Well, that was a pretty poorly written letter from the SNELL foundation, but I think I'll still buy helmets with SNELL ratings. Remember last year when that racer crashed and wound up doing backward sumersaults. How many times did his head whip around and wack the pavement?
I do not know about you guys, but I feel good about my Raider helmet purchase since I read Motorcyclist's article. After all, what sort of round objects would I be likely to strike on asphalt? I could see striking rocks off road, but are roads not primarily flat? There is 9% chance of striking curbs, so what about the other 91%? I would personally prefer to have less G's travelling through my brain just to be on the safe side . . .
Welcome to the world of scientific debate. This is great because it's an window into the world of how scientific and engineering principles are sometimes not so clear as we'd like to think. As far as I can see both sides have some points in their favor. I, for one, think that this debate will ultimately lead us to better head protection which is the goal. Salute to both parties.
Snell's letter seems almost entirely defensive. At least Motorcyclist raised some good points. I was suprised by what appeared to be a lack of significant evolution in research over the past 10 years - I think that shows the weight motorcyclist's heads carry in terms of economic or political clout. Snell neglected to comment on the very significant point raised about using identical standards for different size (presumable weights) heads. Hopefully this will focus some attention on a field that could benefit from added research. I would also hope the motorcycle manufacturers could work together to actually fund such research to further their customers interests. If the effort/money to protect our heads was evolving at a fraction of the pace that sportbike R&D was moving, I'm betting we'd all have very differnt head protection.
Round objects? Car fenders & bumpers, trees, posts (fence-, lamp-, sign-), public trash cans, some guardrails, mailboxes (at least the edges), Jack Russell terriers (they're football-shaped for a reason, according the bumper sticker I've seen on a JR owner's truck), etc. Plenty of round stuff out there to hit. The Snell response mentions a Euro study that says round objects are the _most_ likely impact point (but then the Euros aren't as obsessed with straight lines and right angles as we 'Murcans are).
i enjoyed the Undead comment. I can remember Art Friedman holding forth on this same topic at least 10 years ago, and at various intervals since. Personally I would rather read about uh, well almost anything. How many pages they give that in Motorcyclist? talk about your dearths of ???
I haven't read the Motorcyclist article (I probably don't want to either), but I'd bet that every rider on that staff wears a top-of-the-line Snell-approved helmet.
Personally, I feel if you're dumb enough to think that the only surface you're going to hit in an accident (on the street) is that of the smooth, flat ground, the brain damage you will sustain would be undetectible given your already minimal brain function.
The track is safer than the street, because there are no curbs, railings, trees, cars, etc. The track is the ONLY exception that validates the rationale that you're more likely to hit a flat surface once, versus a number of different surfaces, therefor you should disregard the more critical possibility that you will hit something more dangerous.
Four years ago, I used my Snell (M2000-rated) Arai RX-7RR4 to it's fullest capacity when I left the road and got up close and personal with a cement partitian and steel drainage pipe. If you saw the helmet, you would be blown away that I didn't sustain any neck or head injuries. I won't wear anything less.
I wish Snell had a more professional composition to their letter (and fewer lame analogies), but they made good points, and I can understand the frustration they are feeling.
Long before the MOTORCYCLIST article came out, it had been pretty well established that any full faced helmet with an EPS chin bar provides all of the protection necessary. Remember, Snell charges a bunch of buckos to certify a helmet and that charge gets passed along to the customer. I've heard that is somewhere between $30 to $75 a helmet, but I really don't know. I think it's a safe bet to buy a full face helmet that fits you properly and feels good on (most important) with the features that appeal to you.
As for MOTORCYCLIST, they spent 19 pages on this article, which strikes me as a ludicrous waste of space. I don't know how the rest of you feel, but I really hate their new format. I find it so confusing, I can hardly tell the editorial content from the advertisements. In my opinion, this magazine, over the past few years, has gone from first to worst, especially in content. With the talent of Mitch Boehm, Tim Carrithers, Charles Everitt, and Dexter Ford on board, there is no excuse for the pitiful editorial content that has been printed the past year or so. These are some of the best motojournalists on the planet, but they sure aren't producing quality material. Maybe Marc Cook saw the handwriting on the wall and had the sense to get out. I've subscribed to this magazine since 1974. If it doesn't get back on track real soon, I won't bother to renew. I subscribe to virtually every US mag and a couple of the Brits, so that is an extremely definitive statement as to the lack of quality in MOTORCYCLIST lately. Sorry, got a little off topic, but thanks for letting me vent. Cheers, Jack
Motorcyclist did one final test where they dropped the lowest priced DOT helmet on a "curb anvil" from the height of 13 feet, creating a 185 joule impact. The helmet not only survived, but only imparted a 208 G hit to the test head. This was about the same G's as the Snell helmets transmitted at the 150 joule impact height which is the maximum impact that Snell tests to. VWW
I agree with you on Motorcyclist's lack of content, and I also detest their "new and improved" look. What really puzzles me though is the diminutive size of the print. Many of their target market are over the age of 40. Although I've retained a pretty fair ability to read small type for my age, I find it almost impossible to read with out very bright light, especially when they run the print over the top of the photography. VWW
I agree with sportbike_pilot that this fervent discussion will in some way, hopefully lead to higher levels of helmet safety. In the meantime, does anybody else have any "real life" crash stories with DOT and/or Snell certified helmets? I read Pinkslip's Arai story. So far it's Snell-1, DOT 0.
It appears that the two articles are using different parameters to justify their arguements. But as we know there is more to wearing a "safe helmet" than which one to buy - Snell or no Snell. What about variables such as
1. Age of the helmet
2. Time in the sun
3. How many times its been dropped or sat on.
that may or may not affect the integrity of our lids over time...
Has anyone heard of any research that has gone into the rates of decay of our helmets and what elements cause the most damage ? Replacing after 5 years is only ad hoc, but is there more scientific evidence around that points to a longer of shorter life span?? hmmm.. For me the question about buying a helmet is clear - Snell... but how long should we be wearing it and how should we be treating it...
I have no problem with Motorcyclist using 19 pages for the helmet article. It's an important subject that is rarely addressed in the rags, and they did raise some interesting points. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it sure was more interesting than the usual 'helmet review' pablum.
As for the magazine format changes, I agree. I really hate the pages where the text was printed over photographs. It may be "artsie", but it sure makes it harder to read.
After reading the Motorcyclist article I was pretty much P.O.'d....after all, I love my Scorpion Exo 700....the helmet that scored the worst! But here's what really floored me....when I bought my helmet I really didn't know alot about motorcycling or motorcycle helmets....the technology and features in the exo 700 seemed like a great buy to me, and the dual dot/snell certification told me it was safe....so when I went to order one, i picked the 700 over the 400 because it was more expensive and was made wtih kevlar, which seems to me would be stronger than polycarbonate. Now the guys at Motorcyclist are telling me that I paid the extra money for nothing? I dunno, reading the Snell letter made me feel a little better.....and no matter what I'm not wearing a Pep boys helmet.
There is no way this pissing match will be decided any time soon. What we have is two schools of thought about the nature of most accidents and then a great void in the data about helmet performance itself.
It's possible this arguement cannot be resolved at all, at least by theory. Until someone does a study of each type of helmets performance in thousands of accidents, including the frequency of the various types of head strikes which are most common, will we be able to make a truely informed opinion.
I have a hunch that even that would not resolve the issue. The only thing it would prove, indirectly, is that a good helmet is almost infinitely better than no helmet or those silly brain buckets with the elastic straps the cruiser pople wear, if your noggin starts hitting hard things.
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