You should ask yourself this question. Do Moto-GP riders wear cheap $70 helmets when they are racing at over 200Km per hour? There is a reason, and here is why.
Are Expensive Motorcycle Helmets Safer? Helmets are a piece of gear that I don’t skimp on and trust me, I’ve been in a position where I don’t have the money to buy all the equipment I needed. Much less high-quality stuff, but I have always purchased the best helmet I can afford at the time.
Today I’m asking the question. Is this $700 Shoei X-14 better than this $70 G-Max GM 38, and if so, by how much?
So guys, a couple of weeks ago, I did the first fit article of a Shoei X-14, and in that article, I said that this is pretty much the best helmet that I have ever worn.
The Shoei-X14 is available from revzilla.com, my favorite place for all my motorcycle gear. I started thinking if a $700 helmet can feel this nice, what would a helmet on the opposite side of the spectrum feel like?
When I started riding, I was waiting tables and going to college, so to say that money was tight was a massive freaking understatement.
I’m sure there are some of you guys out there can’t afford to put a $700 lid on your head. What I want to figure out today is what are you sacrificing by going with a more budget-friendly head bucket.
First off let’s talk safety
Both helmets have the same DOT certification, though the $700 Shoei also has Snell approval. If you’re not familiar with a DOT on Snell are, they’re just different certifications for the safety of helmets.
All helmets to be road-legal, at least in the US, do need to be DOT certified, and that’s done through a government agency. Snell rating is voluntary for manufacturers and is a much more rigorous process to get done by the helmet companies.
Now, as far as weight goes in these helmets, I was surprised. The $70 G-Max comes in at three-point four pounds, while the Shoei weighs slightly more at three point six two pounds.
Comparing the looks of the helmet, the G-max doesn’t take up quite as much space as the Shoei X-14 does, so that’s probably where the added weight comes from. Regardless, I was pretty surprised the weight is so similar.
Since we’re looking at the helmets let’s talk about the looks for a second.
We all know that looks are an opinionated subject, and we won’t all agree, but my personal opinion is that the G-Max looks dull and boring.
It reminds me of one of those crappy helmets you’re given when you go to ride go-karts. This is compared to the Shoei helmet that has a beautiful shape with the aggressive lines running along with the helmet.
I love the aerodynamic look, and after riding with that Shoei, I was able to understand that not only did the lines in the shape of the helmet look good, but they also helped tremendously with wind buffeting.
When you ride at upper highway speeds around 80 miles an hour, you sometimes forget that you’re flying through there at that speed, and going faster than that, and you can still barely tell that there’s any wind at all.
The G-MAX, on the other hand, I could start feeling in my head buffing around the 65 to 70 mile per hour mark. Again if you look at the shapes of each helmet, the G-Max isn’t shaped to cut through the air like the Shoei is.
This is where I saw the biggest difference between these two helmets. The first thing that jumped out to me when I got the G-Max was the vents. They seemed to be manufactured out of super cheap plastic; they don’t feel stable at all.
When I move them around, there seems to be next to no rigidity to them at all. While I was testing the helmet, I never had them open up after closing them, but I can’t see these lasting very long at all.
Whereas on the Shoei, the vents seem trustworthy and have a satisfying fill when you are opening and closing them. They also seemed to click into place at the open and close points better than the G-Max.
Padding on the inside was also a massive difference between the two. The G-Max felt more spacious on the inside, which I’m not convinced is a good thing.
But it felt like that because instead of holding my entire head inside of it, I felt like there were about five areas of my head that were being held in place.
This leads to a feeling that it’s not safe, but it also puts a pressure point on my forehead after riding around for a little while. Now granted, I might have a prominent forehead, but this is something that I wasn’t thrilled with.
Comparatively, the Shoei held my head much more evenly, and the material of a liner was an entirely different level of comfort and feel.
This is also going to sound weird, but the G-Max has a lot of mouth room. Now I know this is probably something that only a person that rides around and talks to himself daily would probably notice, but it is an observation, so I figured it would be important to tell you.
Surprisingly both helmets have visor removal systems that don’t require any tools. Similar to the air vents, though, this is another situation where I could tell the cheaper plastic was used on the G-Max as opposed to the seemingly carbon-fiber on the Shoei.
I do have to give the G-MAX credit though the visor did come on and off relatively simple, and the release mechanism worked fine. I would worry about its integrity over time and many uses.
Speaking of the visor, I know having a pin lock system is also very important to a lot of people. The Shoei includes this while the G-MAX does not, but I feel that’s pretty expected for a budget lid. I will say I wasn’t happy with the opening and the closing of the visor on the GMAX.
Opening and closing it multiple times, you can feel that it lacks a correct amount of rigidity. That you find on the Shoei X-14, but when you move the Shoei visor up and down, especially if you click it into the closed position, you know that thing is not going anywhere.
That being said, while riding a round of the G-Max, I never had the visor come open or move from where it was, so I guess it’s not too bad.
For visibility, while wearing the helmets, I have to say they are both extremely similar. Both helmets had just a bit of helmet that I could see the edges of my vision, other than that, it was all open road ahead of me.
Surprisingly both helmets come with anti-fog visors with them. I found this to be relatively accurate, though the Shoei was a little harder to make fog.
To be fair, the Shoei has about twice as many air vents as the GMAX does, so it’s able to push a ton more air through, which even includes the cheek pad cooling that the X-14 does, which I have to say I love.
In my test of the G-MAX, I didn’t have the best weather for testing how it performed on a hot day, but the air being pushed through the GMAX was barely even noticeable, where the X-14 felt like tiny little fans in front of your face while riding.
Something else to keep in mind with these helmets is not only the price of the actual helmet itself but the price of the accessories that you can buy for it. I found that the prices mirrored that of the helmets.
For instance, to get a new visor for the X-14 is going to set you back around 60 bucks after shipping, where a visor on the G-Max will cost you less than 20 dollars. These are things to keep in mind when purchasing either of these guys.
My biggest reason why I cannot recommend the G-Max 38 for you guys and that is the strap.
On the X-14, like most helmets, it has a Deary metal loop that you thread the strap through, and it clicks in on the other side. There’s also a nice red lanyard to help you remove the helmet while you’re wearing gloves.
The G-max has no red lanyard and button to clip the end of a strap into, and the piece of bungee cable that I can only assume is to hold this strap in place. For me, this is unacceptable for riding a motorcycle.
Remember how I said earlier that the G max reminded me of a helmet you’re given when you go ride go-karts? Well, this is probably why because those people at the end of the day don’t care about the safety of your head, and that’s the feeling I had while riding with this.
Now again to be fair, while riding with the G-Max never had the strap come undone, but I did not feel comfortable while riding the motorcycle knowing there was a flapping strap under my helmet that wasn’t secured into anything and that’s not a feeling I want while I’m riding.
So without listing out all the specs of the Shoei has that the G-Max doesn’t, I’m going to go ahead and assume that my point is made.
What I can personally do is recommend when you buy a helmet, make sure it has what I would consider the bare minimums, and a clicking strap is included in the purchase.
We all know a $700 helmet is going to be heads and tails better than a $70 helmet, but I would recommend you spend a little more money on what you’re going to put your head in.
I’m not of the mentality that you have to ride in a Snell rated helmet 24/7, but I would recommend you spend as much as you can on what is going to eventually save your brain when you come off your bike.
Guys and girls, at the end of the day, what you ride in is your decision; these are just my opinions.
I appreciate you reading this article; hopefully, you found it interesting and it helped you out.