Monday, April 21, 2014

It’s new helmet time

I tend to replace my helmets every few years just on general principles. I know the industry claims you should do so on a 5-year basis (link here) but that aside, I just get tired of the old one after a while. And every time I go through the same decision process about what style to buy – half, 3/4, full face, or modular?
Of the four types, the only one I haven’t worn and don’t currently own is the half helmet. I don’t have an issue with the idea of wearing a half helmet but having tried many on in the past I have never liked the way they fit or felt. So that’s off the list and I don’t even bother trying them any more.
bell starOne of the best helmets I ever had was a 1970’s model Bell Star full-face. It was extremely comfortable, had great peripheral vision, and didn’t look (or feel) like I had a beach ball on my shoulders.  Of course it probably wasn’t as “protective” as today’s models but as far as I was concerned it did the job just fine. You can’t find those any more. All the crash resistance “improvements” since then mean that the average full face helmet is now twice the size and the window significantly smaller. helmets4I get claustrophobia in today’s full face units. Besides, they’re now geared to the 18-year-old sports bike rider so the more garish the paint scheme the better – not my style.
I did, however, acquire a modular full-face a few years ago thinking that might be a suitable option. Besides, I wanted a transitional helmet for those cool spring  and fall days when the wind chill on a bare face can be brutally uncomfortable. Or if I know I’m going to be riding in heavy weather. But the reality is I don’t like it much. The flip-up mechanism is bothersome and – at least with this model – reduces the peripheral vision which really irks.
So I was back to my preferred standby, a plain, old, boring 3/4 face. helmet1However this too seems to be becoming a disappearing breed, unless one is looking for a 70’s retro glitter paint job, an American flag (I have nothing against the American flag but why a Canadian dealership should carry not one but several variations ishelmet2 beyond me. Imagine going into your local dealer in Oshkosh and finding 3 helmets on the shelf sporting the Canadian maple leaf. Don’t think so.), or some bizarre graffiti-inspired symbology that, for all I know, is hugely insulting to at least half the population. And if you don’t want the newest fad, flip down aviator-style visors, the options become even fewer.
But I persevered, and at the 4th(!) dealer I visited I found what I was looking for – a simple 3/4 face Arai helmet. It wasn’t my preferred colour, but it was the last of last year’s stock and so $200 off list. It’s also a traditional model they are no longer offering (like Tim Horton’s taking the dutchie off the menu in my opinion) so paying full price to get a colour choice was not even an option.
Now all I have to do is decide if I can live with silver or if it’s time to bring out the rattle cans.
 helmet6

19 comments:

  1. Canajun:

    I am like you. Full face helmets are too claustrophobic and half helmets don't feel safe. I sort of like 3/4 face for in town riding but on the highway I have relented to a modular as I wanted the chin protection. You have to turn your head more as vision is a bit more limited.

    Also I have found that I cannot find a white helmet. I like white for visibility but I settled for silver, and even those are hard to find. I generally change my helmet every two years so I can get a new face shield

    bob
    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. Bob - I guess us old folks will just have to get with the times. :)

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  2. I'm on my third modular helmet. With glasses, it's annoying to put on and take off a full face helmet. The modular helmets make it nice and easy. There's no need to remove my glasses, just flip open the front and put it on.
    I was wearing a Shoei Multitec and when it was time to replace it, I got the Noetec model. Both helmets are the same size, but it's amazing how much the padding inside squishes and loses it's shape! The older one fits loose compared to the new one.

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    1. Erik - That's the one thing they have going for them is the ease of use for eyeglass wearers. But when I replace my full face I think I'll go with a one-piece model; imo they're stronger without all the added bulk.

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  3. Glad you finally found one you liked even if it wasn't your first choice for color.

    The silver is fine, at least it doesn't have an obnoxious pattern or stars and stripes.

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  4. 3/4 sounds like where you are comfy. Silver is fine too, can't see you wearing the stars and stripes either.

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    1. A little to old for the Easy Rider look.

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  5. Nice that you found something that you could live with and at a reasonable price.

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    1. Agreed, but it shouldn't have been so hard to find.

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  6. Dave, how about a custom paint job?

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    1. I suppose I could have my painter match the bike's paint job. Will have to think about that.

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  7. I like the silver, it's a good compromise over a black helmet. I find full fave a little claustrophobic, but I have gotten used to it finally. I too get tired of some of the graphics & crash colours, skulls and stupid designs. I love my current helmet, but pretty disappointed by what I'm seeing in the dealers.

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    1. One of the downsides of too much choice perhaps is that dealers don't have the shelf space to stock less popular items. Too bad imo. As for full face, I never used to find them claustrophobic but there's something about the new styles I find overly confining. I have been chalking it up to smaller openings but that may be just my imagination.

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  8. I owned 2 of the 70's Bell Star helmets. Needed the second after a tangle with a cement truck. But, the helmet did its job! That was a great helmet and I really liked everything about it.

    On long road trips I prefer a full coverage because of rain. I have been caught to many times in heavy rain with a half or 3/4 where face and eyes take a beating. While recently I have been riding without a helmet I have thought about getting a new one and now I am thinking harder on what style I want.

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    1. It's hard to beat the weather protection of a full-face and I'll probably always have one on hand just for that reason. But I still much prefer a 3/4 for daily use. And no helmet is not an option here, although the few times I've been in the US and tried it I don't think I'd ride without one even if. But to each his own.

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  9. I have had 3 different helmets, and frankly have not been happy with any of them. In Florida I don't have to wear a helmet, but I also know the pavement is a lot harder than my head (despite what my ex-wife believes) so I continue to search for one that works. I guess it's a curse we learn to live with to stay safe.

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    1. Robert - It's an expensive investment to sit on a shelf in the garage if you don't like it. Unfortunately there's only one way to find out if it's going to be a longer than a few week's relationship. Then again you could get creative with the old ones - http://ontwowheels-eh.blogspot.ca/2009/05/what-do-you-do-with-old-helmets.html

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  10. Canajun - glad you found a new lid you (sort of) like. It's really a risk, they're not cheap; you really can't tell until you've had it on for some time (walking 'dorkickly' around the shop for half an hour wearing a helmet isn't quite the same.) I switched from Modular to full coverage in fall 2012 and fretted the entire winter about it. I was happy to find it suited me to a T (not easy when you have a round head.) I really appreciate the reduction of wind noise in the full face. My first helmet was a Bell, not unlike yours, but candy apple red (also the only one they had that fit!) I will have to check back on your blog to remind myself what to do with the mounting pile of helmets I have stored as I change up about every 3 years as well.

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