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Hey folks, newb here-first post! I'm sure my question has been asked before but I couldn't really find what I was looking for so point me to the right direction if there is another thread/website on this.

So I cheaped out a little and bought a Bilt Force helmet from Cyclegear when I got my CB300F. The price was right for me, it looked nice and had all the features I was looking for (especially an internal sun visor). It was even ECE rated which I wasn't expecting from a $100 helmet.

Anyways, I'm a bit torn on replacing this helmet with another "higher quality" brand because I really do like it and it fits well but everyone keeps telling me to get a Shoei, Arai, etc. My question is, if all these helmets have the same safety ratings, what difference does the brand make? All I am really looking for is something that will protect me if I ever go down.

The way I look at it is that I bought a cheap Hyundai (i.e. Bilt) whereas a Shoei is probably more like a Mercedes. At the end of the day, both vehicles should keep you equally safe in a crash due to government regulations. The only difference I see is that a Mercedes will probably offer you more comfort, style, brand name recognition, etc. A Bilt and Shoei shouldn't be that much different in the same respect, right?:confused:
 

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I only buy Japanese helmets (Shoei, Arai etc) but it's definitely not because of brand name, I dont care about stuff like that.
To be fair the cheaper brands have closed the gap in recent years as far as quality and bang for your buck goes. It used to be that if you wanted a helmet that gave you decent protection plus quality fit and performance (snug fitting visors that dont leak and whistle, decent air flow systems that actually work, quality ratcheting systems on the visor opening etc etc) then you had to buy a name brand to get it. Also these helmets were/are more comfortable. I've tried on a number of cheaper helmets over the years and they generally just don't feel as immediately comfortable. It can be simple things like the liner material being coarse and scratchy rather than plush and smooth against your skin.
Also the expensive helmets usually have a quality visor fitted that doesn't scratch up in the first six months of use.
I could go on but at the end of the day it's up to you. My suggestion would be to try on as many helmets as you can before you buy.
Also, if you want to be seen out there then white is the color of choice. Boring I know but they have done studies on this to work out the most visible color to other road users.
 

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The way I look at it is that I bought a cheap Hyundai (i.e. Bilt) whereas a Shoei is probably more like a Mercedes. At the end of the day, both vehicles should keep you equally safe in a crash due to government regulations. The only difference I see is that a Mercedes will probably offer you more comfort, style, brand name recognition, etc. A Bilt and Shoei shouldn't be that much different in the same respect, right?:confused:
That analogy doesn't work for me. One of the worst cars I have owned was a high end BMW. One of the best was a KIA. The KIA wasn't "cheap", it was "inexpensive."

I have owned top of the line Bell, Shoei and others and I currently own and use a Bilt helmet. Not all heads are shaped the same and not all helmets feel the same on my head. I, too, bought my helmet at Cycle Gear. They had at least 100 helmets available for me to try on. When I put the Bilt helmet on my head I immediately knew it was the right one for me. If you are happy with the helmet you have, you should keep it. If it will make you feel better about your "inexpensive" helmet, there are lots of Shoei stickers for sale on ebay: Shoei Sticker | eBay.
 

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If the choice of helmets all have a similar crash rating then the most important thing is the fit. Helmets are different shapes internally and heads are different shapes. If you get the wrong shape helmet for YOUR head, it will not be comfortable and you'll find it distracting.
I use a white Caberg Duke. This suits the shape of my head. It has a 5 star Sharp rating and many Shoei and Arai helmets don't make this standard.
 

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I've been wearing Shoei helmets for many years now, and for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because a Shoei medium fits my head shape "like a glove", whereas every other helmet brand that I've tried on over the years didn't fit my head shape as well as what a Shoei does. Second, the fact that Shoei (as do other high end safety helmets, like Arai) voluntarily submit their helmets to the Snell Foundation for rigorous testing which goes well beyond that of the minimum DOT standards. If one were to ask why all helmets are not submitted to the Snell Foundation for testing, the simple answer is that many would not pass Snell standards.

Another way to look at the helmet safety standards issue, is that while all helmets must meet the minimum safety standards (or "crash worthiness") of the countries they are sold in, just as all automobiles must meet a set of minimum safety standards, that doesn't mean that all of those helmets and cars are equal with respect to safety... some of those helmets and cars can far exceed the minimum standards. In many cases you do get what you pay for.

As for the comparison between a $80 Bilt helmet, and a $500+ Shoei or Arai helmet, much like the comparison between KIA and BMW cars, I'm of the opinion that's a bit disingenuous, and really just another "apples and oranges" comparison. To use another example, no one would pretend that a $50 Coleman or Igloo cooler is in anyway comparable to a $300 - $400 Yeti cooler.

Beyond the factors of fit and the higher Snell test standards, the other reasons for my preference for Shoei helmets are many of the same things kiwi rider pointed out in his post... higher quality fabrics used in the interior; superior air seal between the shield (or visor) and the gasket on the shell; well designed venting for good air flow through the shell.
 

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If it's rated and fits well then that's what works for you.

I personally got a Fly Three.4 helmet (DOT, ECE 22.05 and SNELL2010 rated) as my first helmet from when I originally took motorcycle school and it actually fit me really well, but it's expired now. I then got a Scorpion R710 which is my new daily, fairly cheap (sub $200 when I bought it) fit decently and DOT, ECE 22.05, and SNELL 2015 rated.

For when I'm riding 2 up (not very often, maybe 3 times a season) I just got a Thor Sector which is only DOT and ECE rated and the lining leaves something to be desired but it was like $130 CAD which I can't complain about at all.

tl;dr: As long as it's rated and fits well the rest of it is a combination of; marketing, brand name, comfort, and noise.

BTW: I think like 80-90% of helmets out there are OEMed by a handful of manufacturers. HJC and Z1R are supposed to be 2 of the biggest OEM's out there. Supposedly even AGV doesn't own it's own manufacturing facility and gives the specs to an OEM to make the helmets for them.
 

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If the choice of helmets all have a similar crash rating then the most important thing is the fit. Helmets are different shapes internally and heads are different shapes. If you get the wrong shape helmet for YOUR head, it will not be comfortable and you'll find it distracting.
I use a white Caberg Duke. This suits the shape of my head. It has a 5 star Sharp rating and many Shoei and Arai helmets don't make this standard.
I don't believe that's an accurate statement where specific test standards are concerned. First, every safety helmet offered by Shoei and Arai is Snell Foundation certified. And it's common knowledge within the safety helmet industry that the Snell Foundation testing protocol utilizes a higher impact (anvil) test standard than that of the UK's Sharp standard.

https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/helmet-safety-ratings-101



... BTW: I think like 80-90% of helmets out there are OEMed by a handful of manufacturers. HJC and Z1R are supposed to be 2 of the biggest OEM's out there. Supposedly even AGV doesn't own it's own manufacturing facility and gives the specs to an OEM to make the helmets for them.
The term OEM as used in your post is a bit misleading... the makers of safety helmets are generally thought of as aftermarket manufacturer's, not OEM's. Whereas the term "OEM" (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is typically used to describe factory replacement parts & components sourced from the manufacturer of a vehicle.

What you're describing is commonly referred to in most industries is 're-branding'... in the case of helmets, Bilt helmets for example, is a "store brand" helmet owned and sold exclusively by Cycle Gear. Cycle Gear obviously doesn't manufacture it's own helmets, and as you say, the Bilt brand could very well be made for Cycle Gear by a company like HJC or similar.

As for AGV, they are part of the Dainese brand group and like Shoei and Arai, are considered to be a top tier helmet brand. That said, I would find it hard to believe that AGV helmets would be made by a company like HJC, which is a brand known for it's lower price point helmets made in China, and therefore is not generally associated with top tier safety helmets such as AGV, Shoei, & Arai.
 
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The term OEM as used in your post is a bit misleading... the makers of safety helmets are generally thought of as aftermarket manufacturer's, not OEM's. Whereas the term "OEM" (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is typically used to describe factory replacement parts & components sourced from the manufacturer of a vehicle.
Sorry I mean ODM (Original Design Manufacturer), I'm just so used to saying OEM that it slips my mind. ODM's will tender a bid to try and get a contract to produce a design to some specification for a bigger brand name company. ie. Similar to Foxconn and how they make products for other companies under contract or Giant Bikes and Dorel Industries will manufacture bikes for a lot of other bike brands based on a design spec/drawing.

And don't get me wrong, I didn't say that AGV awards tenders to HJC and the like but to have their own supply chain, tooling, and manufacturing facility for the kind of volume they do is insane to think about.
 

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I don't believe that's an accurate statement where specific test standards are concerned. First, every safety helmet offered by Shoei and Arai is Snell Foundation certified. And it's common knowledge within the safety helmet industry that the Snell Foundation testing protocol utilizes a higher impact (anvil) test standard than that of the UK's Sharp standard.

As for AGV, they are part of the Dainese brand group and like Shoei and Arai, are considered to be a top tier helmet brand. That said, I would find it hard to believe that AGV helmets would be made by a company like HJC, which is a brand known for it's lower price point helmets made in China, and therefore is not generally associated with top tier safety helmets such as AGV, Shoei, & Arai.
Shoei helmets with internal sun shades are not Snell rated. HJC does have Snell helmets -- CL-17 (up to 2XL) and FG-17 (all sizes).
 

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Shoei helmets with internal sun shades are not Snell rated. HJC does have Snell helmets -- CL-17 (up to 2XL) and FG-17 (all sizes).
I hadn't looked at Shoei's website before posting that... I see that they now do offer some helmets which do not have Snell certification.
 

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I hadn't looked at Shoei's website before posting that... I see that they now do offer some helmets which do not have Snell certification.

It’s the sun shade that’s done it, for people who’ll give up a little bit of safety for convenience. I’d personally go for a transitional pin lock insert instead, or Arai which has this external flip down shade. I have an Arai head, not a Shoei head.
 

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Shoei helmets with internal sun shades are not Snell rated. HJC does have Snell helmets -- CL-17 (up to 2XL) and FG-17 (all sizes).
Like some others, I believe that if it fits, and meets standards, it's good. However, more expensive helmets often have, as noted, better quality materials. Liners may last longer, resist odour better, and may be more adjustable for fit. Also, ventilation may be better. These are all things you won't know until you use it for a while. That said, my last two helmets have been HJC. Snell Approved, good fit, and my CL-17 came with a pinlock shield for under $200 CDN. If my budget were less restricted, I would probably be inclined to look at Arai helmets, as I have had one in the past and loved it. Sadly, I fell down and went boom in a race. That was the end of that.
 

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The only difference I have really seen between my two helmets (a 100 dollar bilt force helmet and a 670 dollar shoei GT air) is the level of refinement. The bilt is slightly more comfortable, has all the same features and has an ECE and DOT rating, whereas the shoei is just DOT, however the GT is waaaay better in a lot of areas. It never fogs, which the bilt does if you just glance at it. The shoei ventilation is so much better, it buffets significantly less at highway speed, is quieter and doesn't feel like it is going to twist my head off when I do a shoulder check to change lanes. I feel that both are about as safe (the bilt may actually be a bit better honestly) but the shoei is more pleasant to use.
 

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If it's rated and fits well then that's what works for you.

I personally got a Fly Three.4 helmet (DOT, ECE 22.05 and SNELL2010 rated) as my first helmet from when I originally took motorcycle school and it actually fit me really well, but it's expired now. I then got a Scorpion R710 which is my new daily, fairly cheap (sub $200 when I bought it) fit decently and DOT, ECE 22.05, and SNELL 2015 rated.

For when I'm riding 2 up (not very often, maybe 3 times a season) I just got a Thor Sector which is only DOT and ECE rated and the lining leaves something to be desired but it was like $130 CAD which I can't complain about at all.

tl;dr: As long as it's rated and fits well the rest of it is a combination of; marketing, brand name, comfort, and noise.

BTW: I think like 80-90% of helmets out there are OEMed by a handful of manufacturers. HJC and Z1R are supposed to be 2 of the biggest OEM's out there. Supposedly even AGV doesn't own it's own manufacturing facility and gives the specs to an OEM to make the helmets for them.

All the Bilt helmets are actually made by Z1R and they are the same helmets as Speed and Strength but have been rebadged. What I mean is that if you buy Speed and Strength brand it is the same as a Bilt helmet just that it has fancier graphics and colors. So if you only care about price go with the Bilt helmets from Cycle Gear. I tried one on and it was actually pretty comfortable. But the local store did not have my size in color Solid White so I ended up with a AFX FX-95 helmet. Do an internet search for that model, you can get it for $35 in certain colors and its originally a 100$ helmet. Check this out:

https://www.powersportsuperstore.com/collections/helmets?q=fx-95&sort_by=price_min_to_max

and this:

https://www.denniskirk.com/search/fx-95.q/priceasc.srt
 

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At least here in European Union, all helmets must comply to safety standards. As long as you don't buy really cheap fake products, saftety should be o.k.
However, weight and long term quality and spare parts may be an issue. I have a cheap "emergency spare helmet". The visor is no pin lock, so I get condensation on wet weather. The helmet shivers at high speeds. The fixture of some parts like spoilers is really simple, they can break off very easily.

My "good" helmet is a Schubert (German brand).
 

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also, serious helmet designers include type of use
when considering say, visor opening shape and levels,
[shade eyes with flat hand sitting up normally, then
keep[ing hand in position, lean torso forward
notice top of view opening drops, obscuring vision..


just an eg of design differences, here intended for road racing
or riding a bike with low flat bars 'sports style'..
easy solution is to bend your neck upwards,,
which will result in discomfort or pain..
not to mention training a poor upright posture
encoueaging 'goose neck' or a 'widows hump'..


this comes under size and fit, personal head shape,
and intended or typical riding style..
things like replacable cheek pads and other linings
can redically change levels of fit and comfort..
ie, eg, people have different head shapes and sizes,
but also have different facial and jaw profiles etc..


ultimately it comes down to what you want
and can afford to pay for..
check out your insurance for helmet replacement..
mine [aami] includes replacement of the same of
closest helmet after a crash [they assume the helmet
took impact and is thus finished - having saved
your brain and face etc.
my nice shark r did its job, and aami replaced it
with the nearest helmet available, a shark r carbon,
a high end and very nice helmet..
 

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To answer the original question : YES, the brand does matter. And I had to learn the HARD WAY. I want to reverse my previous post about AFX FX-95, it is an "okay" helmet but I decided to return it because the level of "refinement" is very obvious.

I mean if you put on an Icon Airmada after wearing the AFX or any other $100 or less MSRP helmet you will certainly feel the difference in comfort and airflow. And its worth the money to spend a little bit extra. I think we could break down the price into 3 categories:

1) Cheap helmets under $100 MSRP (Not worth it, spartan helmets that barely get the job done)
2) Medium range helmets from $100 - $300 (thats the sweet spot in my opinion where you get the most bang for your buck)
3) Premium helmets $300 and up (The best of the best but you reach a point of diminishing returns very soon)

Im a big fan-boy of Icon. Love their graphics and the way the helmets feel. Love the skeleton and "scary monster" designs. Totally bad-ass. If you where a metal-head in High School and a rocker you will probably love them too.
 

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Besides the cheapo helmet I wore at the MSF class, the only other helmet I ever tried on was the Shoei RF1200 I bought from Revzilla. I lucked out as it fits perfect. The venting and padding is great and the shield pops right off. I'm afraid I won't be satisfied if I replace it with something other than another Shoei or perhaps an Arai or AGV.
 

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Disregard my negative comment about the AFX FX-95. Its actually a good helmet. Just needed a day or 2 to break in but now I am very happy with it and tried 5 different brands and models and was most happy with this one after buying the size recommended in the chart for me 55 cm = XS. Before I had tried on the size Small and I was not too much impressed but the smaller size down fits snug and the snug cheek padding really keeps out alot of road noise. And the ventilation is comfortable as well as the visor is easy to move up and down. There is no built in sun visor so you would need sunglasses but I almost never wear sunglasses even in my car.

Its a good helmet, I ended up keeping it as my main helmet for the time being.

I tried 3 different helmets that had a built in sun visor and I did not care for it, it was uncomfortable to see out of and the vision was warped.

So this is the helmet I ended up getting:



What I really want is a solid white helmet so the cars can see me. So What I am going to do is to use white reflective tape to cover up the red and blue stripes. This way during the day it will be a solid white helmet and at night its going to reflect LIKE CRAZY. So I think this will be very safe and I am going to save some money because I see most solid white helmets are more expensive than other colors. Its hard to find one on sale at a deep discount.

So I bought this white reflective tape on Amazon for $3.50:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01L6ZI2TI/

Its going to take over 2 weeks to arrive from China (the reflective tape) so I will update the thread or better yet I may create a new thread with more before and after photos and a photo at night also. Stay tuned.

Here is the link to buy the helmet if you want to copy along. The helmets are around $42 shipped. It is normally a $100 helmet made in Taiwan. I have had good results with things from Taiwan.

https://www.powersportsuperstore.com/collections/helmets/products/afx-fx-95-vintage-factory-helmet

At night I am hoping to get an effect such as this:

 
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