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  #1  
Old July 28th, 2005, 07:16 PM
greghirst greghirst is offline
Greg Hirst
KI6CQL
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,290
Motorcycle Helmet Recommendations?

Recently picked up a motorcycle and am getting my license soon. Any recommendations for a helmet? (Aaron?)

I'm leaning towards a plain black Shoei VFX-R.
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  #2  
Old July 28th, 2005, 09:03 PM
johnlee johnlee is offline
John Lee
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
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Congratulations. That is sweet.
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  #3  
Old July 29th, 2005, 08:29 AM
hochung hochung is offline
Ho Chung
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Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
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AWESHOME!! now the obvious question... which motorcycle did you get?
____________________
Ho Chung

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  #4  
Old July 29th, 2005, 08:38 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
What did you get for a m/c??

Helmet. Helmet. Helmet.

There are so many things about helmets, it's hard to know where to start.

If you compare apples to apples... say the top-of-the-line helmet from each of the manufacturers... the only real difference will be fit. Each brand will fit your head a little differently. For example, the Shoei brand does not fit my head, the Arai brand does not fit my wife's head. So, I have an Arai and she has a Shoei. There will also be slight differences in how the helmets work... how the visor locks or flips open, how the vents open/close etc etc... but it's not something to focus on, fit and thus comfort is much much more important.

You want to make sure that the helmet is snug, don't get one a little large to compensate for an uncomfortable shape. Once on, grab the chin bar (we are discussing full face helmets... right?) and shake it around. If the helmet moves on your head it's too big. It may sound strange... but I get a haircut before I go helmet shopping. A loose helmet will move around on your head while riding which will fatigue your neck muscles more quickly.

Many helmet reviews rate the interior noise level of a helmet. While this is important, it won't necessarily translate to you and your m/c. Your riding position/bike combination may create more noise for you in a "quieter" helmet than a "noisier" one. The only real solution to wind noise is to wear ear plugs. I like the foam ones from Howard Leight, but there are other brands. I don't wear them around town (but I should) but anytime I am on the bike for more than about forty-five minutes to an hour they go in. Wind noise is not something to mess with as it will lead to long term hearing loss (ask me how I know).

More expensive helmets are generally lighter. This is a good thing, but again, not something I would crazy about, unless you plan on spending many hours on your new machine.

Now the tough part: safety ratings. I will only mention a couple points of view and leave you to do your own research. The most basic safety rating is by the DOT (Department of Transportation). Do not even pick up a helmet without a DOT seal on the back. Any reputable helmet that I have seen has the DOT seal on the back of the helmet down low. It should be painted on or under the clear coat. I have seen some helmets with "DOT" stickers... the fine print indicates that "DOT" stands for something other than "Department of Transportation". It's pretty obvious though and not many shops get involved with that sort of crap.

The other most common safety rating is the Snell Safety Foundation safety rating. Usually just above the DOT seal on the back. This "Snell" rating is in theory a higher standard but there is some conflicting research.

The Snell Safety Foundation rating came about as the result of the death of motorcycle racer named Snell. (I don't have time to double check myself... but I think this is correct.) The idea is for helmets to meet an even higher standard than the DOT requires. This higher standard involves primarily a stronger shell and foam of higher density. Here's the rub... there are some tests that indicate the a Snell rated helmet cases more head trauma in "normal" crash scenarios. Why? The thought is that a Snell rated helmet is designed for racing type crashes... higher speeds and harder impacts. A "normal" crash on the street generally involves lower speeds, thus the foam is too dense to actually absorb the impact. In these kinds of crashes the softer "loweer" quality foam actually does a better job of protecting your head. I know a many people who intentionally do not ride with a Snell rated helmet on the street.

So... what would I do? Go to your local m/c shop(s) and try on as many different brands as you can. Find a brand that fits you best. Then look at that brands entire line of helmets. Usually the most expensive one is a racing helmet with removable/interchangeable cheek pads and liner, you probably don't need this unless it's the only way you can get a good fit. Get the next level down... or the most expensive one you can afford (not counting graphics). And yes... all my helmets are Snell rated.
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  #5  
Old July 29th, 2005, 02:23 PM
johnlee johnlee is offline
John Lee
K6YJ
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
Posts: 16,160
Notice how Aaron's advice is based upon helmet fit. Aaron gave me the same good advice when I asked him about helmets. I tried on helmets galore. They ranged from:

Small
Medium
Large
X-Large
Korean

I had to go with the size Korean. My helmet is huge:




Aaron and I have the same Arai XD. Kristian has, I believe, an Arai VX-PRO. Note the size of my helmet compared to theirs. I thought about a white XD but ended up with the silver because I thought I would look too much this like guy:




I still look like him anyway, but the silver color helps a little bit.
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  #6  
Old July 29th, 2005, 03:01 PM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Fit to me is the most important factor when considering a helmet. I have been wearing Arai helmets for so long now that I don't even bother trying them on, I just order a large and know it will fit me correctly. Every once in a while I will try a new Shoei on for size as I do really like the Shoei brand. Not once have I been able to get a good fit.

A helmet that fits you correctly it will be less fatiguing on long rides. It will have fewer pressure points to cause pain, less pain means more focus on your riding. Less fatigue and more focus means that you are less likely to use your helmet.

I have always shopped for my m/c safety gear by first deciding how much I could afford to spend at the time. Then I would research the best product that I could afford. It's not a matter of just spending money for the sake of spending money but I have found through the years that you get what you pay for, especially with safety equipment. So I buy the "most" that I can. The monkey wrench in this method is the arguement against the Snell rating for street helmets.

A helmet without a Snell rating is usually quite a bit less expensive. My initial thoughts when I heard people arguing aginst Snell was that they were mearly trying to rationalize thier unwillingness or inability to spend the money on a Snell helmet. But there are some credible studies to back up this theory.

I haven't quite been able to get myself to buy a non-Snell helmet. I still feel that it offers more protection. But, who knows, I may be old school...
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  #7  
Old July 29th, 2005, 07:52 PM
greghirst greghirst is offline
Greg Hirst
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,290
Thanks for helping a newbie Aaron! I ended up buying the black Shoei VXF-R in size large. I was actually thinking of getting XL as it felt more comfortable initially. However, it was a little loose and the large felt very snug. Based on your advice I'm assuming that a little "snugness" is better as it does not move around much at all.

Tried the Arai as well and it's obvious they are slightly bigger for a given size than the Shoei. Didn't have the same snugness in the large as the Shoei.

LOL-John. Maybe a NASA sticker on that helmet wouldn't look out of place!

The bike is a 2003 KTM 450 EXC with CA plates. This was Malcolm Smith's personal bike and I like the way he set it up. Very soft ride d/t custom shock valving and springs, Baja Designs street kit, extra large 3.1 gal IMS "Desert" fuel tank.

Just got back from an hour ride in the hills behind my house
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  #8  
Old July 29th, 2005, 08:00 PM
johnlee johnlee is offline
John Lee
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
Posts: 16,160
Awesome.
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  #9  
Old July 30th, 2005, 05:59 AM
nosivad_bor nosivad_bor is offline
Rob Davison
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 1,051


you look more like this john.
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  #10  
Old July 30th, 2005, 04:05 PM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosivad_bor


you look more like this john.




Congrats on the new bike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  #11  
Old August 6th, 2005, 09:07 AM
greghirst greghirst is offline
Greg Hirst
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,290
Here's pics (along with one of my whiskey tango garages ):
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Lake Oroville July 05 KTM pics 025.jpg (61.0 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg Lake Oroville July 05 KTM pics 026.jpg (51.5 KB, 44 views)
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  #12  
Old August 6th, 2005, 09:20 AM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
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  #13  
Old August 8th, 2005, 11:44 AM
johnlee johnlee is offline
John Lee
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
Posts: 16,160
Sweet.
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  #14  
Old August 17th, 2005, 09:04 PM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Interesting reading...

Helmet Safety Standards
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  #15  
Old August 18th, 2005, 06:57 PM
johnlee johnlee is offline
John Lee
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
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Holy shit. I can't wait to read Part Deux.
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  #16  
Old August 18th, 2005, 07:17 PM
greghirst greghirst is offline
Greg Hirst
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,290
Thanks for posting Aaron. Definitely some good info.
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  #17  
Old August 18th, 2005, 08:46 PM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
KI6BCA
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Almost too much info. How is a layman going to know what the "right" helmet is?
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  #18  
Old August 19th, 2005, 12:31 PM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
Not that I need a helmet in the near future... but I think I will look into a Euro Spec Arai the next time I get one.
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  #19  
Old August 19th, 2005, 12:51 PM
johnlee johnlee is offline
John Lee
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Torrance, CA
Posts: 16,160
That might be the ticket. I got weird juju from that response from Snell. Makes me wonder about the Snell standard.
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  #20  
Old August 19th, 2005, 01:00 PM
traveltoad traveltoad is offline
Aaron Shrier
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: San Fernando Valley
Posts: 2,628
I agree. I can't wait for the second part of the article/research as much for the info as for the Snell response.
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