So I saw the TW test and I was shocked. Sure I knew it was the sacrificial lamb tested of the month but I was horrified by the photo. I had been wearing (yes, while riding dirt bikes, and outside of my office) a couple of Sparx helmets for the past few weeks and since they fit well (I feel they run just a bit on the large size, my medium feels like a medium-and-a-half and Sparx seems "rounder" than my favorites), had the certification it was a decent helmet. I'd even crashed in one and hit my head a little above average in my totally subjective scale and it worked fine, only slightly scratched. So I grabbed my helmet and tried to break it with my bare hands with no luck. Sure I made it pop and crackle with some pretty unrealistic (long slow speed sustained pressure) pushes, but not breaking. We even talked about shooting a video, but didn't have the camera and sort of forgot about it. So skip forward a few more days and I'm out riding in another Sparx helmet. I tell one of my editors, Jesse Ziegler about the test and hand him my helmet (after the ride.) He goes to town on it, being the gym-going muscle man he is he gets some pretty good movement out of it and after a few good pushes and tugs gets a crack at the lower vent opening but could not get the total detachment that is shown in the TW photo. That took all of my weight pressing on the already cracked lid from the back ramming the chin bar into the ground. Basically like running my head into concrete and having the bike land on top of it. Then with some twisting it finally broke. I have a good idea of what this took force-wise and I'm still comfortable wearing this brand of helmet when riding (just not that specific helmet as it is in the garage and I throw it at the wall when I get mad). I'm going to break some other helmets just for comparison because I want to know, even in my unscientific way, how some stuff stacks up. I can afford to do this, I get these helmets for free. I'll let you know. And yes, I'm going to use old used ones I have laying around.
I've been regularly wearing a couple of Fulmer helmets ($99-$109 retail) and often I choose to wear the One Industries Combat over the higher end Trooper based on fit. I've had good luck in Fox and Troy Lee Helmets as well. Currently Bell and Shoei helmets do not fit my head as good as the previously mentioned lids. But my outright favorite is still the Arai with the best fit and what I consider the best safety based in a few things. It is very round and has no sharp edges. It has a lot of foam padding and it has the best feeling material inside the liner. Even where the straps are located just fits better than any other lid and I'd expect that if I were paying $500. And I would. I typically race (if you call it that these days) with an Arai. But for under $150 you get what Sparks and Fulmer are offering, that is a deal and I wouldn't go bashing a lower end price product because it is easy to pick out as being "uncool" giving the condemner wearing his trophy lid some safe ground to stand on. Sure they may be new, their designs might not be the best looking to you, the price point or country of origin may have implications on perception of safety. But until you test it properly you shouldn't be telling everyone what you know. If I were a magazine reader and I had DR and TW in my hand and I read the review of the Klim helmet (if it has been published yet, I loose track) where DR gave it an 89 out of 100 and TW rated it a 4, what would I think? One of those guys is wrong or lying to me. If 5 of the TW points were for style and the author, who I'm unsure of because there isn't name on it didn't like the looks, then that rating is OK. But since I wore the helmet a lot and I know some of the things they claimed to be a problem are not a problem, then it's bogus.