Motorcycle helmets are like any other commodity. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Some lower-priced helmets offer good quality for your dollar for less than $300, and some expensive helmets costing three times that will fall apart quickly, but as a rule, spend more to get a better, more comfortable helmet that will last longer.
This is one area where you really benefit by shopping at a dealership, as you’re able to compare several brands in person, to judge their fit and finish for yourself. A little bit of online research can also give you a pretty good idea of a brand’s reputation for value.
But while a higher-priced helmet may be better quality, don’t be suckered into the old argument that spending less on a helmet means you’re being stupid and unsafe. The “$50 helmet for a $50 head” line is frequently parroted by riders who want to justify their own expensive helmet purchases and make you feel inferior for not spending the same. The reality is, no amount of money can buy you a replacement head, so you’re best off determining the safety level you need and buying a helmet you can afford that delivers that safety level, whether that be $250 or $1250.
If you’re broke, especially if you’re just starting out riding, it might be tempting to buy a used helmet to save money.
But ask yourself: do you know for sure if this helmet hasn’t been dropped? Dropping a helmet can damage it, and many manufacturers recommend replacement afterwards. Do you know how old the helmet is? Many manufacturers recommend replacement after a few years, as helmet linings can deteriorate over time and offer less protection.
With those caveats in mind, buying a used helmet certainly can save you some bucks, if you’re getting it from a trustworthy friend.
Of course, you can often get new helmets cheaper online than in your local dealership, but as we’ve already pointed out, there are a few advantages to buying in person. If funds are super-tight, shop around to find a dealer who will price-match with online retailers (they do exist), or wait until a motorcycle show or other event where dealerships offer significant discounts on helmets.