'cheap'-er vs top shelf helmets

I was wondering if anyone know the difference (safety-wise) between all of the 'cheap' helmets out these days and the high end ones. I consider the old school helmets to be the high end, bell, shoei, arai. Out of these, shoei has always fit my head the best.

But looking at a new shoei's $579 usd mrsp and seeing others at 150 makes me wonder whats the difference? If a fox helmet and a shoei both have dot/snell2000/snell2005 stamps of approval, can the more expensive helmet take a bigger hit?

Aside from a top shelf helmet that may weigh less (ie all carbon fiber), vent better and/or have a paint job on it, what separates the $350 TLD's and $200-ish fox,one industry,661,thor,msr,nofear,etc from the $580 Shoei's? (those are msrp, I know they are cheaper online)

I've only ever trusted bell, arai, shoei, but I'm now trying to justify their higher price. If I remain a patron of one of these mfg's, am I just paying for r&d that I could be getting a comparable product from a competitor who just had to copy their technology for cheaper? (without sacrificing saftey of course)

thanks for any input,


I might be wrong, but I think for the most part more expensive helmest are due to weight, fit, brand loyalty and what pro is wearing them.

For the most part, if it meets the ratings (which can be controversial), then I wouldn't worry too much. I look at helmets as disposable items and tend to go less expensive (although not cheap).

I had a Shoei once. It was the nicest helmet that I have ever owned. It fit better, was light, and was relatively quiet.

These days I also consider helmets as a disposable item. I'm a trail rider so there is no one to impress with a "cool" helmet. I buy closeouts of last years models. If you shop around really good deals are available. My current helmet is a Fox V3 for a little over $100. It's list price was about $350. It's nice, but not as nice as my old Shoei.

I won't ever use the high-end helmets. Not because they aren't very well engineered, but none of them will fit my XXXXL melon. So i use AFX as my helmet of choice, it may not protect as well as Shoei,Arai et al, however it goes on past my eyebrows. Wear a helmet that fits right,is comfortable and meets whatever standard you put faith in. The most important thing is to be wearing it when you need it.

I rather spent 150- 200 on a helmet i´ll be willing to dump if i crash hard than on a helmet twice as expensive that would leave me broke if i had to do that.

My personal opinion is tjhat above the 100 dollar mark all the helmets aprotect your head just the same. Its all looks and comfort.

I bought my trooper for sale at dennis Kirk because it was an 05 helmet. It looks and feels great and i bought for less than what the kombat costs.

I know that Arai is a hand-made helmet, and thats why they are so expensive. Thats also why they are of such great quality.

IMO, when you buy a Fox or Thor helmet you are paying for a name. Are they great helmets? Absoutely. Are they any better than the $200 helmets? Not in my opinion.

As long as it has the current Snell rating, Im happy.

I hurt my neck a few years back because I had a heavy cheap helmet. After that I got a hemet that fit good and was under 3 lbs.

Shoies and Arais cost more because they are hand made and ispected. They also put more advance r&d/testing and materials into theire helmets. I think that all of the helmets may pass certain tests, snell and dot, but the arais and shoeis go well beyond the others protection wise. At least buy a helmet that fits well and is fairly high quality. As the saying goes,"what is your head worth?"

BTW If you are patient, you can find really great deals on old stock helmets like shoei and arai if you search *bay. I too have a XXL melon and luckily for me these don't sell too well so I can usually get a really good deal on a great helmet. There is also another thing to consider, DOT rating is a joke and snell is marginally better. There is a british standard you can read about on suomy's website but go with at least a snell rating.

or just don't fall off...

rock on.

or just don't fall off...

rock on.

That´s the best answer let´s ride with a baseball cap on our heads, or a cowboy hat depending on your sexual preferences, just make sure not to fall. JK

Seriously if i was rich or had a sponsorship i would wear only arai or Shoei. Since i cant afford them i buy discounted last years mid priced helmets replacing them after every hard getoff.

Has anyone else seen that Broc Hepler is now wearing an Arai helmet even though he is sponsored by HJC? He must have decided that he needed the best helmet he could get as I'm sure he didn't enjoy missing half a season due to a concussion. Just an fyi, kbc and hjc make all of the fox,thor, answere, no fear etc helmets. These two companies pretty much make all of the private lable stuff. As the previous person stated you can get discontinued/last year model shoei and arai helmets for a reasonable price.

^^^ Good Article!! Very informative!

I won't trust my melon to a Chinese helmet. Quality control does not exist in that country. If it's not made in Japan or Europe, I won't use it to protect my most precious organ.

Just an fyi, kbc and hjc make all of the fox,thor, answere, no fear etc helmets.

Yeah, I was wondering who made these. I figured it was some existing helmet mfg. Though I read that Fox did make its own latest offering. I'd imagine they have good Q/A. Not sure where they make it though. The new fox helmet for me is a mute point because much like the bells moto-X, it rips my ears off when putting it on or taking it off.

If I recall correctly I also read the Arai's were made with pre-preg. If so, they would be laid up by hand before getting cooked off. I couldnt find out what some of the 'mixed' composite processes were for some of the mfg's. I image they are some form of wet lay-ups which combine fg with kevlar or cf. I'm guessing the lower helmets, which are PC, are injected into molds. Anyways, aside from the materials used, I'm not sure what the engineering specs are on the end product between these different processes. I'd think the material would have more to do with a products strength than if it was a pre-preg lay-up vs a wet lay-up.

Thanks for the input. I am currently shopping for a helmet due to do a small get-off at washougal a week ago sat which knocked me out for about a minute. No memory loss or nausea, just some dizzyness for a couple hours after the crash. I did get a cat scan that came back a-ok. The crash just happened really quick and I didnt even get my hand/arm out first. I landed on my hip, shoulder, head and it was enough to knock me out. First time ever in 30 years of riding. I've seen stars, but never knocked out. So I gave my old Shoei VFX to my dad for trail riding and am in search of a new lid.

thanks again

Fox's helmets are all Chinese.

The list of non-Chinese/Korean helmets available in the US is short. Only Arai, Shoei and Soumy fit that description.

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