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Guide to Buying a Helmet

We believe helmets are the single most important piece of safety equipment you will buy – it protects one of the most important parts of your body.

Poorly fitting helmets may cause discomfort, or - in the worst scenario – won’t protect you in the event of a serious accident.

As every helmet is a different shape, we always recommend trying helmets on. Best-practice, go to a retailer who has multiple brands, or failing that, go to one which will offer a bespoke fitting service. (Usually this is at no extra cost).

We also recommend trying the helmet on with your balaclava. Here in the store, we often recommend starting with a thin balaclava – often the padding is designed to “give” a little to get a better fit onto the wearer’s head. If you start with a thin balaclava, should the helmet become loose, a thicker balaclava will compensate.

Selecting a Helmet

The first decision when buying a helmet is usually to decide if you want an Open Face Helmet or a Full Face Helmet. If you are in an open cockpit car, a full-face is normally required. Closed cockpits, you can have the choice.

The benefit of a full face helmet is the additional protection to your chin area, the downside is they can feel claustrophobic and cause glasses to mist up. However, many customers who ride motorbikes prefer the consistent feel so will choose Full Face. In our experience Open Face helmets are usually preferred in rally cars.

The second decision when buying a helmet is usually to decide if you need an intercom. More popular in open face helmets, you then have to ensure compatibility with the amplifier fitted to the car. Not all intercoms are compatible, even with adapters. Whilst you may be able to make a physical link using a variety of adapters, this can be detrimental to the volume.

If you are buying an intercom helmet for circuit racing, you also need to check the regulations on the type of comms you can have. A number of disciplines don’t allow the speakers to be fitted to the helmet, instead you need to use earplugs. These helmets are often fitted with a microphone, but the earpieces plug into a separate plug on the front of the helmet.

Aside from the helmets covered in this article, there are a range of super-premium helmets available which meet the highest FIA8860-2018 standards. These will only apply to a very small number of competitors – rather than confuse most customers, if you want information on these, please give us a call.

Our Recommendations

Open Face Helmets with no intercom

For an open face helmet with no intercom, there are a variety of helmets on offer. Starting at less than £200 are these helmets from Hedtec:

These are popular with competitors from events like Comp Safari because if they are damaged (Eg struck by debris), they are not expensive to replace.

Being a more budget helmet, we find the padding is not as accommodating to different head shapes as others. If you are this shape of head, brilliant – if you are not, you will hate it!

A popular helmet for those buying online is the Bell Mag helmet.

This helmet has deep padding, allowing for variation in head shapes. Approved to the FIA 8859-2015 standard, this helmet is suitable for use in the UK and on FIA sanctioned events (Eg. Europe).

This helmet is available with or without pre-fitted Hans Posts – ideal if you have some to transfer from a previous helmet. (FIA 8858-2010 approved).

It is difficult to add an intercom to this helmet because there is no hole to fix an intercom boom – however, at just over £260 plus vat, it’s a great budget option.

Our most popular helmet in-store has been the Stilo range. The latest of these is the Stilo Venti Trophy Jet helmet, from £311 + VAT.

Available in silver or white, this helmet is of the same construction as some of the more premium helmets in the Stilo range.

Approved to both FIA 8859-2015 and Snell SA2020 standards, this helmet meets the latest premium approvals for most competition around the globe.

Available in 8 different sizes, we can also offer a personalized fit with this helmet to ensure the highest levels of comfort for you.

Whilst this helmet comes without intercom, with foam earcups and a hole for mounting the microphone, it is easily possible to add an intercom at a later stage. If you are wanting a Peltor Compatible helmet, we even offer a bundle deal:

Coming soon is the new Stilo Sport helmet - a direct competitor to the Bell Mag helmet. This helmet will be priced similar to the Bell and gives the Stilo shape at a new low price. However, it appears the padding is all pre-defined - for the cost difference I would recommend the Stilo Venti Jet helmet as it will allow us to do a more custom fit for your head.

Helmets with Intercoms

When buying a helmet to use with an intercom, it is vital they are compatible. If you have questions, please contact us as it will be easier to get it right first time! It can get very confusing; for example, Stilo currently make 2 systems which are completely incompatible with each other.

stilo trophy 2 helmet  jack plug

The Stilo Trophy 2 amplifier is the outlier – it only

works with the Stilo Trophy DES Rally and the Stilo Venti Trophy Rally helmets. You can tell this system by the plug – it looks like an old guitar plug.

Nexus helmet plug

Most intercoms are now fitted with a Female Nexus plug which looks like this.

This type of plug is most famously used by Stilo on their WRC range of amplifiers. This includes the WRC 03, the WRC 9v and the DG-10 models of intercom.

You can convert a Peltor or compatible amplifier to a helmet needing one of these plugs through the use of this adapter.

The second consideration is the type of earcup in the helmet. The basic helmets from Bell and Stilo have their speakers behind the interior lining. This places a barrier between the speaker and your ear.

The Venti Trophy Jet uses foam earcups to position the speaker close to your ear. These benefit the competitor as there is no barrier. Whilst not fitted with an intercom, these can be added.

The Premium helmets use a vinyl earcup which isolates your ears from the background noise, like an ear defender. The less the background noise, the less volume is needed from the intercom. These earcups are found in the Stilo Venti Plus, Stilo Venti WRC, Stilo ST5-R, Bell Mag-10 Rally Sport and Bell Mag-10 Pro helmets.

Helmets with Basic Intercoms

The new Stilo Sport Plus and the Bell Mag Rally Helmets offer direct compatibility with the Stilo WRC range of intercoms. However, both of these helmets place the speaker behind the padding within the helmet. Feedback from customers indicates this makes the intercoms very quiet.

I would only recommend these helmets to a customer who is a navigator and doesn’t need to hear as much information, or those in a very quiet car. The frustration is, the intercoms cannot be upgraded at a later stage, should you decide you need more volume.

Both these helmets are priced just below the £350 plus vat mark.

Instead of choosing one of the above helmets, our recommendation is to go with the Stilo Venti Trophy Jet Helmet and add some Zero Noise electronics. We are launching these as a kit for a very similar price to the above.

These helmets come with foam earcups which are not as good as the noise isolating ones shown on the Premium helmets below, but allow the speaker to be located with no obstruction to your ear.

Should you find them too quiet, the electronics can be upgraded at a later date to the very best ones. As these are based on the Venti helmet, you get the choice of colours, the choice of including Hans posts, the premium padding and the helmet meeting the same latest standards.

The Helmet to watch-out for is the Stilo Venti Trophy Rally Helmet – it’s intercom is only compatible with the Stilo Trophy amplifier. This intercom is not compatible with the Stilo WRC range of helmets, and there are no adapters available to convert them across. Because of this, it is a helmet we do not normally stock.

Premium Helmets

The very best selling helmets in our range are the helmets with the noise-isolating earcups. Starting around £500 plus vat, the earcups in these helmets seal around your ear and remove a lot of the background noise.

The lowest priced ones from Stilo are the Venti Trophy Plus. Available in a choice of colours, these helmets offer all the same features as the WRC range, but with a flexible boom.

In our experience, flexible boom vs fixed boom is a personal choice. Some navigators prefer the fixed boom, as they know where the microphone is at all times, others prefer the flexible boom so they can move it out of the way to talk to marshals etc.

The similar helmet from Bell is the Mag-10 Rally Sport. This helmet varies from the Pro helmet, not just because the boom is flexible – but also the padding is different and the intercom does not connect into the side of the helmet (it is on a dangling wire).

We like this helmet because it comes with a visor as standard, but our recommendation as ever is to choose between these if it is the right shape for your head.

When it comes to the fixed boom, the most popular helmet previously was the Stilo WRC DES helmet. This was THE helmet in the world rally championship. That helmet has been superseded by the Venti WRC helmet, which is available in Composite or Carbon construction.

The key difference in these two helmets is the weight – the Carbon helmet is almost 20% lighter than the composite equivalent.

What we like about these helmets (other than the stunning looks) is the ability for us to change some of the pads around to get the perfect fit for your shape of head. This is why so many of our customers will choose a Stilo Venti helmet.

The newcomer to our range is the Bell Mag-10 Rally Pro helmet. Only introduced recently to our range – it is a great option for those with a different shaped head to the Stilo range. This helmet has lots of features we really like. As you can see from the photos, the helmet comes pre-fitted with the full-sized sunscreen which can be pushed back behind the peak.

The best idea we have seen is the removable chin bar – should it need to be moved out of the way following an accident. This could save someone from more serious injury as the helmet can remain on the head.

The second innovation is the removable port on the side of the helmet – this allows the user the choice of plugging into the side of the helmet or a dangling wire. This helmet is also available in Carbon – please contact us for more details.

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