Some folks avoid budget helmets like a bum on a street corner, but I’ve spent some time in several mid-level helmets and feel they often offer nearly the same level of comfort and protection as a brain bucket demanding another $100 from your wallet. So in the name of science and testing, I bit the bullet and volunteered to try the latest entry in the dirt helmet market: the $129.95 Scorpion EXO VX-14.I took it to the 24 Hours of Glen Helen. The first shock was that it was comfortable and fit decently. The padding’s texture was nice. On the downside, its cheek pads gave me a serious case of chipmunk cheek–they are too thick at the top and front and rather tall. Just trimming them 10 to 15mm on the top and sides would cure this overstuffed feel, which focused the blazing Glen Helen temperatures in one hot spot–especially when standing around waiting for my turn on the bike. That was my major snivel.The unique chin vents are funneled through a smaller opening to perhaps blast the air more forcefully onto the rider’s face. Riding when it’s 90-something is definitely an acid test for a helmet, but I never smelled my brain cooking so I’ll have to say the airflow, while not feeling like a wind tunnel, was sufficient. Another detail not usually seen on helmets in this price range is the black coating on the underside of the visor, which meant no glare issue at night from the headlight–I liked that.And, of course, the postride details, such as the ease of cleaning: I am happy to report this is one of the helmet’s best features. Its KwikWick helmet liner and infamous cheek pads attach via snaps, so removing and then reinstalling everything after a trip to the washing machine is a breeze. I’m not sure how long the plastic snaps will last, but they look durable enough to live as long as the helmet. The VX-14 is available in blue, green, orange, red, silver and yellow in the Flashback (pictured here) and Lightning paint jobs; and solid black is only $119.95.