A couple things to address before we talk specific helmets. First, I personally have made the decision to only ride with full faced helmets. As the strength and durability of modular helmets continues to increase I may someday be interested in those but for now; I’m trying to protect my dome, so its full faced helmets for me. The next item is safety ratings. There are several safety ratings to go by and I’m a real believer in the Economic Commission for Europe(ECE) certification. There are a million blogs, articles and videos about the different certifications but to condense them all into my personal beliefs; DOT is crap, ECE provides more realistic real world standards, Snell is for the track and SHARP just hasn’t tested enough yet(but they are working on it). Please do the research and decide for yourself what is best for you.

Helmet: BiLT Blaze 451-Size XL Purchase Price $89.99(Currently $79.99)

BiLt Blaze 451

Full disclosure, I purchased this helmet because I couldn’t wait for the helmet I had ordered to arrive. I went into one of the big chain stores and asked for the cheapest ECE certified helmet they had in stock in my size.

Initial Impressions: Inside the box you get a fully assembled helmet with a storage bag and a breath guard. The build quality appears to be good. Its a Polycarbonate shell and weighs about 3 1/2 pounds. The liner is soft to the touch and the foam almost seems a little too spongy. There are 2 passive vents in the rear, a chin vent and a forehead vent. The face shield opens to 4 different positions. Mine is the black and gunmetal color combo and overall impressions are not bad. Quite impressed given the price.

Riding Impressions: This is a pretty comfortable helmet. I have kind of big ears that tend to get pinched and folded but I’m able to get this on comfortably. It’s not a quiet helmet though. Tons of wind noise but it makes talking to people easier. The chin strap is set a little far back for my liking and rests just above my Adams apple on my neck making it a little uncomfortable on my throat. Visibility is good and the edges of the helmet are just barely visible in my peripheral vision. The face shield is not great. I’m not sure about the entire product line but for this particular face shield there is a little distortion and some waves. Nothing I would consider dangerous but definitely noticeable. I’m a big guy, I run hot. This helmet does not help at all with that. The vent system just isn’t robust enough to keep the air flowing in sufficient quantities.


  • Cheap price for lots of protection. ECE rated for under $100 is fantastic protection for a bargain.
  • Decently comfortable. The fabric and foam are nice and soft. I don’t feel like its squishing my face when I put it on.
  • Face Shield has indents for 4 open positions and operates smoothly.


  • Loud – Makes having a conversation easier but wind noise is pretty terrible.
  • Hot – If you are a cold person, this might be a pro for you.
  • Interior comfort foam feels a bit thin and while I haven’t had to utilize the protection of this lid, I feel like a small knock would really translate through that thin comfort foam.
  • Face Shield optic quality is sub par.

Final Thoughts: I know it seems like I’m not very excited about his helmet but nearly all the problems I have I could live with. If you are on a tight budget and want to get the most protection you can, I don’t think you can go wrong with this helmet. Yes its loud, wear ear plugs. Yes the face shield isn’t great, but you can live with it or replace it for around $20 dollars. Yes the interior comfort foam could be better but you can rest assured that the safety is there. Bottom line is I would absolutely buy this helmet again and I will continue to store this helmet as a backup if I ever need it. I have already let a friend borrow it to use on a test ride.

Helmet: Shoei RF-1200 Size XL Purchase Price $485.99

Shoei RF-1200

Initial Impressions: Inside the box you get a fully assembled helmet, a storage bag, a breath guard, a chin curtain and a pinlock shield. You also get a little bottle of oil for the face shield gasket. As you would expect from one of the top helmet manufacturers, the build quality is impeccable. The RF-1200 is constructed from fiberglass and weighs in around 3 1/2 pounds. It took me a while to install the pinlock but having ridden without one, its so nice to not worry about fogging up. Multiple vents, in the rear the vents are adjustable. There are 3 vents on the forehead and a chin vent. The interior comfort foam is covered in a slightly stiff fabric, I’m sure that will break in and the foam itself feels robust. The neck roll ring has the red tabs for emergency personnel and I personally hope they are never used but its nice to have them there. I got the white. I wanted something sort of high visibility without going with a true hi-viz color like the neon yellow. The face shield opens to like 8 different positions including a tiny crack opening that is great for city riding and letting some extra air in. The RF-1200 is Snell 2015 and ECE certified.

Riding Impressions: This helmet is definitely quieter than the BiLT helmet but its still pretty loud. I instantly notice that off the bike just trying to talk to my wife with it on, its much more difficult to hear her. The wind noise when you get going isn’t horrible but there is quite a bit of it. The biggest thing is the air! Man this helmet moves a ton of air and that is fantastic. Its a full faced helmet, I get it, I’m going to get hot, but when I’m moving down a country road this lid is comfortable even on the hottest PNW summer days. Visibility is fantastic, the edges of the helmet are just visible in my periphery. The face shield itself is crystal clear and that may be one of the biggest noticeable differences between this and my bargain helmet. The chin strap fits right where I want it to and is very comfortable all around. I will say that I do get a little bit of smooshy face from the cheek pads but I’m ok with that.


  • DOT, ECE and Snell 2015 certified.
  • Face Shield crystal clear and opens to so many different positions.
  • Gobs of air flow. On colder days I actually have a hard time finding a vent combo that allows just a little airflow in without being too chilly.
  • Comfort foam really hugs your head and makes your feel like you’re wearing a substantial piece of protective equipment.


  • Not exactly budget friendly, despite this model being several years old now the price is staying steady.
  • Replacement parts are really expensive. For example a new Shoei face shield is over $60 dollars.
  • Too much air flow for cold days. I wish the vents had indentations so that you could feel how open or closed they were while on the move especially the chin vent.

Final Thoughts: Ok, so my cons list is a little flaccid. The truth is, I love this helmet and am extremely pleased with my decision to buy it. Its comfortable, its not horribly loud, it moves tons of air. I do wear ear plugs pretty frequently while I ride anyway and I have since changed out the clear face shield for a tinted and mirrored version. I need to buy another pinlock to go with that face shield but that is for another review. I like the white, my friend has since bought the RF-1200 in flat black and it also looks great. Riding around here you see a vast majority of helmets in black though and not many in white, hopefully that means I stand out a little more to other drivers. There are a ton of helmets out there that are cheaper than this one that offer similar levels of protection but for my $500 dollars this is the one for me. I feel confident in the safety of this helmet and the bottom line is that I would absolutely buy it again.

18 thoughts on “Helmets

    1. gilroy Post author

      I would love to add more reviews but I’m not going to do that until I’m actually using a new product. Since I’m still using my Shoei RF-1200 for my daily lid, I don’t have anything to add. I do have some gloves, jacket, boots etc. that I will write up reviews for though.

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