Are expensive motorcycle helmets worth it?

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Are expensive motorcycle helmets worth it?

We all like to be safe on our bikes, and for many of us, that means, the use of a proper head bucket!

However, when we go online or to our local store, we cannot help but to be overwhelmed with the shear amount of offer, and the disparity of prices.

With that in mind, we remember wise words we have all seen or heard, "you pay for your helmet what your head is worth to you".

Well, I am not sure that is totally accurate, so I ask, are expensive motorcycle helmets really worth it?

Yes, and no.

A helmet’s price varies depending on many different factors, and it is worth diving a bit deeper into the subject so you can understand why this is not a clear cut answer, and why that statement may be tainted. 

In the end of my answer, I’ll add one clear example so you can translate all of the theory I’ll talk about into a practical situation.

What can influence a helmets price:

  • Certification

    An inexpensive helmet will many times not meet certifications like DOT, ECE or SNELL, and of course, as R&D is expensive, they can sell a cheaper bucket.

    But let's assume we are talking about certified helmets, if we all pass the same class, that doesn’t mean we all did it with the same grade, the same is true for certifications.

    NOTE: The following is an example, and any similarity with real life is pure coincidence, but I think it will help explain my point of view.

    Let’s assume that to get a DOT or ECE certification, you need to score 10 points on their test.

    A brand that decides to do a 10 point helmet to get the certification, will have the same approved sticker as a brand that exceeded that requirement.

    Obviously, the development expenses between those two helmets will be different enough to influence the final retail price.

 

  • Shell size

    It is common to see helmets with sizes ranging from XS to XXL, but that does not mean the brand will make all those different sizes of helmets.

    Usually brands choose to use 3 to 5 shell sizes that will accommodate all helmet sizes.

    A brand that has more shell sizes will have more costs, hence, most likely a more expensive helmet.


    - Example of the same helmet in 3 and 5 shell sizes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference: Picture from www.ghostbikes.com

 

Reference: Picture from www.sportbiketrackgear.com

  • R&D

    Not only of safety do helmets live.

    Ventilation, aerodynamics and used materials are some of the most expensive development stages on any helmet.

    Obviously, a company that produces a bucket made of plastic, without a single vent, that has the aerodynamics of a brick, will be able to sell it a lot cheaper than one that developed a carbon fiber, highly ventilated, comfortable, wind cutting helmet.


  • Branding and marketing

    The differences here are felt even within the same brand and model.

    As an example, imagine you have helmet X for 500$.

    The same helmet X with a Valentino Rossi design can cost 1000$.

    It’s the exact same helmet with different graphics, but the price changes a lot on pure marketing.

    The same is true for branding, as some brands buy the helmets from one brand, and just put their name on it.

    This means, that as you believe you are buying a premiumly priced helmet from the brand Y, you may actually be buying a cheaper brand W helmet with a marketing twist.


  • Types of fasteners

    Different helmets will use different fasteners, that will have different costs.

    The most common fasteners used are the D-rings or Double D-rings, the micrometric, and ratchet fasteners.

Reference: Image of a D-ring fastener from www.motocard.com

Reference: Image of a micrometric fastener from billyscrashhelmets.com

Reference: Image from a quick release fastener from www.whitedogbikes.com


- So, are expensive motorcycle helmets worth the cost?

Up to a certain point, yes.

As development is expensive, by buying something more costly, you will potentially be getting a more thought-out helmet, with better comfort, aerodynamics, and maybe somewhat safer.

However, considering that brands will charge you a premium for you to use a Valentino Rossi graphic on a helmet that in a solid colour sells for cheaper, we need to accept that price does not directly translate into quality and/or safety. 

- Sure, a pilot named helmet will cost more than the same one in a solid colour, but what about differences between brands, will more expensive mean better?

The answer is still no, not necessarily.

Let me share a clear example.

The Touratech Aventuro 2 Carbon, that will set you back around 599$ in a solid colour, is made in the same factory line as the Nexx X.WED 2, that in solid colours will cost you around 450$.

This happens because Touratech buys this helmet from Nexx, and rebrands them as their own.

The difference between the two?

The Aventuro is full carbon, and that shaves around 100g when compared to the Nexx’s multi-fiber build.

Does the 150$ between those helmets make the more expensive one better?

I personally don’t think so.

They are build by the same people, and the remaining characteristics, including safety certifications are the same.

And what about the 100g difference?

Most people will add more than that with an intercom and/or a helmet cam without even considering their weight, so for most people, those 100g will be totally neglectable.

However, if the weight difference is worth 150$ for you, that still does not make it necessarily a better helmet, not unless your definition of better is directly link to weight.




Are expensive motorcycle helmets worth it?


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