Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Protect Ya Head!

Lately, we at the shop have been getting a fair number of walk-ins and calls about helmets. Not just about if we carry them, but what types, what brands, what models, what sizes, etc. So, I thought I'd share with all of you, here on the blog (and save us both time later down the road). So, here is the Vespa KC helmet faq.

Q. What helmet brands do you carry?

A. Everything! No seriously:

  • AFX
  • AGV
  • Icon
  • Moose Racing
  • Nolan
  • Suomy
  • Thor
  • ZR1
  • Bell

The AGV, Icon, Nolan and Suomy (especially Suomy) are premium brands. They fit better, wear better (durability), are quieter, and usually come in brighter, bolder designs than the cheapy lids you'll find everywhere else.

Q. What types of helmets do you carry?

A. Because Vespa KC is part of a bigger group, we actually carry off-road and street helmets. Choosing the right type is very important. Within the street catagory we have plenty of choices to choose from:

  • Full-Face
  • Modular Full-face
  • Open Face
  • Three quarter open-face
  • Jet style open-face
  • Skid lids (boo, hiss!)
  • Half-helmets

Choosing between the different types of street helmets can be daunting, but as long as you have an idea as to what type of riding you plan on pursuing, we can help you choose the one that will work the best for you. Note: Bicycle, hockey, and skateboarding helmets are NOT on the above list. Why? They're not DOT, SNELL, BSE, etc. approved meaning they will not protect you in the event of a crash at speeds faster than walking-speed! Don't fool yourself!

Q. How do I figure out what's going to fit my melon?

A. Get fitted! And by that I mean, if you can't come to us, go someplace that can properly fit you and your family's heads for a street or off-road helmet. Note: Getting your head fitted for a scooter or motorcycle helmet is NOT like getting fitted for a bicycle helmet. Not one bit.

If you're lucky enough to find a shop that knows what they're doing, you'll probably find a helmet that is not only comfortable when trying it on, but comfortable when you take it home too! All too often a person walks into a shop full of gear after trying on size after size, can't figure out what works and just goes with isn't too small. Bad idea. The chances of you getting a helmet that is too big and slides around while riding are pretty high when you do that. Another problem is that different brands fit differently. Just like shoes. Sometimes, different styles within the same brand fit differently too! It can be confusing. And then there's the whole ordering a helmet without trying it on first game...

Q. What goes into a fitting?

A. Your head! Ha ha ha! Actually, a fitting consists of a fabric tape measure to take a head measurement, reference of a given make's sizing chart, and a little bit of experience. At our shop, we'll take a head measurement, sometimes even if we have the helmet you think fits you in stock. If we have the helmet, or if it comes in after ordering one, we'll have you try it on and test for movement, fit, comfort and if there are any gaps between the padding and your noggin'.

Q. What's the big deal about getting a helmet that's too big? I mean, it fits right?

A. No, it doesn't fit. The problem is that.. well, imagine this. Say you just got a shiny new motorbike and you're itchin' to take it out on the road and hit the library, maybe the market, maybe show off to a few friends while they're at work, etc. It's a beautiful day and you can't wait to experience the freedom that a scoot brings a rider. You head out on the road and you're enjoying the sun on your face, the cool breeze against your chest, but... 5 minutes in, you realize your helmet keeps sliding toward the back of your head. At the next stop, you reposition the helmet and cinch it down tight, but after you get going again, it starts sliding... Again. You play that game for a while and then realize that you've only been on the scoot for 10 minutes and your neck is sore and you and your shoulders are aching?

"Man, this seat must be harder than I thought," you think. But it's not the seat. It's not the position of the handlebars, and it's not (entirely) that big suitcase you call a purse you have slung over your shoulders. It's fatigue from your ill fitting helmet.

Another scenario? You have a full-face helmet that keeps moving around on you and you fail to see the traffic light ahead of you turn red and you run the light and get hit by some lady in a miata full of groceries.. Why? Because you couldn't see!

Worst case scenario? You have a helmet that's a bit loose, but it slides on and off easy when you want it to, you can chew gum and sip soda through a straw while on the move, and the lid still doesn't move around on you while you're out and about. One day, you're oogling some girl in a mini-skirt and you hit the curb, fall off the side of the scoot, and because your helmet is too big, it slides off your head when you need it, despite being cinched to your chin. The next few days, the mini-skirt is bringing you flowers in the hospital, smiling dryly at you and your bandaged head.


Q. Can I bling my helmet?

A. There are many different helmet accessories available for the many different helmets. Some protect the eyes, some the ears. Some accessories are just for looks, some are for safety and visibility. Check with us or whoever your buying your helmets from for more info.

Q. Why the big difference in price between helmets?

A. Some helmets are made with better materials and finishes. A lower priced helmet may help you meet your state safety requirements, but a more appropriately priced lid will be lighter and quieter (less fatique on the body = comfort!), have a nicer paint finish (so you don't look like that dork you're afraid of looking like on the road), loads more ventilation and probably a removable liner (so you don't have to throw your helmet away after every summer because the liner smells like sweat and wet dog), and overall hold up to abuse a LOT better. To sum up, a more expensive helmet now will last you longer than the two or three you'll end up buying at a cheaper price because, at the time, "spending that much on a helmet didn't make sense."

Well, that's it for the Faq, for now. Feel free to call us if you have any questions or comments, or send me a tell.

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