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The great helmet debate - facts and opinions needed

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I'm a TT newbie but not to the sport. I have always bought what I thought to be the best possible helmet (shoei vfx) for my oldest son who is a competitive B class rider.

In the last few years he has suffered a few concussions. We don't second guess the helmet and have replaced it with a new one after each of these events. No questions asked, don't even send it in for inspection as I have a understanding of what they visually look for.

He suffered one yesterday from a get off and was knocked out for appx. 30 seconds. No matter what anyone says I'll again replace this helmet.

In a discussion yesterday with a ex high profile pro mx rider and a current top 5 ama pro who were on site at the time I was told something that has lead me to seek more help.

These two riders refuse to wear that level of a helmet because in their own words it's too solid and they have had repeated concussions from that, they wear what is percieved as lower grade helmet because they flex and give more, in theory absorbing more of the impact than their head. They basically said the Shoei doesn't disperse the energy through the entire helmet.

With that said they also replace it after any hard crash.

So does any one have any factual independent study test results on mx helmets?

Hopefully it's clear here that money is no object when I'm considering my kids safety and I only want him in the best he can wear but am I being misled by the you get what you pay for theory? I have also seen some serious injuries while someone was wearing a lower end helmet and the results of that have also always led me to feel a simple concussion is the result of the shoei doing it's job vs one that allowed more severe injury.

All opinions are appreciated but pure facts are what I'm hoping for.

Thanks

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This went into detail in another concussion thread a week ago. Some had test results posted. Bottom line is its your brain hitting your skull... Nothing else.... That causes a concussion. Your young son is more succeptable to concussions because a) he is developing and :bonk: he has had repeat episodes. Honestly it sounds like he should take a break. Could it be lingering affects causing misjudgment and therefore more episodes? Who knows.

Regardless, as i said on the last post: there is no such thing as a concussion proof helmet... In any sport, and probably never will be. Just make sure it fits properly and thats your best bet, regardless of price.

As a side note, id like to say i have professional experience on this matter as a certified athletic trainer overseeing about 700 athletes throughout the year. We have recently been appointed in illinois to be the only other profession besides doctors to return athletes to play after a concussion. I would never second guess any of my advice or pad my posts with google search results. I sound like a robot because i do this ever day and have for several years. Best of luck finding a good answer and be sure to use your gut. Take care

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I've read testing before, I think it was Cycle News that did the test.....

Like you heard they found that the cheaper DOT approved helmets, HJC in particular I think, had signifigantly less G's applied to the brain because of the softer shell. Basically it came down the Snell testing. To get the Snell rating and hence sell more helmets they have to pass the Snell test. The big flaw here was having to take two impacts to the exact same spot. This makes the shell have to be too stiff thus translating more G's to the brain.

ECE has a better test going they say and Snell has recently made some adjustments. Hopefully someone here can chime in with a link to the article.

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From the health and fitness forum in General section.

http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1031780

ecdracing- much of what were dealing with when discussing the shell stiffness came from an 2005 article called "Blowing the lid off" in Motorcyclist magazine. The article tested may helmets and posted G force results for each. In many tests performed cheaper polycarbonte helmets reduced g forces better than some of the top of the line composites.

The author was later fired from the magazine as some of its popular helmet makers pulled their support. Things have changed since then Snell 2010 is the current snell standard, and if you research it compared to ECE 22.05 wich is a very widely accepted international standard, they are now very similar. Your VFXW meets Snell 2010, so you are up to date of course with helmet standards, and at the forefront of technology in many areas. Still, as of right now, no one has published a testing result for any current top of the line technology vs cheaper older technology wrapped in a polycarbonate shell. Still in other tests features such as differing density eps, canalized eps, etc have shown a reduction of g forces. Dirt rider did a test a few years ago, but the technology has moved forward since then as well. I think you have a good choice in helmets and I could only guess wether a cheaper "softer" shell material would reduce g force better than your current choice with the Shoei. Without a current test, we are all guessing.

http://www.webbikeworld.com/eicma-2010/nolan-helmets/dot-vs-ece-helmet-safety-standards.htm

Edited by pieplatesnductape

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how many concussion has he had in how long of a time frame? Might wana stop riding for a while?

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dbart250:

Thanks, we always take a break and dont return without doctor approval. We are enjoying his love for the sport and success at his level but are not trying to breed the next sx champ. His health and safety are the highest priority.

The last time was over a year ago and he took almost three months off, the doctor cleared him in two.

I know we can't find a concussion proof helmet and fully understand the risks of the sport. I don't doubt his ability or judgement at all, he's flying and when things go wrong at that speed it's never good for any rider. Yesterday was a high speed swap and he got hi sided into an uphill section.

My goal here is to learn as much as I can to make my best judgement when choosing the next helmet. Providing him with the highest level of protection thats available today.

Thanks again

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It is a proven fact that after the first concussion, recurring concussions are more prevelent. That's something we are now dealing with on a continuing basis in the world of athletics, esp. football and ice hockey. One of our young men suffered a concussion in mid-September and we held him out the remainder of the season. You don't mess around with those things anymore, and at your sons age you shouldn't even tempt it.

As for the 'stiffness' of the helmet (I'm assuming you are talking DOT vs. SNELL)....the two ratings are based on a different manner of striking the shell. One is more direct, one is at more of an angel (there are several other differences, but this is the one that really stands apart...and there was an in0depth article on this in Motorcycle Consumer News a year or so ago).

As riders, and parents, we can't predict how our heads (or our kids' heads) are going to strike that tree, or the ground. Its a matter of deciding what you are most comfortable with. Bottom line is, find a helmet that is comfortable to the user and use it every time. When the head hits another object, its going to hurt regardless of the helmet used...and not nearly as much as if NO helmet were being worn.

But, after the first concussion, you have to let the inside of the head heal. And that takes time.

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dbart250:

Thanks, we always take a break and dont return without doctor approval. We are enjoying his love for the sport and success at his level but are not trying to breed the next sx champ. His health and safety are the highest priority.

The last time was over a year ago and he took almost three months off, the doctor cleared him in two.

I know we can't find a concussion proof helmet and fully understand the risks of the sport. I don't doubt his ability or judgement at all, he's flying and when things go wrong at that speed it's never good for any rider. Yesterday was a high speed swap and he got hi sided into an uphill section.

My goal here is to learn as much as I can to make my best judgement when choosing the next helmet. Providing him with the highest level of protection thats available today.

Thanks again

Just to be clear, i hope i didnt come across rude. It seems as if you have the right mindset. I hate pulling people from their sport, but sometimes thats the case. Even if we have athletes pass our tests, they don return until completely symptom free, sometimes even if m.d cleared. The reason is because the doc isnt there on the sidelines, we are.

But like i said, i wasnt attacking. You are doin the right things it sounds. Bu to answer your original question, i really dont think there is one. All the testing in the world cant predict pre-race symptoms, impact speed/type/severity etc.

Best of luck.

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I've read testing before, I think it was Cycle News that did the test.....

Like you heard they found that the cheaper DOT approved helmets, HJC in particular I think, had signifigantly less G's applied to the brain because of the softer shell.

Well, that's a relief - I only use HJC helmets for me, wife, & kids. HJC helmets are also re-branded by a boatload of after-market companies.

JayC

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Thanks for all the input.

He's had two in a two year period and we have shelfed other helmets for other reasons in the past. Have several for book ends.

I'll read into the test methods to educate myself further but still beleive in the higher end helmets for some other additional safety features they come with like removal systems in the event a of neck injury (yes he wears a a star neck brace), at this point any way. He will be taking a break so I've got plenty of time to make the right choice for the next one.

The stiffness i mentioned was from comments made to me by two high level racers, they personally prefer to wear the older style referenced in the articles because they feel they didnt suffer concussions often because the helmet would "break" apart easier and the shoei shell was "too hard". I'm torn on that one considering the risk of a concussion vs a softer shell that could allow penetration from say a foot peg when a bike tackles you. And whos knows if they dont have contract obligations to promote certain brands.

Theres two sides to every point, I appreciate the info on where to do some more research. I'll add anything i find if noteable.

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My son took up football a couple of years ago, and I learned from a trainer that a mouth piece helps reduce the risk of concussion. I saw that Blake Baggett uses one, as well as a couple of others. I have always used Arai's, and often wondered the same thing. TP199 goes through helmet sponsors like I go through goggles. He would be a good resource with this topic. Good luck, and I hope your boy heals up quick, and is 100% soon.

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Thanks for the info on the mouth piece, we have considered that before noticing baggett also.

Yes the arai is on my radar, going to try one on. I read some information about there shell construction that got my attention.

We always considered either shoei or arai only, Its just hard to find a arai on the shelf to try on locally so and shoei is more dominant so we went that route

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I would look at Suomy. Quality hand made helmets in Italy but they only go for the ECE rating rather than Snell. The MR jump is also the lightest helmet around which can go a long ways in preventing injuries IMO.

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I would look at Suomy. Quality hand made helmets in Italy but they only go for the ECE rating rather than Snell. The MR jump is also the lightest helmet around which can go a long ways in preventing injuries IMO.

I think the mr jump has a dot version also, but the link on the site is mis labeled the vandal. Also the UFO Warrior is from Italy, wonder if it's connected with Suomy?

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I think the mr jump has a dot version also, but the link on the site is mis labeled the vandal. Also the UFO Warrior is from Italy, wonder if it's connected with Suomy?

It's ECE and DOT, just no Snell rating.

Suomy just started making dirt helmets fairly recently, big in the street racing world prior. No idea on the UFO.

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I did see a Suomy at my local Cycle Gear today and was going to research it some. They also pointed out the Bell Moto 9. I wrote Bell off with a bad experience using the moto 8 but will do some homework on this new one also.

I would have already had another Shoei in hand by now if it wasn't for the comments made by the two pro's mentioned that made me rethink my choices.

Hopefully I wont over think or analyze this. Going to take him to try on a Arai later this week. Luckily he can try the Shoei, Arai, Bell and Suomy all at the same store.

Sadly we have a nice gear sponsor that offers helmets to us at a very low cost but I just can't convince my gut that the protection is there compared to these higher end options. Very happy with the gear.

Will keep posting

Thanks again for all the input

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Interesting information here. Let us know what you end up going with.

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