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.
One 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. I 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. However 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 is 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.