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Discussion Starter #1
I have a question about helmet quality. I currently own a HJC CL-SP full face helmet that I ALWAYS wear when I ride my motorcycle. I ride between 3000 and 4000 miles per riding season, April thru October. My current helmet is 4 years old and I am looking to replace it. Looking at new helmets I can spend $175.00 for a new HJC or I can spend $450.00 for a new ARAI. Is the ARAI a SAFER helmet? They are both made to the same DOT and SNELL standards. The ARAI will be lighter and have a better fit and finish but will it protect my head better in a crash? If the higher cost helmet is safer I can justify paying more. I do not want to pay more money just to have a name brand sticker on my helmet with fancy paint.
Thanks
Roger L
 

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If you want the brutally honest answer ... any helmet which is certified with the DOT, SNELL or ECE standards will protect your head in the same way. The primary differences between a $175 HJC and a $450 Arai are, as you mentioned, weight and the materials used, as well as the aerodynamic stability, air circulation and noise dampening.

I wear a Schuberth S1 (also in the same price class as the Arai) because it is very quiet, has excellent circulation and is relatively light (about 3 lbs). My previous helmet, a Shoei, would begin to vibrate at about 110 mph because of wind turbulence from my windscreen. The Schuberth is much more stable and doesn't start to oscillate until I hit higher speeds (125 - 130 mph).

When my Schuberth fell off my bike a couple of years back (I had set it down on the seat), I sent it back to the manufacturer for testing and asked them to replace the scratched visor. (The helmet was still under warranty, but it was my stupidity rather than a technical defect in the helmet). I received my helmet back about 10 days later with a brand new visor - free of charge. With a "high-end" product, you can often expect more service. A low price helmet won't get that kind of service because it just isn't worth it to the manufacturer to invest that much in a low-margin item.
 

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Until recently, Snell held standards that required harder impact-absorbing foam in order to withstand multiple impacts (such as two crashes in a race), and that was criticized. They just this year amended those standards, so a recent Snell-rated helmet is considered safer for street riders than the earlier ones.

There have been some high-profile articles in the magazines discussing this, and how the cheaper, DOT-only helmets were actually considered safer by a number of authorities.

http://www.smf.org/articles/dot.html
http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-helmets/motorcycle-helmet-faq.htm

I generally consider proper fit, along with at least DOT certification, to be an adequate threshold of safety.
 

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and then there those who say you should get a new helmet every 5 years or something to that effect.
 

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The primary differences between a $175 HJC and a $450 Arai are, as you mentioned, weight and the materials used, as well as the aerodynamic stability, air circulation and noise dampening.
Very true however.......I recently got the latest HJC model CL-16 and am thoroughly satisfied with all those aspects of it......except aero stability which I haven't tested 'cause I don't go that fast....and I'm behind a windshield. :mrgreen:

I can't imagine any helmet being $200 better in any or all respects together.
For some slightly less weight and slightly better venting and maybe a tiny bit quieter (although I can't see how it could get much quieter) might be worth the $200+ price difference but certainly not for me.

I did have to get a size larger than my CL-15 for a proper fit though.
 

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I had a Nolan, then a Schuberth, and finally settled on an Arai which I adore. My answer would be that there is no evidence proving an Arai or Shoes is safer but I find it significantly more comfortable and the shields have better clarity. I often go on 10-12 hour rides on the weekends, so that extra comfort is worth the money.
 

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I think we all agree, in response to the original question, that there is no CRASH SAFETY difference between the moderately-priced and high-priced helmets. The differences lie in the materials (fiberglass versus polycarbonate), engineering (clarity of the visor, air circulation, etc.) and design (graphics). When you buy an Arai or Schuberth, you also pay a premium for the name - these companies spend a lot of money sponsoring racers (both motorcycle and auto racing), which can only be spent if there is sufficient profit coming in on those helmets they sell. I can't imagine that the production costs vary too much between a $200 and $400 helmet (the difference is probably less than $10, and this is due to more complexity working with the high-tech materials)...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all of the information. It looks like all of the helmets have the same safety rating. The key is finding a helmet that fits right and WEARING it. If safety was the difference I would spend the extra $250 in a heart beat. In a crash you will spend that $250 in doctor bills very quickly.
On another note. How often should you replace a helmet? I heard that every 5 years you should look to replace the helmet. Is this coming from the helmet manufacturers to get you to buy more helmets. Like the bottle of shampoo says wash, rinse, repeat. :mrgreen:

Roger L
 

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Good question ... and the answer is ... "it depends".

My riding instructor clearly said, "if you've had an accident, replace your helmet". Even if you don't think it touched the ground, it could have been damaged.

Other than that, some of the materials used in the helmet shells are "UV-sensitive". If you are wearing the helmet every day in sunny weather (e.g. riding in the southwestern states), the shell will "degrade" faster than a helmet which is only worn by a "weekend warrior" during the summer riding season. Therefore, a blanket "replace the helmet every X years" can't really be accurate for everyone.

Basically, replace your helmet when you feel that it's "time". I usually replace mine every 3 - 4 years, simply because I get tired of it, or I feel that it's time for a change. On a couple of occasions, I've had the helmet fail (e.g. the mechanism which held the visor in place broke), or I've dropped it, or the color didn't match my new bike, etc... There's always a reason if you look hard enough :p
 

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UV degredation is a scary thought when you consider some helmets sit in the front window of a shop for 6-12 months before they are sold. Do not buy a display helmet, get one out of a box.
 

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One reason given for replacing a helmet every X years is that perspiration and "vapors" degrades the foam and the protection may be reduced over time as the foam hardens.
 

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It seems like if there the on DOT and SNELL are the same then you might be paying for the brand. I would take into consideration about what ispiron had said cause when you get up to the high speeds the last thing you want is your helmet to start to rattle and shake. But I do think everyone ends up paying more for a brand name. I have this website I check out most of my gear at its www.powersportsdirectory.info/wordpress this website has stuff on all the gear you could want. Check it out if you have a minute
 
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