A Voice of Reason in Helmet Design

I’ve said for years that helmet marketing was gimmicky (that’s a technical term) and that the marketing was driving the standards and thus, the design. This is nearly always bad. Marketing folks don’t know their products. They don’t understand the design, intent, or results of the use of their product. What they understand, and make no mistake, they understand it VERY well, is how to sell. Education in marketing is intently focused on the psychology of purchasing and the things that influence that, rather than delivering a product that works.

As a quick example, marketing by fear is a big seller, but the fears they play on are rarely realistic OR particularly moderated by the products advertised.

Sex is another great marketing tool that makes things sell, but the products rarely deliver the promises. How many of you can honestly say your bike handles better after buying those tires that had the prettiest half-naked woman on the calendar? And, did you get laid by three super-models after buying and drinking all that cheap beer (I mean really, not just what your alcohol fogged memory reports). Yah, drunkeness and beer burps are incredibly sexually appealing.

All that said, marketing in helmets is driving the standards, and that is a bad thing for motorcyclists. Hey, your Snell helmet can take a stainless 10kg ball dropped on it from 10 feet up twice in the same spot. So what if in the real world there are practically NO accidents that mimic those conditions. So what if by meeting that standard they are practically insuring a much greater risk of injury in the accidents you are most likely to get into.

Here’s a very interesting Helmet Article on the subject. It’s a long read but well worth it. Well, unless that pretty girl and high price on the helmet box is really the appropriate criteria to base the purchase of safety equipment on.

Ah, well. At least we’re safe if somebody drops a stainless steel ball on our head.

Daniel Meyer

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5 Responses to A Voice of Reason in Helmet Design

  1. Phil Cooper says:

    VERY good read, and very interesting. I strongly advise anyone that sees this to take the time to read the entire article.

    Having done so, I’ve taken from it that plain old DOT-rated helmets are safer. Do you agree with that,Daniel?

  2. Daniel Meyer says:

    Yep, agreed. The DOT3 standard is kinder to the brain in real-world accidents. Some of the least expensive helmets performed the best.

    Given all this data…I’d buy a helmet with the features (washable/removable liner, headphone pockets, easily changable face-shield/no tools) and comfort I wanted…and pretty much leave the Snell vs. Dot vs. any other standards debate in the dust.

    High cost doesn’t mean a good helmet.

    Ride on!

    Daniel Meyer

  3. Raine says:

    Helmets give me a headache. I’ll go with no helmet when given the choice.

    Of course, where I live, I have that choice.

  4. Tinman says:

    When talking to a friend years ago about helmets and which one to get and how much to spend his reply was how much is your head worth. I admit mine aint worth a plug nickle….;-P
    I have always looked around for the features and looks I wanted in a helmet.
    Then for the best price. I never remember spending over $150 but it was always a DOT rated helmet.
    I read an article years ago about the differences in the testing between snell and dot and the dot prcedures back then were not really real world but made more sense. I have had my head saved several times where the helmet had deep scratches in it and my worhtless head was untouched.
    While I am PRO CHOICE as to wear a helmet or not my choice is to never ride without it.
    Also after hearing of a woman that I had only met a few times having an accident not wearing a helmet.
    Well her bodily injuries were not much but her brains were out on the pavement. The doctors saved her life but for what? They had to remove part of her brain and it’s been over a year now and she can hardly talk or walk (uses a walker) and will never live an independant life again. I think she was a few years younger than me. I’m 52.
    No thanks! I’ll wear my helmet of choice at the price I choose to pay.

  5. Fiacaid says:

    A fascinating article, thanks for the link.

    I found the response from the Snell Foundation particularly interesting. It was so full of circular arguments, false assertions, and outright lies that I was beginning to wonder what political office the author was running for! 😉

    Having taken numerous hits to the head in various forms of martial arts (both with and without protective gear), I’ve learned that even a relatively light hit to the head can be dangerous. Snell says an extra 40 G’s makes no difference? Fine, let them wear that helmet. I will gladly take the extra protection they don’t want!

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