Decisions, Decisions

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?

23 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. I can’t really offer any insane wisdom, other than I’ve been told that people that fit into CO and IRH generally don’t look good in GPAs. I lusted after the GPA Speed Air for years (literally) until I tried it on…when I saw myself in the mirror, I looked like a combat solider from Vietnam in 1970. My head looks best in IRH and CO helmets, which supports your theory that the GPA may not fit your head properly. But hey, you should buy whatever you like best! I know Amanda is cooking up a sweet-looking custom Samshield, so maybe she’ll weigh in and help make your decision πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m going to try on a Speed Air or a First Lady just in case, but I don’t have high hopes. I kind of like the bug/alien look of it, but maybe not so much to wear all the time, lol.

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  2. i like the KEP too! but would probably be super hesitant to buy something without trying it on first…. i love my one K, in case you haven’t checked them out yet… tho my head shape doesn’t work at all for COs so maybe ppl who like COs wouldn’t like one Ks? idk… anyway good luck!

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    1. I did try on a One K at a tack shop here, and ruled it out immediately because of my head shape. Which is a bummer, it’s way less expensive and they have all different colors and sparkly options now, too!

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  3. I think we need selfies of you in each helmet to make an informed decision! πŸ™‚ My helmet makes me look like a bowling ball… but for now it will do. I’ve always loved the look of the First Lady but that’s not in my budget for the time being.

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    1. I totally need to do that! Although the KEPs are nowhere nearby and I’d have to just try on a Speed Air to approximate the First Lady fit … I am also interested in trying on the new-ish GPA Easy or whatever they call it. But it has red bits on it and I’m not so sure about that.

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  4. I love my Samshield. But if it doesn’t fit you right then that’s not so good. When I bought my helmet I had longer hair. After I got a cut I was able to purchase a thicker liner. I do appreciate that option. Helmets are to expensive to change with a hairstyle.

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  5. I loveee Samshield, but sadly they do not fit my head. I tried on tons of helmets the last time I was looking (and I worked for an equine retailer for a few years and tried on all the new stuff we got πŸ˜‰ I’m a big window shopper) and the ONLY ONE that fits me and my hair, which is always up and it’s long, is the AYR8.

    You’re definitely right in that most GPA’s are for round heads. If you’re oval, they are most likely never going to fit. I haven’t tried on the KEP type but I know One K’s are for more rounded heads as well. I’ve heard that they’re sort of in the middle of round and oval (which is kind of how I felt when I tried one on) and then some other people say they’re definitely round. Who knows.

    I’ll fully agree though on the cooling aspect of the AYR8. Ventilated, my ass. Those suckers are hot.

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    1. Yeah, there is no way I’m surviving the rest of the summer in an Ayr8. When my hair was really long, the CO helmets were the only ones that fit, but I don’t think I want it THAT long again. Plus my Ayr8 does kinda squeeze the sides of my head a bit, so I think I’m in between oval and round.

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      1. Yeah, you might have good luck with a One K or a Samshield then! I think both of those are more in the “sort of round, sort of oval” category. KEP is supposed to be in that category as well, but again I don’t have any experience with them myself. Keep us updated!

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  6. Ha! I was just thinking about a new helmet the other day. I have a OneK that fits me well and it does tame me look like a mushroom head, however it is not very well ventilated. I’m actually looking into a Uvex helmet! Super light, well ventilated and they have some nice styles. So maybe take a gander and them? I do like KEPs but they do look a little bulbous, however I have yet to try them on. The custom-ness of the Samshields and KEPs though are def on point. Custom all the things!!!

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  7. It’s so funny, I had a GPA as a junior, then took a couple years off and when I came back the GPAs didn’t fit. Apparently my head changed shape from the ages of 17 to 22. I’m a huuuuge fan of my CO GR8, but the thought of a removable lining is pretty tempting. I’d love to hear what you end up with so that I have an idea what to look for in a few years πŸ™‚

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  8. I have a GPA (not sure which model – seems to be the basic one), and I love it. I feel much more secure in it than I did in my Charles Owens. But I would always go with the one with the best fit, as long as it has good safety ratings. Your head isn’t something to mess around with! I think fit and safety features are the most important aspects of helmets.

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