Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of motorcycle helmets has seen AGV, Shark, Bell Helmets, Shoei and Fox compared on vision, value for money, durability, comfort/fit, style/design, ease of clean, additional non-safety features and overall satisfaction.
When you hop on your motorcycle, there are a few essentials you should always have – your keys, your wallet, your phone, and your helmet. The fact is that riding a motorcycle is as thrilling as it is potentially dangerous, so ensuring you have all the right equipment, at all times, is a no-brainer. Accessories don’t come any more important than a good helmet.
But when it comes to protecting your noggin, Aussies have plenty of helmets to choose from, which can give you a few headaches when it comes to narrowing down the options. While it might appear to be an easy decision, helmets are a purchase that is best to take your time with, as it may end up being the only thing between you and a nasty injury. To help with the decision-making process, Canstar Blue produces an annual review of motorcycle helmets, rated by those who wear their helmets when they head out on the roads.
Brands are compared on factors including durability, comfort/fit, style/design and value for money. The idea is to give you as much helpful information as possible about the brands compared, so you can make an informed purchase decision the next time you need a new helmet. After three years of success, Shoei has been knocked off the podium, with AGV securing top spot for overall customer satisfaction. Read on for all the details.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 motorcycle helmet review saw five brands compared and rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:
Shark, Bell Helmets and Shoei were rated four stars for overall satisfaction, with Fox finishing on three stars overall. While AGV took out the top spot for value for money, other brands were getting in on the five-star action, with Shark achieving top marks for durability, while Bell Helmets took out multiple five star awards, including vision, durability, comfort, style, and ease of clean, with last year’s winner Shoei achieving top marks for comfort and style.
Read on for further details about the motorcycle helmets these brands offer, plus helpful tips on what to look for the next time you go shopping.
Like motorcycles, there are plenty of varieties and types to choose from when it comes to selecting a helmet. While it’s always recommended to go in-store to find the best fit, you won’t be short on options when it comes to the style, design and features available. Survey respondents were asked about what type of motorcycle helmet they most recently purchased, with results below:
Considering that respondents spent, on average, close to $300 on their new helmets – with 32% also having a spare helmet on hand for passengers – they obviously aren’t cheap purchase. But considering what they’re protecting, the price tag may be well worth it, although you still want to get a good deal.
Respondents were also asked about what drew them to their helmet of choice, with their responses below:
With plenty to consider, you’ll also have to ensure your helmet meets safety standards before you can hit the road. Read on to find out what Australian motorcycle laws you should adhere to.
Motorcyclists are required by Australian law to wear helmets at all times when operating a motorcycle, in addition to any passengers who are riding with you. However, laws and legislations vary from state to state, so it’s best to read up on any legislation if you’re not sure if your helmet meets the required local standards.
Motorcycle helmets are required to meet minimum standards before being made available for purchase, with the safety information sewn onto part of the chin-strap. Riders should look for the ‘AS/NZS’ symbol – indicating that the helmet meets the Australian and New Zealand standards – but if you’re not sure what you should be looking for, ask the staff at your local motorcycle retailer, as they should be up-to-date with the most current legislation.
With 7% of survey respondents stating that they have bought a helmet from overseas, plus 15% buying theirs online, it’s important that you ensure that the helmet you have your eyes set on meets Australian standards, as you could end up spending money on a helmet you can’t legally use. Additionally, it’s best not to buy second-hand, as it may not offer the same level of protection as a new model.
Our survey found that just over half (52%) of riders know whether or not their helmet is in line with Australia’s safety regulations – with Gen Y riders less likely to know than older generations – meaning many are running the risk of a more serious injury, or a potential run-in with the law.
Founded in 1946, AGV is an Italian manufacturer that is well-known on the road, as well as the racetrack. Offering a wide variety of helmets categorised by which motorcycle you may ride, AGV offers racing, sport, full-face and limited-edition models for those a big fan of the MotoGP or Valentino Rossi.
While more expensive than some competitors, AGV may not be the brand for you if you’re looking to stick to a budget, but it offers plenty in terms of finishes and colours, meaning it might be worthwhile checking out if you’re looking for something that stands out from the crowd.
AGV splits its helmet range to match which motorcycle you ride, making it easier for riders to find the best fit. Included in the range are track, sport, cruiser and touring helmets, each with a number of models on offer. If you’re looking for an old-school aesthetic, the Legends collection may be right up your alley.
If off-road is more your speed, AGV has the AX-8 series, made with a carbon aramid-fiberglass shell and removable nose guard, ensuring that riders find an equal balance between safety and comfort. Available at retailers around the country, AGV has a dealer locator on its website, making it easier to find, and pick up, some headgear.
With over 25 years of experience, French manufacturer Shark offers plenty of variety for riders, whether you’re looking to tear up the racing track or get off the beaten track. One of the cheaper options on the market, Shark may be worth checking out for those on a tight budget, or who feel the need for speed. Accessories and customisations are also available via Shark website’s, allowing for more personalised products and models, helping to make your helmet your own.
For those keen on the track, Shark has the Race-R range, which is divided into the Pro, Pro GP and Pro Carbon varieties, each with two shell sizes and made from carbon fibre for a lighter feel. The primary difference between the Pro and Pro GP is that the GP models come equipped with a spoiler to optimise aerodynamic performance, making it perfect for those looking to shave a few seconds off their lap time.
Road riders may be interested in the Spartan, Vancore or Skwal ranges, coming equipped with sun visors and Bluetooth capabilities. Additionally, Shark has open-face helmets for those more partial to a cruiser motorcycle, with the Heritage and RSJ models available with a manual or flip visor.
For the off-road adventurers, Shark offers the Explore and Varial ranges. If you’re after a simpler helmet, the Varial may be more your speed, coming with removable vents for easy cleaning and three shell sizes for an optimised fit. If you’re after something a bit more hi-tech, the Explore model comes with a visor, a pair of goggles and a motocross peak, along with a wraparound neck roll for increased safety.
An American brand established in the 1950s, Bell offers helmets for all types of two-wheels, motorised or otherwise. One of the more competitively-priced brands in Australia, Bell’s helmets are available in multiple types, including open-face, full-face and off-road models.
Bell divides its on-road helmets into the Street and Culture ranges, with open-faced and full-face models available in both, giving riders plenty of options to choose from. Bell’s introductory model, the Qualifier, includes features such as anti-fog face shield, removable liners, and a wind collar, making it ideal for the everyday commute, with the top of the line ‘Race Star Flex’ ideal for those looking to cut loose on the race track with Raceview orientation and a lightweight design.
Bell’s range of off-road helmets includes the likes of the Forced Air range, in addition to the Moto-9 and MX-9 range, suitable for whether you’re looking to race or simply get away for the weekend. The Forced Air includes a premium filtration system to ensure you’re not left with a mouthful of dirt and dust, while the MX-9 helmet comes with multiple shell options plus an adjustable visor. Visors and replacements are additionally available via the Bell website, with retailers listed online.
Originally starting out making helmets for construction sites, Japanese brand Shoei transitioned into the world of motorcycle helmets in 1958, with the manufacturer today producing a wide variety of models for both on-road and off-road rides. While one of the more expensive options on the market, Shoei may be well worth the price tag.
The majority of Shoei’s range comes in the form of its on-road helmets, with visored helmets available, in addition to open-faced helmets. Shoei’s ‘premium’ helmet – the X-Fourteen – provides a removable, washable and replaceable interior system, along with a visor that Shoei claims is able to block out 99% of UV rays, making the ride more comfortable. Other helmets of note include the RF-SR, ideal for those looking for a simpler model, and the ‘flip-up’ Neotec II, for those after a particular style, with plenty more in between.
For those more inclined to go off-road, Shoei has the Hornet and VFX-EVO models, each with streamlined designs to help those looking to shave a few seconds of their lap times on the dirt track. With additional mud guards and visors, Shoei also has a wide range of colours and designs for those wanting to make a statement.
Shoei additionally offers intercoms and Bluetooth systems for those looking to keep in touch with other riders, with visors and other helmet accessories available to buy on the company’s website. If you’re not sure about which helmet size you should be looking for, Shoei provides a sizing chart online to help with the decision.
Another American brand, Fox primarily manufactures gear for extreme sports and motocross, but offers everything you will need before you set out on the dirt tracks, including protective wear such as gloves, boots and goggles. If off-roading is your thing, then Fox may be the option for you.
Offering three ranges of helmets – the V1, V2 and V3 – each range offers plenty of variety in terms of style and colour, giving those who like to stand out from the crowd plenty to get excited about. The V1 includes a new visor design for increased safety, with four shell sizes available to ensure you pick up the best fit. The V2 includes a dual density lining, with increased ventilation to help with those hot days, while the V3 includes the DriLex liner for increased comfort and moisture absorption.
Fox helmets are available at retailers around the country, with Fox listing stores online, plus spare parts and accessories are also available for purchase.
Arguably the most essential piece of safety equipment when it comes to travelling on two wheels, a helmet is more of an investment in your health and safety than just another purchase, although like other investments, there’s plenty to consider before breaking out your wallet.
Ultimately which helmet you decide to stick on your melon will come down to personal preference, as well as where you plan on riding, as each helmet type and model will suit different situations. A helmet isn’t a purchase you want to do on the fly though, as it can often be the difference between riding another day or meeting with an unfortunate accident or injury. As a result, it’s best to do plenty of research before you set your heart on a brand, as a clear head will ensure you end up with the best fit for your next trip.
Photo credits: Virojt Changyencham/shutterstock.com, nampix/shutterstock.com, 4 PM production/shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue commissioned I-view to survey 800 Australian motorcycle riders across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used a motorcycle helmet in the last 2 years – in this case, 387 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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