Helmets range from the $2 baseball cap helmet up to the $650 range in Vietnam. Everything is in Vietnam if you know where to find it. To state the obvious, a $2 baseball cap helmet is not as safe as the $25 "Andes" helmet, which is not as safe as a $60 "LS2" Helmet. At Chrunix we try and stock everything from the mildly cheap to the very expensive. We don't sell $2 baseball caps though!
Helmet Safety Ratings
Below, we will talk about the two most widely used safety ratings globally. ECE and DOT. Read this in-depth article for all the helmet safety certifications that are out there.
1. No safety rating
Helmets created with no safety rating at all. These are objects that sit on your head and look like a helmet. No thought or money has gone into proving the safety of the helmet. Most likely because the helmet isn't safe.
DOT is the American safety standard which is self-appointed by the manufacturer. Among keen motorcyclists, the DOT certification is known to be mostly meaningless. The standard is out of date and easy to manipulate. However, it does mean the manufacturer has put at least some thought into safety. Watch this excellent video on how pointless the DOT safety certification is.
The European safety standard is stricter than DOT. Like DOT, it is also known to be out of date and manufacturers have loopholes of passing the ECE certification cheaply. However, it is harder to pass than DOT and is known to hold some value for determining the safety of a helmet. To go above an ECE helmet, we need to climb into the $400+ region. For most of us with a budget, the ECE certification is the one we are looking for.
Most western countries don't allow children on motorcycles. This restricts the potential audience and impacts on the quality of children's helmets in general. In Vietnam, helmets remain an after thought, in particular for children. Brands mentioned below, GRS, Andes and Royal all have children sized helmets. However none of them meet basic ECE or DOT standards. Fly Racing from the USA, on the other hand (also mentioned below), have DOT/ECE certified dirt bike helmets that are specifically designed for children pursuing motocross racing. Much to our surprise, these helmets have not yet caught on in Vietnam, but if you are looking for a safe option then Chrunix has them in stock in HCM.
Popular brands in Vietnam
Unbranded Shitty helmets - Price $2-5
The Baseball cap helmet or Hello Kitty helmet is a piece of plastic that sits on top of your head. Instead of increasing safety they actually reduce it. The straps often break which causes the helmet to fly off the back of your head into the unsuspecting soul behind you. The strap design is also positioned perfectly for a good old fashioned human strangulation. The plastic on the top of your head isn't going to protect you from the tarmac floor. These helmets are for Vietnamese people using a loophole in the "helmet law" to drive around with basically nothing on their head. As a traveler, you don't want to go down this route.
Napoli is a niche brand that appears to be pumping out the cheapest helmets on the market that "feel" like they have some value in safety. No safety rating on these beauties, but we like to believe they would help in a crash. The Napoli helmet is a cheap helmet that Tigit often fills up our "second-hand helmet" section with when we run out of helmets.
Andes is the market leader for helmets in Vietnam. A local is likely to have a "baseball cap helmet" or an "Andes helmet". No safety rating on these helmets but they do appear to be built excellently. Clients of Tigit do crash, and these helmets are often on the head of our drivers. No reports of failing helmets here, and for the money they are an incredible value.
The competitor to Andes fighting hard for market share. GRS have less models and variations in the styling on their helmets than Andes. No safety rating on GRS, but they do have a slightly higher quality feel to them than Andes. If you find a GRS helmet that fits and suits your style, then get it.
Royal Helmets - $25-60
Royal Helmets look like "real" helmets. The styling is often beautiful from very cool looking road helmets to retro style Harley imagery. Royal helmets claim a DOT safety rating but we struggle to believe in it. When Tigit stocks the Royal Helmet they sell like hot cakes in our store due to the awesome stylistics of the brand. However, they tend to fall apart quickly and clients request a refund. For now, we no longer stock the Royal Helmet due to frequent complaints. $25-60 is not alot of money, and for this money they are not a bad helmet. Andes and GRS pump out generic models on a mass scale to keep the price low. In contrary, Royal helmets are all about image and style. If you are looking for a cool helmet on a budget, then there is value in this brand.
LS2 is an internationally recognized brand which is starting to gain a solid hold in the Vietnamese market. A great brand which is selling incredibly cheap helmets that pass both DOT and ECE safety ratings. Globally, the LS2 helmet is "the brand" to get when going for maximum value for money. We recommend every traveler invests in an LS2 helmet, they are the cheapest helmets in the world that are taking safety seriously. They feel great, and in many ways compare and compete with far more expensive helmets.
HJC Helmet - $25 +
HJC is an international helmet brand known for high quality mid-upper ranged helmets. They have been lurking in the corners of the Vietnamese helmet market for a long time but seem to have struggled to find a foothold. The price of their high quality over seas helmets is above and beyond the average local. To combat this, they built a Vietnamese factory to make "local helmets" at a similar price point of Andes and GRS. Like Andes and GRS, their locally made helmets pass no safety ratings. This leads travelers to confusion due to having a high quality reputable brand selling ridiculously cheap helmets. Just know, the HJC you see in Vietnam, is not the same as the HJC you have back home. Having said that, if you pay proper money like you would back home, then it is possible to buy a good HJC helmet here.
The Italian Pannier company seems to be having great fun attempting to role out their luxurious products in an culture that only cares about cheap, cheap, cheap. Givi have reacted excellently to this and have teamed up with the "Andes" powerhouse of helmets to build a "luxurious for Vietnam" quality helmet. The Italians are basically taking commercially massed produced helmets and adding a bit of comfort and finesse to the finished product. For the money, they are great and we think it is a partnership and price point that holds great value.
Fly is an American brand that specializes in offroad motorbike gear. We import all our Fly products from the UK. When it comes to value for money within the offroad world, Fly is right up there as the best. Niche and specialist at what they do. [caption id="attachment_48553" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Fly dirt bike helmet[/caption]
Bell is a company that pioneers the helmet industry in research and development. Known for incredible safety, they could be said to be the best value for money when it comes to safety. Passing ECE and DOT certification with flying colours often with bonus "MIPS" technology thrown in. MIPS being a technology aimed at tackling rotational forced crashes. Exclusive to Tigit who is the only retailer of Bell in Vietnam. For people who really want to protect their brains from the outside elements, then we strongly recommend Bell.
What helmet is right for you
For most, the Andes and GRS helmet priced in at $25 is a fine choice. They are excellent value for money. Holding one in your hands will have you in disbelief at how it costs so little. However, they are an unknown on the safety front and have made no attempt in passing any certifications. For people who want to protect themselves with some legislation, then we recommend going up to the $60 LS2 helmet brand. They are cheaper in Vietnam than the rest of the world and it is a helmet that it worth bringing back home for future use. For people who think their head is worth more than $100, then up to the Bell for you. Trust in a company that has been producing race helmets since 1954. Presumably, by now, they know what they are doing.