Hey You With The Funny Head!
It’s true, I have a funny head.
As a result, I have a great deal of difficulty finding a helmet that’s comfortable. One that I can actually get my head into, and one that doesn’t give me a headache after 10 minutes.
Back in the early ’90’s after I rebuilt my Honda 750-4, Derek, the spare parts manager at Shogun Honda, Slacks Creek fitted me up for my first helmet. It was a silver RF-200 Shoei and was, back then, state of the art with both DOT and SNELL approval.
Derek explained that regardless of the mandatory Australian Standards certified sticker, I should always look for helmets that carry one or both of these other certifications in addition to local certification. I took this on board and have always bought helmets that have either or both of these other two testing certifications.
Maybe being fitted up with a Shoei from the get-go has spoiled me, because every helmet I have ever owned since that day was a Shoei, except one, which was a Nolan.
Shoei states that a helmet should last around 5 years if it is looked after. After that you should consider changing it up due to deterioration of the shell and innards.
I know there are those riders out there that have had the same helmet for significantly longer than that. They might be weekend riders, or, in the case of my mate Sully they just stuff a folded up tea-towel into the thing to add some extra padding and a few more years out of it when it gets a bit loose.
My current helmet is an Shoei XR-1100. I bought it in September 2012 and I’ve worn it every single day since, bar a couple of days over Christmas and Easter.
Weighing in at 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs), the XR series took over from the RF series some years ago and were available in solid colours, graphics and race replica livery.
The XR has since been superseded by the NXR which are about 140 grams lighter, weighing in at 1.36 kg (3.0 lbs). These come in similar livery as the XR with some new graphics to add some interest.
The XR has served me well, but after 3 years of daily use it’s become a bit whiffy* and is also a little looser due to the padding compressing and deteriorating over time. It’s also showing signs of wear around the base and chin bar. I’m sure if plod pulled me over he’d have a few words to say about its condition.
I can replace the internal padding for a reasonable price, but not the vinyl on the chin bar. So I’m up for anew helmet.
The down side of Shoei helmets is that they are damned expensive. The new NXR in a solid colour will set me back around $780 Australian and if I want graphic or race replica I’m looking at around AU$850.
I’m not hung up on getting a race replica or U-Beaut graphics. The only reason my current helmet is a Bradley Smith race replica is because it was on special and I got it for AU$600.
So in the interest of keeping the Minster for finance, AKA The Pillion, on side; I started looking at cheaper alternatives. I checked Sharps and the Crash helmet testing sites and determined that there wasn’t a lot of difference in safety features once you get into the AU$450 plus range of helmets.
As a bonus most were either DOT, SNELL or ECE approved as well.
So on Saturday I trundled down to my local motorcycle accessories emporium to select a helmet.
As an aside for those that don’t know.
You should always wear a helmet for a while when you’re trying them on. It’ll give the thing time to settle a bit on your bonce* and will quickly allow you to determine if there are any pressure points that could cause you some grief.
This video explains how to correctly size and fit a helmet to your head. it’s A Shoei video, but the procedure is the same and applies to all brands of helmets.
Back the story…
I specifically wanted to try on the Shark Speed-R and the Vision-R, but while I was there I tried on a few others too.
- Aria Vector 2: A bit pricey but a nice lid. It gave me pressure points around the temples.
- Kabuto Aeroblade 3: On the cheaper end of the spectrum, not a bad helmet but gave me two pressure points on the back of my head.
- Bell Carbon: I like this helmet and it fitted up well with no pressure points. There was no way I was going to squeeze the arms of a pair of prescription sunnies between my head and the padding though.
- Shark Speed-R: Good fit but gave a pressure point at the crown of my head.
- Shark Vision-R: Also a good fit but gave pressure points on my forehead.
After about 40 minutes the salesperson conceded that I did indeed have a funny head.
He’d noticed I’d come in with a Shoei and suggested I stick with that brand. Unfortunately, they didn’t stock Shoei so I couldn’t try any on.
I found another accessories store nearby that sold Shoei helmets and decided to try on an NXR and a GT-Air while I was there. As I mentioned earlier, these are both up there in price and are way above what I wanted to spend.
However, as expected, both helmets fit perfectly with no pressure points and both allowed me to get my looken-peepers on (in?) without a problem. There was just one or two little things.
- They didn’t have and unopened carton with a helmet my size and I wasn’t about to buy a demonstrator helmet.
- I had to persuade the Minister for finance to let me spend a little more than what we’d budgeted for.
One consolation with more expensive helmets is that they are usually of a higher quality in shell construction, lighter and have better quality innards. This is noticeable.
I suppose I should try a AGV, Nolan and a couple of other brands next weekend before I make a decision on what my next brain bucket will be
One things for sure though, I better fish out those knee sliders. I think I’m going to need them when I state my case to the Minister for finance
- Whiffy: To smell bad.
- Bonce: Cranium or head.