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Other than price point and status what's the difference in a helmet that cost less than 30 bucks and one that cost 75-80 bucks or more? Some things that comes to mind is comfort, including keeping your head cool ,fit and style but will a cheaper helmet protect ones head just the same as a more expensive one? If your head hits a windshield at 30mph or you go head first on a descent at 35-40mph and hit head first how much difference would it make as far as the helmet is concerned? Wouldn't the results be pretty much the same? I see all these different helmets offered at the lbs and can't help but wonder why so many. Marketing maybe? Just curious.
 

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n00bsauce
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shudson16 said:
Other than price point and status what's the difference in a helmet that cost less than 30 bucks and one that cost 75-80 bucks or more? Some things that comes to mind is comfort, including keeping your head cool ,fit and style but will a cheaper helmet protect ones head just the same as a more expensive one? If your head hits a windshield at 30mph or you go head first on a descent at 35-40mph and hit head first how much difference would it make as far as the helmet is concerned? Wouldn't the results be pretty much the same? I see all these different helmets offered at the lbs and can't help but wonder why so many. Marketing maybe? Just curious.
You're correct, all helmets will protect pretty much the same. However, there are differences between helmets that may make one protect better than another. Primarily fit. If a helmet doesn't fit well and you can't adjust it to fit well then it may be less effective at protecting your noggin. You have to wear it correctly. It needs to be level on your head and fit snugly. Different brands and models fit differently. Some brands tend to fit round better than oblong and visa versa. Pick a brand and model that fits your head the best.

Also, some believe that many of the least expensive models actually protect better because of their shape. Less expensive models tend to be rounder with fewer protruding edges. The more expensive models often have outlet vents at the back that are very pointed. The theory is, in a crash the more rounded helmets have less of a tendency to catch and skew the helmet along with the riders head or twist on the head. Sounds like a reasonable theory but I'm not aware of any tests that prove it.

Venting is important and if a helmet is so hot you don't wear it's kinda useless.
 

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Converted Runner
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Higher end helmets often have a secondary energy dissipation device (i.e. something in addition to foam) like Catlike's C.E.S, Specialized's kevlar InnerMatrix, Giro/Bell's use of carbon fiber reinforcement... Basically it allows less foam to be used because any impact will be (in theory) more equally distributed around the head instead of relying on the deformation of foam at one point. They all pass the same tests, but the more expensive ones are lighter and have more ventilation. Additionally, they often have separate moulds for the more expensive ones (and those moulds cost $$$$, hence the jacked up price) because they do in-form moulding to bond all those plastic, foam, and reinforcing structures together, forming a neater package, and offering a higher degree of fit customization.

So in the end, there may be differences in protection, but they all meet minimum standards so those differences are likely negligible when compared to the overall level of protection (we're likely talking within 5% of each other, but I don't have numbers to back that up).
 

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If a rider hits a windshield at 30mph with any type of helmet, the results are still the same: NOT GOOD! The thing that you'll have to keep in mind is that if you buy a much cheaper helmet or any helmet for that matter is to make sure that it is either SNELL or ANSI certified. There are other standards & each differ in its stringency.

What this means is that the helmet has been tested to be able to protect to a certain level of impact. Sort of like the 5mph bumper crash test on cars. Cheaper helmets will often bypass the more stringent testing methods because the testing is costly & cuts into profits. So they only protect to the lowest standard & not the higher certifications.

High end helmets differ from lower end helmets in weight, adjustability & fit, venting & lastly profile. That dreaded alien head look. What you're paying for in a more expensive helmet is r&d. They're testing for aerodynamics, level of cooling & level of crash protection while trying to do all 3 in the most stylish way possible.

My personal opinion is that manufacturers do a really good job of offering so many options available at so many price points to buyers. If you really think about it using your logic, why are there so many car options?? Is there any difference in a $500k ferrari & a $30k ford?? If you believe that its marketing hype, then please ignore everything I said above.
 

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All helmets are tested to the same standards.

If one actually performs better or worse we have no way of knowing as the tests are pass/fail (anything on the market has passed).

You've hit most of the key points to price differences: FIT, comfort, airflow, weight, status, styling, materials....

Why so many is because people have different shaped heads, different "needs", different price points, etc.
 

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gamara said:
If you really think about it using your logic, why are there so many car options?? Is there any difference in a $500k ferrari & a $30k ford?? If you believe that its marketing hype, then please ignore everything I said above.
this can be the conclusion of it. a ferrari or a ford? you got your questions answered. :D
 

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vexatious enigma
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They all have to pass the same tests and regulations. What you get with a more expensive helmet is the venting, fit and a touch of styling. Venting and fit are huge in my eyes. The helmet that I had before was a cheap one that just got the job done. The venting was horrible though and I would over heat at times. About a month ago I crashed hard and broke the helmet in about 3 different places. The only thing that happened to my head was some stars and a very minor concussion.
 

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As long as the helmet meets CSPS standards it's good to go for safety; now comfort. venting, etc would definatley make me suggest spending more than $30 on a helmet. The less styrofoam in a helmet, probably the lighter the helmet is. I certainly opt for style as well....so I am willing to spend a bit more than your suggested $80...at the end of the day, wear your helmet, whatever it cost.
 

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Assuming the helmet fits well and passes the same standards, the main things you get when you pay more are better ventilation and style. The ventilation on the top end helmets (Ionos, Volt etc) really is noticeably better. Style might not be important to many, but if I'm going to wear a big hunk of foam on my head for umpteen hours every week for 2 or 3 years, I don't mind paying a little bit extra to get something I like the look of.

Re: wearing it properly - this is so important. Every day I see casual cyclists with helmets on the back of their head with the forehead and temples completely exposed and the straps not done up properly. These people must just be incredibly stupid not to figure out that this isn't going to protect their head at all, so it's natural selection in action I suppose. Proper road cyclists usually at least have the helmet straight and the straps done up, but a lot of people seem to wear helmets that are a size too small for them and make this worse by having a cap underneath, so the thing just sits on top of the head rather than covering it...
 

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Slim Again said:
Does anyone test helmets?

The minimum standards are just that ... I want to know which helmets surpass the minimum, and by how much.
Yea, the agencies that certify them. The test is pass/fail based on the standards set by that agency. There's no agency (that I know of) that gives a grading or rating scale beyond pass/fail. Certain certifications have different requirements and are thus stronger than others (at least in some areas).
 

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What Would Google Do.
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you are paying for comfort, ventilation [alot more], lighter weight.
 

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Slim Again said:
Does anyone test helmets?

The minimum standards are just that ... I want to know which helmets surpass the minimum, and by how much.
Yes. From what I read when I started riding, found via Google, there is no real difference in expensive vs. cheap when it comes to protection. I think all other points - fit, venting, etc. - have been covered here.
 

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Potatoes
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muscleendurance said:
you are paying for comfort, ventilation [alot more], lighter weight.
That's it.

Whether it be $30 or $250 they're all single use. Like most things in life you will get the best value for money somewhere in the middle or just below the top. Much like a Specialized Decibel to an S-works or a Bell Sweep to a Volt or Ultegra to Dura Ace.
 

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I've used several helmets. I've never really found any significant difference between my $40 Bell Alchera and some of the more expensive helmets that i've tried. The differences in weight are hardly worth noting, and I've never felt any differences in cooling or fit significant enough to warrant spending $200 or more on a helmet.

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/ProductDisplay?storeId=10052&langId=-1&catalogId=10551&productId=1029831&cm_mmc=$(referrer)$-_-Helmets/Eyewear-_-BELL-_-40-1391&CSE=GooglePS&mr:trackingCode=D221BC46-A681-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA

Provided the helmet fits properly, they all protect your head the same. Helmets are easy enough to sort out. You should be more concerned with eyewear.
 

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n00bsauce
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I picked up a new helmet last year and actually liked the Echelon over the S-Works from Specialized. My favorite helmets are from them and that is what I've been using for years. However, the S-Works had inner webbing that interfered with my sunglass arms, while the Echelon didn't. Not quite as cool looking, but so what, I can't see it when I'm riding. I like the wheel mechanism much more than the two-handed slide rule thing.
 
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