Modern Helmets: Making The Right Choice Easier

Where I live, the sun shines all the time, the roads are clean and dry, and if you want to hop on a motorcycle, nobody’s gunna make you wear a helmet. The good state of Arizona just figures you know what’s best for you. And in my line of business, it’s shocking to see how many riders don’t.

The rationale, no matter how freedom-spun, can usually be distilled down to some version of perceived invincibility: “I’m really careful”, or “I’ve been riding since I was six and I’ve never...”. A statement of accepted fatalism inevitably follows, like “if ah’m gunna die, so be it”.

If only brain injury were that simple. We should all die doing something we love, right? Unfortunately, protecting your gray matter isn’t as black and white as life or death. Although wearing a properly fitted helmet increases your chance of survival in an accident by 37% (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), preventing one of the fifty shades of messed-up is where helmets really make sense.

C’mon; wearing a helmet’s never made more sense (not that it’s ever made less sense), but without a doubt, helmets have never looked so good! Keeping up with technological advances that have made helmets safer, lighter, and more wearable, high-vis colors and wild graphics have transformed the most important piece of safety equipment you’ll ever own into bona fide conversation starters. Here’s a few that’ll turn heads while protecting your own.

Shoei RF-1200

The Shoei RF-1200
The RF has been a favorite for safety-conscious riders for decades because it’s compact and quiet. The latest version, the RF-1200, is even more compact and more quiet. (It’s also Snell M2010 certified). Other updates include a new pin-locking system on the shield, beefed-up ventilation, and a variety of 3D cheek-pads for a more customized fit.

The silhouette is curvier, too, improving aerodynamics at fast speeds. And a potentially cool new gizmo is a quick-release mechanism for EMS personnel (this should appeal to all you hold-outs who’ve succumbed to the hooey that helmets increase the risk of neck injury). I haven’t actually tested this feature yet; Shoei will have to send me one so I can run it by some EMS experts. I know people.

Icon Airmada

The Icon Airmada
Hands down, my absolute favorite helmet right now. Not only is it available in more combinations of graphics and solids that you could throw up on a Saturday night (44 different choices, people), it’s light (about 3.5 lbs), quiet, and as safe as all get-out with world-wide certifiction: DOT FMVSS 218 (USA), ECE 22-05 (Europe), SAI AS1698 (Australia), and SG (Japan). Icon’s long oval headframe renders a superior fit, and the locking shield mechanism adds another layer of safety. Venting is sleek, and I’ve not experienced a better breath deflector ever (it’s removable if you don’t like it). The most amazing thing: it retails for $250.

Arai RX-Q

Arai RX-Q
Speaking of paint jobs, few manufacturers do it as well as Arai. They also have safety down in spades. The new RX-Q is targeted to the experienced street rider, but for the same reasons (supreme aerodynamics, lightness, quietness, mega-peripheral vision), I think it’s an excellent helmet for anyone. It’s a premium helmet at a premium price:  $600-$700 and up.

Knowing even the safest, most comfortable helmet in the world won’t get worn if it’s ugly, the RX-Q comes in a variety of spectacular designs, like the one below. Interestingly, Arai is the only manufacturer I’m aware of that makes the important disclaimer that bright colors might fade. Think of it like one of those toothbrushes that turn color when it’s time to buy a new one.

AGV K3

AGV PistaGP and K3
Italian brand AGV, aside from making one of the most impact-resistant brain buckets of all time (the PistaGP, transmitting a whopping 36% less force than current ECE standards allow), also offers a solid option for riders looking for something more affordable than the Pista’s $1,400 price tag. The AGV K3, however, is available for around $200 bucks and is DOT certified. It’s lightweight and comfortable, and aerodynamic. The K3’s big sister, the K4 EVO, carries both DOT and ECE 22-05 certification. Both come in a variety of solids and graphics, including partnership designs with Italian jeans brand, Diesel. Sacrifices include a locking shield mechanism, fewer options for fit, and a not-so-compact  shell.

AGV Pista GPhelmet

While helmet use remains a matter of choice in much of the world, the right choice seems easier than ever, doesn’t it?

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