Cheap vs Expensive Helmets: Experimental Demonstration

When it comes to cheap vs expensive motorcycle helmets, you may hear a lot of ideas about them. Some may say expensive helmets are better. Some will say they are not much different. 

You may also hear the motorcycle helmet salespeople warn customers not to buy cheap lids if they want to avoid head injuries in a crash.

That is just words of mouth, so what to prove that a cheap helmet is not good. 

A reputable laboratory in the US has recently conducted an experiment to test the difference between these two kinds of helmet. 

They use very cheap helmets and very expensive helmets. Surprisingly, the results were the same for all exponents. Let’s see the details and you may know which one to choose

Read more: Top 10 Best Motorcycle Helmet Reviews

cheap vs expensive helmets

Models tested

  1. Cheap helmets

-Original: Wal-Mart and Target

– Prices: $9,96 -$10 – $20

(These cheaps helmets can also be found in any big-box store)

  1. Expensive helmets

-Original: eBay, Internet retailer, and bike store.

– Prices: $150 – $175 – $207


cheap vs expensive motorcycle helmetsh

The lab required us to not mention their name to avoid some complications that will be time-consuming for them. 

Each model was tested under the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s regulation.

In order to reproduce the most authentic of the impact of a real accident, they limited the anvils to flat and hemispheric, removed the curbstone anvil, adjusted the temperature equal to the ambient temperature, eliminated the wet, the high, and low temperature.

The impact test was conducted by dropping the helmet from a height of 2m for the flat anvil and 1.2m for the hemispheric anvil.

To test the lower-level performance, a similar experiment was performed but at lower altitudes, it was 0.5m for the flat anvil and 0.3m for the hemispheric anvil. The contribution to concussion risk didn’t happen. 

Test Results

The final result was quite surprising as all helmets performed identically the same in all tests. Although there were a few differences in a few tests, the average results still showed that these two caps are identical. 

See the results below for more details:

  • Average for all impacts:

Cheap helmets: 101

Expensive helmets: 104

  • Average low velocity

Cheap helmets: 65 (average low flat: 86; average low hemi: 47)

Expensive helmets: 69 (average low flat: 87; average low hemi: 47)

  • Average high velocity

Cheap helmets: 137 (average high flat: 186; average high hemi: 91)

Expensive helmets: 146 (average high flat: 180; average high hemi: 113)

 General comment

Look at the tables of results above, you can see the gaps between the numbers above are small, and can’t seem to make a significant difference. 

For example, in the g level test results table, the distance between the two numbers is only 3 units. 


And although you can see the large gaps on the high-velocity tests table, this doesn’t affect the ability to resist impacts of the two types in real life.

Based on the above evidence, the lab came to the conclusion that the price does not affect helmet performance. All helmets are manufactured to meet the CPSC impact standard. 


Although the test helmet sample is quite small compared to the number of helmets on the market. But this test has also proven that buyers can buy any type of helmet for between 10 – 200 dollars without having to worry too much about impact performance. 

When you pay more for a motorcycle helmet, you merely will get a better fit, cooler graphics, more vents, and comfort. In terms of basic impact protection, cheap helmets are equal to expensive ones. 

Our advice is to buy a helmet that fits you perfectly so that it can be positioned correctly when you fall or have an accident.

You will have to change the helmet when you drop it, which is difficult for expensive helmets. But for a cheap helmet, on the other hand, you can change it more often without running out of money.

If you want to read more tips on the motorcycle helmet, then please head to our Motorcycle Helmet Tips Category

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