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Helmets: Design/Price(6 posts)

Helmets: Design/Pricefiltersweep
Mar 24, 2003 5:26 AM
This may come off as a rant, and it may well be.

I'm looking into buying a new helmet and I'm perplexed. While I really understand with most bike gear, you get what you pay for (ie. lighter weight, greater precision bearing, etc...) - but what really makes a $100+ helmet COST that much more than a $50 helmet?

The only helmets I will consider buying are "finished" in the back- meaning they don't have that "raw black foam" look. Why are these helmets exceptionally rare- that only the top of the line models are completely finished?

Why does it cost that much more to sell a helmet that actually "looks cool" ? (There is no such thing as a cheaper Pneumo "knock-off").

How much of a markup is there on helmets? Why are some of last years Bells selling for half price? Is it only fashion?

How much of the helmet's price is for the testing sticker? (and hence the relatively few choices of brands available in the US).

How much of the price is to off-set lawsuits/manufacturer liability?

Unless I am missing something, it seems there are relatively few technological innovations that occur in the helmet manufacturing process, and the R & D costs have been recouped many times over. So why is there not more pricing competition occurring at the top of the line?
It's worse than you think...StupidLight
Mar 24, 2003 7:19 AM
I don't have any specific numbers on R&D costs, but since Bell and Giro are owned by the same company, and these are pretty much the only brands you see at most LBSs, this means your average consumer effectively has _one_ option.
Basically it's Lincoln, or Mercury...
Sure there are some Trek, Garneau, Specialized, and Lazer helmets out there if you look hard enough, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if these were all sourced at the "other" helmet factory somewhere in Taiwan.

The good news is that the top of the line helmets have gotten a lot lighter and better ventilated. I paid right around $100 for my Pneumo -- the same thing I paid for my Giro Supermoto about 7 years ago, and the difference is night and day in terms of fit and comfort. I've also replaced helmets without problem under the Giro crash replacement program, so I'll give them props for that -- it's a good policy.

If you're looking to save a couple bucks, can find these models, and don't find them too hideous looking, then go with the Bell Phi-Pro or Garneau T-Bone helmets. They should come close to the Penumo in weight and ventilation, and will save you some coin if they fit your noggin (a search for Phi Pro on will find you retailers selling the helmet for $45!)
Good luck!
I bought a Garneau cause it fit and was priced right...koala
Mar 24, 2003 7:28 AM
Ventilation is good, its lighter than any Giro(got one of those too) and my lbs cut me a break as I dumped $ there recently. Maybe its not as stylish as my Giro but it fits better and was less cash.
I just went through this...DINOSAUR
Mar 24, 2003 9:42 AM
I just replaced my 3 year old Giro Stelvio and spent about 3 weeks checking out prices on numerous internet bike stores. I went with another Giro as I was familiar with the fit. I found a 01 Giro Esclipse at Price Point for $39.98. The difference I noticed was more vents, lighter weight (you'd be surprised what a difference a couple of grams makes) a better rentention system (better fit) style and less wind noise (aerodynamics?). All the helmets meet the same U.S. CPSC standards. If you check around and look for an older model helmet you sometimes can cut the cost in half. The only difference between one year and another might be the color selection. Marketing is what sets the price and like anything else in cycling- everything is overpriced.....
A quick search turned up the followingMel Erickson
Mar 24, 2003 10:23 AM
These seem to meet your critera.
Bell Xray Pro $45
Bell Furio $80
Bell Phi Pro $50
Bell Ghisallo $70
Giro Boras $75
Giro E2 (01) $75
Giro Encinal $50

Some of these may not have absolutely full microshell coverage in the rear but only a small amount of foam showing. This is only the big 2. There are, of course, helmets from Briko, Cratoni, Limar, Louis Garneau, Specialized, bike manufacturers like Trek, Schwinn, GT and LeMond as well as house brands like Nashbar. Not all meet your critera of full microshell coverage and under $100. May I ask why you're so adamant about full microshell coverage. There are some very stylish, good fitting helmets for well under $100 without the back coverage you want. Is it a style thing? Finally, like any business, the helmet manufacturers price their products based on what the market will bear. Seems there's enough people willing to pay $100 plus. I'm not one of them but they're out there. If the market dried up for $100+ helmets they wouldn't be for sale. In the market for helmets I don't think pricing is based alot on the cost to produce the helmet, especially in the upper price ranges. That's because it's essentially a fashion statement and we all know that when fashion is concerned the skys the limit.
$5 helmets...wolfereeno
Mar 24, 2003 10:48 AM
My brother buys helmets for 5 bucks in the giftshop of a hospital he works near up in Boston. One would gather the cost is subsidized by ER revenues.