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While the wife was spending money at Wal-Mart, I bellied up to the magazine rack. One of the major monthly rags (Motorcyclist I think) had an article on helmets. It was a very detailed article. It examined the Snell and the DOT Standard. In some ways the hardness of the Snell helmets works against them. Their bottom line is that the $79 HJC protects as well as the high dollar Shoei and Arai's. I was in a hurry, so I only skimmed it. If ya'll get a chance you ought to look at it.
 

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My HJC ($179.00CDN.), AC-3 convertible 3/4 helmet is DOT and Snell labeled.

Are they not all labelled the same, or is it different in the US?
Or are the less expensive ones treated differently.
Or is it just an individual helmet thing? Each one rated as it deserves.

I know the real expensive helmets up here (some Arai's are $600.00 or $700.00) have the Snell rating, but I did not notice mine until after I bought it.
Dot is standard as they are not legal if not DOT rated here.
 

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My HJC cost me about $250. Yes, it likely saved my life, and no, I won't likely spend that much again.

Steve

Gear up!
 

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I am beginninng to understand the reason for price differences on helmets. My first helmet I picked up for $20.00 Cdn and only wore for no more than 60 minutes of riding at one go (It was DOT aproved, clearance sale at a dealer).

Now, with the burgy I can ride for hours, problem is the cheap helmet starts to give me terrible headaches after an hour and a half.

I switched to a fullface Z1R at 7 X the cost of my cheap helmet and my comfort level has also improved by 7 times.

So when spending big bucks on a helmet, your safety may not improve, but your comfort level sure does.
 

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There was a big discussion of that article on the Pacific Coast site. The bottom line seems to be that the more expensive ( better?) helmets survive a crash "better" than the cheaper ones.

To meet the DOT and Snell requirements, the helmet is stronger and the strength of the higher priced helmet allows more force to be transferred to the brain while the cheaper ones absorb the force as they are destroyed by the crash.

It's a pretty scary article. For my part if I come off the bike, I'd rather have the helmet absorb the impact and be destroyed forcing me to buy a new one than to have the helmet stay intact and allow my brains to be scrambled.

An analogy was made to the bumpers on cars that absorb the impact but then need to be replaced.

If nothing else, the article shows that some serious research needs to be done to see if today's helmets are as good as they can be.
 

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I tried to read as many reviews as possible before buying a helmet and found that both Arai and Shoei were consistently near/at the top of the ratings. So that's what I looked for. And every article stated that full-face helmets provide the most protection (obviously). That was the first criteria in my search. Comfort came next. Even though, price was my last concern, I was lucky to have an XL head because the shop had a number of last year's models that were heavily discounted. Since the helmet is the only thing between my head and the pavement, I prefer not to skimp.
 

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If I go down and my helmet (and my head) hits the ground, I don't care if the helmet cost $1000.00, that's one helmet that would NEVER see service again. I cannot and will not gamble that the apparently unharmed helmet wouldn't have hidden damage that would show up in the next incident.

Have any of you ever seen a Corvette body panel (off the car) after an accident? I have and what looked perfectly unharmed on the outside, was a crumbling mess under the paint.

Don't know about you, amigo, but my head is worth more than the cost of a new helmet.
 

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JerseyBiker said:
An analogy was made to the bumpers on cars that absorb the impact but then need to be replaced.
It makes sense. It's the same way with bicycle helmets and child seats. They all need to be replaced after an accident even if there is no visible damage.

Someone rear-ended me while I was driving one time and even though it was fairly minor, the insurance company paid for two brand new child seats and took the old ones to destroy.

The owner's manual for my Arai even states that the helmet should be replaced after 5 years even if it hasn't been in an accident because of the natural deterioration of the materials. Expensive? Yes. But if it's my one chance to survive an accident, I'm taking it.
 

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JerseyBiker said:
There was a big discussion of that article on the Pacific Coast site. The bottom line seems to be that the more expensive ( better?) helmets survive a crash "better" than the cheaper ones.
Just to reinforce the point already made. It ain't the survivability of the helmet that's important, it's the survivability of the contents of the helmet that's critical.

Every thing I've ever read about helmets says that if you even drop it on a hard surface it should be replaced.

Having done psycho-diagnostic testing on head-injured patients I assure you I won't go out in traffic without a helmet. I just wish I could squeeze a full-face over my melon.
 

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Stargazer said:
The owner's manual for my Arai even states that the helmet should be replaced after 5 years even if it hasn't been in an accident because of the natural deterioration of the materials.
I'll have to agree with that statement. I've still got the original helmet I bought 20+ years ago when I first bought a scooter. I dug it out when considering getting my 650. All the soft foam inside the cheek and neck pads has disappeared. It wasn't taken out. It didn't just degrade. It apparently evaporated. The cloth "bags" it was in are still glued/stitched into the helmet, with no openings for the foam to get in or out. It was a great helmet, but there was no way to replace the missing foam so I got a new one with my new bike. What is less obvious is how the hard plastic shell may have degraded with age. Mine was kept out of the sun and boxed up when I wasn't riding the old scooter. The old scooter only saw 9000 miles, so that's the maximum time that helmet would have been "out". It 'looks" fine, but I'd be shocked if it still passed any DOT tests now.
 

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Helmet test article

I read that article in its entirety while waiting at SeaTac and then on my plane down to LA week before last, and let me tell you, it was an eye opener for me. My sportbike friend had counseled me to get a helmet that was DOT and Snell rated, but after reading this article, I'm going out shopping for a DOT-only one. Like JerseyBiker said, the hardness of the Snell transferred more G forces to the skull in the helmet. Also, near the end of the article they mentioned that this is a more serious problem for someone with a smaller head (children, many women). I wear an XS, so I sat up and took notice. My husband, with his XL, is willing to stick with his current DOT/Snell rated helmet.

Plus the other issue that's been bothering me. When I went down in my accident, I'm pretty sure I did not hit my head on anything. My shoulder, obviously, from the brusing, and both knees of my FirstTech pants were muddy. But when we got home, we noticed that there's a very slight vertical scratch on the back of my helmet. At first I thought it must have been that pine branch whipping back around and scraping it, but now think maybe I shouldn't take a chance. I was down at my dealer a few weeks back when a local cop brought his helmet in for inspection, and I thought maybe I ought to do the same, but in that Motorcyclist article, they said the helmet would have to be sent to the manufacturer to be sure. Seems like I ought to just swallow the cost of the relatively inexpensive helmet and get a new one. Only one head, after all.

Patty
 

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Snell provided a response to the article and can be found on their sight @ http://www.smf.org. It provides some very interesting feedback. Snell has been around longer than the article in question and I would take that into consideration.

My only thoughts: DOT requirements are met by the manufacturer testing the helmets. Some of the "DOT" helmets in the article did not meet the requirement even though the manufacturer said the helmet did meet the requirements.

So just because a helmet manufacturer says the helmet is "DOT" doesn't mean it IS.

Snell certified means that SNELL did the testing, not the manufacturer. And after the helmet is certified, SNELL will randomly buy the helmets and test the production version for continued certification.

So when you buy a DOT helmet, is it REALLY DOT? Who knows.

But Snell is Snell, certified by an outside third party. That's why I buy Snell.
 

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I appreciate your comments, bechtoea. Can you give me a little more guidance as to exactly where on the Snell site their response to that article is? I skipped around some and found responses to other articles, but not the one that appears in the June 2005 issue of Motorcycling.

But, you're right. The problem with trusting a DOT-only certification is... trusting a DOT-only certification. I've just about talked myself into the need to get a new helmet anyway, but I'm still not sure about the rating.
 

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Thanks for the link, Stargazer. I quickly read through the article, but it's talking about bicycle helmets (which is why I skipped it the first time at the site), and the conclusions reach seem to indicate changes that already exist in motorcycle helmets. Not sure I've gained much insight from that one.

Patty
 

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Oh, and I forgot, I think dicussing "snell vs DOT" is like discussing what kind of motor oil that you use. The fact that you are concerned enough to even entertain the question means you are an intelligent person and probably ahead of the curve on these things.

Certainly way ahead of the guy wearing chaps, leather jacket, and a pair of sunglasses.
 

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For bechtoea

Thank you for posting the link to the Snell response. I read through their letter and now feel a lot better about my choice of a Snell helmet. While I must feel a little dismay in entertaining the possibility that the article writers deliberately skewed the information, I realize it's possible that they were well-meaning and came to their conclusions honestly, if perhaps mistakenly. I like to think the best of people (until they prove me unequivocably wrong; then I keep an eye on 'em ever after!).

I'll be interested to hear any rebuttals offered by Motorcycling magazine as well.

Think I'll stick with the Snells.
Patty
 

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Patty, I am with you. I will stick with Snells as well.
 

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4DThinker said:
Stargazer said:
What is less obvious is how the hard plastic shell may have degraded with age. It 'looks" fine, but I'd be shocked if it still passed any DOT tests now.
The plastic of 20+ years ago is not the same as plastic of today. :lol:
 
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