Motorcycle Helmet Brands – Getting Ahead of the Game
Motorcycle helmets have improved a lot since the invention of the varnished canvas domes of 1914. Their importance to the safety of motorcycle riders and racers has never been in doubt.
Today, motorcycle helmets are manufactured all over the world. Some companies started out in the early part of the 20th century and made a name for themselves making military helmets. Others developed much later, specifically to fill the demand of an ever- increasing market.
So, now let’s look at the top 10 motorcycle helmet brands available today. We will look at how they have evolved globally and the specialty designs that have made them famous.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Schuberth
Although starting the Schuberth name in the 1920’s, it wasn’t until 20 years later that this German company began to make protective helmets for a variety of users. In 1954 Schuberth made their first motorcycle specific crash helmet, the Aero.
Under the directorship of Christian Zahn and son Alexander, Schuberth became the largest helmet producers in Europe.
Based in Magdeburg, one of the most notable medieval cities in Europe they supplied a vast range of protective helmets for the police, military, fire brigade and Formula 1 sports.
Schuberth is also proud of the fact that every motorcycle helmet is made from start to finish by manual labor and not automated or mass-produced. And, say the factory, before a new model is released, their R and D department see that it undergoes many tests. Tests are carried out using a wind tunnel and climate rig to make sure that rider safety is guaranteed.
Today, Schuberth has expanded its global reach, exporting to 55 countries and opening production plants in North America, Italy, and Thailand. Their popular motorcycle related range covers the full face, open face, and adventure/dual sports helmets.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Nolan
Nolan, are not manufactured in England- as I once mistakenly believed- but are in fact an Italian manufacturer based in Bergamo.
Originally started by Lander Nocchi in 1972. At a time when the majority of helmet manufacturers headed to the Far East to take advantage of lower production costs, Nolan kept the Italian flag flying and refused to move.
Their mission statement from the outset has always been to offer high-value products with innovative features at the best price. And the only way for Nolan to provide that, and maintain strict standards of quality control was to keep manufacturing in their factory in Italy.
Nolan is another company that places emphasis on ongoing research, development and testing philosophy. And, by using the best materials available and manufacturing every part of every helmet in-house, their high expectations for quality control are met. Not to mention conforming to the safety standards of every market in the world.
Nolan has also been keen motorcycle racing supporters for many years and sponsored two times world MotoGP winner Casey Stoner. The Nolan current range extends to 11 models based on full face, jet, crossover, off-road and flip-up styles.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Shoei
This Japanese helmet manufacturer produced their very first bike helmet in 1959 and had always enjoyed a reputation for delivering quality, high-end products.
Shoei, have always prided themselves in listening to customer feedback. And, say’s the factory, the lessons learned by their harshest critics of all (motorcycle racers such as Mark Marquez) have kept their helmets at the premium end of the market.
Based in Japan, it comes as no surprise that they employ the latest cutting edge technology and materials in the production process. But maintain, that every piece is still handmade and involves 50 people to complete every helmet.
Shoei currently fields an 11- strong range, the majority of which are road based, with one dual sports model and off- road specific.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Arai
Arai is another Japanese helmet maker who can trace their roots even further back than Shoei. Producing their first helmet in the late 1940’s the company is still thriving under family ownership.
This continuity of family ownership is critical, says Mitch Arai who also believes that they are in the helmet business, rather than the helmet market. He makes this important distinction because he believes that markets supply fashion items. Whereas a helmet company like Arai primarily focuses on the one single objective of a helmet, to protect the rider.
That’s not to say we don’t pay attention to the appearance, he adds, ‘but as far as we’re concerned form follows function,’ and that has never been so true,’ he reveals.
Arai also believes that change for change’s sake is not always the way to go. Preferring the methodical approach to helmet safety, based on over 60 years of racing and the lessons learned from damage analysis.’ Safety organizations may set the bar by which we all must adhere to, but they don’t say how you get there,’ says Mitch.
The Arai range currently consists of six full faces, four open faces, and two off-road helmets. It’s also worth clicking on to their site to see a grainy old photo of founder Hirtake Arai, riding his motorcycle in a straw boater.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands:Bell
Bell helmets have had a lot written about them and for a good reason. They were the first manufacturer to create the Jet helmet. Then, if that wasn’t enough, they followed it up with the world’s first full face, the Star.
Former race car driver Roy Richter started the company. And it was from the back of his auto parts store in California that he formed plans for headgear, that would do more to protect the lives of his fellow racers.
Richter’s original designs were aimed at the track, while safety concerns were catching up on the street. Before long he found himself making crash helmets for 800 police departments around the United States.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Bell has a line-up of 18 models at the moment in full, open and half helmets. Plus, they have recently released up to date versions of their first Jet, Bell Star models.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: AGV
If ever a helmet was defined by the sports stars that wear them its AGV. Two of the most famous iconic motorcycle racers of all time have crossed many finish lines wearing AGV helmets.
Giacomo Agostini amassed an incredible 122 Grand Prix wins, and 10 TT wins while wearing the Italian manufacturer’s head gear. Nine times world Grand Prix champion Valentino Rossi also wore an AGV helmet.
Incidentally, the company’s world famous logo is a depiction of the view every other racer got of Agostini’s helmet as he led the field.
Not bad for a small Italian company started in 1946 that initially made leather motorcycle saddles. One year later, founder Gino Amisano made his first crash helmet after borrowing a wooden mold from a hat maker in his hometown. Production soon rose to five units a week.
As innovative as he was, Amisano’s real genius was for marketing. An avid race fan, he had a knack for sniffing out new talent and signing them up. Plus, he had an ability for getting his helmets into the hands of celebrities of the day.
In 2007, Dainese bought the company out.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Dainese
In 1968, Lino Dainese rode from Italy to London on a Vespa. During his visit he met London’s famous ton-up café racers and on his return home, he dedicated himself to making protective clothing for motorcyclists.
Four years later, Dainese produced his first item of motorcycle clothing, a pair of motocross pants. It was a humble beginning of what would become an incredible story of innovation and success.
Strictly speaking, Dainese is an adventure clothing manufacturer, and their helmet output is the AGV range which they acquired in 2007.
However, their importance as innovators in the motorcycle road and race world is quite dramatic and worthy of mention, so here is a brief summary.
Collaborating with Barry Sheene, Dainese developed the very first back protector in 1978. Two years later Kenny Roberts tested the first ever knee sliders. A year after that they revolutionized race leathers by developing the first ergonomic racing suit designed with the rider seated. 1988 saw them introduce the first aerodynamic hump on a racing leather.
Their list of industry firsts and innovations is incredible and includes, the first boot sliders, airbag suit and more recently an inner suit for NASA astronauts.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Davida
The very last manufacturer of open face helmets in Great Britain, Davida Helmets have been making quality motorcycle headgear for over 30 years. Based in Merseyside, the company is proud of the fact that no part of the production is automated.
‘We are proud to be able to say, that out helmets are hand made in England,’ says David Fiddaman, Managing Director. Davida has earned an excellent reputation for itself for making the fiberglass shell, leather lined, open face helmets.
And while retaining a retro feel, they also meet and exceed safety standards in the UK, US, Japan, and Scandinavia.
Unlike some manufacturers that build only two different shells and create different sizes based on internal padding, Davida prefers to make a range of shells relative to the finished size.
Therefore, sizes are always kept in proportion thus avoiding the classic bubblehead look. Five helmet models are available including a vintage pudding basin style and come in a range of 80 standard paint designs.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: HJC
HJC Helmets has been around since the early 1950’s, manufacturing safety helmets. But in 1971, turned over their entire facilities to the production of motorcycle helmets.
Their mission statement was to provide high quality, comfortable, and reasonably priced helmets to the whole world. This ethos was well on the way to becoming a reality in 1992 when they were named best-selling brand in the United States.
HJC realized the enormous potential of the American market early on, and their marketing strategy worked. Not only reaching the number one sales position but also staying there for every year since!
While four manufacturing plants and an R and D department handle production in the Far East, distribution centers throughout Europe and the US handle over 1,000,000 helmets a year.
Renowned for the clever use of graphics, HJC has recently released their Marvel superhero and Star Wars range. Both of which are guaranteed to help them retain their status as No.1 helmet brand in the world.
Motorcycle Helmet Brands: Shark
Started by former racing drivers, it should come as no surprise that Shark takes their commitment to update and advance their safety features so seriously.
Based in Marseille, France, the Shark helmet brand has 25 years experience, but has only recently made itself known on the world stage.
Priding itself on class-leading quality and safety, Shark were the first manufacturer to build crumple zones into their helmets, to help disperse impact damage. Thanks to its experience with Formula One Technology the company has also gained a reputation for making the stiffest and quietest face shields in the industry.
Interestingly enough, the top spot in a recent helmet safety test went to Bell with Shark coming joint second with AGV.