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I am considering to buy a helmet for everyday use in Munich (Germany). Most of the time, I will wear it when I go to work. I go to work at any weather.

I want to have a helmet which has a light in the back so that cars have an easier time to see me.

Even when I only take this, the price differences are huge:

This is a huge price difference. uvex seems to be a well-known brand, so I could imagine that you pay for the name. Abus is another brand I noticed. Is the price difference only the name?

For about 15 EUR I can get plug-in LED lights for helmets for the back. When I look in shops, most helmets for adults start at about 60 EUR (Sport Schuster, Globetrotter, Karstadt Sport starts at 40 EUR, Sport Bittl). This again makes me wonder if a helmet for 30 EUR which additionally has LED can and is sold from China (via Amazon) has some serious flaw ... and if it is possible for me to actually notice that when I have it.

edit: How much should I spend on my helmet? does only partially help as it focuses on the US. It does not even mention the ce markings.

  • Possible duplicate of How much should I spend on my helmet? and bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/2207/19881 While this question shows effort, sadly the question would still have been answerable with a short search. – Nobody Oct 13 at 20:12
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    The safest helmet is one that fits correctly and is done up properly. The marks mean little if these conditions are not met. – mattnz Oct 13 at 21:01
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    @MartinThoma There's a good question here about CE markings. It might be worth focussing the question on that, and not specific brands, models, and prices, which make this look like a shopping question, which are generally off-topic. – Criggie Oct 14 at 3:27
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    Would indeed be interesting to know what kind of control (if any) there is to assure compliance to the safety standards for imports. The two links to the cheap helmets with their ridiculous translations and even worse photoshopped stock images (Kinglead) are not confidence-inspiring. – linac Oct 14 at 11:49
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    Be aware of the 'China Export' logo vs CE Mark. google.com/… – mattnz Oct 14 at 20:10
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Helmets sold in Europe generally must meet the CEN EN-1078 bicycle helmet standard that limits the amount of energy transmitted to the head during a series of tests using weighted head-shaped forms (around ~5kg) dropped from various heights onto flat or curved surfaces at different locations on the helmet. While helmets with the CE certification must meet EN-1078, manufacturers can choose to exceed the standard and have their helmets protect your head at even higher impact energies. A similar standard, the CPSC standard, applies to helmets sold in the US: all helmets must meet the CPSC standard but manufacturers can choose to exceed them and sell safer helmets. Although the CE and CPSC standards are similar enough that many manufacturers will aim to satisfy both standards so that their helmets can be sold either in Europe or in the US, there are subtle differences that mean that a few helmets may be certifiable under one standard but not the other. Larger manufacturers will test their helmets in-house, and swear to the CE and CPSC that their helmets passed; smaller manufacturers will often send their helmets to third party certification laboratories to do the tests. In that case, the certification laboratories swear that the helmets passed.

So although the CE and CPSC certification tells you a helmet met the standard, it doesn't tell you whether the helmet exceeds the standard (and, if so, by how much). In part, this is because testing is not done until failure; that is, manufacturers typically don't increase the height of the drop or increase the weight of the head-shaped form until the helmet fails. They drop the helmet at the standard height and weight and measure the energy transmitted to form. If that energy meets the certification standard they are satisfied and do no further testing.

Worse, you cannot use the price of the helmet as an indicator of "safety." Helmets are generally marketed by how much they weigh, how many ventilation holes they have, the colors available, how aerodynamic they are, whether they come with visors, celebrity endorsements, and, of course, how much they cost -- but not how much they exceed minimal standards of energy transmission. That is, manufacturers will gladly provide information about almost every characteristic of a helmet except for how well it will protect your head.

In the US there are a few independent research institutes that will test bicycle helmets but they tend to test expensive helmets, not the least expensive ones. There may be similar helmet testing institutes in Europe.

  • Even then, impact isn't the only safety factor. The OP had mentioned visibility - avoiding a certain class of accident, and the weight of some helmets can lead to a drooping head, so you don't see (hazards) as far ahead. My aero hardshell that served me well in my crash in June was one such helmet - after about 12 hours riding I had to think about keeping my head up even on the hoods. The replacement is lighter. (+1) – Chris H Oct 14 at 6:28

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