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Bicycle Helmets for the 1999 Season:

This is history!

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Summary: Our report on 1999 helmets. This page is history. Select this link for reports from other years.




Researched at the Interbike trade show
Las Vegas, Nevada, in September, 1998,
and updated since with new info.



Summary

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:
  • Meets the CPSC standard.
  • Fits you
  • Is molded in the shell
  • Has a round, smooth exterior
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.




Trends: Vents and Sharp Lines


Vents are Still Hot!

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 even mention 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.

Rounder, Smoother, Safer Button

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 consideration.

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?"


Designs Still Sharper, Squared Off

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.

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.


More Trends

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.


New Technology

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.


Bell Covers the Largest Heads

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!


Standards

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.


Consumer Reports Picks A Winner

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.

Globe helmet

You can find the helmet article on the Consumer Reports Web Site, but it will cost you a paid subscription.


The Helmets


Advent

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 Products

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 Multisport

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 line.


Apex

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

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 standard.


Bell

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

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 less.
  • 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 visor.
  • 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 - KR Industries

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 line.


Concord

Concord Arai Pvt. has few bicycle helmets, but will market its Concord adult and youth helmets in 1998. Both are certified to Snell's B-95 standard.


Cateye

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 Cycles

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.


Concord Arai

Arai has two models on Snell's B-95 list, the Concord Adult and Concord Youth. We are not familiar with them.


Cyclelink

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 trailer.


Cratoni

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 comes down 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.


Ecko

For 1998, Ecko had BMX racing and skateboard helmets with ANSI stickers but no ASTM certification. The shells were fiberglass, with reasonable prices for BMX at $129 and $139 for the full-face model. Visors are snap on, and designed to pop off in an impact. 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 1999 line yet.


Edge

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

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.


Euro-Met

Met is a seldom-seen brand in the U.S. They have a PD800 model which is certified to Snell's B-95 standard.


Giro

In its second year as a subsidiary of Bell, Giro still seems to have retained its independence in most respects. Almost all of their models show the same tendency toward squared-off lines 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 models:
  • 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 $100.
  • 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 $60.
  • Torero: Similar to the Gila, with fewer vents, a taped-on shell and a more rounded profile. Retail is $55.
  • 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).
In all, Giro continues to offer an impressive line of high- end helmets, and continues to promote them with racing connections.


GT

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 retail.
  • `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. Demonstrates that with the right foam and shell this design can meet the CPSC standard.
  • 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 interesting helmets.


Hallbay Pty Ltd

Hallbay's line is mostly Snell B-95 certified, including the 007 Sphinx, 951, 961 and 961g. The 111 and 111 LX are certified to B-90. This brand is seldom seen in the U.S. market.

Hamax

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 kids as young as 9 months, three months sooner than any U.S. manufacturer or anybody in the injury prevention community here. The child helmets have good vents, but not the toddler models. We hope to have info on their 1999 line soon to update this section.


Hans Johnsen Company

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 about $75.


Happy Way Enterprises

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.


Headstart Technologies (Canada)

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 (Malaysia)

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.


Hong Kong Sports

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.


J&B Importers

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.


Kent International

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 N94 multi-sport 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

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 graphics.
  • 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

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 rear.
  • 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 taped-on shell.
  • 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- loop.


Knucklebone

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.


Lucky Bell Plastics

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.


Maxx Helmets

Another non-US brand, with four helmets on Snell's b-90 list.


Mongoose (Brunswick)

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 visors.


Motorika

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, SPA

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 plans.


Oryx Safety

Oryx has one model on Snell's B-90 list, the Vertex. We are not in contact with them.


Polisport

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

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.


Pro-Tec

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 often demand.


Prowell Helmets

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.


PTI

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 range.


Qranc/OGK Helmets

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

Ritchey's Tomahawk model is Snell B-90 certified, and should be of interest primarily to people who ride Ritchey bikes.


SCS (London) Ltd

Although this company has six models on Snell's B-90 list, they apparently do not market in the U.S.


Schwinn

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.


Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development

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

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.
  • 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 shell.
  • 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 projection.
  • Airwave Mega: youth version of the Airwave.
  • Bike Bug: Classic round, smooth toddler helmet. Taped-on shell, no vents, cute graphics.


SportScope

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.


Strategic Sports

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.


THH

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.


Time

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 1998. 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 molded-in visor.


Trek USA

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.
  • 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.


Troxel

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.


Troy Lee Designs

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.


TSG

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.


U.S. Foam Company

We do not know this company, whose name indicates they are a molder of EPS. They have one model, the Edge, on Snell's B-90 list.


Vetta

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

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 Helios.
  • 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 models.
  • Zero G1 and G2: Another BMX design with Snell N- 94 certification. The G2 is the full face protection version.
  • 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 B-90 list.
  • 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.


Vogue (Hong Kong)

We are not in touch with Vogue, but they have one model on Snell's B-90 list, called the VOG-1000.


WHHCO

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 them soon.


Zhuhai Safety

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 07.


Zuhai Star Safety

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.




This page was revised or reformatted on: February 22, 2019.
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