1999, with a taped-on
shell and sharp lines on the sides. Has a visor and that
rear shelf, only moderately faired in.
- Air Cut: taped on shell on what Specialized calls
a "narrow profile design." Nicely rounded shell, including
the rear projection.
- Airwave: budget model, new for 1999, with a taped-
on shell, fewer vents and reasonably rounded lines and rear
- Airwave Mega: youth version of the Airwave.
- Bike Bug: Classic round, smooth toddler helmet.
Taped-on shell, no vents, cute graphics.
SportScope introduced a helmet in 1999 that is made in six separate foam pieces,
linked together with a nylon harness buried in the foam. The six sections are
linked closely, but if the manufacturing process makes the linkage just a bit
too long the edges of the sections can protrude, which is not rounder, smoother, safer.
Lab test results testing to the CPSC standard from two labs are good despite the
articulated pieces, but we don't have any data on whether or not the moving pieces
could lead to a localized loading problem. An interesting helmet that may solve fit
problems for some and cause fit problems for others. Comes in adult, youth and toddler sizes.
Retails for $25 at Sears and other stores.
We do not know this company's line first-hand, but five of their
helmets appear on Snell's B-90 list, including a child
model, a downhill/BMX helmet, the DH-101, T-1A and W-1A. By email
they have informed us that they produce helmets for a number of
U.S. companies with the U.S. company's brand, and shipped 1.5 million
helmets worldwide in 1998.
Tong Ho Hsing sends its line to the U.S. through Sunbeam
Trading Company of Vernon, California. They make 11 bicycle
helmet models in all shapes and styles, including some
nicely rounded adult helmets, a toddler helmet, two BMX
models and a number of others that appear to be equestrian,
skate or hockey helmets. One of their BMX helmets is
actually certified to Snell's extremely rigorous M-95
motorcycle helmet standard. Their catalog has a Snell B-95
sticker displayed although none of their helmets appears on
Snell's August 28, 1998 list.
This was our first look at Time's helmet line. They are
generally an up-scale supplier of bicycle accessories
designed for racing or a racing image. Their helmets all
have taped-on shells, and should be available at the end of
Time's AKTA has one of the worst rear projection
shelves we saw in any 1999 line. The strap intersection
piece is a unique slotted design. Another of their adult
models has a less pronounced rear shelf than the AKTA, with
a unique side strap made of a plastic material, while
another of their adult helmets has a visor nicely mounted
with hook-and-loop. Their K'DOR kids' helmet has a
Trek is back as an exhibitor at Interbike, along with their
Gary Fisher subsidiary with the same helmet line with
different model designations. Trek supplies a wide line of
bikes and accessories to dealers, and their helmet graphics
are designed to complement your Trek bike. All of their
adult models have very large vent areas, rear stabilizers, and
they have a one year free replacement policy for crashed
helmets. Their line for 1999 has five models.
Troxel sells its helmets under the Pro Action brand as well
as through GT. Most of their models we have seen for 1999 were the GT
versions, so check the writeup above. Troxel also has a "multi-sport"
helmet in the toy store near us packaged with wrist guards, selling for
$7.99. It is certified to ASTM F-1447, which is the bicycle
standard, not a multi-purpose standard.
- Photon: in-mold design with an in-mold lower
shell as well. Squared off ribs, but the rear is much
smoother than Trek's other models. Can be had in a bright
yellow. Retails for $100.
- Himal: an in-mold design with moderately squared-
off lines and a small shelf projection in the rear. It has a
lower shell as well, but that is not molded on.
- Tempest: Similar lines to the Himal, but with a
taped on shell and no lower shell. Retail price is $45.
- Vapor: Squared-off lines, some rear shelf
projection, taped on shell, "new internal shape" and a
modest retail price of $30.
- Scout: A youth helmet based on the Vapor, with
the addition of anti-pinch chin pads, selling for $30.
- Little Dipper: Infant-toddler model with vents,
anti-pinch chin pad and a $30 price tag.
Troy Lee has its Vapor bicycle helmets with a nicely-rounded
profile, great graphics and hook-and-loop or snap-fit visor
mounts. One has a chrome visor. They retail for $115 to
$130, expensive for a taped-on shell design. Their carbon
fiber shell Daytona BMX helmet has an "aerodynamic fin" at
the rear, another entirely unnecessary interruption in the
ideal smooth outer surface of a helmet. With vents and chin
bar it sells for an eye-watering $490. Not including the
optional larger Stingray visor at $35. Troy Lee also sells
an add-on rear bump called the TLD Stabilizer, so you can add a
bump to your smooth helmet for only $18 to $28! For their
fans, Troy Lee graphics are second to none, and are used on
other brands as well. But they continue to use bolted-on BMX
visors, so if you wear one and crash, be sure not to snag
your visor on anything.
Troy Lee Designs
This German company is selling two models in the US for
1999, both skate helmets. One is similar in shape to the
classic Pro-Tec, and sells for $25. The other, the Odin, has
a more "bucket" shape and sells for $35. Both are admirably
round and smooth.
We do not know this company, whose name indicates they are
a molder of EPS. They have one model, the Edge, on Snell's
U.S. Foam Company
Vetta is still working on an interesting new technology for
1999 in the form of a new foam they call NexL. This closed
cell, cross-linked polymer would replace the standard EPS,
and has multiple-impact capabilities that should make it
ideal for aggressive skate helmets, hockey helmets and
others, but production difficulties have kept the new
material from reaching the market.
Vigor Sports (Hong Jin Cycle Corp.) is a Korean company
with a large and varied line of helmets, many of them on
the Snell B-95 and B-90 lists, and they are one of only
two companies with helmets on the N-94 multipurpose list.
Their BMX models mostly have bolted-on visors. We don't
have their retail pricing for this year.
- Slice: Vigor's hypervent model resembles Giro's
- V-Tec: an in-mold design with many vents and a
rounded contour except for a large unnecessary bump in the
rear. Snell B-95 certified.
- V-Tec Sport: similar to the V-Tec, but has
smaller vents and a taped-on shell. Snell B-95 certified.
- Rave: one of the most smoothly faired shells in
the industry, referred to in the catalog as a "classic"
design but looking remarkably up to date for a smooth
contour helmet. It has a pony tail port, and is on Snell's
B-90 list. The Rave Pro is certified to Snell B-95.
- Avail: designed for women and youth, Snell B-90
certified, and the extra-small model is certified to B-95.
- Da Bomb: BMX helmet certified to Snell's N-94
multi-purpose standard in both its full-face and open-face
- Zero G1 and G2: Another BMX design with Snell N-
94 certification. The G2 is the full face protection
- HPX: A Snell B-95 certified design, near
Vigor's lower end, comes in a brilliant Candy Yellow.
- Duo: Another of Vigor's Snell B-95 designs.
- Tyke: A rare toddler helmet certified to Snell
B-95. It has vents, a pinchproof buckle and an adjustable
sizing ring. The Tyke II only appears on the Snell
- Vamoose: A downhill racing design certified to
Snell B-95 with a Kevlar reinforced fiberglass shell.
- 540: A skating helmet design with the classic
smooth, round exterior and an interesting liner that
combines squishy foam for multiple small impacts with EPS
foam for the harder hits, requiring replacement afterward.
Vigor says it meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.
We are not in touch with Vogue, but they have one model on
Snell's B-90 list, called the VOG-1000.
Vogue (Hong Kong)
We are not familiar with this manufacturer's line, but
they have three helmets on Snell's list of helmets
certified to their N-94 multi purpose standard. They are
named the 1100, 1100B and 1100S. We hope to have more on
This Chinese manufacturer has an extensive line of bicycle
and BMX helmets. Most are sold by others under house
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 in-mold,
and some have lower shells. Their Series 01 and Series 03
are on Snell's B-90 list. The Snell B-95 list includes the
Series 03 in size small, Series 04, Series 06 and Series
Zhuhai Star Safety, located in Zhuhai, China but a
separate company from Zhuhai Safety above, produces six models
certified to Snell B-95, including a child model, a toddler model
and two BMX models. We are not in contact with them.
Zuhai Star Safety
This page was revised or reformatted on: February 22, 2019.