One step closer to looking like a traffic cone

Since my old helmet has officially reached its expiration date (and might have been dropped one too many times), I decided to upgrade.  Whether or not helmets need to be changed every few years is definitely a discussion for a different post, as is the infamous helmet vs. no helmet debate.  

While trying to decide which of the many, many helmets on the market I should get, I had some interesting thoughts regarding the whole helmet...thing.  

The short version is that I decided on an adequately colored Giro Aeon, but not without a lot of research and quite a bit of back and forth. 

I did not get it because it was orange.  That's just a bonus.  
I took it out for a test ride today for the first time, and I'm super happy with it.  It's comfy and well ventilated, and the color helps with visibility for sure.  At many points I forgot I was wearing a helmet, such as when I got home and was digging around in the garden, which I'm sure has only added to the list of questions my neighbors have about me.  

My issue with the whole helmet thing, if you chose to wear one, is where does safety versus price reach a point of diminishing returns?  At what point do helmet companies start to focus on aesthetics and weight as added features on top of safety - does this point even exist?

This weighs almost nothing.  It just floats on your head, held down only by the straps.  
I don't count grams, which is probably evident by my stable of steel bikes and the fact my commuter has a chainguard.  But it did seem to me when I got down to my top few helmet choices that the biggest issue discussed in reviews was weight and aesthetics, as opposed to overall safety.  Certainly there were a few exceptions to this that were mostly along the lines of "I wore this and got hit and I'm still here!" but there were many less people than I would have thought asking about the safety of one helmet versus another.  There was one exception to this, which is the POC Octal, which specifically lists additional head coverage as a safety feature and uses it as one of its main marketing points.  

(Truthfully I really did like the Octal, but it's not compatible with my eyewear and it is POC's first road helmet, so maybe I'll try one next time when they've had a few years to improve).

I get that this is a hard thing to test, and for a number of reasons.  Most companies aren't strapping their helmets to crash test dummies and beating the hell out of them with SUVs, or simulating a crash at 60 mph on a steep descent because your front tire blew.  Sure, there are a few videos like this, but there's still a large chunk of data that's missing that I'd like to know.  There are things like the CPSC test that you can find if you dig around long enough, but if I walk into my LBS and ask if they can tell me the difference between helmet A and helmet B if my handlebars fail, well...

Would buying the lower end model or the higher end model make that much of a difference safety wise?  Does model X offer just as much protection as Y, but Y is just prettier and a bit lighter?  Or does it really boil down to you get what you pay for - in which case I feel for the people that don't want to spend more on their helmet than they did on their bike.

+10 visibility
The irony of it is that if you're lucky, you'll never have to find out at all.  You just get to go out and buy a goofy looking hat that you add to your wardrobe of cycling superhero clothes until it's time for a new goofy looking hat.  Or awesome looking hat, if you're a glass half full type of person.

The consensus among my fellow cycling friends seemed to be the get-what-you-pay-for conclusion, which is one of the reasons I opted for the Aeon.  Mostly the reviews and my positive experiences with previous Giro helmets and products pushed me in that direction, but if a few extra dollars turn out to be the difference between a concussion and a coma (is that even medically possible?) then I'll take it.  

And if I'm wrong?  It's still a pretty awesome hat. 

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