This post is alternately titled “Ramblings about How Much My Noggin is Worth.”
My Charles Owen Ayr8 is coming up on the 5-year “expiration” date helmet makers recommend for helmet replacement because the materials degrade over time (way to build in an endless market, helmet makers). It’s been a good helmet, and does fit my head shape well, but ventilated it is not (I don’t care what CO says).
Thus, I am in the market for a new helmet, and another Ayr8 is not really an option I’m considering. My top choices are a GPA First Lady, a Samshield Shadowmatt with shimmer, or a matte black KEP Italia, possibly with a wide brim. Each helmet comes in at roughly the same price point, except for the wide brim on the KEP Italia inexplicably adds $200 to the price. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to shell out an extra $200 for the wide brim when I already have an Equivisor (in leopard, no less). The brims of KEPs are attached to the helmet in such a way that they will break or break off in the event of an impact from a fall, which is a nice safety feature, although I still can’t imagine why a wide one would add to the price quite so much. All three helmets have removable liners, thankfully! That’s been my second-biggest gripe about my Ayr8–no way to wash the liner.
The GPA First Lady is the least likely of my options, as GPAs typically fit people with round heads and my head is basically oval-ish. I like the way they look on some people, and not so much on others. I’m talking about people I actually know, not just Penelope Leprevost. The two people I’ve spoken with who have them, both say the helmets have good ventilation. I haven’t ruled it out completely, but I would definitely want to try it on before buying.
Samshield, while extremely appealing, especially with all of the customization options, many of which are sparkly, is in second place with me right now. I have tried one on twice, and because of my helmet/head size coupled with the way Samshield sizes run, there is no way I can get around having to buy the large shell instead of the medium. The large shell looks very mushroom-y on me, and I got a sense of the helmet sitting perched on top of my head, rather than coming down further over my brow and also covering the back of my head–it just felt like too much of my head was still exposed. The shimmer is super tempting, but the fit just isn’t quite right. I may be able to adjust the fit some with reconfiguring the liners, but that doesn’t negate the perched feeling.
Far and away, KEP Italia helmets are my frontrunner. I’ve been curious about them for years, and the customization options are off the wall (“made in Italy” being synonymous with “you can have WHATEVER you want”). Like Samshield, KEP uses a system of shells and liners for fit. The helmet looks pretty big on anyone’s head, but they are also certified for safety by 5 different groups, meeting the safety standards of many countries, a big plus in my book. According to the KEP sizing guidelines, I fall right on the cusp of the medium and large shell when looking at the measurements in centimeters, even though the liners for the two helmet sizes I typically wear fit into the medium shell. I would probably go with a medium shell and get the bigger of the two liners in my sizes. But therein lies the primary drawback to ordering a KEP–there is nowhere in town where I can try one on first that I have been able to find.
To add yet one more snag in my helmet search, I am toying with the idea of cutting my hair to chin length, which would have an impact on helmet fit. I don’t think, ultimately, that I’ll go through with it. I’ve had my hair short before, and it’s a pain in the ass for different reasons than why long hair is a pain in the ass. Most likely, I’ll keep growing my hair out, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.
So I thought I might take an informal poll, dear readers … which helmet? Which hairstyle?