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Thread: Cheap Helmet Showdown

  1. #1
    Senior Member LuvNot's Avatar
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    Cheap Helmet Showdown

    Hey friends! Well, “tis the season” as they say - no, not that season, it’s Sales Season, silly! Between Mothers Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Spring and now Summer, online motorcycle shops are having sales practically every weekend. And while I don’t really need any new gear, I have been looking for a helmet to replace my first ever adventure helmet, the top-heavy lid I bought from Cycle Gear.

    You know me… I’m picky when it comes to gear, so there are certain criteria I’m looking to meet. I’ll be grading each helmet on the following points where 0 is bad, 1 is good, and 2 is great. Added all together, these areas total a potential score of 20 points (plus bonus points).

    The Score Card
    • Cheap - (possible score of 2) Right at, or under $200. This is a one-season lid; I’m not looking to break the bank for a 3 month piece of gear.
    • Light Weight - (possible score of 2) Absolutely must be under 4lb (<1800g) or this whole exercise will be for nothing. I like my Bilt Techno Bluetooth Adventure Helmet, but the damn thing is just too heavy.
    • Comfortable - (possible score of 8) While being light weight will help, there are a few other things this new helmet needs to cover:
      • Airflow - It needs to provide plenty of airflow while protecting my eyes from excess wind or debris
      • Proper Fit - The interior cushions should be nice enough to wear all day without leaving marks or make my cheeks feel like they’re being squeezed by an over-zealous aunt.
      • Materials - The other two mean nothing if the cushion material is scratchy or just irritating.
      • Aerodynamic - I know these helmets aren’t meant for high speed, but the peak shouldn’t become a sail at the first gust of wind.
    • Comm Ready - (possible score of 2) Must have ear pockets suitable for adding speakers for intercom. I use my phone as a GPS, and don’t want to take my eyes off the road to hear the warning about the upcoming turn if I can avoid it.
    • Sunblocker - (possible score of 4) - There’s a couple of ways these helmets can protect our eyes:
      • The Peak - The peak needs to actually function as a shade, protecting from the dusk/dawn sun. I’ve seen so many of these visors that sit so high on the helmet, it looks as though they were stuck on just as decoration. I understand the peak on a traditional dirt bike helmet is to protect from roost, not sun, but these are Adventure helmets, not dirt bike helmets.
      • Interior Drop-Down Sun Shade - While it’s not common, an interior drop-down sun visor really helps on those bright days. Sure, I could wear sunglasses or install a dark visor, but one makes my ears hurt after an hour and the other limits how late I can stay out - and I dearly love night rides.
    • Shell Size - (possible score of 2) This doesn’t seem important to the average guy, but I have a tiny head (XSM). If the shell only has one size, the helmet will never fit right and I feel like a like Darth Helmet bobble-head from Spaceballs, and I’ll never wear it.
    • Accessories - (possible score of ?) No sense buying a helmet if it’s impossible to find a replacement face shield. But beyond that, if the helmet has accessories like a ratchet chin closure (love those!), or items that stretch it into more seasons (breath box, pinlock antifog visors, or chin screens), that’s bonus points!


    The Helmets
    Over the next week I will be reviewing 3 different helmets:
    1. Bell MX-9 - Score = 13 w/ .5 bonus points
    2. AFX FX-39 - Score = 9 w/ .4 bonus points
    3. Zox Rush SFX - Score = 15 w/ .7 bonus points

    Helmet Review - all 3 helmets.jpg

    Since this is a comparison post, unlike my standard format, these reviews will be using a score system rather than my usual Good, Bad & Ugly. In the end, I’ll post links to each review back here as they’re done to make it easier for future searchers to understand the competition and decide for themselves if they agree with the scoring.
    Last edited by LuvNot; 08-15-2017 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Added link to last review
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  2. #2
    Senior Member LuvNot's Avatar
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    Bilt Techno Bluetooth Adventure Helmet - the baseline review

    So letís start with a baseline review so you understand what started this whole thing:

    Bilt Techno Bluetooth Adventure Helmet
    This was the very first adventure helmet I ever bought. Until now, itís actually my only adventure helmet. It almost, but not quite, meets all of my needs, which prompted this whole buying and review series. Letís cover the points provided above:

    • Cheap - (score 2 of 2)When I bought the helmet, it was a relatively new model. I loved the idea of the integrated Bluetooth, so when it went on sale for $200 instead of the normal $300, I had to jump on it. Now these are around $170, making it an excellent deal.
    • Light Weight - (score 0 of 2) This is the biggest fail of this particular helmet. While it hits the mark on almost everything else, the 4 pounds is just too much for my neck - especially when exacerbated by wind drag on the peak. If it wasnít for the weight, Iíd consider this helmet damn near perfect.
    • Comfort - (score 3 of 8)
      • Airflow (1) - Airflow in this helmet is adequate. Thereís a vent at the top behind the peak and one on the chin - both of which can be opened or closed as needed. Airflow comes mostly from under the chin bar, so nothing special there.
      • Proper Fit (1) - When I first bought the helmet, the cheek pads were so tight I could barely get my head past them. But once past the initial neck hole, there is ample room. Once the cheek pads relaxed, the helmet is pretty comfortable.
      • Materials (1) - Nothing super special here. The material isnít super soft or moisture wicking, but itís not super cheap either. Itís comfortable enough to give it a point.
      • Aerodynamic (0) - Besides weight, my only other big gripe is how windy days really pick up the peak, wrenching my head back and forth with gusts. Steady riding is okay - even at highway speed. But Iíve had gusty days that really caught my head, wrenching my neck. Itís one of the leading reasons I stopped wearing the helmet. Unfortunately, the peak is not removable, so just riding without isnít an option for me.
    • Comm Ready - (score 2 of 2) This is one of the places the Bilt Techno excels for solitary riders. The integrated blue tooth feature is awesome. It allows users to link to their Bluetooth device, whether itís a phone, GPS, or MP3 player. I just used my phone and it worked flawlessly. While I think the speakers could be a little less tinny, almost universally, anyone who called me said they couldnít tell I was actually riding the motorcycle. Thatís a great microphone system!
    • Sunblocker - (score 3 of 4) This is another area where the Bilt Techno excels.
      • The Peak (2) - While the peak does like to act like a sail in wind gusts, at slower speeds or windless days the peak actually does its job and blocks the sun thatís sitting low in the sky.
      • Interior Drop-Down Sun Shade (1) - As a bonus, it also has an internal drop-down sun visor that is easy to operate. Itís not very dark, but it does help.
    • Shell Size - (score 1 of 2) The Bilt Techno isnít the most sleek shell ever, but itís not obscenely huge either. I do like the simple lines and functional peak.
    • Accessories - (score 1/2) Nothing special here. There are the standard replacement face shields in clear, smoke, and dark shades, but thatís it. It would be nice to have a mirror finish that helps block UV rays, but meh - whatever. There is, however, a thin piece of superbright reflective tape on the back spoiler, and one under the neck roll; they only show if you are looking up or down, but at least itís something.


    bilt-front.jpg bilt-side-composite.jpg bilt-interior-composite.jpg bilt-rear+top-composite.jpg

    My final score for the Bilt Techno Bluetooth Adventure Helmet = 11 out of 20 with 1/2 bonus point.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member TopPredator's Avatar
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    What ever you select consider it in Hi-Viz. I hope I never need my helmet to protect my noggin in a crash.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member ToolmanJohn's Avatar
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    If there's a dealer near you, consider trying on a Scorpion EXO AT950 Helmet . Flip up chin bar, inner flip up-down sun shield, easily replaceable shields in different varieties, some venting, and different colors, including bright yellow. It is NOT comfortable in humid heat (no helmet is, none of them). But I have found it good for the last few months I've been using it.

    Not certain about installing headsets. I don't ride with those.
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  6. #5
    Ken
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    I have an AFX and I love it. It is a different model, it is FX100. My neck has strengthened over time so I can't tell about the weight but wind drag is minimal. It seemed quieter than my previous helmets. I have 4 adjustable air vents, drop down sunglasses and a quick release. The one you have listed is one on my list. My hat size is 6 7/8 and I have chubby cheeks. The small fit me well and was snug without being to tight on my face. At some point I am also considering the AFX dirt bike style helmet also. I thought the price, fit and quality were all good. That is my 2 cents worth. Fit for your head is number 1. If a helmet isn't comfortable you won't want to use it.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member LuvNot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    I have an AFX and I love it. It is a different model, it is FX100.
    I took a look at the AFX website and was impressed with the light weight of their regular helmets. According to them, the helmet most like yours is pretty light.
    "A large-size FX-90 weighs 1.36 kg or 3.00 lbs"
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  8. #7
    Senior Member LuvNot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToolmanJohn View Post
    If there's a dealer near you, consider trying on a Scorpion EXO AT950 Helmet.
    I admit to looking at those pretty hard when they came out. I love the modular design and Scorpion makes some really nice gear. If it was on sale to put it in the same price range as the other 3, I would snap it up. But for this review, I'm focusing on the inexpensive helmets that are comparable in features. I'm afraid the EXO AT950 would just blow the others out of the water
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  9. #8
    Senior Member LuvNot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopPredator View Post
    What ever you select consider it in Hi-Viz. I hope I never need my helmet to protect my noggin in a crash.
    I hear ya loud and clear, my friend.
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  10. #9
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    +1 for a drop down tinted sunglasses behind a clear full face shield. Perfect for when those late day rides extend into the night.
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  11. #10
    Senior Member Tweaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToolmanJohn View Post
    If there's a dealer near you, consider trying on a Scorpion EXO AT950 Helmet . Flip up chin bar, inner flip up-down sun shield, easily replaceable shields in different varieties, some venting, and different colors, including bright yellow. It is NOT comfortable in humid heat (no helmet is, none of them). But I have found it good for the last few months I've been using it.

    Not certain about installing headsets. I don't ride with those.
    We were just looking at this helmet. For what it does and all the rave reviews it seems a good value. It is com ready.
    Ken likes this.
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