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How To Choose A Helmet:
Head Games
By Steve Litscher

(October 9, 2004)

Arai GP5K Helmet

Bell Excelerator Helmet

Arai GP5 Helmet

Official Web sites:
Snell Web Site
Arai Americas
Bell Racing
In preparation for his first track day, Bob has done all of his homework - he spent hours researching tire choices and ordered the best set of rubber possible. He spent hours studying suspension settings, spring rates and shocks. Bob selected the best safety harness money could buy and spent hours installing it. it wasn't until the night before his first event that it hit him - he needed a helmet!

With just hours to spare before his big event, Bob signed-on to the internet, frantically posted a question, read 2-3 replies and raced to the store to buy a helmet. While at the store, he was shocked by the prices - helmets are expensive! He looked at Bell Helmets, Arai Helmets and others. Bob reluctantly shelled out his money and drove home. While loading the helmet into his gear bag, it slipped from his hands and dropped to the ground. "Well, it's broken in," he mumbled as he scooped it up and stashed it away next to his $200 driving gloves and $150 driving shoes.

Luckily Bob's track day went off without a hitch, and he returned home happy and excited about the day. He tossed his gear bag in the corner and began tending to the car, preparing it for the next event. In reality he should be tending to his helmet, researching a replacement and trying various helmets for proper fit.


Looking back at our example, it would appear as though Bob did everything to ensure a fun, safe and good track experience. Unfortunately, he put so little effort into choosing a helmet (and later dropped it, rendering it effectively useless) that a fun day could have turned tragic had any serious incident taken place.

As the old saying goes, "If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet." I'd like to think that your head is worth more than $10 (mine might be a wash), yet so many folks don't take helmet buying seriously. The helmet is there for an important reason - the least you can do is spend some time buying one that fits well, while making certain it meets or exceeds various safety standards.

The primary cause of serious injury or fatality in an accident where a helmet has failed is improper fit and/or equipment failure. We'll examine how to buy a helmet, including what to look for and how to make sure it will protect you when needed. We'll also examine the various certification process and explain a little about the test procedures.

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