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Helmet testing and rankings?

Old 04-18-21, 08:47 AM
  #1  
wgscott
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Helmet testing and rankings?

Are there any published testing results, apart from the Virginia Tech tests? I am a bit worried that their listing doesn't give the whole picture.

For example, the Lazer G1 MIPS is top of the road helmet list, and second overall. It is light and extremely well-ventilated (which is good news to me, as I was about to buy a second Bontrager Wavecel, which is substantially heavier, hotter, and now quite a bit further down the list). But the customer reviews of this on various vendor websites (eg, BikeTiresDirect) consistently cite the retention system as unreliable. What good is a helmet if you can't keep it strapped on properly?

I think the problem is that the VT test only measures what they believe to be concussion protection, but other aspects like a helmet's retention system are absolutely critical. Also, how a helmet behaves during a catastrophic crash might be very different from how it behaves if you fall off your bike at low speed and your head hits the pavement.

This is really frustrating.

I mainly use a Bontrager Wavecel on my mountain bike, and a (non-MIPS) Giro air attack on my road bike (primarily because I like the magnetic lens attachment, I am not the least bit aero), but am looking to replace it due to the lack of any concussion protection. (We just had a fatality locally from a low-speed head-strike, and another rider I know well just suffered a concussion.)

BTW, the VT list is kind of interesting. Number 3 on the road bike helmet list is a $50 MIPS Specialized Align II. Wavecel is quite a bit further down the list, now. It does make me wonder if we now are having helmets designed to score well on the VT list, which could be problematic if the tests don't have a high degree of real-world relevance.
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Old 04-18-21, 12:19 PM
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It's distressing to me too. I came into a few Specialized helmets a few years back...and unfortunately, I tested them out in some very high speed crashes.

First crash: Prevail II (5*), according to Strava when the "stop" occurred, I went from 42 km/h to 0. The impact was on my head first, then my shoulder. I didn't have so much as even a headache, and I was checked for TBI at the hospital, none. I did have a crack in my humerus bone, and severely bruised ribs, with a bit of whiplash in the neck.

Second crash: Evade (4*), when I hit the side of the car that turned left in front of me, Strava said I went from 36km/h to 0. Bike got a scraped shift lever from where it hit the ground. I required 7 stitches and superglue to put my forehead back together where my sunglasses cut me. My helmet was destroyed. No TBI, again conformed by hospital tests. I had bruised knees and hands.

I've provided the VT scores behind the helmets I crashed. Regardless, in both cases, no issues with retention and I think both crashes qualify as "high speed." I think. but remember, I did hit my head....
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Old 04-18-21, 01:21 PM
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Just to clarify, I "liked" the content of the post, not what happened to you. Thanks for this reply.
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Old 04-18-21, 05:59 PM
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Meh. One helmet is as good as another IF YOU DON'T CRASH! I've only owned one helmet since 2008. I bought it only because it was mandatory for the club rides for the club I joined. I bought the cheapest one I could find that would fit a 61cm circumference head. A Giro something. MIPS? I don't think so. MIPS wasn't even a gleam in 2008. So IMO worrying about whether you have the best helmet in the world ... meh. I'm not even moved by the story above. I take the extreme view that ANY crash, helmeted or not, will be very, very, very bad news. I strive never to do it. And I never have!
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Old 04-18-21, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Meh. One helmet is as good as another IF YOU DON'T CRASH! I've only owned one helmet since 2008. I bought it only because it was mandatory for the club rides for the club I joined. I bought the cheapest one I could find that would fit a 61cm circumference head. A Giro something. MIPS? I don't think so. MIPS wasn't even a gleam in 2008. So IMO worrying about whether you have the best helmet in the world ... meh. I'm not even moved by the story above. I take the extreme view that ANY crash, helmeted or not, will be very, very, very bad news. I strive never to do it. And I never have!
Planning to not crash does not seem like a very good plan. A good helmet, properly worn, can indeed prevent a crash from becoming very, very bad news.

wgscott : I do appreciate the VT tests, as they are better than nothing, and no one else seems to be doing it. However, I also think that much can be gleaned from personal examinations of helmets. Round, smooth outer surfaces are less likely to catch on the pavement, and hence less likely to lead to neck injuries and other rotational force injuries; this is why I stay away from helmets that have the ducktail designs in the rear. Thicker is better, other things equal, and you can see (by holding helmets side-by-side) that some are thicker than others. (And hence heavier, too.) And I strongly agree that retention systems are crucial, as a properly-fitted and worn helmet will always outperform a badly-fitted and poorly-worn helmet. (I've seen that first-hand with a riding mate who, like many people, wore his chin strap very loose -- he crashed and was concussed badly, to the point of having a brain bleed and a helicopter ride. Same thing will happen if a retention system does not reliably keep the helmet firmly strapped to your head.)

My feeling about MIPS is that it is not convincingly proved to be helpful, but seems unlikely to be harmful -- so my current helmet has it, and any helmets I buy moving forward will have it, or something like it.
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Old 04-18-21, 07:07 PM
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There was another helmet test done in Europe, I forget what the results were but they were a bit different from VTech's. Looking it up... ah of course helmets.org summarizes the known tests: https://helmets.org/bikehelmetratings.htm

I have had good luck with the Lazer Cyclone. Bashed my head on the dirt as a mtb newb the first time I wore it, no concussion. Of course it doesn't mean another helmet wouldn't have been better, but I flew off the bike on my side and knocked the wind out of me, so it could've been much worse.

My other helmets are all highly rated on VTech, and I don't intend to test whether they deserve it or not, but I don't see much downside.
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Old 04-18-21, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
There was another helmet test done in Europe, I forget what the results were but they were a bit different from VTech's. Looking it up... ah of course helmets.org summarizes the known tests: https://helmets.org/bikehelmetratings.htm
Outstanding link! Thank you.
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Old 04-19-21, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Meh.
If you have nothing worth protecting, there is no need to make the investment.
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Old 04-19-21, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Meh. One helmet is as good as another IF YOU DON'T CRASH! I've only owned one helmet since 2008. I bought it only because it was mandatory for the club rides for the club I joined. I bought the cheapest one I could find that would fit a 61cm circumference head. A Giro something. MIPS? I don't think so. MIPS wasn't even a gleam in 2008. So IMO worrying about whether you have the best helmet in the world ... meh. I'm not even moved by the story above. I take the extreme view that ANY crash, helmeted or not, will be very, very, very bad news. I strive never to do it. And I never have!
Street lamp fell right into me and I crashed. There was no wind, no earthquake that day, never saw it coming and I was looking straight ahead of me when it happened.

How do you avoid things like that without having to quit riding and none of that religion superstitious stuff.

Perhaps, there's a remote chance I could have avoided the crash if I also looked up regularly to scan for objects falling from the sky.....Who does that??!!
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Old 04-19-21, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
If you have nothing worth protecting, there is no need to make the investment.
We aren't talking about protecting at this point. What is being discussed here is justification for spending three figures on helmets that meet outlier standards for head protection when the CSPS or Snell or whatever standards have been protecting noggins well enough for decades. My (only) helmet cost $35 in 2008 and I've gotten used to having it at this point and it is a handy place for my EVT mirror, so it remains. And all this crashing ... multiple crashes by the same rider ... I'm sorry, I really must insist ... crashing is unacceptable. If you set yourself that standard you MAY, in spite of yourself, crash ONCE in your lifetime, badly enough to need a new helmet. More than that and you should sell the bike. I am a certified genius, so your earlier snark about "nothing worth protecting" ... whatever. I was (and still am) overstating an opinion to make a point.
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Old 04-19-21, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
. I am a certified genius,.

Ouch. that doesn't sound overly defensive at all. Maybe not the best response to cheap shot throw away snark..

That aside, I think your point is valid, and really is the philosophy behind the VT list. There's an acceptable (4 star) helmet on their list that retails for $18. If you look at the disclaimers, etc., on their website, they basically acknowledge that the safety differences between 4 star and 5 star are extremely marginal.

I don't get what point you are making when you say your plan is to not crash--who's plans are you contrasting yours with? None of us plan on crashing, but we ALL need to plan on the possibility of crashing occurring. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are doing so any time you put on a helmet. I think the only valid take on this I can come up with is that you buy the helmet for affordability and comfort, not for really uncertain and probably tiny marginal differences of injury in the unlikely event its safety features come into play. That makes sense to me--I'm not spending a ton of money on a helmet, and I certainly don't get any protection from it if it's too uncomfortable to wear.

I think we may have discussed this before, but my son is a member of the big noggin club as well, and I do think the difficulty in finding a good fit means you keep a comfortable one as long as you can.
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Old 04-19-21, 11:51 AM
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The guy has been on my ignore list for years, but unfortunately I had to read his response when it was quoted. I replied to it at 3 am in a moment of sleepless weakness.

As most others are aware, the importance of concussion-inducing (and even sub-concussion-inducing) impact has only recently been appreciated, and its link to Parkinson's disease and dementia is only beginning to be understood. Hence the design goals have evolved substantially since 2008. If you don't believe in the veracity and relevance of the more recent observations, that's fine. I don't care what helmet, if any, you wear, but feel free to desist posting in this thread.

I don't plan on dying before age 65, but I still buy decent life insurance that keeps up with the current circumstances. Simply planning to avoid death for some reason doesn't cut it with my family.
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Old 04-19-21, 01:35 PM
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I have the exact helmet, Lazer G1 MIPS. It stays on my head just fine.
average male, 59, 150 lbs.

I think Consumer Reports also does helmet testing.
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Old 04-19-21, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
We aren't talking about protecting at this point. What is being discussed here is justification for spending three figures on helmets that meet outlier standards for head protection when the CSPS or Snell or whatever standards have been protecting noggins well enough for decades. My (only) helmet cost $35 in 2008 and I've gotten used to having it at this point and it is a handy place for my EVT mirror, so it remains. And all this crashing ... multiple crashes by the same rider ... I'm sorry, I really must insist ... crashing is unacceptable. If you set yourself that standard you MAY, in spite of yourself, crash ONCE in your lifetime, badly enough to need a new helmet. More than that and you should sell the bike. I am a certified genius, so your earlier snark about "nothing worth protecting" ... whatever. I was (and still am) overstating an opinion to make a point.
For a "certified genius" (whatever that is) you are missing quite a lot here.

I think you may not appreciate that different people have different riding goals and habits. There are people on this forum who ride 10k+ miles per year, race, and commute daily in heavy traffic. If you think that such people can simply will themselves to not crash, you are living in a fantasyland, since we can't always control what motorists and other riders will do. You also don't seem to realize that plenty of riders are happy to pay 'three figures' for a helmet that is lighter and better-ventilated while still offering good protection. I spend about 500 hours per year on bikes, in all kinds of weather, and I will gladly pay such prices for a helmet that is even a little bit more comfortable.
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Old 04-19-21, 02:46 PM
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For the sort of stuff you say you are wanting to know about helmets, that's pretty much what reviews tell you. Both from user reviews, bike magazine (paper or online) and youtube reviewers.

Otherwise, once you've settled on MIPS, Wavecell or one that isn't either, then from the safety aspect there really isn't much difference. Differences in helmet protection tech probably is about the same difference as a heavier but aero bike over a lighter non aero bike. Not much. Certainly you won't find stats to prove that any would have been better protected by a different helmet.
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Old 04-19-21, 02:49 PM
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Thanks. One issue is whether a MIPS/SPIN/Wavecel helmet is also good for high-velocity impacts. The ConsumerReports reviews (via helmets.org) address that.

Of those tested by both:

Five Va Tech Stars and Excellent CR Impact protection:

•Bell Stratus MIPS

•Bontrager Charge WaveCel

•Bontrager Specter WaveCel

•Lazer Compact DLX MIPS

•Louis Garneau Raid MIPS

•Specialized Chamonix MIPS
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Old 04-19-21, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
The guy has been on my ignore list for years, but unfortunately I had to read his response when it was quoted. I replied to it at 3 am in a moment of sleepless weakness.

As most others are aware, the importance of concussion-inducing (and even sub-concussion-inducing) impact has only recently been appreciated, and its link to Parkinson's disease and dementia is only beginning to be understood. Hence the design goals have evolved substantially since 2008. If you don't believe in the veracity and relevance of the more recent observations, that's fine. I don't care what helmet, if any, you wear, but feel free to desist posting in this thread.

I don't plan on dying before age 65, but I still buy decent life insurance that keeps up with the current circumstances. Simply planning to avoid death for some reason doesn't cut it with my family.

Who among us has not committed the 3 a.m. cheap shot?

I think this is an area where there really is no single right answer, but a subjective call on your priorities. This is protection against a relatively rare category of accidents--crashes where one actually lands on the top of one's head. It is very unlikely that any given rider will experience that crash even once, so when you multiply the probability of getting onto the accident by the probability that a design difference in the helmet will affect the extent of the injury in that type of accident, you get a very small number indeed. There's no objective way to put a monetary value on that small difference, so I really wouldn't fault anyone for coming up with a different answer than I do.

However, the poster in question is, of course, a certified genius, and clearly the only one capable of coming to a rational conclusion, so I'm now shopping for a 2008 helmet, or something..
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Old 04-19-21, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
My (only) helmet cost $35 in 2008 and I've gotten used to having it at this point and it is a handy place for my EVT mirror, so it remains
Are you really still using a piece of expanded polystyrene from 2008 in a life safety application? You may be a certified genius, but you can't RTFM! I have never kept a helmet more than 5 years. That was the standard back in my motorcycle racing days. Something about the working life of the EPS.
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Old 04-19-21, 03:34 PM
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It is what it is. I have the same helmet since 2008. Y'all judge me, ignore me, then involve yourself in cringe inducing multi-day rants at each other over all manner of nonsense. Irony I call it. I'm not calling the present discussion nonsense which is why I bother to post in it at all but ... try to see my point without knee jerk denial or ridicule getting in the way. Of course no one can predict an accident, but there is an ... attitude ... don't tell me it doesn't exist. I SEE it when I am out there. The 'accidents' that take out the rest of you. You insist up and down there was no possible way to avoid them ... maybe. You say yourselves that all drivers are texting ... I'm not understanding why, then, why ANY cyclists are hit because they barrel into an intersection just because they have the signal. I'm just trying to help. Don't shoot the messenger. I'd love to be made out to be a liar over this one
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Old 04-19-21, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DangerousDanR View Post
Are you really still using a piece of expanded polystyrene from 2008 in a life safety application? You may be a certified genius, but you can't RTFM! I have never kept a helmet more than 5 years. That was the standard back in my motorcycle racing days. Something about the working life of the EPS.
Not "can't RTFM". Didn't RTFM. I simply wouldn't know anything about it. Just as well. It wouldn't change my mind. I'm 62. I've met a number of people whose helmets "saved their lives" but didn't leave them with much to live for. No thanks. I'd rather make a clean exit than linger like that.
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Old 04-19-21, 04:59 PM
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I try to wear helmets with very good protection to do the rather pedestrian job of minimizing concussions in minor crashes; crashes that would do no damage to most people's brains. I've had my biggie. I've had a number of concussions since. Many would say I should stop riding.

Riding is a core part of my spiritual journey and has been along time. I do not have a family to support. Being spiritually connected helps me stay a more useful citizen of this planet. So I'll keep riding. (The comments I get when I am in doctor's offices and they measure BP and pulse are fun too! Colonoscopy last week. I was asked is I was on BP medication because it was so low!) I've always been a little clumsy. The odds are good I'll crash again though I am trying to be more careful to minimize adding more insult to old injuries.

So I want a helmet that does absolutely the best for small crashes like wet leave slides with my helmet hitting and sliding over the pavement. 6-7 years ago that was MIPS. I got the first MIPS helmet that fit in a bright color that was in a store to be tried on. POC Trabec. Also highest quality, best fitting and best made helmet I've ever purchased (or been given in my high school sports days). It's time to start looking again. Perhaps I will return to a road helmet. But gotta admit that Trabec has been very comfortable so I may not.
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Old 04-19-21, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
For a "certified genius" (whatever that is) .
It is a euphemism for "stable".
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Old 04-19-21, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DangerousDanR View Post
Are you really still using a piece of expanded polystyrene from 2008 in a life safety application? You may be a certified genius, but you can't RTFM! I have never kept a helmet more than 5 years. That was the standard back in my motorcycle racing days. Something about the working life of the EPS.
Age has a Minimal Effect on the Impact Performance of Field-Used Bicycle Helmets
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Old 04-19-21, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Not "can't RTFM". Didn't RTFM. I simply wouldn't know anything about it. Just as well. It wouldn't change my mind. I'm 62. I've met a number of people whose helmets "saved their lives" but didn't leave them with much to live for. No thanks. I'd rather make a clean exit than linger like that.
Then why are you wearing a helmet at all? Is it a legal requirement in your state?
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Old 04-19-21, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
It is what it is. I have the same helmet since 2008. Y'all judge me, ignore me, then involve yourself in cringe inducing multi-day rants at each other over all manner of nonsense. Irony I call it. I'm not calling the present discussion nonsense which is why I bother to post in it at all but ... try to see my point without knee jerk denial or ridicule getting in the way. Of course no one can predict an accident, but there is an ... attitude ... don't tell me it doesn't exist. I SEE it when I am out there. The 'accidents' that take out the rest of you. You insist up and down there was no possible way to avoid them ... maybe. You say yourselves that all drivers are texting ... I'm not understanding why, then, why ANY cyclists are hit because they barrel into an intersection just because they have the signal. I'm just trying to help. Don't shoot the messenger. I'd love to be made out to be a liar over this one

Are you also a certified word salad chef? Because that rant is classic gibberish.
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