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Helmet advice wanted

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I am looking for a new helmet, but it has proven very difficult to find one that fits perfectly. This is what I have learned, both recently and over decades:

SHOEI - pure pain. They are too narrow at the sides of the top of my head. I cannot even keep on on for 5 seconds, not even one that's too large.

ARAI - acceptable, but tend to hurt around the temples if tight enough. Loud.

NOLAN - not exactly luxurious. Loud. But OK to wear. Tend to sit low over the brows.

AGV - Comfy enough, but will drop over the brow when correctly sized otherwise. Not great for wearing glasses, which I must wear.

SHARK - Great for glasses, comfy if I use one size too large, but like Shoei - to a much, much lesser degree - hurt on the sides of the top of my head when the correct size is used.

SCHUBERT - feels too narrow on top and too wide at the bottom. Not comfy for me, but not painful, either.

HJC - interior feels hard, and like Schubert a bit wide at the bottom and narrow on top, but less pronounced.

CABERG - impossible to wear glasses, interior feels a little hard and seems like it will be loud because there is too much room around the ears and the helmet is a little wide at the bottom.


Most helmets are too tight around my cheeks, and tend to bite myself. Literally. Sizes listed also vary a lot. I need a Small Shark helmet, a Medium CABERG and a MediumLarge AGV, for instance. But that is irrelevant as long as I can try it on for size. 

Based upon this information, can you recommend a brand of helmet I should try to search out? A helmet that is, I presume, for a rather round scull seen from the top, not egg shaped.

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The AGV dealers I've visited didn't have a sufficient selection to allow me to get a good one for my noggin.

I recently eschewed my HJC RPHA-11 (only product in recent memory I waiting until product launch to eagerly buy) in favor of a Shoei RF-1200. I'd been looking for just...the right....fit.  I've been trying to avoid the whole Shoei/Arai thing (some people believe they are the only helmets worth putting your head into), but I guess they finally got me.

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I've owned Römer, Bieffe, Tommy, Nolan, AGV and Arai. At least. Not too worried about brand. Used to be most interested in price and not having pain, but it's only recently I've learned how snug a helmet should be - and that it can still be comfy if of the correct shape. Despite all that, I have crashed hard with helmets too big (virtually all of them have been too large, especially lacking support at the forehead) and they have still done their job. Two helmets have cracked, but I'm still here. And several helmets have saved my face from being scraped off. It is hard to understand people who ride sans helmets, nor would I consider an open face helmet or a flip-up helmet. However, people have different opinions and preferences - though I think this was well said by somebody unknown:


No safety device works 100 percent of the time––not helmets, air bags, seat belts, parachutes, or condoms––but using them increases the odds in your favor. If you disagree, fine. It’s that sort of keen analytical thinking that keep Las Vegas casinos open, and EMTs working double shifts on sunny weekends. Just don’t try to convince me or anyone else that head-butting the highway without a helmet is safer than with one.


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I know a guy who refuses to wear a seatbelt because he believes that his friend who died in a car crash might have been saved had he been thrown from the car. He even discounts the fact that everyday people who drive above their ability or in conditions for which the laws of Physics is king have saved potential crashes just because they and the vehicle moved as a single unit and they miraculously were able to make the correct inputs to avert a collision with an immovable or unstoppable object.

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My grandfather saved his life because he didn't wear a seat belt - his very old Mercedes (1957) was reduced to almost nothing, but there was still a bit of space down at the passenger foot-well. That's also where he ended up. But although no belt may be the better option in 10 or even 20% of the incidents, that leaves 80 or 90% where they turn out to be a benefit. So I wear mine, but I am not good at removing my thick winter clothes or pull the belt really tight - both important to get the most out of the security from the belt. Just an inch of slack on the lap strap can cause massive internal injuries, I'm led to believe.

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Another example of what you said above about no device working 100% of the time. I believe as you do that it's best to put the odds in my favor when talking about safety. But it doesn't mean that I'm going to cease the activity because it's above most people's risk threshold- I'm instead going to invest in the best safety gear and training my budget allows and then do my best to "not do anything stupid".

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  • 4 months later...

shoi helmets are awesome!

you can purchase different thickeness cheek, scalp, forehead padding to make the helmet fit you perfectly.

x14 for the win, due to aerodynamics, lightweight, and air circulation.  The transision (shading) visor is great too. 

Check out the cheek pad thickness options  when shopping for a shoi helmet.  That makes the difference. 

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The RF-1200 that I reported purchasing above worked GREAT on the track last month. All of my helmet complaints have been resolved! And I didn't think about the adjustable cheek pads. I tried that with the HJC at the insistence of their customer support but no luck AND I was out of the extra $$ the replacement cheek pads cost me.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

Finally found an almost perfect helmet  - for me. 👌

I ended up with an Arai Axces 3, the cheapest in the shop. If you can call a USD500 helmet cheap. Pinlock not included, another 40 bucks. Unfortunately the cheap one, I may add; I wanted a higher level helmet with a sun visor. But those had a slightly different shape that was narrower.

My head is probably of a rather unusual shape, because even the model I got should ideally have been 1/4 inch wider and a 1/4 inch shorter - and it is the widest and shortest helmet I have ever tried. 

Anyway, I bought one size above ideal for this very reason. The helmet is still very snug, but easier to put on and remove than anything I've owned or tried before. Also a plus is that while the head moves with the helmet, I do not bite my cheeks when I close my jaws. 

With the perfect size, M (57 cm or 22.45 in) the helmet was just tight enough on the sides that I knew it would feel uncomfortable after an hour or two. The L (59 cm or 23.23 in) just sits snugly with no pressure, but if I pull the helmet firmly forward, the sales-woman could get 4 tiny fingers between my forehead and the liner. However, since the helmet didn't drop down over my brows, not even when pulling on the chin bar, the sales-woman agreed to sell it to me, although she would have preferred me to go for the smaller version. I told her I would be more likely to crash if I was in pain, to which she agreed, and also since the helmet sat firmly in all directions it was deemed safe.

The Arais, all of them, also work splendidly with glasses.

I also tried a Shubert, and while not as painful as a Shoei, it felt "bony" like a Shoei. And the ear cavities were placed too low for my ears. 

So what I have learned is that Arai helmets fit me the best, with AGV helmets a clear second. And that Shoeis are still the worst for me, both in fit and also comfort; the interior feels harsh to me. Also, there are differences between one Arai to the next, and that goes for every helmet brand out there. Take your time and you should eventually find just the helmet your head need. 

BTW, the costliest  Arai helmet on offer was the RX7V Carbon with a sticker price of NOK 31.999, or  3800 American dollars 😲

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