When people get their first motorcycle, they are always surprised by how much the helmets cost. They asked themselves why are motorcycle helmets so expensive? And they wonder why some are absurdly more expensive than others. I mean, at the end of the day, aren’t all helmets the same?
Let’s start by answering the first question.
Why are helmets so expensive? Helmets are so expensive because companies spend a lot of money on developing, testing, and certifying their helmets, not to mention the cost of the material and manufacturing of helmets. More expensive helmets are often more advanced, safer, and last longer.
Your safety gear should not be in an area where you want to save money and cut corners, and in this article, I’m going to explain the reasons helmets are so expensive and why expensive helmets may actually be worth it.
5 Reasons Motorcycle Helmets are So Expensive
There are plenty of reasons that make motorcycle helmets very expensive, but since we don’t have the time or space to cover all of them in detail, let’s discuss the four most important ones.
Research and Development
Companies spend millions of dollars on research and development, and this upfront cost is then transferred to the products.
Researching materials, designs, and technologies is an expensive process, and research departments can work on certain concepts for years before they can transform their ideas into market-ready products.
Helmets must be certified before being sold in the US and other countries. To get this certification, the helmet must prove it meets the safety standards set by institutions such as the DOT (Department of Transportation).
This process is exceedingly difficult and expensive. Companies are required to do extensive testing to prove their products deserve certification.
Brands with more expensive helmets will also have other certifications, such as the SNELL and ECE, which are not mandatory but show how much a manufacturer trusts their products and how safe their products are.
Manufacturing and Material
Helmets are not easy to make, and the materials used in modern helmets are not cheap, but that’s not the only reason that makes manufacturing helmets expensive. Materials like anti-bacterial liners, high-visibility coatings, and high-quality leather all add to the cost of the helmet.
To make helmets safer, companies constantly work on innovative technologies and materials, and as with any recent technology, it’s expensive when it first rolls out.
With time, the cost of these modern technologies and materials tends to go down, but the products themselves keep getting more complicated, so they keep getting more expensive.
Affordable helmets tend to be more basic, but they will not provide the same combination of comfort, durability, and safety the more technologically advanced but more expensive helmets provide.
Marketing and Advertising
You will be shocked if you realize how much companies spend on marketing and advertising, and, of course, this cost is included in the helmets’ pricing. The more a company advertises its products, the more expensive this product usually is.
Some brands are also positioning themselves as luxury brands, so even if their products don’t cost as much to make, they will still be priced in a way that keeps their exclusivity and luxurious positioning.
Some helmets will have special external finishes that use reflective, high-vis coatings, which are expensive on their own.
Some helmets will have specific branding that costs money just to license, and other helmets will look very cool, and that’s why they are expensive.
There is no getting around the fact that people will pay a lot of money for external looks alone, and that’s very true for helmets, and companies know how to use that.
Are Expensive Helmets Worth it?
Helmet shells need to absorb energy like a fiberglass shell. They do not need to be strong like a metal shell which would pass the energy to the rider’s head
The fact is that whether expensive helmets are worth it or not is a subjective matter. It depends on what you need out of a helmet.
Here is what determines whether expensive helmets are worth it for you:
- What kind of riding do you do
- What kind of terrain do you ride on
- How much do you ride
- What specific requirements do you have
- How much is your budget
If you don’t ride much, ride at low speeds, and often ride on paved roads, a cheap motorcycle helmet is going to be more than enough for you.
However, if you ride on tough terrain or on high speeds, you will want to spend a bit more and get yourself something that will keep you safe in worst-case scenarios.
If you don’t have the budget to pay for an expensive helmet now, don’t worry, plenty of affordable helmets offer excellent protection; you just need to do your research and do it well.
What’s a Good Inexpensive Motorcycle Helmet?
If you look at today’s market, you will find so many good inexpensive helmets, but, as a true enthusiast, I can truly recommend only one that I’ve tried and tested myself:
The AGV K1 is a lightweight, comfortable helmet that’s suitable for everyday rides and all-weather conditions. It’s quite easy to get it on and off, and the Double D-ring fastener means it stays firmly on while riding even on rough terrain.
The helmet’s aerodynamic design, passive rear vent, and central air intake mean this is the best-ventilated helmet in this price range. It’s also one of the quietest helmets in its price range, but you can also make it even quieter with a few adjustments.
The 3D inner liner and cheek pads are fully removable and washable, and it’s very easy to remove and reapply them.
The K1 is also an excellent choice for glass wearers as well. It also has the classic AGV design that people know and love, so there is that as well. As for safety, this helmet has both DOT and ECE certifications.
Overall, the AGV K1 is easily the best choice if you are looking for an affordable but high-quality helmet, and it checks all the boxes and then some.
Motorcycle helmets are expensive because they cost a lot of money to develop, test, advance, certify, and market. As a product designed to protect your head in worst-case scenarios, it’s easy to see why companies will spend millions of dollars to ensure it does an excellent job and why they will charge you hundreds of dollars for a high-quality item.
Getting an expensive helmet may not always be necessary for you, but a helmet is one of the investments that you will never regret. If you have a limited budget, make sure to check out our guide to the best helmets for under $300 here.
Motorcycle Helmets FAQs
How Much Should You Pay for a Motorcycle Helmet?
You can find motorcycle helmets for under $100 and all the way to over $1,000, but an average motorcycle helmet that will keep you safe and stay in good condition for a few years should cost you around $200 to $500, depending on the model, size, and brand.
Do Expensive Helmets Make a Difference?
Expensive helmets are usually better made, more technologically advanced, and have greater coverage. Some expensive helmets do make a difference as they will last longer, be more comfortable, and offer better protection and safety.
Are Cheap Helmets Good?
Cheap helmets can still be good for protecting, but they will not be as comfortable or feature rich as their expensive counterparts. Cheap Helmets may also not have the same certifications as expensive ones, but that does not mean they won’t provide the same level of protection.
MICHAEL’S SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
I have more than 40 years’ experience in the motorcycle helmet primarily with AGV helmets from Italy. If helmets meet the same safety standards, then the main difference between inexpensive helmet and inexpensive helmet is bells and whistles, comfort, added features, styling graphics and paint. If you compare helmets that both meet Snell certification or both meet and ECE certification and the only difference is their price it’s not a difference of safety that is the reason one costs.
Fit and comfort are always the most important things for helmet safety. No matter what the price of a helmet is, if it doesn’t fit right and is not retained properly, it’s not safe. An inexpensive helmet that fits well is safer than an expensive helmet that doesn’t.
Many people have asked me over the years why are helmets so expensive? In the United States. Part of that reason is the extremely high costs of insurance and product liability defense. The US has a unique problem here that no other country in the world has and this adds a significant amount to the price of many consumer products that involve activities where there’s a risk of injury.
When you get into expensive helmets the high price is for image because of the exclusivity of the brand, model, or exotic materials the helmet is manufactured from.
Sent your helmet is your most important piece of safety gear protecting the most important piece of your body and is the most visible of your safety components it is certainly understandable that some people may want to spend a significant amount of money for a genuinely nice high-end helmet. But if your budget does not allow this. Don’t worry about a less expensive helmet not being safe if you make sure it has the proper safety standards.
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative Government, educational, corporate, and nonprofit organizations:
About the author:
Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, total he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. In addition, he functioned as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.
In 1985, He is the Founder AGV Sports Group, Inc. in cooperation with AGV Helmets of Italy.
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