Bicycle Helmets for the 2002-3 Season
This is history!
Here is the current year
Summary: Our review of helmets being sold in 2002. Trends first, then individual models. Index to manufacturers last. See this page for more recent years.
Trends for 2002
Helmet lines for 2002 showed few real improvements over the 2001 season. Prices are mostly stable after rising somewhat last year in the mass merchant channel. Demand for bicycles has been declining, but we can't say if helmet sales are following since there are no industry numbers available. From the consumer's point of view there are very protective helmets out there for reasonable prices, and very stylish ones for a few dollars more. Price and protection do not equate. There is nothing on the horizon to recommend delaying a purchase, and no compelling reason to upgrade an otherwise good helmet this year.
Helmets manufactured for the US market after 1999 must meet the national CPSC standard. Very few of the older ones are still on sale. We recommend looking for a helmet that:
1. Meets the CPSC standard. (Look for the sticker inside)
We recommend checking Consumer Reports for brand and model recommendations even though their most recent helmet article did not cover more than a handful of the helmets on the market. They discovered that cheaper helmets are more protective than the most expensive, top-of-the-line models.
Since there is no comprehensive lab test data available, we do not make brand and model recommendations. We do recommend steering away from models with obvious disadvantages like snag points on the outer surface.
2. Fits you well.
3. Has a rounded, smooth exterior with no snag points.
4. Has no more vents than you need.
Beware of skateboard helmets with no CPSC sticker inside. Some of them look exactly like a bike/skateboard multipurpose helmet from the outside, but the foam inside is not designed for the impacts a bicycle rider should expect. Be sure to look for a CPSC sticker before using a skateboard-style helmet for bicycling!
Outside the US, the basic features to look for are the same. Unless there is a CPSC sticker in the helmet, you will probably find one that attests to the helmet meeting one of the numerous national standards or the European standard.
This year's helmets have fewer of the squared-off lines we find objectionable and fewer of the pronounced rear snag points that dominated top of the line models just two years ago. We have a page up explaining why you need a rounder, smoother helmet to avoid snagging in a crash. It also explains why bigger vents are not always a benefit. It is called Vents and Square Lines: Problems with some designs.
Sharp lines are softer.
Fit is improving slowly.
Although fit systems are slowly improving, no manufacturer has yet achieved the self-fitting helmet that is today's most critical need. (We have more on that on our page on the ideal helmet.) Several now have a one-size-fits-all system based on an adjustable ring. They are generally quicker to fit and reduce the number of models dealers have to stock. But some of them require the ring so tight for real stability that they feel binding after a few minutes, and loosening the band gives a sloppy fit. The headband used will also interfere with anyone using a separate sweatband or earband, who should look for a model with the adjustability of traditional fit pads. As always, your own head is the only standard for fit. We have a separate page up on the one-size-fits-all helmets.
- Colors: Other trends this year include a continued but disappointingly slow movement toward brighter colors, mirroring what is happening in bike colors, bike clothing and automotive colors.
- Visors: Visors continue to lose ground, as manufacturers have not found them particularly profitable. They had been used in prior years to promote a meaningless difference between visorless "road" helmets and visored "mountain bike" helmets. The distinction is largely artificial, since both types of helmets are designed to the same standard and probably will be used for both types of riding. Most visors are now being attached with prongs that plug into the helmet shell, rather than hook-and-loop material. Hook-and-loop has ideal crash-release characteristics, but can have adhesion problems, particularly after storing the helmet in a hot car. The worst visor mounting system is the bolts used for BMX helmet visors. They may or may not tear out in a crash and there is no standard for testing that. We don't recommend visors unless you really need them for glare riding into the sun (a problem for contact lens wearers). The harder ones can cut you in a crash, and some can even shatter. That is not covered by US bike helmet standards.
- Offshore production:
The trend to moving production to Asia that began in 2000 has continued, and most US production has been moved offshore. In addition, some major brands are including helmets in their lines that are manufactured for them by other companies in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korea.
This year a new foam has been announced that may have advantages for multi-impact helmets. The first helmet using it appeared early in the year, but availability is spotty. It is heavy and shaped as a ski/skate helmet, with minimal vents, appealing more to skiers than cyclists. We don't have test lab data for it yet, so recommendations are on hold. See our comments below on W Helmets.
A number of the skateboard-style helmets on the market are still made with hard shells. Most are hot for bicycle riding. But a company in Taiwan is still shipping hard shell bicycle-style helmets to the US market. This year they have found a new technique to mold the foam directly into a hard ABS shell. That model may arrive here in 2002. You can find comments on them in our section on Hopus Technology below, and on our page on hard shell helmets. If you are seeking a hard shell, search this page for the word "hard" to find them. Most are skateboard style helmets.
The Hard Shell Lives!
The Bell Kinghead is still the only choice if you are one of the small minority of riders needing a helmet to fit up to size 8 1/4 with a maximum circumference of 26 inches (66 cm). Most people can turn it sideways. See our page on very large helmets for details. There are other models below that can fit up to 64 cm.
Bell Still Covers the Largest Heads
Bicycle helmets manufactured for the US market after March 10, 1999 are required to meet the US Consumer Product Safety Commission standard by law. There are few of the older ones around. That took most of the steam out of the standards issue. But there are two reasons to continue to look for the standards sticker. First, there may still be a few older models out there manufactured before 1999 that do not meet the CPSC standard, and can still be legally sold. You might find them on the dusty bargain tables.
In addition, since the CPSC standard applies only to bicycle helmets, there are other helmets on the market that don't meet it, but just are careful to avoid saying they are for bicycling. They can be for skating, skateboarding, surfing or tiddlywinks, as long as they are not labeled for bicycling. They can be identical on the outside to a bike helmet made by the same manufacturer. They can be sold in bike shops or in discount stores on the same shelf as the bicycle helmets, with the same packaging and only the wording on the sticker inside and on the box different. So a measure of "buyer beware" is still required. We recommend that you look for a sticker inside the helmet saying it meets the CPSC standard. If it is not there, pass it up, no matter what the salesman says.
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, since Snell tests helmets in their own labs. Snell also has an ongoing test program where they buy helmets in the market for follow up testing. But most of the "Snell" helmets on the market meet only Snell's B-90 standard, comparable to CPSC. Snell's N-94 multipurpose standard and B-95 bicycle standards are actually tougher to pass, and their M-2000 motorcycle helmet standard can only be met by a few BMX helmets, but 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. You can find more info on the Snell Web site.
Outside the US there are national standards and a European standard that manufacturers design for. Most of them test helmets with similar techniques but lower drop energy than the CPSC standard requires. We have a page of international standards comparisons up if you want to know how we reached that conclusion.
Note that some countries do not have laws requiring a helmet to meet a standard. We have received one email report that helmets with CPSC stickers that did not meet the standard have been sold in Canada, and no local action was taken against the manufacturer. (In the US, someone injured in that helmet would sue the manufacturer and the retailer for a huge sum, an enforcement mechanism more effective even here than what CPSC can manage.)
The typical helmet listed below is made of EPS foam with a thin plastic shell taped or glued onto the foam. It has a least some vents, nylon straps, a plastic buckle, no reflective trim and squishy foam fitting pads inside. If no contrary information is in the writeup for each model, those features are assumed. Many have a rear stabilizer wrapping around the back of the head, which we note only if it has some unusual feature like a dial fit. We also note the largest and smallest sizes available where relevant, and any bright colors. Prices are Manufacturers Suggested Retail Prices. You may find hefty discounts available on the high end models, or on last year's models. If you are searching for a model and don't find it here, use the search function to check our writeups for previous years to see if it has been discontinued.
Abus is a German company also known as a manufacturer of high-security padlocks. They have a unique ratcheting strap fastener with a toothed tab sliding into a slot. It would have to be adjusted carefully to be sure it does not bear against the line of the jaw. Their rear stabilizers are also adjusted by a ratchet device. Visors mount with pins. Some models may have bug-proof mesh for the front vents. Abus' bicycle helmets include seven for kids or toddlers, and seven for adults. Their Euro models are not certified to the US CPSC standard and will not be sold in the US. There will be models available in the US market certified to the CPSC standard as noted below, and probably available in Europe as well. Abus models include:
- Smile: for toddlers. Fits down to 46 cm. Ring fit system. Euro model only.
- Star Zoom 1: for toddlers and youth. Fits down to 46 cm. Euro model only.
- Piccolino Quicksafe: for toddlers. Fits down to 46 cm. US model.
- Galaxis ZOOM 2: for toddlers and youth. One size fits down to 48 cm. Euro model.
- Firesprinter ZOOM 2: for youth. Euro model with a plastic shell wrapping the lower foam as well as the upper.
- Janosch: for toddlers and youth. Fits down to 46 cm. Euro model.
- Airmaxx ZOOM 2: for youth. Ring fit system. Euro model
- Albatros II ZOOM 2: adult Euro model for mountain bike use.
- Hero ZOOM 2 : adult Euro model.
- Ambition ZOOM 2 Plus: adult Euro model.
- Ramp Quicksafe: adult economy Euro model.
- X-Free ZOOM 1: adult economy Euro model.
- Airmaxx: for adults. US model.
- Airflow ZOOM 2: for adults. US model.
- Ambition Zoom: well-rounded adult helmet with a plastic shell wrapping the lower foam as well as the upper.
The Hard Head line of helmets is produced for Action Bicycle by Strategic Sports in Hong Kong. Their models include the Acclaim, an otherwise standard adult helmet with visor and rear stabilizer that has an internal headband for size adjustment and retails for $35. Other models include a full face BMX helmet for $80, a child helmet at $20, and a skateboard helmet that retails for $36, or $40 in full chrome.
See Fox below.
Alpha helmets are found under two brands. Some are made by
Mien Yow Industries Ltd. in Taiwan. They have a line of well-rounded models led by the complex-looking Vortex and including one model with a
flashing led taillight built in. For 2002 they also have the C-Tec, with squared-off ribs but a rounded shape overall. Shells are glued on rather than molded in. The manufacturer says their retail prices run in the $35 range. They have four models on Snell's B-95 list: The MF-II, DH-a/QamaQa and the JT-V. Alpha also makes skating, hockey and batting helmets. Their skate helmet is certified to the CPSC and Snell B-95 bicycle helmet standards and retails for $34. The other brand known as Alpha Helmets is made by Lucky Bell and distributed in the US by J & B Importers below. We think it is a separate line, but can't be too sure.
Answer Racing has the same two BMX racing helmets for 2002, but the M6 is closing out and may no longer be available.
Answer's helmets are made in Korea by KBC for Performance Bicycle Components.
- M8: a smooth and well-rounded full face helmet with carbon/kevlar shell. No vents. It unfortunately has a bolted-on visor, a potential snag point, but is certified to the tough Snell M-2000 and DOT motorcycle standards. Retails for $270.
- M6: a smooth and well-rounded full face helmet with a polycarbonate shell and lower price than the M8. No vents, bolted-on visor. Certified to the Snell M-2000 and DOT motorcycle standards. Closing out at $130.
Atlas is a Swedish manufacturer. They have an XS child helmet that fits heads
as small as 45 cm (17.8 inches) in diameter that they say is for "For Babies 6 months up to 2 years." (The six months is not recommended!--see this page). We have not seen them in the US and their Web site does not indicate they meet the CPSC standard, so they may not be available here. Their Web site says their helmets meet the European standard, and that several meet an older version of the ASTM standard. Their Hot Shot adult helmet appears to be a very nicely rounded design, with a glued on shell. Their Sport model appears to have a rigid visor, which could be a potential snagging hazard. They managed to add a rear ridge on their otherwise well-rounded A.X.S skate helmet. They describe their rear stabilizer as a "neck protector" and have several
add-on accessories including visors, the stabilizer and a helmet bag. They have a page on standards that says the CPSC standard "will be the official US standard very soon," putting it a few years out of date.
Azonic/O'Neal USA has hard shell, no-vent full face helmets for BMX. They have removable inner liners for cleaning and large, sturdy, bolted-on visors, a potential snagging hazard. Their BMX helmets are made by KBC in Korea or THH in Taiwan, and are said to all be certified to Snell M-95 or M-2000 motorcycle helmet standards, therefore exceeding by a wide
margin the DOT motorcycle helmet standard and by an even wider margin any bicycle helmet standard in the world. (We are not able to identify the models on the Snell lists.)
- 541: This model was redesigned for 2002. It has a
polycarbonate shell, weighs 3 pounds and costs $120. There is also a "kid" size 541 retailing for $100.
- AZX: This model is lighter, with construction described as "fiberglass and a space age blend of Carbon-Kevlar." It retails for $150. The AZX has its heavy ABS visor bolted on with two bolts, a potential snagging hazard.
- World Force Dirt Jump Helmet: For "bicycle riding, skate boarding, scooter riding and inline skating ." It has an ABS shell, well-rounded skate shape and is certified to the CPSC and Snell bicycle standards. It retails for $30.
Bell is still the largest company in the bicycle helmet market. They also own Giro, but the two have separate helmet lines. Bell has reduced the number of their models in recent years, but we still have trouble tracking similarities between models from different years. Some models have Bell's no-pinch buckle, a nice design with a tab behind it that keeps the skin from getting in while you push the two pieces together.
At the top of Bell's line are their molded-in-the-shell models, called the Fusion Series. For the 2002 year all are hyper-ventilated and all have rear stabilizers. They have dropped the "Pro" label in the model name but still use it to describe the series. Among them:
- Ghisallo: Bell's top of the line for 2002 is a new design named for an Italian saint. "And what rider wouldn't feel better with a little saintly intervention come race day?" Somewhat better rounded than some of Bell's earlier top models, but still features a rear snag point. It has fewer but very large vents, and there is a nicely visible yellow as well as white. Retail price is $125, up $25 from last year's top.
- X-Ray: This model was Bell's top of the line for 2001. It features a top and bottom outer shell. It is a hyper-ventilated model with long vents and a rear overhang with points that present a potential snag hazard. It has Bell's rear stabilizer that tightens by turning a small geared wheel. It also has a snap in visor. Two-tone colors, but they have dropped the nice bright orange. Retail price is $100, the same as last year.
- Phi: The Phi (pronounced "Fie" by Bell) was the top of Bell's line in 2000, and features the top and bottom outer shell. It is a hyper-ventilated model with long vents and a pointy rear overhang that presents a potential snag point. It does not have a visor. This year's colors are red, white and black. The retail price has been lowered to $75.
Bell's $80 mountain bike helmet, with visor and a pronounced rear overhang to snag on. Comes in a nice visible orange.
With the exception of the Aquila, Bell's lower-cost helmets are produced with the shell glued on and taped at the edge rather than fused in the mold. Since that design gains less strength from the shell, the vents have to be a little smaller, but should be entirely adequate for almost all riders. Prices for older models are lower this year.
- Aquila: This 2001 design has been redone for 2002 to upgrade the construction to molded in the shell. Has three points in the rear, a sliding fastener retention system and a snap in visor. Reasonable vents. Comes in white, tangerine, blue and black. Retail is $55, the lowest price for a molded in the shell Bell.
- Arc: Bell's 2002 "entry level" helmet, known as the Ukon when it has a visor. Better rounded shape than most of Bell's line. Has a new one-size-fits-all to adjust from 20.75 to 24 inches (54 to 61 cm). It is quicker to fit but the headband will interfere with using a separate sweatband or earband. Retail is $30 for the Arc and $40 for the Ukon with visor. The Ukon/Arc is also available as a "youth" helmet as the Cognito with multi-color graphic designs and a visor, retailing for $40 or as the Craze without visor for $30.
- Amigo: A new design in 2000, a helmet for kids that is built like the one their parents use. The very nicely rounded exterior is smoother than Bell's adult helmets. Has a rear stabilizer and a visor. Retail is $30.
- Next: A 2001 design sold only at Wal-Mart. Molded in the shell, thick foam, reasonable vents, minor overhang in the rear, one nice bright yellow model, looks like a bargain for $40.
- Kinghead: This $30 helmet has a beautifully rounded exterior. It is highly recommended for those who fit it, but it is made only in Extra Large for riders with head sizes up to 8 1/4 (25.9 inches around). It is still the only bicycle helmet made expressly for those with very large heads. We had asked numerous manufacturers to make this helmet, but only Bell stepped up to the plate. This is Bell's contribution to consumer safety, not corporate profits, since the helmet will fit only a very small number of riders, and is never expected to make the company any money. If you need a very large helmet, you can contact a Bell dealer, or check out mail order outlets on the Internet, since we have yet to see any Bell publicity for the Kinghead. (It is not in their catalog, but appears on the Web site and in their price list.) If you have a head that large, check out our page on helmets for large heads.
- L'il Bell Shell: a toddler helmet with vents, previously known as the Half Pint and not related to the L'il Bell Shell of the 1980's and 90's. Has such a well-rounded shape that even we have no complaints. The June, 1999 article in Consumer Reports said the Half Pint Pro was "the clear choice" for toddler helmets at that time, but that was long ago. Retails for $30.
- Boomerang: A 2000 model, somewhat like an Amigo, but made for toddlers, with the additional rear coverage required by the CPSC toddler helmet standard. Looks much more like an adult helmet than the L'il Bell Shell, and is almost as well-rounded on the exterior. Cartoon graphics with a bright yellow soft foam visor. No-pinch buckle. Retail is $30.
- Bellistic: Bell's BMX/downhill racing model has not changed for 2002. It has a fiberglass shell, vents and the well-rounded shape that is traditional in BMX helmets. Unfortunately it also has a bolted-on visor, always a potential snag point. It has a full chinguard and resembles a motorcycle helmet with vents, weighing about two pounds. Some Bellistics were recalled in 1999 for strap problems, but there have been no further recalls. Made for Bell in China by Zhuhai Safety. The price this year is $75, down sharply from last year.
- Trail Rider: Bell's skateboard-style helmet again this year is listed as a BMX helmet, but it has the admirably round, smooth exterior similar to the classic Pro-Tec skate helmet design, with round vents on top and oval ones in the rear. It no longer comes in chrome, but there is a new bright yellow, silver and two dark colors. It retails for $30.
- Extreme: Bell's "multisport" helmet is labeled for bicycling, skating and skateboarding. The name is synonymous with trick skating on halfpipes and such. But when you look inside, the only standard it says it meets is the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Without a label inside saying it meets the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard we would not consider this a multisport helmet at all, but just another bicycle helmet.
Bell has another entire line of low-priced helmets sold at discount stores and mass-merchant outlets. (More than one fourth of the company's sales are through Wal-Mart alone.) They are occasionally discontinued models from the bike store line, but never the molded in the shell models except for the Bell Next, sold at Wal-Mart for $40 if you can still find one, and probably one of the best bargains in the helmet market this year. They generally have low-end graphics, chintzy fit pads and cheaper packaging. Most do not have rear stabilizers. But they are designed to the same CPSC standard as any other helmet on today's US market, so they provide fine impact protection. The rounded profiles we consider optimum will persist in this line for years to come, since they are cheaper to produce, and the thicker foam may actually provide better impact protection than some of the sexier, thinner, more expensive Pro models. This line sells for low prices: $10 to $30. They are available to non-profits through the National Safe Kids Campaign for even less. Because of Bell's name recognition, they are among the best sellers in the low end market. (Check our page on inexpensive helmets for further info on sources of low-cost helmets from various manufacturers.) Bell also produces toddler, skate and child bike helmets for the Fisher-Price brand, and you may see them as X-Games, Barbie, or Hot Wheels brands.
For Bell's current crash replacement policy it is best to call 1-800-BELL or search their Web site. We found it in the helmet manuals, in .pdf format. As of fall, 2001 you send back the damaged helmet with a letter describing your crash "in as much detail as possible," a dated cash register receipt (you did save your receipt, and you can find it, right?) with a check for:
- For Fusion series helmets: $35
- For cheaper models: $20.
We really don't understand the need for the cash register receipt. The helmet is identifiably a Bell, and has their name on it.
Bell is the only helmet manufacturer who has joined the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Product Safety Circle. We are not sure how much that actually means to the consumer, but they have pledged to follow ten safety principles, designate a corporate safety officer and publicize their successes in implementing the principles.
Briko is an Italian company who began breaking into the U.S. market in 1998. They have an innovative "twin cap" construction technique bonding two separate liners to leave air channels. They use reflective trim on all of the US models., and all of their models for the US market are molded in the shell.
- Twinner: Three very large vents in the front set this helmet apart from any current US design, but the vents narrow considerably as they pass into the double layer liner. There is a rear shelf but it is rounded. For 2002 Briko has added a full lower wrap-around plastic shell. Graphics accent the unusual features. Retail is $160, down $10 from last year.
- Spark: A slightly more conventional design with twin layers, multiple vents and sharp ribs, with a pronounced snag point in the rear. Has a unique visor mount with hollow fittings that go in the front vents. Retail in the US is $120.
- Pampera Pro: A "mountain bike" helmet with a molded in visor in the form of a front overhang. Don't catch it on anything! Yellow red and blue, with a huge Briko logo on the sides. Retail in the US is $160.
Briko has a number of other helmets for the European market that will not be available in the US in 2002. These include:
- Mistral: a single layer road helmet with conventional lines and conventional vents.
- Crono: Briko's entry in the time trial/pursuit aerodynamic helmet market. These helmets are for aerodynamics, not crash protection. Has a clear plastic face shield, and comes in three graphics combinations.
- Toronado: Single layer, conventional venting.
- Pin Point: Single layer, taped on shell.
- Racing Junior: conventional vents, comes in a nice yellow.
Check their Web site for newer developments.
Catlike is a Spanish company named for its founder, whose racing nickname was "the cat." They are introducing their helmets in the US for the 2002 season, beginning with two models:
In addition, Catlike has other models for the Euro market:
- Kompact: Large oval vents, full shell wrapping around the bottom. Molded in the shell. Has pronounced rear snag points. Nylon visors with push-point attachments. Many graphic combinations including solid and multi colors, some highly visible. Reflective trim. Retails for $120.
Modest vents. Molded in the shell. Better-rounded design than the Kompact. Solid and multi color graphics. Comes with or without visor. Retails for $100.
- Airlock 2000 (Air2Mil): Small vents, long upswept "ducktail" in the rear.
- Air Chromium: Conventional vents, visor.
- Kids Tiger: Toddler helmet with vents and child graphics. Has a molded in visor.
- Kid Basic: Toddler helmet with vents. Very nicely rounded shape. One option is a nicely visible orange.
- Chrono-Aero: Chrono aerodynamic helmet, probably for aerodynamics only and without impact protection.
- Chrono-Lobster: Chrono helmet, probably with no impact protection. Tail is hinged to drop down onto the rider's back and enhance the aero effect, particularly if the rider is looking down and the tail is up in the air!
- Downhill: Full-coverage motorcycle style helmet with face bar and vents. Visor.
This German company with an Italian name has an extensive line but fewer models for the U.S. market. Some models have a suspension system called the Head Ring with an adjustable head band to fit all sizes. Some models have a "soft shock" liner, but the verbiage in the catalog and on the Web site fail to explain what that is all about. Cratoni's child models fit heads as small as 18.5 inches/47 cm and their largest adult models fit up to 23.5 inches/62 cm. Their one-size-fits all models cover from 20.5" to 23.5"/52 or 53 cm to 60 cm. Cratoni's retail prices seem higher than most, but dealers may adjust that.
- Maniac: A hyper-vented helmet with sharp shell lines and the usual rear
shelf projection. Molded in the shell, with a lower shell and an inner shell as well. It comes in different trim as the Competition or Shark Skin, with a very short road visor or a longer mountain bike visor. Has the Soft Shock liner. Protection in the rear comes down low enough to require an arch cutout for neck clearance. The Competition model has some nice bright colors. Retail is about $150.
- Twister: A much better rounded helmet with fewer vents than the Maniac. Molded in the shell, comes with a snap-on visor. Has external strap anchor buttons, somewhat surprising in a model in this price range, marring the otherwise reasonable outer shell line with a potential friction point. Some nice bright colors in the Competition model. Retails for just under $100.
- Xenon: A somewhat better-rounded helmet with many large vents. Molded in the shell, with the Head Ring adjustable headband to fit heads 53 to 60 cm. Retails for about $75.
- Mountain Champ: Next down in Cratoni's lineup looks a lot like the Xenon with fewer and smaller vents, required because it is not molded in the shell. Has the "Soft Shock" liner. Has a visor, comes in part-black, with the other part either red, yellow or blue. has mesh protecting the front vents from insects. Retails for $60. Available without visor as the Champ, billed as a starter helmet.
- Tourismo: Has smoothly elongated lines and a modest rear projection. Has the Head Ring adjustable headband.
- Evolution: We agree on the name, but to some it will appear to be a throwback. A very well-rounded smooth-shelled helmet with the Head Ring adjustable internal sizing ring. Would be well suited for a spare "guest" helmet. Has mesh protecting the front vents. Probably will not be available in the US market. Retail is "affordable."
- Heli: A "junior" helmet molded in the shell with visor, reasonably rounded lines and modest vents. Has the Head Ring adjustable headband, fitting sizes 53 to 60 cm. Retails for $60.
- Fox: A child helmet with reasonable vents and the adjustable Head Ring one-size-fits-all suspension. Rounded shape but has a molded in visor.
Has mesh protecting the front vents. Fits heads as small as 18.5 inches/47 cm. Retails for about $30.
- L'il Pilot (Pilota): Another child model similar to the Fox. Has mesh protecting the front vents. According to the catalog it "meets all European Standards and even the higher standards of the US CPSC." Retail is about $38.
- Interceptor: Cratoni's downhill racing model, with
full chinbar, a fiberglass/carbon fiber shell and a visor bolted on. It comes in flashy graphics or solid colors and has mesh protecting the front vents. It retails for $400 or an eye-watering $600 for the special Nicolas Vouilloz model. We do not know which standards the Interceptor meets.
- Mach 1: Cratoni's time trial and pursuit event teardrop-shaped model. Not available in the US because it "has only an aerodynamic function and is sold on special request, offers no crash protection values and has no CPSC certification."
Cratoni will replace a helmet crashed within three years of purchase for 50 per cent of the recommended retail price.
Cycle Express has a girl's pink Hearts and Flowers model that was the subject of a recall during 2000. There is more detail on our recalls page.
Diamondback has a full line of bicycles and has accessories for bike dealers. We have not seen their 2002 helmet line, but in 2001 they had a BMX helmet with vents and a full chin bar, in sizes extra small through large, retailing for about $70. They also had a very well-rounded freestyle skating helmet with CPSC certification retailing for about $30. Their helmets are made in China.
Dreamer is a producer of the three-wheel strollers that runners use to take the kids along. They have a helmet that comes in toddler or youth sizes. Has 3M reflective trim. Retail is $25. The Web site does not mention CPSC, but says these helmets are Snell B-90 approved. (We could not find the Dreamer name on Snell's October 2001 list. It may appear under a manufacturer's name.) These helmets are not required to meet the CPSC standard, since they are not sold as bicycle helmets.
Ecko has been around since the early 1980's, first in California, then Idaho, now Arizona. Although they don't have a Web site and we have not seen their current catalog, Ecko has usually produced BMX racing and skateboard helmets. The BMX shells are fiberglass, with both open and chinbar models. Visors are snap on, and are designed to pop off in an impact to avoid a snagging hazard, a very desirably safety feature. Sizing is U.S. 6 to 7 3/4. Ecko also distributes the RAD, billed as a multisport helmet. It has very small vents and a very well-rounded exterior surface, but we don't know what standards it might meet. We have not seen their 2002 line yet, but their helmets are available from some suppliers, with advertised retail prices for their BMX models ranging from $65 to $230.
Epsira Oy is the Finnish manufacturer of Knock helmets, advertised as CE approved (European standard) and in one case as meeting a Swedish standard. They are supplied to such organizations as the Finnish postal service (in very visible yellow). Their designs appear to have nicely rounded contours. They have four models: the H3, Knock, Inmotion and Champ. One previous model had reflective straps, a feature we have not seen before or since. Epsira Oy has other EPS products and some info up on EPS. We are not aware of a U.S. distributor for their products, and of course you won't see them here unless they meet the CPSC standard.
First Team sells mostly ice skates, inline skates and street hockey equipment through mass merchant channels such as Wal-Mart. The Web site has one "Ultra Wheels" adult model, and says it is Snell certified, but does not specify the Snell standard. First Team had to recall their Guardian Junior helmet during 2000. See our recalls page for more information.
Flash is a Taiwanese brand for a line of inexpensive child and adult helmets. We have no further information on them this year.
Fly Racing has a line of motorcycle BMX racing equipment, including two full face helmets made for them by THH. Both have bolted on visors, but at least the screws are plastic rather than metal. The FL606 retails for $89, and meets the DOT motorcycle helmet standard. It has a new snap-out liner for 2002. It comes in five outer shell sizes. The Lite model is made with carbon fiber/kevlar, weighing in at 2.75 pounds for the large size, and is advertised as meeting the Snell Motorcycle standard M-2000. (We could not identify the THH model, but they have more than 30 on the Snell list.) For 2002 it had a full snap out liner and retailed for $200. In 2003 we can't find their Web site, a bad sign.
Fox Racing has two BMX models:
- Flite: a standard BMX helmet with a chin bar for face protection and a bolted on visor. It has small vents under the visor. It retails for roughly $200 depending on finish and graphics. It appears on Snell's tough M-2000 motorcycle helmet certification list and of course is certified to the less demanding US DOT motorcycle helmet standard as well.
- Pilot: another standard BMX helmet with a chin bar for face protection and a bolted on visor. Shell is made with a mix of carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass, saving two ounces compared to the Flite and reducing the weight to 3.4 pounds.
Fox Racing helmets are made by AGV, an Italian company that has made motorcycle helmets since 1949.
Free Agent has one model, a very well-rounded skateboard helmet that comes in one shell size with three different sizes of liner. It is certified to meet the CPSC standard for bike helmets. It retails for $25 to $30 in standard colors or $5 more with a chrome finish, and can be found on the Internet for as little as $20 plus shipping.
See Headstart below.
In its fifth year as a subsidiary of Bell, Giro's production facilities and testing have been integrated with Bell's, but Giro still seems to have retained some of its design independence, and their helmets still have a unique fit. Giro has been a trend leader, and usually has a radical new model at the top of their line, but not this year, when the introduction of "universal fit" one-size-fits-all models was the biggest change. Giro's line has been evolving toward a more rounded profile over the past two years, and only three of their most expensive models still have points or a pronounced "shelf" effect in the rear, a potential snagging point in a fall. Some of their models have reflective surfaces on the rear stabilizers, an ideal place for those who ride in the bent-over position. For 2002 the visors are mounted with plugs that snap into the helmet shell, rather than hook-and-loop. Our rough hand test showed them to pop out easily on impact. The catalog refers to their "sexy, high performance vents," a great blend of Freudianism and the advertising art. Consumer Reports found Giro's cheaper models more protective than the top of the line in their 2002 article.
- Havoc: The biggest news in Giro's line for last year was the Havoc, their roundest, smoothest high-end model in at least three years. It is still in the 2002 lineup. The rear snag point has been almost eliminated in this model. The Havoc unfortunately has external strap anchors, surprising in a helmet at this price, marring that otherwise improved outer shell line with a potential friction point. Very large vents, molded-in upper and lower shell. Retails for $100.
- Pneumo: The top of Giro's 2002 line, introduced in 2001, continues their tradition for new extremes. The oversize vents, channels and graphics combine to make it appear to have less material than any other helmet we have seen certified to the CPSC standard. Has external strap anchors, a cheap construction technique that we always find surprising in a high-cost helmet, but since the shell is not round and smooth anyway it probably does not make much difference in sliding resistance. There is a pronounced pointy rear overhang to possibly snag in a crash. Upper and lower shells are molded in. Comes with a visor. This is still Lance Armstrong's Tour de France Helmet, and suggested retail is a very high $160. If that's not expensive enough for you, there is a limited edition that comes with a "pod" carrying case for $175. And if that is not enough, there is a Limited Edition Lone Star Pneumo which is billed as an exact replica of Lance's helmet and available in October, 2002. You can reserve one in advance at
Bike Nashbar for only $209. That includes the pod. Nashbar is a discounter, so if what you want is the most expensive helmet on the market, go to a shop for your Lone Star. For better impact protection, you have to pay less, according to Consumer Reports.
- E2: The top of Giro's line in 2000, now billed as the Mountain helmet of Olympian Alison Dunlap. The E2 has squared off lines and huge vents. It has in-mold construction. The lines were somewhat more rounded than Giro's 1999 models, but they used one very pronounced rear "shelf" projection that almost looks as if it were designed to hook something in a fall. This one still sells for $160 retail. It comes in very visible yellow and white or in dark green.
- Gila: Redone for 2000, when it got in-mold construction. It has almost none of the rear shelf effect, and is much more rounded than most Giros, on a par with the Havoc. Retails for $70, down $5 from last year. One of four adult helmets rated very good for impact protection by Consumer Reports in their 2002 article.
- Eclipse: A 2000 design, this one has a rounded exterior that unfortunately ends in a severely pointed shelf projection in the rear. Molded in the shell. Giro says it is their "most compact and streamlined" model. Still retails for $100.
- Mojave: Nicely rounded profile without a rear shelf effect. Moderate vents. For 2002 it is molded in the shell like Giro's high-end helmets. Has a visor and is billed as a mountain/road helmet. Solid colors including a nice visible yellow. Retail is $60.
- Torrent: Redesigned with the universal ring fit system for 2002. Similar to the Mojave or Gila, with fewer but larger vents, a glued-on shell and a more rounded profile. Retails for $40, but the Bike Nashbar catalog for June, 2002 had it for $35. One of four adult helmets rated very good for impact protection by Consumer Reports in their 2002 article. Also available as the Kickfire, a youth helmet with visor for $40. Or as the Transit without a visor and retailing for $35. And finally it comes as the Venus designed for female riders, with the universal fit system sized for women's heads (whatever that means, mostly smaller) and a rear stabilizer that is ponytail compatible. Lovely pastels and a visible white. Retail is $45.
- Metro: a nicely rounded design with a minimal rear overhang. Reasonable vents, visor. Retail is $35, but sells in the mass merchant channel in our area for $30, probably the least expensive Giro.
- Rodeo: A kids helmet for those who are old enough to pedal. Nicely rounded except for a front overhang providing a rigid visor. Has the universal ring fit system, which may make good sense for child helmets where parents want a quick fit and worry about head growth. Retails for $30.
- me2: A toddler helmet, but vented, looking very much like a small version of the Rodeo without the universal fit system. Nicely rounded except for a front overhang providing a rigid visor. Said to have a low profile in the rear to permit a more natural seating position in trailers, where thicker helmets can push a kid's head forward unless they have a pad behind their back. Retails for $30.
- Mad Max II: A downhill racing helmet with a carbon fiber layer on its chinbar, lower shell and a nicely rounded exterior, marred only by the bolt-on visor. Weighs over 2 pounds, retails for $125.
- Switchblade: Giro's lighter weight helmet for downhill racing with an optional chinbar lets you use it without the face protection. It has larger vents than other downhill helmets, and an in-mold shell. The rear is squared off but does not have a "shelf" projection. It retails for $180. Some race officials are reportedly not permitting the use of a helmet with a detachable chinbar when a helmet with a chinbar is required, so check if you intend to race in this one.
- Semi: Giro's skate-style helmet advertised for "crossover" users involved in dirt jumping, MTN-X, Slalom and Freeride. Has a hint of the retro style favored by the skate breed, but with considerable updating of lines. Very smooth and round. Molded in the shell, unlike most skateboard helmets, and retails for a hefty $60. For 2002 it got a visor option as the Semi MX and costs $70.
Giro fits heads from 19.75" (50 cm) to 24" (61 cm). They claim that their universal ring fit helmets will work for 88 per cent of the adult population leave one in eight to look for some other brand or model. We think this fit system will not work well for riders who use separate sweatbands and earbands, but Giro and other manufacturers have other models with traditional fit pads for them.
Giro's catalog says they believe their helmets may be degraded over time by "environmental factors" and replacement is recommended after 3 to 5 years. Their crash warranty is a 20 per cent discount off of retail prices for the first three years. They also offer a $10 credit toward the purchase of a larger Giro helmet for parents whose children outgrow a child model.
Giro will sell you a nifty case called a "pod" to keep that expensive helmet pristine for $30.
Golex (Zhuhai Golex)
Golex is a Chinese producer of bicycle, skateboard, BMX, motorcycle and other types of helmets. There are at least 24 models in their catalog. Two appear on the Snell B-95 certification list, the N6 and the V10. They should be available in mass merchant channels, and some may find their way into bike stores.
GT merged with Schwinn in 1999, but their helmet lines were still separate. GT incorporated helmets made mostly by Troxel into its line of bikes and bike shop accessories. Unfortunately the GT/Schwinn ran into financial difficulties. For 2002 they have informed us that they will not be marketing helmets. You can still find GT helmets at sharp discounts through Bike Nashbar, and our writeups on them in our page on Helmets for 2001.
Hamax is a Norwegian company whose helmets are certified to European standards. They do not market their line in the US. They have three models, all with a universal ring fit system. The Youth and adult models have an adjustable rear stabilizer.
- Up-to-Baby: for toddlers with head sizes from 46 to 52 cm
- Race, Jungle and Desert: three youth models fitting heads from 49 to 58 cm.
- Magic: for adults sized from 49 to 58 cm.
This Taiwanese manufacturer has a slick looking line of Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU) helmets. All are fully molded in the shell models, including the D2, G5, 168-PRO, Vivid, Beetle. P are near the $40 retail level. Adding a rear stabilizer or 3M reflective tape adds about a dollar and a half each. The EPU makes the helmet a little heavier than an EPS helmet, but some consumers like the solid feel of the molded in the shell models. Happy Way sells mostly in Europe, but here they sell to importers and OEM's with their own brands, and are usually looking for distributors in the US. Their sizing fits 47 to 62 cm. heads. Although the Web page only lists European standards and Snell B-90, not CPSC, their sales reps say that all their models meet the CPSC standard. We can not find them on the Snell list any more.
One of at least three helmet companies called Headstart. This one has at least nine adult models under the Gear brand name. They have ten helmets on Snell's B-95 list, but we can't match them with the ones on the Headstart Web site. They also have a large number of the "licensed character" type of helmet for kids, with Bugs Bunny, Marvin the Martian, Tweety, Daffy Duck, Wil E Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, Pepe le Pew, Penelope, She Devil, Tassie Devil, Bananas in Pajamas, Barbie, Blues Clues, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Aliens, Digimon, Fisher Price, Hi5, Little Men/Little Miss, Rug Rats, Simpsons, Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, and a Wiggles.
This Headstart is located in Malaysia, and should not be confused with the Canadian manufacturer called Headstart Technologies or the Australian company above. Malaysia's Headstart is represented by Damar in New York. We are not familiar with their helmets.
This formerly Canadian manufacturer has moved to the US and changed its line, supplying helmets imported from China with the usual EPS liners. We have not seen their new line.
This unique West Coast distributor of bicycle products has taken on the Zhuhai Safety lines labeled T-Star and Celuk to sell to dealers or non-profits at very low prices. They will take small orders. Their models start at about $5 each, with skateboard helmets at $6.50 and downhill mountain bike helmets that look identical to major brands for just $30. See the writeup below on Zhuhai Safety for descriptions. They are mostly certified to Snell's tough B-95 standard. They have rear stabilizers and full cover shells, features almost never seen in this price range. Sizes range from 19.3 inches to 24.5 inches (49 to 62 cm)
Helmets R Us (formerly Century Cycles)
This company has a line of "novelty helmets" that look like the skimpy helmets you see some motorcyclists wearing as a protest against motorcycle helmet laws. Some of their models are labeled as DOT certified and some are labeled as Not DOT Certified. Ouch.
This Taiwanese firm makes a line of five helmets in Expanded PolyUrethane (EPU). They had been making EPU car parts for years before expanding into helmets. Colors are mostly drab, but there is a white or stars-and-stripes model available for most models. The profiles are nicely rounded, and prices are down in the under-$10 range FOB Taiwan. Her Sheen was looking for a US distributor when we last talked to them in 1999.
HKS has five helmets on Snell's B-90 list, including the M3, M5 V-01 and two models they had made for Schwinn. They manufacture for a number of other US brands as well, some of them well known, but we do not have any info on their own HKS line, if they have one.
Hong Kong Sports
Hopus is a Taiwanese company with an extensive line of helmets featuring the only hard shell bicycle-style helmets we are aware of for 2002. They say their shells are all made with industrial grade ABS for best impact performance. Their Web site currently shows photos of 17 models, but here we cover the 14 listed in their 2002 catalog. Most of their models will be sold with other brands on them. Their models include:
- A-1 and A-1 Plus a hard shell bike helmet with an ABS shell and EPS foam liner. Modest rear overhang, reasonable vents. Certified for 2002 to meet the CPSC standard and now available in the US market. Target should have them for around $20 with the PTI brand.
- A-3 and A-3 Plus another hard shell bike helmet with an ABS shell and EPS foam liner. Has more vents than the A-1, a different fit system and a visor. Retail should be about $25.
- E-1 Epoch a hard shell bike helmet with an ABS shell and EPS foam liner. More vents than the A-1 or A-3, almost rivaling a Giro, and a modest overhang in the rear giving it the most up-to-date styling we have seen in an ABS hard shell helmet. Should sell for about $30. Sizing from 51 to 63 cm. Has a visible yellow option.
- MF-3 Avenger is billed as a multi-sport helmet and available in as a "snow series" model with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in back although it is advertised as meeting only the CPSC and CE bicycle helmet standards. Has a very round smooth skate-style shape, and the ABS hard shell, with more vents than the MF-2 below. Has a very visible metallic yellow model. Retails for $20 to $40.
- MF-2 Classic is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with minimal vents. Has a snow series model for winter sport use with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear. Certified to the ASTM F2040 snow sport standard as well as the CPSC and CEN bike standards. Can be had with very visible flame graphics and a nice metallic orange.
- MF-4 is billed as a "scientific-fiction style" and has a nicely rounded skate-style shape with numerous small vents and some small bits of reflective trim. Retail is $20.
- AG-1 Argo an older skate-style helmet, with a rear overhang spoiling the round smooth shape and two rows of round vents front to rear. Meets only the European standard, so it will not be available in the US market. Retails for about $20, or the equivalent in Euros.
- AG-2 Argo is a round, smooth skate-style helmet with minimal vents. Has a snow series model for winter sport use with ear flaps and a goggle retainer in the rear. The catalog calls this a "multi-function helmet" although it is certified only to the CPSC and European bicycle standards.
- AG-3 Argo Air Loc an updated skate-style helmet, mostly round and smooth with only one ridge around the outside and modest vents. Has inflatable air bag rear pads, an idea we never liked very much for durability questions when Bell had them some years back. Meets the CPSC and European bike helmet standards. Retails for about $25 to $30.
- M-4 Mission is a skate-style helmet with angular vents and a mostly round and smooth outer shape. Has the same inflatable airbag rear pads as the AG-3. Certified to the CPSC and European bike helmet standards.
- D-1 Diki a rare toddler helmet with ABS hard shell. Has vents and an overhang in front to provide a partial visor. The XS fits heads as small as 50 cm.
- P-2 Primacy a ski helmet that meets the ASTM F2040 snow sport standard and the European EN-1077 ski standard as well. Has extended coverage similar to a motorcycle helmet, the ABS hard shell, vents and a goggle retainer. The shape is round and smooth, with one ridge around for style. Retail will be around $50.
- AE-1 Aegis a ski helmet that meets the ASTM F2040 snow sport standard and the European EN-1077 ski standard. Has the round smooth shape of a skate-style helmet with small vents in the ABS hard shell. The shape is round and smooth, with three small ridges in the back. Has a removable liner with drop down ear flaps that have hearing vents.
- T-1 Tornado a ski helmet that meets only the European EN-1077 ski standard. Has closeable vents in the ABS hard shell and an unfortunate lip in the rear providing a potential snag point in the otherwise round and smooth shape. Will not be available in the US, but in Japan it should retail for about $90.
Hopus has sizes in most models to fit 54 to 62 cm heads, but some models only go to 60 cm. This company is your best bet if you are looking for a bike helmet with a hard shell. You can contact them through their Web site to ask who sells their helmets in your market.
J&B's Alpha line for 2002 has models beginning at about $15 retail to $40 tops. One has a full lower shell at $15, unusual at that price point. They have dropped their more expensive molded in the shell model this year, their BMX helmet and their EPU foam model. Most of the profiles are the well-rounded ones we favor. Their skate model has the unfortunate old-time name of Skidlid. Colors are solid, with some metallic finishes, including a skateboard helmet in full chrome for only $16. One toddler model goes for $16 with rear stabilizer, and another has a full lower shell for $15. J&B has an active program for schools and non-profits either through a local shop or direct. Their helmets are made in China by Lucky Bell.
KBC has two models on the Snell B-95 list, the AZX and the Fox Flite. We do not know if the Fox Flite is the same model listed above under AGV or not, but we have found references on the Web to AGV KBC helmets. We have never seen either model, but the KBC helmets available from dealers on the Web are full-face motorcycle-style helmets for BMX selling for about $200. The Flite comes in XXL, but we don't know how large a head it can accommodate.
A supplier of low-cost helmets to toy and discount stores, Kent had 17 models on Snell's B-95 list last year, but have dropped Snell certification for 2002. They have toddler and child models at retail price points of $10 to $15, and a child helmet called the V9 Light with a light in the back that flashes "Princess" on the girls' model and "Roadhog" for the boys. Their youth helmets are mostly in the $10 to $20 range, with a new V-23 Elite for $35. Kent has a multi-impact skate helmet new for 2002 with a hard shell in the classic skate shape and a multi-impact EPP liner. It runs $15 to $20, or $5 more in chrome. They have the nicely rounded V-10 adult helmet for $10 and the V-19 Pro with an unfortunate long overhang in the rear for $20.
Knucklebone sells accessories and clothing for BMX. Their fiberglass-shell Holeshot BMX model is a 2001 design with 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. It has mesh-lined vents and sliding covers for the forehead vents. We have seen it discounted as low as $70 on the Internet, but that may be the HS-1 variation with simpler graphics. Their Jumper model is the familiar skateboarders profile, very smooth and round, with an EPS foam liner. It has a painted and clear-coated shell that includes a chrome model and a very visible orange. It also is certified to meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. It retails for $40.
Krusher has a line of BMX and trick cycling gear, including a helmet in the basic smooth, round skateboard style, certified to the CPSC standard. It retails for $18 and comes in red, blue or black. Their Web site has minimal information, but we found their helmet pictured here with a description saying it has "multi-density foam inserts."
Lazer is produced by a Belgian company, Cross S.A., with a full line of bike helmets seldom seen here in the US. Their helmets are interesting, and their advertising is a little different: "..Quick Grip System" allows everyone to adapt the helmet to his morphology, even when riding your bike. Loosening a bit during hill climbing and come back to a firmer grip during down hill can be done in a snap." We don't know for whom that advice is intended, but we would not try that at home! And Lazer's description of its molded in the shell process is similarly perplexing: "The inner shell in high density expanded polystyrene is sprayed directly onto the outer shell." Maybe something was lost in the translation, since other manufacturers don't spray Expanded PolyStyrene in a mold, they expand it with pressurized steam to fill the shell. And for several models the Web site says "hard outer and inner shell" but we are not clear on what that means. We don't have retail prices for Lazer for 2002, so these are old price points and may have changed. The Web page still lists only ASTM and ANSI among the US standards, so if there are any models in their line not certified to the CPSC standard you won't see them in the US market.
Lazer's replacement program has disappeared from their Web site.
- Bullet was a new model for 2001, with longitudinal vents and ribs that have a reasonably smooth shape marred by external strap anchors that project above the shell and a small but sharp lip on the rear. Molded in the shell, with a bottom shell as well. One color option is a highly visible yellow.
- Millennium was a 2000 model, retailing for $125. It has a reasonably rounded profile, but has the external strap anchors and one unfortunate vent that has a forward-facing arrow-shaped upper lip, providing a possible snag point. It is molded in the shell with large vents. One of the colors is a nice bright yellow.
- Revolution is another 2000 design, again with the external strap anchors, angular lines and large vents. It is molded in the shell.
- Mirage: Introduced in 2001. Molded in the shell with long longitudinal vents. The ribs are reasonably rounded, but it has the external strap anchors. Has a "turn-fit" knob.
- Fugitive: Another molded in the shell design. This one has a visor "in the form of an American baseball cap."
- Intense: Introduced for the 2001 season, with rounded profile, large vents, a lower shell not joined to the upper shell, and Lazer's external strap anchors. Molded in the shell.
- Elegance: Looks like the Intense, with the large vents of a molded in the shell helmet, but the upper and lower shells are glued on instead, cutting production costs. Rounded profile, large vents and Lazer's external strap anchors.
- Evasion: Similar to the Intense and Elegance. Glued on upper and lower shell.
- Max is a toddler helmet with nice graphics and an insect mesh in the vents.
- Downhill New in 2001, a very smooth and round downhill helmet with full chinbar. We don't know what standards it may meet.
- Excalibur is a vented BMX model with bolted-
on visor that sells for $200, or in carbon fiber with an aluminum reinforcing ring as the Factory Rider for $300.
- Chrono III: No vents, not designed for impact protection, just a swoopy aero shell for pursuit and time trail pros. Top is dimpled like a golf ball. Can't be sold in the US, of course. The Web site says candidly: "You do not need to use it for its protective qualities. It does not correspond to any single safety norm."
Lazer has been around a long time in Belgium and has an extensive line of interesting helmets.
Limar is an Italian brand marketed in the US by Trialtir. Their models usually have some bright color choices and nice graphics. Some of them may not be available in the US market, and some of the models below from Trialtir's 2002 lineup did not appear on Limar's European Web site.
- F-107: The F-107 was introduced in 1999, followed by the Plus in 2000. For 2002 the Plus has become the F-107, with a shell on the lower section and a detachable visor. The catalog says it has also been reinforced in 2002 in the mastoid region to provide additional protection for the back of the head, probably a reference to the lower shell. The F107 is molded in the shell. It is a typical hyper-vented model, with ribs perhaps more rounded than most but having a pronounced rear "shelf" point. Unfortunately it also has an external bump for the strap anchors sitting up above the surface. There is a reflective patch on the rear and some of the color combinations are very bright. A Gary Fisher model is available. Retail is $140. Promoted as the helmet of Paola Pezzo.
- F-111: Promised for December, 2001, a model with many small ribs and many vents. The rear is a bit pointy but has no overhang or snag points. Molded in the shell. Promoted as Jan Ullrich's helmet, and available in Team Telecom colors as well as "fast orange."
- F-105: A 2001 design, molded in the shell including a lower shell. Large vents. The external strap anchors are partially tucked into a crevice in the shell rather than up on the surface of the helmet where they would hit the road and provide a friction point. Retail should be about $100. Promoted as the helmet of Laurent Jalabert.
- F-104: This one is nicely rounded but still has the rear shelf effect. It has a glued on shell, moderate ventilation and retails for $45.
- F-18: A new design in 2001, characterized as an "entry-level racing helmet." Angular, choppy lines, moderately pointy rear projection. It is molded in the shell and has lots of vents, plus a visor. Retails for $65, about $10 less than last year.
- Chrono Fairing: Limar's aerodynamic pursuit and time trial helmet, not designed for impact protection. Has a "flexible shell" and no straps. We don't think this one can be sold in the US, even if they call it a fairing and not a helmet.
Models below are not in Trialtir's US catalog, but should be available in Europe:
- F-16 Nicely rounded with a little rear shelf effect, but with a large rear lump in the center of the shell where a longitudinal ridge ends in a pronounced hump. Another triumph of style over function!
- Downhill: Full-face downhill racing helmet.
- Chrono: Limar's aerodynamic pursuit and time trial helmet, not designed for impact protection. Has a "flexible shell" and no straps.
- Jolly: Well rounded youth helmet.
Limar's sizing runs from the smallest for 46cm circumference heads to the largest for 62cm heads.
Trialtir will replace a crashed Limar for the first two years for $35.
Louis Garneau is a Canadian designer and manufacturer whose helmet line has grown over the years to a very impressive collection, with the exception of some of the newer models. 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.
In recent years Louis Garneau has added some new models with only partial shells, leaving EPS foam exposed. Bell pioneered the design some years back with its Evo Pro and have since dropped it. We have always believed it is an inferior design technique, given the evidence that plastic slides much better on pavement in an impact than foam. (Check this link for more on that) We would recommend steering away from those models: Bikini, Le Mask and Wings, Gladiator and T-Bone. In fairness, Louis points out that he has kept the foam sections slightly lower than the plastic shell-covered parts. If that reassures you, you can ignore our advice, but we think the foam will still hit the road if you hit hard enough, and there is no reason to risk that when there are lots of all-plastic shells out there.
For the US market, Louis Garneau has dropped the Globe model that Consumer Reports rated highly in 1997. There is a new "Globe II" in the US market, but only the name is the same. For the European market Garneau has insect mesh in the vents of some models.
- Bikini: New for 2001, has small strips of plastic shell and areas of bare foam in between (see comment above). The rear overhang is blunt but pronounced, providing a snag point. Colors are mostly muted, but there is one bright yellow model. Molded in the shell, what there is of it, with a full lower shell as well. Has a twist-knob adjustment for the rear stabilizer. Retail is $130. Available with visor as the Bikini-V for $140.
- Le Mask: Another model with areas of foam not covered in plastic, this one was introduced in 2000. Rear snag point. Retails for $75.
- Wings: Somewhat similar to the Genius, but styled for mountain bikers. Hyper vents. Molded in the shell. No shelf in the rear. Has some foam areas on top that protrude through the plastic shell, but they are not large. Retail is $75.
- T-Bone: Big vents and big areas of foam not covered by plastic shell (see comment above). Garneau says wrapping the shell over the ribs reinforces them against impact, but we say that wrapping the shell over the entire helmet would be a lot better. Molded in the (partial) shell. Also available as the T-bone V with visor. Bicycling Magazine awarded it three and a half chainwheels out of five in the June, 2002, issue, finding it "astonishingly light," but not super comfy and "an amazing deal" at $90.
- Gladiator: A lower cost helmet with exposed foam, this time with a glued-on shell instead of molded. Long rear shelf.
- Globe II: Replaces the Globe that Consumer Reports gave a high rating to. A nicely rounded model with lots of long, thin lengthwise vents and some visible bright colors available. Glued-on shell, like the original Globe.
- Globe: Replaced in the US market by the Globe II, a very different helmet. The original Globe is a much better rounded design than the upscale models, although the ribs and rear overhang are still pronounced. Full plastic shell, glued on. The only helmet in the June, 1999 Consumer Reports article that achieved their highest impact rating. Still available in Canada. Retails for $50 US.
- Genius: The top of the line when it was introduced in 1998, it has a multitude of vents, and many ribs on the shell, but with the passage of time it looks better rounded than some and has only a modest rear snag point. It is molded in the shell. Small sections of the outer shell have a rippled washboard effect, which can only be for styling. Retails for $100.
- Alien: Sharper lines and more, but smaller, vents. Promoted as a design for mountain biking. Glued-on shell. Still retails for $60.
- Poséidon New for 2001, with a swoopy effect reminiscent of waves or seaweed. Modest rear overhang and one patch of open foam on the top uncovered by shell. Glued-on shell. Drab colors. Retails for $55.
- Pro-Am V: Introduced in 2000. Has lots of ribs, including some that are not even associated with vents but were just thrown in for style. Glued-on shell. Retails for $45 with visor or $40 without.
- Le Tour V: Introduced in 2000 and nicely rounded, although it still has some of the "washboard" ripples in the shell where they are not functional. Glued-on shell. Plain colors and very visible white. Retail is $35 with visor and $30 without.
- Grunge 2-V: A new model in 2001 for the juvenile crowd aged 6 to 15, this one has a some angular lines and a rear overhang, with a glued-on shell and a visor. Wild graphics, some very bright. Retails for $20.
- 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, as well as Felix-the-fireman and several for the feminine side. The smallest model is size 6, for a 48cm (18 7/8 inch) head. Retail is $35.
- Terrible: Toddler helmet whose name echoes the French phrase "l'enfant terrible." Has a built-in visor and glued-on shell. Graphics include Felix again in fireman's garb. Designed for kids 5 to 10. For 2002 Garneau has added a dial-fit rear stabilizer. The retail price is $35.
- Street: A new 2002 model for skateboards has a hard shell and has the beautifully rounded traditional skateboard profile. The vents are skimpy for hot weather, and the colors are drab or black, but if you are crashing at high speed this is the profile you want. Has CPSC certification. Retails for $60.
- Roller: A round and smooth skateboard-style helmet, molded in the shell. For 2002 it is not available in the US market.
- Buzz 2: A 2001 update of Garneau's unique Buzz downhill helmet. Molded in the shell with vents covered with mesh to keep the bees out. It has a full face guard with vents and mesh of its own. Unfortunately the hook-and-loop visor attachment has been replaced with bolts, so if you catch your visor on a limb, look out! The retail price is $200. Not available in the US market.
- Time Trial Helmet: The most exciting thing in this year's Louis Garneau lineup, scheduled for March 15, 2002, this is the world's first chrono model with impact protection. Designed for time trialing. Round and smooth in front, with a long aero tail. Will pass CPSC certification before it is introduced in the US market. Glued on shell, polycarbonate face shield. A genuine innovation. Retail is $100 without visor and $120 with.
- Windscreen: Not a helmet, but an accessory, this is a polycarbonate lens that wraps around a helmet--almost any helmet--and is held on by hook and loop. The edges are unprotected, and you could probably slice meat with them, even if it did not shatter in a crash. We would favor something with protected edges, like a pair of glasses or goggles. Not offered in the US market.
Louis Garneau still has a free replacement guarantee for the first year.
This Hong Kong manufacturer produces helmets under the Aerogo and Alpha brand names. For info on the Alpha line, see J&B importers above. Their Web site mentions Snell certification, but we can't find them on Snell's current list. (They used to be there.) All of their models appear round and smooth, with glued on shells. There is one for toddlers. We can't comment on their standards info, but the models J&B imports are all certified to the CPSC standard.
MET is an Italian manufacturer whose helmet line we have not seen. They have models for road and offroad biking, a BMX model, youth and toddler models and a chrono shaped time trial racing helmet. Almost all of them have snag points in the rear and the elongated shapes that we do not consider optimal. MET says their road and off-road helmets differ in the placement of the vents to optimize them for the type of riding, in addition to adding a visor for off road use. Most of their helmets are molded in the shell, and there is a statement on their Web site saying "MET have pioneered the In-molding construction technique, starting research in 1992 and actually introducing their first In-molding helmet on the market in 1995." We have a sample of the Bell Image made by that technique that we purchased in a bike store that is dated 1991. Regarding standards, they say "As a supplier of helmets throughout the world, MET have to ensure their products pass the different safety standards that apply in all of the countries in which they are sold. MET helmets do not meet just one of these standards but all of them. Look for the EN 1078 label in Europe, or the AS/NZS 2063 in Australia or New Zealand for instance." Nothing on CSA or CPSC for the Canadian and US markets, so check first if you live there and are considering one of their helmets. We would like to know if their PAC IV chrono helmet meets the CEN standard, but they never get that specific. MET recommends replacing your helmet every two or three years to keep abreast of new technology.
In 1997 Motorika introduced a 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. 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 we would recommend avoiding this one unless you have some unique need for a folding helmet. It comes with a hip-hugger belt so you can wear it after folding. It has ASTM certification, but we don't know if it is certified to meet the 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 have seen it in gadget catalogs, but not in stores. We have not heard from Motorika what their 2002 plans are. In March, 2001, we saw their helmet being sold new on Ebay for $16.49 including shipping. Motorika's helmet is produced by Polybid.
When his Bike Warehouse name was contested in the 1970's, Arnie Nashbar renamed his company Bike Nashbar, and built it into a substantial mail order business. Along the way they developed their own brands to complement the products from other companies. Nashbar now carries Bell, Giro, Louis Garneau, Troxel, and Specialized, but their lowest price points are often their own Nashbar brand. For 2001 their catalog had the Nashbar Hi-Flow model. It has what appears to be a very nicely rounded exterior, with pony tail port, retailing for $32 plus shipping. We did not find it in their Web catalog at the end of 2001, where they listed only the Nashbar Aero Helmet, with squared off lines and a pronounced rear overhang, reduced to $12 plus shipping. Check the Web page for 2002 developments.
NHS sells through mass merchant channels. They had to recall one of their helmets during 2000. See our recalls page for more information.
Odyssey is a BMX products company. Their BMX helmet for 2001 is the Apache 2, with a fiberglass shell, full chin bar, some vents, and (unfortunately) a bolted-on visor. The helmet is made in Hong Kong by Strategic Sports, and suggested retail this year is $110 in normal finish or $130 in full chrome.
See Qranc below.
Podium is a new brand introduced late in 2002 by Todson, better know for its Topeak accessories. They are targeting "the medium to high end helmet market." Advertising photos show the usual elongated shapes and rear snag points typical of high-end helmets, but we have not seen their line and will probably not comment on them before we put up our article on Helmets for 2003.
When we saw them at Interbike in late 1999, this Portuguese company had one basic helmet shape sold in four different levels of graphics, visors and trim for $15 to $36 retail. They all had well-rounded contours but a rear bump in the shell for a fitting that holds the strap. The models we saw had CE (European) certification but had not yet been tested against the more stringent CPSC standard. Polisport was not at Interbike this year, and their Web page is just a minimal place marker without product info, so we don't know their plans for 2002.
Polybid is an Israeli company. They produce the folding helmet we review under the Motorika brand name above. Their other helmet designs are all round and smooth, and all feature glued-on shells. The Web site does not mention the CPSC standard at all, so they may not be available in the US market. The other models include:
- Pro2: Head ring fit system, visor, dark colors.
- PolySpeed: Upper and lower shell, dark colors.
- PolyAir: Upper and lower shell, dark colors.
- PolyAir PM: Youth model with a nice bright red as well as the darker colors.
- PolyKid: Toddler model with vents, fitting sizes as small as 44 cm (17.7 inches).
- NewKid: Toddler model with vents, fitting sizes as small as 44 cm (17.7 inches). Advertised as a lighter helmet, meeting only the European and the old US ANSI standards. To be avoided as long as a helmet meeting the CPSC standard is available. Weight of the smallest size is advertised as 200 grams, the same as the PolyKid.
Seattle Bicycle Supply distributes the Potenza line in the US market, made by one of the helmet manufacturers in Zhuhai, China. The shells are glued, and the prices are probably reasonable. They include:
- Teramo: sharp ridges, rear overhang, comes in a bright red as well as white.
- Pave: Very round smooth profile, reasonable vents.
- Piccolo: toddlers helmet with vents.
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 on Snell's N-94 multi-purpose standard list and eight of their bicycle models are certified to Snell B-95, all with nicely rounded profiles. Their BMX helmets have a full chin bar, the usual fiberglass shell and unfortunately the usual bolted-on visors. Prices are low.
Pro Supergo is apparently not affiliated with the Supergo bike shops in California or with the former Supergo helmets we remember from the 1970's. The company is located in Taiwan. They produce a line of EPU and EPS helmets, mostly with well-rounded contours and small or reasonable vents. Their models include the Dream, Vivid Pro, G5 Wind, D-2000 and a toddler model with graphics emphasizing eyes, using the two front vents as the pupils. Prices might end up at around $25 by the time they reach a shop.
Pro-Tec has three bicycle models for 2002. Two are for bicycling despite the skateboard style. But Pro-Tec's Web site makes it clear that they have other models identical in outward appearance but with a different liner that is designed for multi-impact non-bicycle use and certified only to a European standard because of the liners. Just be sure to look for the CPSC sticker if you are buying for bicycle use.
Classic Freestyle: The classic look of a skateboarders helmet, a round and smooth retro design that has been around since Pro-Tec originated it in the 1970's. Round and smooth, with small round vents and good coverage, it is still a favorite with the skate crowd. But this is the bicycle version, complete with a crushable EPS liner to meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. So check the sticker inside to make sure you are getting the bicycle version, the Classic Freestyle, rather than the Classic Skate model. Comes in visible white and yellow as well as the standard dark colors. Retails for $40.
- Ace Freestyle: An updated skateboard style helmet with larger oval vents and minor reshaping of the shell lines. It still has a round and smooth shape. Again, for bicycle riding you must get the Ace Freestyle, not the outwardly similar Ace Skate, which is sold for skating rather than bicycling and is not certified to the CPSC standard.
- Ace BMX: Adding an ABS chin bar to the Ace produces a full face BMX helmet with the Ace's vents and a large "motocross style" visor. Retails for $65.
Prowell is a Taiwanese company producing a line of helmets in EPU foam. Several of their models are molded in the shell, some with lower shells as well. They generally have a high quality appearance, seeming solid (if a bit heavy) in the hand, including the F-22 introduced in 2000. It has moderate vents, but a substantial lip projecting out in the rear. For 2002 there is a new X2 with a well-rounded profile. Most of Prowell's models should retail for about $20. The company manufactures helmets for other brands, notably Vigor, and usually is seeking distributors in the US for their other models.
Pryme has a line of helmets for BMX, downhill racing and skate use, most of them with catchy names. Prices have risen about 10 per cent for 2002.
When this company has a hyper-vented model it will no doubt be the Pryme Airy.
- Pryme Evil: Top of the line full face model for BMX and downhill racing. Fiberglass shell, no vents, bolted on visor (skull logos on the bolts!), minimal vents. Retails for $110.
- Pryme Al: Another full face model, with mesh-protected vents, fiberglass shell, bolted on visor. Retail is $100.
- Pryme FF: Full face model with a fiberglass shell, vents and a bolted on visor, retailing for $85 in either the adult version or the Pryme Child FF for smaller riders.
- Pryme 8 Skateboard style helmet similar in shape to the classic Pro-Tec. Has small vents, EPS liner, meets the CPSC standard. Retails for $30, or maybe a little less, with the chrome and "high fiber" finishes more expensive.
- Pryme Mortal: Skateboard style helmet similar in shape to the Pryme 8 but with a skull logo replacing the vents in the front and only four small ones in the top. Retail should be around $30.
Pryme's line is made in China by Zhuhai Safety.
Originally known as Protective Technologies International, PTI Sports is one of the largest and perhaps least known helmet producers in the US. Their products are marketed through discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Toys `R Us, usually at prices in the $10 to $30 range. They have used the Zacko brand name in addition to PTI. In 2001 they announced a new line of helmets and other accessories promoted with cyclist Greg Lemond's name. We have not seen much of that line. Since PTI is one of the few publicly-held manufacturers, you can see their annual report on the Web. The filing for 1999 showed that PTI sold $51.6 million worth of helmets and bicycle accessories in that year. That probably puts them in second or third place among the US helmet producers. Yahoo Business also has a company profile.
In mid-2002 PTI licensed the Schwinn brand from its current owner, Pacific Cycle USA, and will be marketing Schwinn-branded helmets in coming months.
Qranc seems to have disappeared, at least from the US market. Their US phones have been disconnected, and the Web link has been dead since December of 2000. A search on OGK turns up only stale motorcycle helmet pages. We list them here only because people keep asking us where they are.
A round smooth skate-style helmet. Certified to CPSC, with no indication that it meets the ASTM skateboard standard even though it has a skateboard on the box. This one's main feature is twin speakers molded into the helmet liner, with a jack at the rear to plug in your mp3, CD player or skateman. We found the music sound quality abysmal, worse than the little stuffed bears with voices inside. Fit pads cover the speakers if you are not careful. Might work ok for voice intercoms or news, and it's better than riding with your ears plugged up with earphones. Retails for $39. Rage is produced by Gen-X Sports of Canada.
Rage with Solo Sound System
Rand sells through mass merchant channels like Kmart and Rose's. They had to recall their L.A. Crusin' helmet during 2000. See our recalls page for more information or this CPSC link.
Reevu is developing a new helmet design with a built in rear view mirror in a housing that begins at the front lip of the helmet and curves back over the center to provide a wide angle mirror. If the photos of the mirror image on the Web are an accurate indication, it will be the best rear view mirror we have seen for a bicycle, but we would want to ride with one before judging anything. Not available in the US yet as of November, 2002. In other countries they will send you a dealer name when available. Pricing for the two models is 55 to 65 UK pounds (90-106 Euros, 79-93 US dollars). The design raises some snag hazard questions if the housing is rigidly attached. An interesting development but so far the only info available is on the Reevu Web site.
This European manufacturer was new to the US helmet market for the 2000 season, although they have been doing sunglasses and sporting attire under founder Rudy Barbazza since 1985. We are not sure which models you may find in the US market, since some of their racing helmets do not meet the CPSC standard and would not be legal here, and their Web site does not discuss standards. In general their models have flowing, graceful lines in the rounded contours we favor. Most have no extreme shelf effects in the rear, although some do. As you move toward the lower end of the line the shapes improve to rounder, smoother, safer designs. Some are molded in the shell. Visors are attached with hook-and-loop. Rudy Project has some interesting innovations, and perhaps they will find wider US distribution this year. You may have seen their helmets on Tour de France riders in 2003. We have one complaint from a rider who experiences strap creep with his Rudy Project helmet and suggests you look carefully at the strap locking mechanism before buying.
The Schwinn helmet brand returned briefly in 1999, represented by new models made for Schwinn in China. You can find comments on them in our < a href="helmet01.htm#schwinn">Helmets for 2001 review. Schwinn had extreme financial difficulties in 2001 and had dropped their helmet line, but some were still available in retail channels at sharp discounts. They sold the brand name to Pacific Cycle USA. In mid-2002 PTI licensed the Schwinn brand from Pacific, and will be marketing Schwinn-branded helmets in coming months.
Pro-Zone Metallic Helmet: a new model for 2002, with what appears to be a reasonably well-rounded contour and some rear shelf effect. Many vents, metallic or graphic finish.
Phoenix Multi-Sport: An apparently well-rounded design recommended for "cycling, inline skating, skateboarding and more." But listed as meeting only the CPSC standard.
Pro-Zone Multi-Sport: An apparently well-rounded design said to be for "cycling, inline skating, skateboarding and more" but listed as meeting only the CPSC and Canadian CSA standards. Bright graphics including a maple leaf design. Has a visor. The Pro-Star Multi-Sport appears to be similar but with dark colors. Has a visor. It is recommended for "cycling, inline skating, and more" but listed as meeting only the CPSC and Canadian CSA standards.
Alpha: A new design for 2002, apparently well-rounded. Has a visor.
Alpha Pro: Another new 2002 design, apparently well-rounded with visor and graphic finish.
Bike Tec: a well-rounded design with reasonable vents. Listed as meeting the CPSC and Canadian CSA standards.
Bike Tec Toddler: a well-rounded toddler design with vents. Listed as meeting the CPSC and ASTM standards.
Bike Gear Multi-Sport: a well-rounded design with reasonable vents. Recommended only for bicycling and in-line skating, and listed as certified to the Canadian CSA standard and CPSC.
Pro-Star Toddler Helmet: a toddler design with a built-in visor ledge in front. Small vents. Comes in one size for ages 1 to 4. Kid graphics. The similar Crown toddler model comes in solid colors.
Royal Toddler: another toddler design with built-in visor ledge in front and a lower shell for full plastic cover. Small vents.
Flash Tec Toddler: toddler helmet with rounded shape, vents and kid graphics.
Pro-Star T-7 X-treme Multi-Sport: classic skate shape and round vents. No multi-sport recommendation in the catalog, and listed only as CPSC approved.
Hawk X-Treme and similar Star Multi-Sport X-Treme:
ABS hard shell, large vents, shaped like a bicycle helmet with the extended rear coverage of a skate helmet. The Star is listed as meeting only the CPSC standard, while the Hawk includes EN and ASTM as well as CPSC.
Phoenix ABS: ABS hard shell, rounded shape, more angular vents than the T-7. Listed as CPSC approved.
Phoenix X-Treme: ABS hard shell, rounded shape, larger top vents and no front vents. "Anodized" colors including silver. Listed as CPSC approved.
Pro-Zone X-treme Multi-Sport: ABS hard shell, rounded shape with some ridges for style and angular vents, including vents in the rear lower shell. Recommended for "in-line skating, skateboarding and more" but listed only as CPSC approved.
Milennium Winter Sports: ABS hard shell, classic rounded skate helmet shape and vents. Goggle retainer in the rear. Listed as certified to ASTM and CPSC standards, but there is no indication of which ASTM standard (bicycle or ski).
Pro-Zone Ski: ABS hard shell, rounded shape with some angular lines, small vents including one at the ear, goggle retainer in the rear. Listed as certified only to the CPSC bicycle standard.
Tornado X-Treme Winter Multi-Sport: PVC composite shell, ski helmet lines with two raised rear vents in the rear. Goggle retainer.
Listed as certified only to the CPSC bicycle standard.
Seven Star also has street hockey and equestrian helmets. In each case the Seven Star Web page and catalog do not specify whether the ASTM listing is for the ASTM bicycle, skateboard or equestrian standard. Warranties are "one year limited" with no crash replacement policy specified.
Seven Star has a program to sell to non-profits at low prices. Contact them for details.
A Chinese manufacturer located in mainland Shenzhen. We have not seen their line, but they have informed us that they produce 15 models, including some BMX style with fiberglass shells and some rated as bicycle/skate helmets. They say they already export to 20 countries, including the US.
Shenzhen Hezhen Bicycle Inc.
Although we have not seen their 2002 line, this Taiwanese manufacturer makes both EPS and EPU helmets. Their EPU helmets are molded in the shell, and they attempt to assuage the environmental concerns about EPU on their site. The styles are well-rounded, but vents look small. They have a fiberglass BMX model. We don't have current pricing. You may see their helmets with other brands on them.
Shenzhen Qukang Industry Development
Shih Kwang makes a helmet with a reading light molded into the front foam, fitting flush with the front lip of the helmet, and a rear LED flasher embedded the same way. It retails for $40.
Shih Kwang International
SixSixOne is a BMX and skate equipment company. They have two models, one for BMX/Downhill and one for skate. The Bravo downhill model is vented, with a grooved exterior, face bar and bolted on visor, retailing for $120. The Dirt Lid skate helmet is the classic round, smooth design with round vents, retailing for $30.
Smith is a supplier of skateboard protectors and other gear. Their skateboard helmet is a classic Pro-Tec style with the small round front vents, and squishy EVA foam. It is not certified to the CPSC standard, and not recommended for bicycling. Carries the Scabs brand, a name that may resonate with 'boarders. It retails for $30.
For 2002 they also have the Ricks Thorne Signature Pro Model, which is certified to the CPSC standard for bicycling and promoted as a BMX helmet. The two are similar, so check for the CPSC label.
This Swedish manufacturer has helmets under their Solid brand with reflective outer shells in silver, yellow, red, blue and black. The silver and yellow would probably be a lot more reflective than the blue and black, but they say all of their helmets meet the Swedish standard for reflectivity, even after ageing. The site mentions only European standards but the company says some of their models are certified to the CPSC standard and may eventually be available in the US market as well as Europe.
Specialized is one of the major U.S. helmet manufacturers and a supplier of a wide range of bicycles and components. For 2002 they have dropped their signature Cobra models with sweatband air vents in the front. Their big changes this year involve strap anchors, a new rear stabilizer and a new visor. The strap anchors move the strap away from the rider's face, probably decreasing stability for most riders, but Specialized attempts to turn that into a virtue by advertising that cooling air can reach the face. The visor is a nice design in nylon with protective soft rubber edges and seems to flip off easily for safety in a crash. Prices for the older models have been reduced for 2002.
You will have to call them at 408-779-6229 to find out what Specialized's current replacement policy is.
- S1: a new design for 2002 pitched to "road race" use. Has a full lower shell, very large vents, air channels inside and four sharply pointy rear projections providing potential snag points. Molded in the shell, the only way you could have those huge vents. Retail will be $150. Bicycling Magazine awarded it three chainwheels out of five in the June, 2002, issue, saying it was light, cool and good looking, but overpriced and did not have a very secure fit.
- M1: another new design for 2002, molded in the shell with somewhat smaller vents than the S1 and a far better rear design that minimizes the snag points. For these improvements you pay one third less than the S1, at $100 retail. Rated coolest by Consumer Reports in their 2002 article.
- Enduro Pro: pitched as a King Cobra for the off-road racer, with a sharp and pronounced rear shelf. (We don't know why an off-road rider would want an "aero" shape with a snag point in the rear, but maybe it's fashion.) Molded in the shell, with a spring-loaded rear stabilizer and the new visor. Retails for $70, down $20 from last year.
- Allez: A 2001 model, the Allez is the least expensive Specialized model that is molded in the shell. Moderate vents, reasonably rounded rear shape. Still on Snell's B-90 standard list. Retails for $50, down $20 from last year.
- Enduro Comp: Introduced in 2000, rounded profile but the rear overhang is still pronounced. Glued-on shell. Still on Snell's B-90 standard list. Retail price is $40, down $10 from last year.
- Airwave: A 2001 redesign with a glued-on shell, moderate vents and less pointy rear profile than the high-end Specialized models. Still on Snell's B-90 standard list. There is a youth version, the Airwave Mega. Retail is still $30, or $35 with visor. It achieved the highest impact protection rating given by Consumer Reports in their 2002 article.
- Kid Cobra: Even the classic round, smooth toddler helmet has been given slightly squarer lines, but not to an extreme. Glued-on shell, decent vents, cute graphics.
- BMX Full Face: A fiberglass shell BMX helmet with no vents, an unfortunately bolted-on visor and the influence of squared-off lines reflected only in the chin bar design. Still on Snell's B-90 standard list. The retail price is still $100.
- P3: A 2001 model skate helmet with small oval vents and the classic round and smooth exterior. Thick foam liner. Available in a commendably visible white and brilliant red. CPSC and Snell B-90 certification, retailing for $40.
Sportscope had just one model for 2002, introduced in mid-year 1999, but it is radically different from any other helmet in this review. Constructed of segments of foam closely connected by an inner mesh, the Sportscope helmet can conform to your head, perhaps solving some tricky fit problems. We had some initial doubts about a flexible helmet, but we have seen the test results from reputable independent labs proving that it meets the ASTM, CPSC, Canadian, Australian and European standards with no difficulty, and showing that the toddler size also meets the impact requirements for the Canadian child helmet standard, which has a lower permissible g level than U.S. standards do, requiring a "softer landing." The helmet also meets the Australian standard requirements for point loading, so the edges of the foam segments apparently do not dig into your head in an impact. We don't particularly like the ridges on the surface of the helmet between foam pieces, preferring a smoother shape for better sliding on pavement. (See Rounder, Smoother, Safer above.) And one of our testers found that the Sportscope helmet he tried seemed comfy for about 20 minutes, then began giving him a headache, evidently from pressure where the edge of one of the segments was contacting his egg-shaped head. So this one may not be for everybody, but if you have a particularly difficult-to-fit head it may be worth a try. In particular, those with a round Asian-style head who find most US-made helmets fell like they have corners inside may find that the flex of the Sportscope's segments will accommodate better to their head shape. Sportscope is one manufacturer who sews all buckles in, preventing them from coming off and sending you looking for our page on how to rethread a buckle. During 2003 the Sportscope brand was apparently sold to Sportcraft, a different company entirely despite the similarity in names. You can find the helmets on the Sportcraft Web site.
Star Helmets (formerly Zhuhai H.N.Z. Star Safety Helmets), located in Zhuhai, China, produces a number of models under the Star brand. Some are certified to the tough Snell B-95 standard, but we are unable to match the model numbers, so check the Snell list for details. Most should sell in the $10 to $20 range in the US market, with the BMX models around $65 and ski models probably in the same range. The 2002 line includes:
- SB-108: New for 2002, a round, smooth design with few but large vents.
- SB-109: Another 2002 design, this time with the elongated shape and rear overhang snag point, as well as more vents.
- SB-110: A smooth design with an unfortunate built-in visor providing a snag point in the front. Moderate vents.
- SB-103: A round and smooth helmet with small vents available in plain or fancy graphics, with or without visor. Glued on shell, white EPS.
- SB-105: better vented than the SB103, in plain colors without the visor or complex graphics with visor. Glued on shell.
- SB-107: medium vents, black EPS, with or without visor. Glued on shell
- SM-201: Multi-purpose helmet with white EPS, with or without visor.
- SB-101: classic toddler helmet, very round and smooth, with small vents.
- SB-102: Better vented toddler helmet shaped like an adult helmet, but still round and smooth.
- SJ-301: classic skate style helmet with hard shell and small vents. One variant is available in chrome finish for extra cost.
- SJ-302: updated skate helmet design with larger vents and a modified shape. Still round and smooth.
- SS-402: ski helmet, round and smooth with no vents. Has a goggle retainer in the rear.
- SS-403: a heavier ski helmet with hard shell and no vents except at the ear.
- SS-404: another ski helmet with hard shell and a goggle retainer in the rear.
- SS-405: ski helmet with small vents, a rear "exhaust" vent sticking out from the shell and ear holes.
- SB-501: full face BMX helmet with hard shell and bolted on visor with two bolts.
- SB-502: full face BMX helmet with hard shell and bolted on visor with one bolt. Has vents in the chin bar. Can be had with chrome finish.
- SB-503: full face BMX helmet with hard shell and bolted on visor with two bolts.
- SB-504: full face BMX helmet with hard shell and bolted on visor with one bolt.
- SB-505: full face BMX helmet with hard shell and bolted on visor with two bolts.
- SB-506: BMX helmet without chin bar, with bolted on visor with two bolts.
Strategic Sports produces helmets for a number of U.S. companies with the U.S. company's brand, and have informed us that they shipped 1.5 million helmets worldwide in 1998. For 2002 several of their helmets appear on Snell's B-95 list and others on the B-90 list. We have comments on some models under the Action Bicycle and Odyssey brands above.
THH sends its line to the U.S. through Trans National Trading Company of Vernon, California. In China they are known as Shanghai Tung Kuang, or in Taiwan as Tung Kuang Light Industry, appearing on the Snell certification list as Tung Kuang I. Their EPS models are probably all made in China, while the EPP models would come from Taiwan. All of their designs feature the round, smooth shapes that we prefer. Their 2002 models include:
THH (Tong Ho Hsing)
THH also produces helmets for other uses, including military, baseball, motorcycle, equestrian, skate and snow sports. They have five skate helmets on their Web site, but their classic skate helmet did not have a standards sticker in the sample we saw, so check to be sure it meets CPSC if you want to use it for bicycle riding.
- T-38: a nicely rounded design with moderate vents and visor. Dark colors and white. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $16.
- T-37: a generally rounded but somewhat elongated design with moderate vents. Dark colors and white. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $16.
- T-36: a nicely rounded design with smaller vents and visor. Dark colors and white. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
- T-35: a nicely rounded design with smaller vents. Dark colors and white. Snell B-95 certified. Retail should be about $12.
- T-29: toddler helmet with small vents, very round and smooth. Available in white. Snell B-95 certified. Comes in XXXXS size, fitting as small as 46 cm head. Should retail for about $10.
- T-23: a nicely rounded design with moderate vents and visor. Made in EPU foam. Available in two-tone colors including "Flash Gold" white and yellow as well as white. Retail should be about $17.
- T-22: Smaller vents than the T-23, single colors including white. EPU foam, visor, dial fit system. Molded in the shell. Retail about $13.
- T-21: Smaller vents, two color shells, visor. Molded in the shell. Retail should be about $12.
- T-660: BMX-style helmet with chinbar. ABS shell, bolted on visor, retail around $65.
- T-550: BMX-style helmet with pointy chinbar. ABS shell, bolted on visor, some nice bright red, yellow and white colors. Available in XXS to XXL. Retail should be below $50.
Trek supplies a wide line of bikes and accessories to dealers, and their helmet graphics are designed to complement your Trek bike. Some models have reflective panels. Their line for 2002 has been reduced to four models.
Trek has a one year free replacement policy for crashed helmets.
- Speedshell: A 2002 model with a molded in the shell design with moderately squared-off lines and reasonably rounded rear with a minimal snag point. It has a lower shell as well. One variation comes in a nice visible yellow. The visor is high density polyethylene. Retail is about $70.
- Euphoria: New fit system for 2001. Retails for $50, or the Road Team version is $80.
- Vapor: Squared-off lines, some rear shelf projection, reflective panel and a visor for $35 retail. Available with labels: Police, Sheriff, EMT and Fire. One of four adult helmets rated very good for impact by Consumer Reports in their 2002 article, and chosen as a Best Buy.
- Gazoo Aero Helmet Shell: Found only on Trek's Web site, with no photo available when we last checked. An interesting approach to an aero design described as a "snap on shell converts a Speed Shell or Super-Fly into an aero time trial helmet. But for some reason they have added: "the only aero helmet that is CPSC certified." Strange ad copy, since the Gazoo is a snap on and not a helmet. And apparently their copy writer did not bother to do a Web search and discover that Nashbar has been selling the
Louis Garneau Chrono, a real aero helmet meeting the CPSC standard.
- Scout: A youth helmet based on the Vapor, with the addition of anti-pinch chin pads, selling for $35 with a rigid but supposedly shatter-resistant visor.
- Little Dipper: Infant-toddler model updated in 2000 with more vents, better graphics, a soft rubber visor, an anti-pinch chin pad and a $35 price tag.
Troxel is a long-time producer of bicycle components that still markets some bicycle helmets under other brands, formerly producing for GT, and now known as SafeTech. We have not seen their line for 2002, and some of the ones on their Web site are no longer in production. Bike Nashbar still has some of the helmet line Troxel produced for GT at steep discounts. You can find our comments on them in our 2001 helmet writeup. Troxel is better known for their equestrian helmets.
Troy Lee has a BMX line known for rad graphics. Their kevlar/carbon fiber shell D2 BMX helmet has an "aerodynamic fin" at the rear, an entirely unnecessary interruption in the ideal smooth outer surface of a helmet. With four small screened vents and chin bar it weighs 31 oz. and sells for $410, down $15 from last year, not including the optional larger Stingray visor at $22. Or you can have the D2 Flames with a fiberglass shell for $325. Troy Lee also sells an add-on rear bump called a stabilizer to provide "visual enhancement." In 2001 they introduced one with a light called the High Tail Helmet Light for $32. 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, claiming that the plastic mounts pull out when the visor is snagged. Unfortunately there is no standard for testing that, and nobody will do it for you at the bike shop or bike show, either. The D2 fits heads from 53 to 62 cm (21 to 24.5 inches). Troy Lee Designs will also paint you a custom design for something between $650 and $1425 (not including the cost of the helmet), and they limit production to 12 per week.
This German company sells a TSG skate helmet in the US similar in shape to the classic Pro-Tec. It also has another, the Odin, with a more "bucket" shape. Both are round and smooth. Both are advertised as certified to CPSC, but they had to recall one of their models during 2000. See our recalls page for details. They have a new shell design with new rectangular front vents for 2002, and include a nice visible orange option. Note that the company has a snowboard helmet that is very similar in appearance, but is not for bicycling at all and is not certified to CPSC, so for bicycle use be sure your TSG has a label inside that says it complies with the CPSC standard.
TSG has a matched set that includes a helmet and protective pads for skate park rental programs. To deter theft, the helmet and pads are the same unusual blue. The helmet has "Rental" woven into the strap and on a prominent decal. The pads have "rental" on them as well, and are supplied in a "super durable/washable" material. We do not understand why this idea has not been developed by a bicycle helmet manufacturer, preferably with an easy to clean interior to prevent passing lice to the next wearer.
TSG has a free crash replacement policy. Their helmets are made in Taiwan by Kar Cen.
See THH above.
Tung I Hsing
Uvex is introducing their line in the US market in late 2002. We have not seen it yet, but the helmets are designed and made in Germany, and feature molded in the shell construction and a mesh for insect protection.
Variflex is an importer of helmets selling mostly skate equipment, scooters and accessories through mass merchant channels such as Sears, Target, and Toys R Us. They had to recall their X-Games Aggressive and some of their TSG models during 2000. See our recalls page for more information, and see TSG above.
Vigor Sports (Hong Jin Cycle Corp.) is a Korean company with a large and varied line of helmets, some made for them by other companies. They are one of only three manufacturers with helmets on the Snell N-94 multipurpose list. Their models that are not molded in the shell have 3M reflective tape around the shell edge, a nice feature seldom seen in this price range. The black tape is not 3M's most reflective product, but it represents a substantial additional cost and an effort to make the helmets safer that we wish more manufacturers would adopt. See our cautionary note below about their skate helmets. The prices below are suggested retail, and are high in relation to the dealer price, so discounts may well be available.
- Tecfire: a new 2002 design with very large vents and a reasonably rounded profile spoiled only by the shelf effect for the rear snag point. Molded in the shell. Has a dial fit system for the rear stabilizer. Comes in a nice bright yellow.
- Viper: a new design for 2002, this one has a unique 8mm curved aluminum rod running lengthwise with the ends buried in the foam but visible through the vents in the middle. We regard this as a gimmick. Otherwise it is a typical hyper-ventilated design with rear snag points, a second shell covering the lower part of the helmet and a dial fit system. Available as the mountain version with a visor or the road version without. Should retail for about $90 without visor and $100 with visor.
Last year's top of the line, a typical hyper-vented design but made of EPU foam and molded in the shell. Has an upper and lower shell, large vents and an unfaired rear shelf. The ribs are reasonably rounded. Has external strap anchors, a potential friction point, but they are tucked in among the ribs. Retails for $40, up $5 from last year. Also comes as the Jr. Nox with four fewer vents but the same rear treatment for $25.
- Sequel: New in 2001, this is another EPU model, also molded in the shell, with upper and lower shell. It resembles the NOX, but has fewer vents and retails for $35.
- Avenger: New in 2001, this is a youth version of the Sequel but has two fewer vents. EPU liner, molded in the shell with a lower shell. Retails for $35.
- Avail: Another youth model, nicely rounded, with fewer vents than the Avenger. Available mostly in dark colors and white.
- HPX: An EPS model, with a nicely rounded profile and modest vents. The shell is glued on, so there is no need for external strap anchors, and it has 3M reflective tape around the shell. It also comes with a visor this year at $35 retail.
- Duo: A very nicely rounded model with EPS liner and reasonable vents. It has 3M reflective tape around the shell. Retails for $30, up $10 from last year.
- Cyclo-V: Introduced in 2000, this one has a very nicely rounded profile, modest vents, an EPS liner and 3M reflective material around the shell. Retail is $20 or less. Also comes in a youth version as the Avail.
- L'il Tyke: A toddler helmet, of course, with a very nicely rounded profile, vents, a pinch proof buckle, 3M reflective tape and an adjustable sizing ring. Comes only in xxs for 50 to 52 cm heads and retails for $20.
- Zero G2: Another classic BMX design with Snell N-94 multisport certification, small vents, full chin bar, fiberglass shell and bolted-on visor. It has a pointy effect at the end of the chin bar, where we would prefer a rounded surface. Certified to Snell's N-94 multisport standard. Retails for $130, up $20 from last year.
- Zero G-4: A youth BMX design with a full face chin bar. Plastic shell. Comes in XS, XXS and XXXS sizes fitting down to 6 1/8 size heads. Certified to Snell's N-94 multisport standard. Retails for $130, up $30 from last year.
- Vamoose II: A downhill racing design redone in 2001 with a shell made with "Kevlar, Spectra and F.R.P." It has some vents, but they are smaller than last year's Vamoose, and has a Troy Lee-style lump in the center rear, spoiling the rounded profile. Retail is $140.
- Rebel II: Another 2001 design for BMX and downhill with a plastic shell with long top vents and a bolted on visor. Retail is $80.
- Contender: This one was new in 2000 and redesigned for 2001, appearing to pick up some additional vents and upscale graphics. It is a downhill/BMX model with a fiberglass shell with vents and a bolted on visor with twin bolts. Retail is $90.
- Ten-Eighty: A skating helmet design with the classic smooth, round exterior, round vents, polyethylene shell and an EPS liner. It is listed as a bike, snow or skate helmet, and is CPSC-certified. It should retail for about $30.
- Five-Forty: A skating helmet design with two subtle ridges breaking up the classic smooth, round exterior, a polycarbonate shell and EPS foam liner. Certified to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, and listed as a bike, snow and skate helmet. Retails for $40.
Note: Vigor has skate-only helmets that are not sold for bicycling that are not certified to the CPSC standard. Some of them look exactly like their CPSC-certified line. If you buy a skate-style Vigor for cycling, be sure that it has the CPSC sticker inside.
Vigor has two models of helmet bags, including one for about $8 that comes in sizes for bike and full-face helmets. The deluxe model is pile-lined and sells for about $20.
Vigor's crash replacement policy provides a replacement of the same helmet or another current one at 30 per cent off of retail cost for the lifetime of the helmet.
W Helmets (sometimes still referred to as Team Wendy) has one unique helmet for 2002, recommended for bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, mountain biking and snowboarding. It has a hard polycarbonate shell, a round, smooth shape and minimal vents. There is a model with optional vent covers for winter use. The helmet is made with a squishy foam liner they are calling Zorbium, for which W claims unique advantages. It is designed to flex in lighter impacts to cushion more, but stiffen up in heavy impacts to avoid bottoming out. The technical term for that is "rate sensitive." Their product literature says they pass the CPSC standard as well as the ASTM F2040 standard for snow sports. Although the foam is multi-impact, as of September, 2002, it is not listed as meeting the ASTM F1492 Skateboard standard. The Web site says "Please visit back for the latest standards that W Helmets have achieved and surpassed." We have not yet seen lab test data on the helmet or its unique foam. The three sizes are made to fit 53 cm to 65 cm heads. There is a dial fit system. Weight is 500 to 550 grams (heavy for a bicycle helmet). Retail price is $110 to $150 depending on finish and whether or not the helmet has the sliding vent covers. Available on the W Helmets Web site.
World Industries has a line of skateboard helmets that were also certified to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Unfortunately the helmets they sold from October, 2000 to May 2001 were recalled. We have a page up with the details. World has a new line called the Battle Helmet, sold in skate shops. On the Web they don't mention standards at all, and if the helmets are not sold for bicycle use they don't have to meet any standard. Prices are $40 for regular colors, or $50 for chrome or camo.
Check the standards sticker inside and do not use the Battle Helmet for bicycle use unless it has a CPSC sticker.
See Golex above.
This Chinese manufacturer (Zhuhai Hindun Safety Helmets, also Zhuhai USA Safety) has an extensive line of bicycle and BMX helmets. Most are sold by others as house brands, including some of the best-known in the US, with others labeled with the Caluk or T-Star brand. Their numerous (21 in the 2001 catalog) adult, youth and toddler models feature both nicely-rounded and sharply-edged shells. Some are molded in the shell, and some have lower shells. For 2001 there were three new models, the Series 10 road helmet, the Series 15 toddler model, the Series 17 skate helmet and two vented BMX/Downhill models, one of them a youth helmet. Two are on Snell's B-95 list, the Series 08 and Series 08 9. One of their helmets made for Bell was recalled for a strap anchor problem in 1995, but there have been no further recalls of their products. Sizing runs from 49cm/19.3 inches for the smallest to 64cm/25.2 inches for the large. Zhuhai Safety helmets are provided at very reasonable prices for helmet promotion programs through Helmets R Us (above).
See Star Helmets above.
Zhuhai Star Safety
This article is frequently updated during the model year.
Index to Manufacturers
Please note that the model names cited above are usually registered trademarks of the manufacturers.
This page was reformatted on: October 11, 2017.