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Rip-off Britain (cont’d)

An email popped through the virtual letterbox from an online bike accessories supplier a couple of days back offering “Max flip front helmets” reduced to just £29.99.

I couldn’t resist a look, and thought hmmm… they look familiar. So I dug out of the cupboard the “occasional use spare lid” and compared it with the photo…

Yes, I thought so – the ‘Rayven Max’ flip front = ‘Bullit’ flip front

I bought (bit?) the Bullit in France in Auchun in Calais a few trips back…

The difference is that the Rayven Max is rrp £59.99 in the UK and can be found for that price on several online shop and e-bay sites. Auchun was selling the Bullit for €35!

The odd thing is that just over 30 years ago, I paid £29.99 for a Shoei S20. It was my very first helmet and exactly 1/10th of the price of the CB125S I bought at the same time. Now, figure how much a CBR125 is these days!

I used Arai’s for quite a few years, because they fitted and were comfortable, but when I was looking to replace my aging pair of Arais – a Giga Schwantz Pepsi replica and a Rapide – in 2000 or so, I discovered they’d made the cheekpads much thicker which were unbearably uncomfortable in just 15 mins walking round with it on in the shop! Let alone the thought of riding for four or five hours with a radio headset stuffed in it!!! And though you could get replacement thinner cheekpads, I was told they were special order and according to the shop £40 a pair which I thought was an unacceptable rip off on top of the £250 or £300 that I was prepared to pay.

I really kicked myself for not buying a just discontinued NR3 at Le Mans 24 hours earlier that year – they were selling them for just over £100 at the circuit, and about £150 in Hein Gericke stores in Germany. That was a fair reduction from the list price £240 in the UK that the local dealer and local HG store were still flogging them at!! Unfortunately, it was still required to have the BS sticker on the lid at that time, which of course was the supposed reason that the UK helmets were more expensive than the identical ones sold on the Euro market that had the ECE204 standard.

What I have noticed is that lids at the budget end of the market have made huge leaps in terms of “fit and finish” and there are some bargains around these days. As a full-face, I’ve currently got a £60 Nitro, cos it’s light, quiet, has a good double D rather than the “come loose as you ride” seatbelt strap, and most importantly it fits as well and is far more comfortable than the £200-350 Arais I was trying at the same time! We’ve used the £40 polycarb ones for basic training and they’ve stood up well to the general battering they get, so build quality is good.

30 years ago, I’d have worried that the cheap lids wouldn’t have offered much protection in a crash, as there were far too many horror stories of straps coming off or shells shattering on impact. Now I’ve seen it argued in a US magazine article that the top of the range helmets actually offer TOO much penetration protection and transfer more forces to the head than the cheaper helmets do. But quite frankly, I’m happy that by the time my head discovered the difference in performance between the Nitro and the Arai, the rest of me would no longer be interested.

The Bullit isn’t quite as comfortable as my £120 Airoh flip front, the polystyrene inner is a bit “sharp” edged in places, but the construction more or less is the same – poly shell, plastic chin piece, seat belt fastener.

And it’s passed the same tests!

Makes you think!

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