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Helmet recommendations

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    Posted: March/24/09 at 6:29am
I am in the market for an autocross helmet and wanted to know if anyone could recommend a dealer in the Seattle area or a specific brand.  Thanks!

Rachel
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote onramp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/24/09 at 12:04pm
Hi, Rachel.

My experiences with wearing helmets for long periods of time is to take the time to get one that fits right.  I'm also a believer in two major brands - Bell and Arai.  Both are up there a bit in price.  Back to this in a minute.

Some folk have a bowling ball head, and some have a grape.  I'm a grape.  Bell helmets fit bowling ball heads the best.  Arai fits grapes best.  I also like the Arai for the ear pockets - leaves room for the speakers I have for my instructor's headset.

If cost is a big factor, you can find a Snell rated helmet (don't buy anything else - FIND the sticker in the lining) for quite a bit less than the big two.  The difference is fit and padding.  I've worn poorly fitting helmets, and find that after an half hour or so, the dang thing hurts.  After two or three half hour sessions, the hurting spots really get sore, and I start to loose concentration.  Not good for going fast.  If you think you can power thru something like a poor fitting helmet, get a tight headband and put a marble in it just behind your ear, or maybe just off center on your forehead.  Or maybe a big C-clamp, front to rear.  Tighten it just so...  Wear it for a while.  Let me know what you think. 

Anyway, sometimes you can find a cheaper Snell rated helmet that fits just fine.

If you get into high speed driving at track events, there are another couple of factors to think about.  I've experienced both - fire and big impacts.  I've sent my big buck helmets back to the factory a couple of times (why in the world do I keep going back for more instructing?  Genetic disorder of some sort I guess), keeping my fingers crossed that I don't need to fork out another $300+, plus go thru the mods for the communicator system.  Every time, the helmet structure or nomex lining is fine.  The $70 motorcycle special might have melted, or the structure gives it up to keep my thinking matter operating at it's optimum level (probably medium level for everybody but instructors...).

So.  If I've convinced you to burnish the MasterCard, go to a reputable shop with a big selection of helmets.  Go to a shop that specializes in auto racing - not a motorcycle shop.  The motorcycle helmets are made for one BIG bang, then some little bangs.  Auto helmets are made for lotsa BIG BANGS in a row, plus have fire protection built in.  So - at the auto shop (like Speedware Motorsports in Redmond where I buy my helmets), try on some helmets.  Talk to the sales person about what you will be doing in the helmet.  Racing?  Full face.  DE or Autox?  Consider an open face - better vision, but less lower face protection if you have a tendency to run into things.  Once you have a helmet that you think fits, ask if you can wear it for a while - window shop for a bit.  Anybody who looks at you funny is a poser who doesn't know why anybody would take the time to check out a helmet.  Tell 'em I called them a poser.  After 20 minutes or so, you should know if that one is your new track hat.

Something to consider is a headsock.  After wearing your helmet for a season, stick your nose in there and take a whiff.  Hmmm.  Come on over and stick your nose in MY helmet and take a whiff.  You'll buy a washable headsock...

Last - helmet bag.  You gonna spend $300 to $600 for a helmet and let it roll around in your trunk without a  $39 helmet bag?  I don't think so.

Go to Speedware.  Tell 'em I sent you.  If they say "Who?", find another salesperson.  If they say, "Oh, Yeah!" don't believe most of what they say about me.

Sometimes I get a discount on my next set of gloves.  Ask me why you need gloves - another time.

Pat




Edited by onramp - March/24/09 at 12:06pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Coopdy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/24/09 at 3:56pm
Wow, thank you so much for your very thoughtful and thorough reply!  Besides being so informative, it was also amusing to read! Smile

I had no idea about Speedware and am excited to take a trip there.  I already agree on needing gloves!  I don't know if it's because I can't imaging riding my mtn bike without them that I feel I have so little grip without them, so I'll be looking for a pair of gloves there too. The night before the novice course I ran out to the store to get half-a-cow gloves that are twice my size.

Thanks for all the info on the helmets. It's kinda hard to shell out in the $600 ballpark for something I'm not entirely sure I'll be doing a lot of at this time...but I usually do not believe in buying cheap to incur a greater combined expense later.  I saw a few supposedly new Arias on Craigslist, but I believe that these are for motorcycles.  Thanks for setting me straight on the dfference!

I'm hoping to score some deal for the helmet that no guy can wear but fits me because I have a pin head.  I see some Bell's though that are below $400 that I could probably swing. Guess I need to see if I'm a grape or bowling ball.  Certainly at times I have the hard headedness of the bowling ball Wink.

Thanks again for all the help!
Rachel

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wildfamily Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/24/09 at 10:34pm
Yes, agree with PAT...Speedware is a great place to shop and they are good folks. Try different helments on for fit and comfort. An open face helmet is fine or Auto-X..better vision and comfort. Also i just got some gloves for X-mas and it makes a huge difference ...have fun!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote phydeaux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/25/09 at 12:09am
Originally posted by onramp onramp wrote:

If they say, "Oh, Yeah!" don't believe most of what they say about me.


Yeah, they are probably downplaying anything they say about Pat.  ;)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BurnerS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/23/09 at 11:12pm
So ..Oh Master of Helmets.. Pat I mean...
So I am signed up for the IRDC weekend in July
Is an open faced helmet okay for that type of track driving?
Thanks
Steve
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote onramp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/24/09 at 11:48am
Hi, Steve:

Check with IRDC to see if the open face helmet is allowed under their rules.  If it is, I recommend the open face (remember the snell sticker). 

First, you can hear the instructor better.  If he/she uses a communicator, you can fit the student headset in better (pull it out by the metal part of the arm.  If you pull on something else and it comes apart, hand the instructor $30...). 

Second, the instructor can see you better - where your eyes are looking (look far ahead into the future - your future.  Look where you want to go.  See around the corner), and can see if you are remembering to breathe.

If you plan on running into things, go get a full face helmet - your lower face will appreciate it.

Hope that helps.  If you need more, PM me your phone number and I'll call.

Pat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BurnerS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/24/09 at 11:10pm
Pat.. Thanks for you info and advice....
I can't wait to get on the track... really looking forward to it.. and I do not plan on hitting anything!! thanks! Drive


Edited by steves cooper s - June/24/09 at 11:10pm
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