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Old 08-07-2006, 11:28 AM   #11
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

There are a lot of really good helmets on the market for $200 or less. Some have nearly the fit, finish and comfort of the expensive brands and all will protect your head equally as good (the Snell vs. DOT debate notwithstanding). You won't go wrong with an Arai or any premium brand, but there are plenty of alternatives for less money. As others have said, the fit is the most important thing. And protecting your head with the lid you like best, regardess of cost, is money well spent.

I won't buy a real expensive helmet because I have an annoying habit of banging them up (thankfully, not through crashes). I also like to change them every two or three seasons (call it A.D.D.).

I recently retired a KBC VR-1 (I paid about $200 bucks for it), which was very comfortable, relatively quiet and had lots of high-end features. Unfortunately, this particular model (with a special Black Chrome finish) had a few fit and finish gremlins.

I replaced it with an HJC CL-SP for about $170. I've never been a huge fan of HJC but they usually are spoken well of and much of their line has been redesigned this year. The build quality is extraordinary (Webbikeworld claims it's as good as anything) and, although it seems to be made for a slightly rounder head shape than mine, it still fits very well and the vents actually seem to work. Webbikeworld also claims it's one of the quietest helmets they've ever tested, although, I must say, in certain conditions (and on my head, of course) it seems pretty noisy. Obviously not everyone's head is the same, so results vary.

The new HJC quick-release shield mechanism may be the best one on the market. It literally takes only a few seconds to do a change. It just pops off and on.

Jackets/pants/boots are a little trickier. The quality does vary, even within manufacturers' own lines. I have two Fieldsheer Jackets (fairly inexpensive brand) that are pretty well made. But the only pair of Fieldsheer pants I've had began to disintegrate almost immeadiately. Joe Rocket stuff, by and large, seems to be pretty good. You'll probably find more consistent quality in the more expensive brands but there is plenty of more affordable stuff that works well, too.
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Old 08-07-2006, 12:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

Buy whatever DOT/Snell helmet that is most comfortable. The safety issue is somewhat subjective, but you know you gotta' wear it. Fit, weight, and ventilation are huge! Snug is better than loose, but it shouldn't be uncomfortable.
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Old 08-07-2006, 01:19 PM   #13
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

I think that I have tried about every helmet brand there is on the market. Based on the tests that I have seen, price and safety have little relationship. What counts is the ventilation and the fit. A new helmet should be snug but not tight. What is also important is how quiet they are, which you can't really tell until you get on your bike at road speed.

I have both a Scorpion and a Nolan N-100. The Scorpion is the quietest and most comfortable helmet I have ever owned, and the no-fog screen works like a champ. However, it is a pain to get my glasses on after donning the hat. The ventilation is very good, but the Nolan is the winner in the summer. That flip up shield is great, even though it fogs in the winter.

Bottom line is to get what fits you the best. As long as you are dealing with quality helmets, you will be fine (or equally protected). Joe Rocket gear is fine. The Aero stitch is better. But I literally have five different jackets. All get worn in different climeate conditions. My favorite jacket is my Vanson, but they are pricey.

Hope I added just a little to the information you have and did not iinduce mind warp.

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Old 08-07-2006, 01:21 PM   #14
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

Buy what fits best, you like the look of, and what works with your budget. Most namebrand gear out there ain't bad, though some is better than others.

For helmets: Personally, I'm not a fan of HJC's, but I highly recommend Scorpion helmets (http://www.scorpionusa.com). I have two Scorpion EXO-700's and their fit, finish, features and safety are top notch -- on par with the Shoei's and Arai's I've worn. There are rumors of a modular Scorpion coming this fall... but that my just be hearsay.

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Old 08-07-2006, 01:37 PM   #15
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

Personally I'm a big AGV fan - the V-Vent is anice balance of comfort, noise level, venting and price. Problem is that you pretty much have to go to a bike show to try one on before you buy.

As far as gear goes, SIDI boots, decent gloves. You didn't say where you live - I live in Portland an ride all year so I have leather, textile, mesh and rain covers . Depending on wheree you live and how you want to ride, you may like the Stitch concept (one suit for every thing) but if you feel the heat you may be better off with multiple suits which is also less initial outlay.

Keep an eye on newenough.com (not used gear anymore). I've had great deals from them.
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Old 08-07-2006, 01:43 PM   #16
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Default Re: Z1R

I own a number of Arais and a couple of Z1R's; there is a definite difference in comfort, fit and quality, though not as much as you might think given the price difference.

I can't wear the Z1R for long periods of time as the buckle is quite far up the strap and puts pressure on my manly chin; however, my usual passenger doesn't have this issue with my other Z1R. Conclusion is that I'd recommend trying on a helmet prior to buying it.

I haven't tested either brand in a crash, and hope not to.
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Old 08-07-2006, 02:01 PM   #17

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Default Re: If it worked for Gerry Ford...

Personally I use a vintage leather football helmet and rugby jersey.

Who cares how it protects if it doesn't look good?

A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.
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Old 08-07-2006, 02:02 PM   #18
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

A helmet should feel just a tad tight when new. When the padding crushes down a bit, it should fit fine. We're not talking headache tight here, just a bit snugger than you would find ideal. And if the cheeks fit right, you won't have the thing twisting on you while you ride, in addition to properly protecting you. Arai's are, in most people's opinion, the best helmet out there because you can almost always find one that fits. They make at least two shells, designed to fit different different shapes of head. Personally, my elongated noggin fits a Shoei just about perfect, and is somewhat cheaper. I had an older HJC, and it was incredibly noisy, perhaps partly because I didn't pay enough attention to details, like gaps around the shield that make an unholy racket at speed. The new ones may be much better in this regard. The one time the HJC proved it's worth was when I did a face plant into a pile of rocks, got up, checked out the bike, and rode home, none the worse for wear.
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Old 08-07-2006, 03:14 PM   #19
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

second that, Joe Rocket stuff is low priced, not low quality. I crash tested my Ballistic 4.0 and walked away with bumps and bruises...good enough proof for me.
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Old 08-07-2006, 03:14 PM   #20
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Default Re: Safety Equipment Help.

Before buying any helmet walk around the store with it on for at least 30 minutes. Any discomfort at all and it is the wrong one. Also ask about return/exchange policy on helmets. Cycle Gear is a chain store that has the most liberal return policy on helmets you will find anywhere.
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