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Monday, 13 July 2015

40 years, man and boy – Helmets

As this year will be my 40th of riding bikes (legally!), I thought I'd look back at various things I've had over the years and this post will be about helmets that I've owned.

First helmet I bought was a Stadium Project 9.

Very cheap basic helmet, but all I could afford at the time. Only thing of note was that the stripe round it and the logo at the front were reflective. This is the only open face helmet I've ridden a bike in, and I became very paranoid about potential injuries in an accident, especially as I wore spectacles at the time and had a real fear of broken glass going into my eyes!
So it was replaced within a year by my first full face helmet.

Back in the 70s these Italian made cheap polycarbonate helemet were imported and sold under a huge number of brand names. Mine was black and labelled as 'Griffin Speedstar' – can't really remember much about other than it had a rubbish visor mounting that fell to bits!

Next was a 'King' fullface. These were advertised by Barry Sheene at the time, and were a reasonably well made glassfibre helmet.

Mine had a 'custom' paintjob done to advertise a painter, but a local shop that had it on display offered it to me a suitable low price.

Only pic I have of it is this black and white one of it on the Yamaha SR500 I had at the time.
Eventually the lining in the King fell apart and I replaced it with a Nava.

Mine wasn't exactly the same as this as it had vents on the chinbar. Didn't have it long as it was stolen.
I had to buy a helmet in a hurry, so bought another cheap polycarbonate 'Griffin'. This one looked the same as their famous (and much more expensive) Clubman model.

Looked a bit like this.
I wanted another decent quality helmet, so the next one was a Bell Tourstar.

This was a huge leap forward as it was well built, comfortable, and was the first helmet I owned that had a 'proper' visor mounting mechanism that allowed the visor to stay partly open. Wore this for years until the lining eventually fell apart.
Next was a Shoei RF200,

Another really good helmet with vents that actually worked (not all hemets had these!), very comfortable, good visor mechanism, and had a comfortable feeling of quality.
I liked it so much that when it was starting to get a bit worn (I was doing a very high mileage at the time), I replaced it with another Shoei, a very similar TXR.

This was basically an uprated version of the RF200, and performed equally as well. Eventually the lining started to wear out, so it was replaced with an Arai RX-7XX.

Another great step forward in terms of build quality and comfort. Fits perfectly, vents work really well (almost too well for Scotland but ideal in France in the summer), and just oozes quality. Has the advantage that part of the lining is removable for cleaning which hopefully means that it'll last a bit longer (especially as I don't do anywhere as much mileage as I once did).

So, these are the helmets I've owned over the years. A few things I've learned:

  1. Try on lots of helmets before you buy one. We all have differently shaped heads, so try to find one that suits your head shape. I've found that I've got a Shoei/Arai shaped head, other people will have AGV, Bell, etc shaped heads so they would be better brands to buy.
  2. I've tended to buy plain coloured helmets as they are cheaper than patterned ones, especially 'race replicas'. Racers get a payment for each replica sold, so this is added to the price in addition to the extra painting cost.
  3. You basically get what you pay for. Cheap helmets are generally less comfortable, lining compress more quickly, and visor mechanisms wear more rapidly; so you end up replacing them more often.
  4. Always use genuine replacement visors as (in the case of Shoei and Arai) pattern ones are much poorer quality. Genuine ones are very expensive, but the much longer life and better quality (cheap ones tend to rattle in their mounts), make them worth the money.
  5. On the subject of visors, always buy them from authorised dealers as there are a lot of fakes out there. Always buy European spec visors rather than US spec ones as they have much superior anti-scratch coatings to pass European laws.

However, there's one helmet I've not mentioned yet. A few years ago I planned on taking part in The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride and bought a 'suitable' helmet to wear. I found this on Ebay.

Groovy eh? However, that's not the best thing about it – the paint is luminous!

I'd like to point out that it was made in China, doesn't have any stickers saying that it passes any country's safety laws, and the luminous paint probably gives out frightening amounts of radiation, but I was only going to wear it for one afternoon, and probably would have worn a decent helmet for the ride to and from the event.
I didn't eventually take part in the DGR, so I've never actually ridden a bike wearing it, however who knows what might happen in the future!!


  1. A nice selection of Lids and great biking history there. The DGR is on again this year, I am sorting out Edinburgh but also a Glasgow ride this year now too so get online and register! 😀

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Glad you liked it, might do boots next.

      As you know, I've featured the DGR a few times and a few of us were going to go to the previous Edinburgh run. However, we got a message just before it saying that they didn't want any modern sportsbikes there. None of us would have gone on modern sportsbikes, but we didn't feel happy that we're suddenly told what we could and couldn't go on, so decided against it.
      It's a shame because it had the potential of being a really good event, but if it's not open to everyone, like the Easter Egg Run I blogged about in April, then it's not something we would be interested in.

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