Friday, April 10, 2009

Statistics Don’t Tell the Whole Story

In my search for a new affordable helmet I have been researching the statistics on a variety of brands. My focus is on those companies that manufacture modular or “flip face” helmets. In my opinion flip face helmets are the best of both worlds. They provide better protection than open face models, but freedom from the claustrophobic confinement of a full face model. My research however has resulted in more questions than answers.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about. I found a great chart listing the G force ratings on a variety of models. There were DOT only listed ratings and DOT/Snell rated helmets. I took each model from the top of the list for each rating and then went to the web in search of consumer review. While the statistics for Z1R (top DOT model) and Icon (top DOT/Snell model) were at the top of the list on the impact tests, consumers found that the fit was sometimes questionable and less than satisfactory. In some, the helmet didn’t stand up to the “roll off” test. This is where you grab the back of the helmet at the neck and see if you can roll if off your head. A helmet after all is only good if stays put.

Fit was not the only issue that consumers had problems with when trying out helmets. Small things like the vent levers and small plastic parts soon broke off on some of them. A vent is of no use if you can’t open it. Then the next line I read in a review nearly discouraged me in my efforts. “Finding the right helmet may take longer than finding the right motorcycle.” I certainly hope not! I need a new helmet a lot sooner than six months from now.

To my surprise the most popular and expensive models were lower rated on the G force tests. But again, beware of statistics. While the others were better with impact tests, some didn’t stay on the head. I will read the reviews for some of these more expensive helmets next. For now, the headache I have is not from helmet wearing, but reading so much content and trying to make sense of the findings.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I

would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have

enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


PatnWilton said...

Elaina, Your comment is much appreciated. Glad you enjoy the content. With the season just beginning I'm looking to have tons to write about.

Canajun said...

Even though I replace at least one of my helmets every couple of years I really HATE helmet buying.

In my opinion what it comes down to is fit and comfort. If it doesn't fit well and is a constant irritant because it's flopping around, or so tight it gives you headaches, then it's taking your mind off of safe riding and probably increases your overall risk.

So I pretty much ignore the reviews and instead try to find a style and colour I like, with a good fit, and at a reasonable price. That last is often the hardest part. With the average around $300, and some $500 or more in the local shops, cost is a serious consideration and not always representative of value.

And with the variety out there today, it can take a long, long time to get just the right one.

fasthair said...

Ms. Pat: I just want to add maybe some advice. It is best if you can test fit your helmet before you buy it. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new here. Unless you stick with the same brand chances are the same size will fit different from another maker. Even if you don't buy it local, you really should try to give a local dealer a shot at the price. When I bought my last helmet I found what I wanted on the internet and since I was sticking with the same brand I was about as sure as I could be that it would fit. I then called up a local Honda dealer to see what price he would sell it to me for. It turned out to be even cheaper to buy it from him then even E-Bay or any where else I could find on the internet.

Another plus about looking local is if the sales person is smart and has been trained they can assist you in making sure the helmet fits proper.

I encourage you to read my post on helmets and to follow the links in that post to perhaps help inform you even more. The wrong helmet can not only cost you extra money but it could cost you even more then money.