Our Top 5 Headset Picks

Posted on: February 27th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments
  • 20S
  • Sena 20S
  • G9X
  • Scala G9X
  • Sena SMH5
  • Sena-SMH5-FM
  • Scala Q1
  • Scala Q1 Teamset
  • Sena-SMH10R
  • SMH10R
  • Scala Rider Qz
  • Scala Qz


1. Sena 20S

Sena 20S

The 20S is the most advanced Sena yet, featuring Bluetooth 4.0, universal intercom pairing, and a whopping 1.2 miles of intercom range.

  • Universal intercom: pair with other Sena and non-Sena units
  • The only headset with Bluetooth 4.0 for faster and more energy efficient wireless communication
  • MSRP: $299.00

Click here for a complete description of the Sena 20S.

2. Scala Rider G9X

Scala G9X

The G9X is still the only headset that is entirely voice controlled, and now it has even faster voice response time.

  • Totally hands-free voice control mode
  • Now enables music-sharing for 2-up riders
  • Plug-in speaker jack allows riders to use the G9X speakers
  • MSRP: $289.95

Click here for a complete description of the Scala Rider G9X.

3. Sena SMH5-FM

Sena SMH5-FM

The SMH5-FM is the compact and capable junior Sena with a full complement of slightly downsized features PLUS an FM radio tuner.

  • Nearly all the features of its full-sized sibling, the SMH10, but with a slightly shorter intercom range ( 760 yards vs. 980 yards) and battery run time (7 hours/12 hours)
  • Sena’s patented Jog-Dial is the most user-friendly control interface among our top five systems
  • MSRP: $159.00

Click here for a complete description of the Sena SMH5-FM.

4. Scala Rider Q1 Teamset

Scala Q1 Teamset

Looking to chat with your passenger and maybe share some road tunes? The Q1 Teamset is all you need.

  • Includes two full headset units so you and your passenger can talk  while your ride
  • The Q1 does not intercom with other riders
  • MSRP: $279.95

Click here for a complete description of the Scala Rider Q1.

5. Sena SMH10R


Don’t let its ultra-slim profile fool you, this intercom offers super-sized performance and sound quality.

  • A 1/4 inch thick and curved to conform to your helmet for excellent aerodynamics
  • Small but mighty: the same incredible sound quality as Sena’s full-sized Jog-Dial units
  • MSRP: $219.00

Click here for a complete description of the Sena SMH10R.

Honorable Mention: Scala Rider Qz

Scala Qz

Don’t pay for features you won’t use! The Qz is the perfect unit for solo riders who like to pump up the jams. It has no intercom function, but it does:

  • Make and receive phone calls
  • Wirelessly stream music and GPS directions
  • Accept or reject phone calls with voice commands
  • MSRP: $129.95

Click here for a complete description of the Scala Rider Qz.



Get Scanned For Your Custom-Made Bell

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

Get Scanned For A Custom-Made Bell Moto-9 or Star Carbon

March 8th

10:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M.

Using 3-D images taken by their one-of-a-kind head scanner, Bell’s custom-made Moto-9 Carbon and Star Carbon helmets are built to conform precisely to a rider’s unique head shape. This technology isn’t just for the pros anymore, it’s for anyone who wants the best possible fit from their helmet–a rider’s most vital piece of safety gear.

The custom fit head scanner is still only available at special events like this, so even if you’re only thinking about getting a custom helmet now, be sure to visit Road Rider on March 8th. Getting scanned is free and Bell can keep your scan on file until you’re ready to use it.

The purchase of a custom-fit Star Carbon includes a Transitions SolFX photochromic shield.

Riders who plan on getting scanned for the Moto-9 should bring their goggles because they will influence the results of the scan and the final shape and fit of your helmet.

For helmet pricing available only at this event, please call us at (408) 227-6936.

Bell Star Carbon

The Star Carbon is Bell’s pro-level track helmet, currently worn by the likes of AMA stars Jack Gagne, Josh Herrin, Jared Mees, and Cameron Beaubier. Made with an ultra-light composite of Kevlar, carbon fiber, and fiberglass, the new custom-fit option takes the Star to new heights of comfort and safety.

Bell Star Carbon

Bell Moto-9 Carbon

The Moto-9 is made from the same TriMatrix composite as the Star, and it’s high-flow ventilation and light weight has made the Moto-9 the helmet of choice for James Stewart, Adam Cianciarulo, Cooper Webb, and many others.

Bell Moto-9



Rider Appreciation Day, Feb. 28th

Posted on: February 20th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments




Saturday, February 28th From 1:00-3:00 PM

Don’t miss out on a special event at Road Rider on Saturday, February 28th. The Z² Track Days RoadRider 2.0 instructor crew will be at the store on February 28th for Rider Appreciation Day to answer questions about their RoadRider 2.0–Beyond the Basics skills class and about Z² track days. If you have ever thought about trying a track day or are interested in advancing your skills on a closed course make sure you swing by!

JPH Suspension will also be here on the 28th doing drop-in suspension tuning for only $30 per bike. JPH will be on site from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.

  • Enter to win a free track day or a pass to RoadRider 2.0-Beyond the Basics
  • Find out how RoadRider 2.0 or a track day can improve your skills and safety on the street
  • Get your questions answered about how to prep your bike and what gear you need for track days
  • Get your suspension dialed in by JPH Suspension
  • Enjoy some refreshments and take advantage of the last days of the End of Season Sale!

For more information about Z² RoadRider 2.0 and the 2015 track day calendar visit the Z² website. For info on the importance of suspension tuning, read our short interview with JPH’s Jason Hauns HERE.



Kathy Reilly of Z2 Track Days

Posted on: February 19th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

On February 28th, we’ll be hosting instructors from Z2 Track Days as part of our Customer Appreciation Day, so it’s a perfect time to revisit this old interview and bring it out of the RR archives. Kathy Reilly is a Z2 rider coach and she’s been involved with racing for more than fifteen years–from pushing the limits of a little YSR50 to going full lean in local AFM races and on tracks around the world.

Here Kathy talks to us about why she’s hooked on racing, and how that first decision to try something totally new turned into a life-long passion that keeps her learning, developing, and grinning year after year. She also told us about why she thinks all riders can benefit from a track day, even those who have no interest in chasing down other bikes. So read on to get to know Z2 rider coach Kathy Reilly a little bit, and then visit Mrs. Reilly at her weekend office–the racetracks of Northern California.

Road Rider: What bike do you currently own?

Kathy Reilly: 2006 Yamaha R6 (race) / 2012 Yamaha R6

RR: What was your first bike?

KR: 1988 FZR400

RR: How did you start riding on the track?

KR: Around the time I got my first bike, my husband bought a YSR50 [two-stroke, 50cc Yamaha mini race bike] to start racing with the NCMRRA [Northern California Mini Road Racing Association]. I came along to help out during his first year and discovered there were some girls racing. It looked fun and they had a novice class. The next year, I decided to give it a try. It was great learning to race on such a small bike. If you crashed, you could pick it up and keep going. The first time I dragged my knee, the scraping sound surprised me and I ran off the track into a hay bale! I took my AFM New Racer School in May of 1997 on a Ninja 250 – there were 65 people taking the school all at once. Track days were practically non-existent at that time and some of my classmates had never been on a race track! I had an advantage since I’d raced YSR’s and gotten some of the “dumb” crashes out of the way – such as grabbing the front brake in a turn and looping the bike on a race start. I remember how exciting that first race was. I hunted down another rider for most of the race and finally made a pass entering the Carousel at Sears Point. I was thrilled that I had gotten around and kept my position. There’s something so exciting about being a new racer, battling for position at the back of the pack and bench racing in the pits afterwards with your fellow competitors, grinning ear to ear about every pass that was made on each other.

RR: What classes have you raced?

KR: 250 Production and Superbike, 500 Twins, 450 Superbike, 600 Production and Superbike, Formula 40 and Formula AFemme.

RR: Why do you keep doing it?

KR: I really enjoy the people, the adrenalin rush, and the solitude of being on the track focused in the moment. It’s also very challenging, both physically and mentally. Because it’s mentally challenging, you can work on your game away from the track any time. Go over track layouts, discuss techniques, review pictures of body positioning, pay attention to how you’re braking, accelerating and looking through turns even when you’re driving your car around town. You never stop learning.

RR: Is there someone that has inspired or inspires your motorcycling life?

KR:My husband, Shawn, took me to an empty parking lot and taught me to ride. Once I knew the basics, we made a course in the parking lot and chased each other around on YSR’s until I felt ready to try it out at the track. He’s been very supportive and given me lots of great tips over the years.

RR: In what ways have you noticed your riding improve the most because of track time?

KR: I would say quicker reaction time, more relaxed on the bike, and more comfortable pinning the throttle to avoid a situation.

RR: What was the best part of the day on your last track day?

KR: Talking with people at the end of the day and sharing their excitement over how much they’d progressed – that’s always the best part!

RR: What’s your best advice for new riders on the track?

KR: No matter what level you’re at on the street, start out in the Novice School. Come with an open mind, listen, study the track during the lead-follow laps, and go to the classroom sessions. If you begin “winning” the Novice group and you’re riding smoothly and consistently, you can be moved into Intermediate. But if you start in Intermediate, you won’t accelerate your learning curve the way you will by starting in the Novice group. I promise.

RR: Are there any myths about track days you would like to dispel?

KR: Track days are mainly for racers. Wrong! Anyone who rides can do a track day. The Novice school is a structured program where you may go as fast as you like and focus on whatever skills you choose. It’s like a winding country road with no oncoming traffic, near perfect asphalt, and a variety of turns to work on your cornering. Of course there are the straights where you can go as fast as you like without worry of speeding tickets. The majority of our customers have never raced and have no intentions of doing so. They come out for the pure enjoyment and freedom that a race track can offer.

RR: Do you think of yourself as a competitive person?

KR: I’m competitive, but not overly aggressive. I’ve always enjoyed sports and the challenges involved. I’m glad I decided it would be more fun to join in than watch from the pits. The track environment was so enjoyable that I was happy to take time learning my way around the tracks and acquiring the skills involved. Being patient helped me avoid some crashes, potential injuries, and extra repair costs. Competing is fun, track days are great, and being able to go to work on Monday is a good thing!

RR: Do you have a favorite track?

KR: Sonoma Raceway because it’s a fun, flowing track with several technical turns. It’s also located in beautiful Sonoma along with some nice facilities. Wine tasting is just a few miles away and the weather is spectacular!

RR: What’s the best piece of advice or wisdom a track coach has given you?

KR: Don’t put your butt too far off the seat. This lets your inside knee drop out more easily (towards the pavement so you can drag it!) It helps you see farther through each turn, which also helps you accelerate sooner.

RR: What is the difference between Road Rider 2.0 and Novice?

KR: It depends on your experience and your goals. You should be pretty comfortable using the controls as well as all of the gears (getting to a reasonable speed on the street). If you’ve been riding less than a year, you’re just getting comfortable, and would like to hone your street riding skills, we recommend RR2.0. You will also be introduced to some controlled riding on the racetrack which will give you a taste and let you know if track days might be for you. We also have people who have ridden for years, but are just getting back into it, come out for the RR2.0 course. If you’ve been riding less than a year, but picked it up quickly and are interested in track days, the Novice School is a great place to start. And, of course, if you’ve been riding for years and feel ready to try out the track, sign up for the Novice school.

RR: What about bike preparation? What kind of bike should a person have to participate in a Z2 track day?

KR: Bike prep is pretty straight-forward. There are a few details explained on our website. Riders can call or email us with their questions, and we’re happy to help. For track days, bike types are most commonly sport bikes, touring bikes, and motards with sufficient horsepower. For RR2.0, just about anything goes. Besides the previously mentioned bikes, we’ve had people take the class on scooters, XR100’s, and Harleys.

RR: What is your most indispensable piece of riding gear?

KR: My Suomy helmet. I’ve landed pretty hard on a few helmets and probably wouldn’t be here answering these questions if I hadn’t been wearing them.

RR: What’s your take on street safety gear?

KR: It’s crucial. I’m used to wearing full gear and armor at the track. Not gearing up on the street is very uncomfortable.

RR: How has motorcycling changed your life?

KR: First, not only have I met many wonderful people in the sport, but I’ve met many of them in other countries. My first trip overseas was to Kenny Roberts Training Ranch in Spain. I was so excited to meet Kenny Roberts and to be in Europe for the first time! Three years later, I found myself in Thailand for Jamie Whitham’s Thai Race School. The final weekend of the school culminated in participating in the National race series at the circuit where we practiced. While being interviewed on the starting grid, they said I was the first woman to race in a National race over there. I wrote a story about our racing and travels in Thailand which was published in Road Racing World Magazine. This would lead to more overseas travels with friends we met in Thailand and several more articles published in RRW.

Second, Z2 Track Days has been a huge part of my life for the last ten years. Being so involved in the sport has been incredible and it’s so rewarding to be able to give back and help others achieve their goals.



End of Season Sale Going On Now!

Posted on: February 18th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

End of Season Sale

February 20th Through March 2nd

Starting this weekend, help us clear out our cold-weather gear and 2014 models so we can make room for brand new spring stock! Our End of Season Sale lasts a full ten days, but visit us early for the best selection of last year’s jackets, pants, and much more.

Monday, March 2nd is also your last chance to pay half price for tire mount and balance services, because it’s our final MOUNT and BALANCE MONDAY of the year!

Also coming soon…



Z² Track Days & JPH Suspension

Saturday, February 28th

1:00 PM-3:00 PM


Don’t miss out on a special event at Road Rider on Saturday, February 28th. The Z² Track Days RoadRider 2.0 instructor crew will be at the store on February 28th to answer questions about their RoadRider 2.0–Beyond the Basics skills class and about Z² track days. If you have ever thought about trying a track day or are interested in advancing your skills on a closed course make sure you swing by!

JPH Suspension will also be here on the 28th doing drop-in suspension tuning for only $30 per bike. JPH will be on site from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.

  • Find out how RoadRider 2.0 or a track day can improve your skills and safety on the street
  • Get your questions answered about how to prep your bike and what gear you need for track days
  • Get your suspension dialed in by JPH Suspension
  • Enjoy some refreshments and take advantage of the last days of the End of Season Sale!

For more information about Z² RoadRider 2.0 and the 2015 track day calendar visit the Z² website. Read our interview with Z² rider coach Kathy Reilly HERE.

For info on the importance of suspension tuning, read our short interview with JPH’s Jason Hauns HERE.



HJC IS-MAX 2 Modular Helmet

Posted on: February 12th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

The HJC IS-Max 2 is an affordable and high-quality modular helmet that takes off from the foundations of its predecessor, the IS-Max BT.  The feature-packed IS-Max 2 starts at only $209 and sports a number of impressive improvements to make it an even better value than the BT.

The Max-2 is nearly a full five ounces lighter than the Max-BT, and the shell is slightly more compact. The redesigned shell has some nice angles that give it a sleeker look that the BT. True to its name, it still features a spring-loaded, internal sun shield (‘IS’) that is activated using a large slide switch located on the back of the helmet and is retracted easily by the push of a button. It comes equipped with a Pinlock® anti-fog shield which can be combined with a Pinlock lens (sold separately) for the most effective and hassle-free fog solution system available today. The flip-up chin bar can be raised or lowered easily with one gloved hand using the release mechanism at the base of the chin.

HJC has eliminated the ‘BT’ Bluetooth intercom port that was featured on the Max-BT and now, instead of fitting only the corresponding Chatterbox intercom, the IS-Max is compatible with superior quality universal-fit intercoms from makers like Sena and Scala.

HJC IS-MAX BT Modular Helmet

  • Constructed with a lightweight, advanced polycarbonate composite shell with aerodynamic design
  • Large eyeport for greater visibility
  • Impact absorbing, multiple density EPS liner
  • Flip-up chin bar and face shield with single button release for easy one-handed opening and closing
  • Advanced Channeling Ventilation System features multi-stage intake vents and rear exit vents for flow-through ventilation
  • SilverCool™ removable and washable interior lining is moisture-wicking, odor-free, and naturally antibacterial
  • Three-stage, one-touch integrated smoke-tinted SunShield deploys and retracts quickly and easily
  • Comes with a Pinlock-ready faceshield (lens sold separately) which provides 95% UV protection
  • Breathbox and/or chin curtain sold separately
  • DOT-certified


  • Available in sizes XS-5XL



2015 Helmet Graphics Roundup

Posted on: February 12th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

The wait is over! The 2015 helmet graphics have been unveiled by Arai, Scorpion, and Bell and they join the Shoei and Icon helmets released late last year to round out the huge selection of helmet graphics for the new year from the big names.

Camo stands out as a fresh new theme this year, and we especially love Arai’s Mimetic Defiant and Tactical Signet-Q, and Bell’s Snow Camo and Desert Camo Topo RS-1. Bell and Scorpion can always be trusted to bring the color, and their 2015 collections include a few really sharp hi-viz options. The Scorpion EXO-R2000 Fortis Hi-Viz and the Bell Star Carbon Tagger Trouble remind us that neon moto gear isn’t just for the guys wearing Cordura bunny suits anymore, it’s a legit style we love.

Most of the new Arai, Scorpion, and Bell helmets you see below are available now, though some, where noted, will be available in the early spring. You can try on any of the following helmet models in a wide range of sizes at Road Rider, so you can be sure you go home with a safe and comfortable fit. Shopping for a helmet with us means no guessing, no shipping fees, and no sending back a size that doesn’t fit. If we don’t have the size and color combination you’re looking for, most helmet special orders arrive at our store for you in one business day, and you don’t pay a cent extra. Our helmets are always competitively priced, so make Road Rider the first and final stop on your helmet search. If you want to learn more about fitment before you shop, be sure to read our Helmet Buyer’s Guide.

You can see the fall Shoei helmet releases by clicking HERE, or view Icon’s latest HERE.


Scorpion EXO

Scorpion EXO







































































































































2015 Shoei Helmet Graphics

Shoei-RF-1200-Terminus Shoei-RF-1200-Cruise-red Shoei-RF-1200-Cruise-black Shoei-RF-1200-GraffitiRF-1200 Marquez Indy

2015 Icon Helmet Graphics

Icon Airmada Sensory Icon Airmada Ganesh Blue Red Icon Airmada Miscreant Icon Airmada Sugar Icon Airmada Thriller Gray





New! Simpson M30 Bandit Helmet

Posted on: February 7th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

The new Simpson M30 Bandit helmet has arrived, and it’s as distinctive as you would expect from Simpson, the world-famous American manufacturer of racing helmets. Simpson is very well known in the auto racing world, but they’ve also been making motorcycle helmets for decades. The M30 Bandit is the newest iteration of their classic Bandit model. Nothing need be said about the Bandit’s looks. Okay, just two words: bad ass. The Bandit’s shell is extremely compact and weighs in at only 3 pounds, and that’s really, really light. Riders who are used to riding without the bulk and weight of a standard full-face helmet will appreciate that, though it should be mentioned that the chin bar doesn’t leave much room between it and the rider’s face.

The Bandit is $399.95 and available in matte black at Road Rider.

Simpson M30 Bandit

  • Cool Max® lined fabric moves moisture away from your body, keeping you cool and comfortable
  • “Free Stop” pivot system allows the wearer to stop the shield at any angle
  • Available in sizes S, M, L, and XL
  • DOT rated
  • Clear, light smoke, and chrome replacement shields are available
  • Weight: 3 pounds*

*A carbon edition is also available as a special order purchase. The carbon M30 Bandit weighs 2.5 pounds.



Helmet Buyer’s Guide

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015 by Road Rider MCA No Comments

When you buy a new helmet at Road Rider, whether it cost a hundred or eight-hundred dollars, we want you to be confident that you chose the best helmet for your head within your budget, and not just for the rest of the day–for the rest of your helmet’s life. It’s easy for first-time buyers and even fifth-time buyers to make mistakes when selecting a helmet, and when that happens, they are shopping again in six months. If you want to do less shopping and more happy riding, the first step to helmet buying is DON’T BUY A HELMET ONLINE. The second step is to learn to a few things about what makes a helmet right for you, so you’ll be in the driver’s seat when you shop. And of course, our experienced and knowledgeable gear experts are always right here to help you find the right fit and guide you through all the different helmet styles and features.

Above all else, keep in mind these three keys to helmet buying:

  • It takes time to select the right helmet.

The best thing you can do to help ensure you’ll be happy with your choice further down the road is to try on a few different brands and styles, and spend some time wearing each one to get a sense of where it feels tight and where it feels loose. Don’t rely on a measuring tape to find your helmet size. Head circumference is not the same as head shape, and your unique head might be wider, flatter, or narrower in one dimension and less so in another. We can help you identify good fits and bad ones, but with some experience trying on different helmets, you’ll be able to feel the difference yourself and be confident about your choice when you do select that most essential piece of safety gear.

  • Focus in on the features and style that you want.

Once you get started trying on helmets, we’ll help you understand all the functions, features, and different helmet styles (see the “Styles” section at the bottom of this page). It may be really important to you that your helmet has excellent venting, channels in the cheek pads for your glasses, or has a drop-down sun shield. Maybe you want to try a modular helmet this time around. Whatever you’re looking for, identifying features will help you narrow down your choices.

  • Make fit your #1 criterion.

Once you’ve decided what features you want in your helmet, it comes down to how your head feels inside the helmet. You’re going to wear it for hours at a time, so it’s got to be comfortable. The importance of fit doesn’t stop there, though. A correct fit is a safe fit, so if it’s the wrong size or the wrong shape for your head, you’re wasting your money.

Want to know more? Read on to learn what a correct fit feels like, what those safety stickers on the back of the helmet mean, the different elements of a helmet that determine its price, and how to care for your helmet.

Helmet Fit

Keys To Identifying a Good Fit

The materials and construction of a motorcycle helmet determine its maximum protective potential. But if a helmet doesn’t fit you correctly, even if it’s the most expensive helmet in the world, it’s not going to give you the protection you need when it counts.

The vast majority of first-time buyers are inclined to buy a helmet that is too big. Those that do regret it because they find that the helmet wobbles around and shifts as they are riding. More than just annoying, this kind of fitment is very distracting and dangerous. A helmet that is too small or whose internal shape doesn’t match well with your head can give you headaches, pain, and be uncomfortable – especially over a prolonged period of time. Here are some things to look for when you’re trying on helmets:

  • A helmet should feel very snug.
    • Ask someone to hold the chin area of the helmet while you try to shift your head from side to side. If your head moves easily, the helmet is too big.
    • Push the back of the helmet up and forward. If it moves easily down your forehead, it’s too big.
    • Push the chin bar up and back. If the helmet pushes up easily, it’s too big.
  • The soft padding inside the helmet will naturally break in after a few months or weeks of wear, making the helmet feel approximately half a helmet size bigger than when it was brand new.
  • Before you commit, wear the helmet in the store for at least five or ten minutes to make sure it isn’t too tight. A helmet that is too tight will give you headaches, hot spots, and may leave indentations on your forehead or cheeks.

The Language of Safety

We know that a helmet that fits properly will protect you better than a helmet that doesn’t. But it’s also important to understand the safety ratings that are identified on the back of every helmet. At minimum, every motorcycle helmet that is legal in the State of California must have a DOT certification and a DOT sticker on the back. (Some half helmets don’t have DOT certification. They aren’t legal, they aren’t safe, and you may be ticketed for wearing one.)

A Snell M2015* rating is an internationally recognized, independent safety certification administered by the non-profit Snell Memorial Foundation. Helmets awarded a Snell rating and sticker have passed a rigorous set of safety tests. You may think that Snell helmets have to cost a lot of money, but that’s no longer the case (see a comparison of our two top value helmets, the HJC CL-17 and Scorpion EXO-R410 HERE). At present, Snell only applies to full-face street and dirt helmets, and not half, three-quarter, or modular helmets. 

ECE 22-05 is Europe’s minimum required safety rating for their street helmets, like DOT is in the US. Helmets that are ECE and DOT rated can be legally worn in both the United States and Europe. A helmet is subjected to many different impact simulations during Snell and ECE tests, and it is currently not possible to make one helmet that meets both Snell and ECE requirements at the same time. There is much debate on which standard ultimately builds a safer helmet for real-life crash scenarios, but in the United States we generally regard a Snell rating with the highest esteem. If you’d like to learn more, you can read all about the differences between the two safety ratings in detail in an in-depth discussion on webBikeWorld.com here.

Understanding What You’re Paying For

We all want the lightest, most comfortable, safest, coolest, most aerodynamic and technically advanced, quietest helmet possible, but for those of us who can’t justify paying the cost of a small car for our helmet, that will remain in our dreams. Here’s where we tell you what’s jacking up the cost of the different helmets you’re looking at, so you can shop smart and get as close as possible to that dream helmet, without selling the farm.

Shoei Helmet Construction

Materials and Construction

Material makeup is a big part of what dictates the cost of your helmet, because it also determines how it’s made–how long it takes, how much skill and precision are needed, and how quality is enforced.

Multi-density vs. Single-Density EPS Liner: EPS stands for expanded polystyrene, and it’s the part of the helmet between the removable, soft inner lining and the hard exterior shell that does the brunt of the impact absorption work. An EPS liner is actually made of millions of little balls of polystyrene, and those little balls can be made denser or softer during the expansion process, which is what puffs them up so they can absorb impact.

A single-density EPS liner has one kind of EPS throughout, but a multi-density liner is made with EPS of various densities strategically arranged in various impact zones in the helmet to deliver targeted protection.

Making Of A Helmet

Composite vs. Polycarbonate Shell: Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic that is heated and poured into a mold to create a helmet shell. Composite shells are made from layers of fiber materials; usually a blend of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and an aramid fiber like Kevlar or Dyneema. While a polycarbonate shell is molded, formed, and cut in an automated machine, many man-hours and significant expertise are necessary to build up layers of fiber for a composite shell.

Helmets made with polycarbonate shells are generally less expensive and typically heavier than composite ones, though this isn’t always true and when it is the weight difference is usually a few ounces or less. Composite helmets are stiffer, more resistant to piercing, and stronger overall. When struck by an impact the layers of fiber crush, like your car’s crumple zones, reducing the impact the EPS must absorb. Polycarbonate shells are elastic and this springiness also helps to reduce G forces passed through to the EPS during an impact.

Development and Other Non-Production Costs

All of the top helmet brands in the world have been around for at least a few decades, and they know that to stay on the leading edge of a very competitive market they need to continually innovate, advance, and improve the safety, performance, and comfort of their helmets. You aren’t just paying for the name or logo when you buy a popular brand, you’re paying for wind tunnels, track days, field tests, and rooms full of engineers tasked with impressing you and I and the gear critics of the world. You’re paying to have confidence in the commitment of the people who made the thing that protects your head.

Developing a Helmet

Helmet Care and Replacement

The generally accepted life of a helmet is between five and seven years because the EPS lining naturally breaks down over time, diminishing its protective potential, and this breakdown is accelerated by frequent wear. But this five to seven year guideline only applies if the helmet has not been dropped, involved in an accident, or otherwise damaged. Helmets are not designed to sustain multiple impacts – once a force is applied, the outer shell is weakened, the EPS compresses, and the helmet should be replaced. 

You can clean the removable lining and cheekpads of your helmet with water and a mild soap. There are also many helmet cleaning agents available specifically designed for helmet interiors, such as Motorex Helmet Care. You can polish the outside of your helmet with a multi-surface cleaner, such as Plexus or Pig Spit. Do not use any chemical agents on your visor unless specifically designed or listed for use on helmet shields, as they may cause distortion and break down the anti-fog coating.


There are six main helmet styles, and a full-face helmet provides the most protection from impact, wind, debris, and noise.

Many riders love that wind-in-your-face feeling, so they opt for something a little more basic. If you’re thinking of choosing an open-faced half or three-quarter helmet, just be aware that the chin area is the most commonly impacted area of the head in an accident.

Full Face Half 3-Quarter

If you enjoy riding with an open-faced helmet but want something more protective, try a modular helmet. Modular helmets provide nearly all the same benefits of full-face helmets, but have a flip-up chin bar that can be worn in an open position.

Modular Dual Sport Dirt

Dual sport helmets combine key elements of full-face and dirt helmets. A dirt bike helmet‘s elongated chin bar acts as a crumple zone in the common offroad face-plant and provides more room around the nose and mouth to ease labored breathing on the trail. The sun peak on a dual sport helmet is usually smaller and the overall shell shape more similar to a street helmet’s for improved aerodynamics on the road. Dual sport helmets also have a pivoting face shield that is designed to accommodate goggles.


*As of mid-2014, Snell M2010 standards are being phased out and replaced by updated M2015 testing standards. All Snell motorcycle helmets manufactured after March 2015 will have a Snell M2015 sticker.



New! Falco Boots

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by Road Rider MCA 2 Comments

Falco isn’t a name we know well in the United States, but Falco motorcycle boots have been popular in Europe for many years, and it’s easy to see why. All Falco boots are handmade in Italy by Gianni Falco SRL and they offer pretty unbelievable value for the dollar. Road Rider is excited to take advantage of new U.S. distribution, and we are introducing five styles to Bay Area riders–the Oxegen 2, Mixto 2, Liberty 2, Kodo, and women’s Venus 2. The adventure-oriented Mixto 2 is the only one that just breaks the $200 mark, the rest are under $200.

The Mixto, the Kodo, and the Venus are constructed with beautiful, full-grain leather that is flexible and soft, and will break in easily for comfort tailored to you. The Oxegen 2s are constructed with synthetic leather. Typically used in road racing boots where more stiffness is demanded, synthetic leather breathes like natural leather but doesn’t break in as readily and resists warping and wearing over time. The ankle protectors in the Mixto, Oxegen, and Kodo are made of D3O armor which is flexible and soft so it won’t rub or pinch your ankle bone.

Meet the Falco Oxegen 2, Mixto 2, Liberty 2, Kodo, and Venus 2 for women, below, and be sure to  check them out in person soon so you can feel the quality and craftsmanship yourself.

Oxegen 2

A race-style boot with a high level of protection and comfort for any kind of street riding.

Falco Oxegen 2 Falco Oxegen 2 2 Falco Oxegen Toe Falco Racing Sole

  • Air-Tech® vented lining
  • D3O® intelligent shock absorption malleolus inserts
  • Micro-synthetic upper construction
  • Replaceable black-titan toe slider
  • New dual density racing sole
  • Made in Italy
  • $199.99

Women’s Venus 2

A waterproof touring boot for women with a slight heel for extra height on the bike.

Falco Venus

Falco Venus Womens Touring Sole Falco Venus Ankle Falco Venus Adaptive Comfort

  • Developed on a female-specific last shape
  • Higher-heeled, grippy rubber sole
  • Full grain leather upper construction
  • High-Tex® waterproof membrane
  • Sealed zip closure
  • Malleolus and shin reinforcements
  • Elastic insert for calf comfort
  • Removable gear pad
  • Made in Italy
  • $169.99

Mixto 2 Brown

A dirt and street hybrid boot with polyurethane shin protection and heat shields.

Falco Mixto 2

Falco Mixto Shin Plate Falco Mixto Heat Shield Falco Mixto Buckle, Sole

  • Full grain leather upper construction
  • High-Tex® waterproof membrane
  • Contoured polyurethane moulded shin plate
  • D3O® ankle protectors
  • Micro-adjustable buckle closure
  • Leather heat shield
  • Vibram® heavy-duty textured sole provides excellent grip and traction
  • Made in Italy
  • $229.99


A premium waterproof touring boot.

Falco Kodo

Falco Kodo Touring Sole Falco Kodo Shin Plate Falco Kodo Adaptive Comfort Falco Kodo Closure

  • Full grain leather upper construction
  • High-Tex® waterproof membrane
  • Contoured polyurethane moulded shin plate
  • D3O® ankle protectors
  • Ventilated textile instep accordion zones
  • Elasticated rear calf panel
  • High grip textured touring sole
  • Made in Italy
  • $189.99

Liberty 2

A value-priced waterproof touring boot.

Falco Liberty 2

  • Micro-synthetic upper construction
  • High-Tex® waterproof membrane
  • Reinforced shin plate
  • Velcro® pull tab quick closure
  • High grip textured touring sole
  • CE certified
  • Made in Italy
  • $124.99