J.D. Power and Associates have released their 2011 Helmet Satisfaction Study, and the results are pretty interesting. The study takes an 11-point approach on helmet satisfaction, having helmet purchasers rank their lid on the following attributes: quietness; ventilation/air flow; de-fogging performance; face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out; face shield resistance to scratching; ease of replacing face shield; scratch resistance of shell; color/graphic design; weight; ease of fastening the strap; and fit and comfort.

Perhaps unsurprising to many, Arai topped the list as having the highest rating (this makes the 13th year in a row for the Japanese helmet manufacturer), but this year will carry an asterisk, as Icon tied Arai in customer satisfaction with a score of 852 out of 1,000. According to JDPA, Arai’s scores across all 11 attributes were strong, with a particular strength in “fit & comfort” and “face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out”. Similarly, Icon scored especially well in “color/graphic design”, while Shoei got strong marks for “ease of replacing the face shield”.

Other interesting factoids from the study are that nearly one quarter (23%) of motorcyclists are buying their helmets online, a figure that last year was 20% and ten years ago was only 4%. The 10-year trend there isn’t surprising, but we can’t help but think that the jump over last year’s data has something to do with customers being more price sensitive.

The study also finds the following key trends:

  • Overall satisfaction across the industry continues to improve to an average of 788 in 2011, reaching its highest level since the study’s inception in 1999.
  • The average helmet purchase price this year remains consistent with 2010—$209 in 2011, compared with $206 last year. In fact, the average price paid for a new helmet has remained relatively constant since 2007, when the average price was $203.
  • With a consistent increase in the median age of new helmet owners since 2000, this year’s study shows the highest median age to date—48 years.

The 2011 J.D. Power & Associates U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study is comprised from 4,820 purchasers of new 2009 and 2010 model-year motorcycles who provided information about their most recent helmet purchase experience and helmet use. The study was fielded between August and October 2010. Consider that sampling bias in your comments.

Source: J.D. Power & Associates

  • Damo

    The Icon helmets seem great, but they always were on the heavy side and the graphics are a bit to “Affliction” for my tastes.

    I recently purchased my second Shoei helmet (got an X-11 had a TZ-1) and while the build quality, air flow and face shield are great the thing is much louder than my old TZ. I am going to have to check out the new Shoei Qwest, heard that helmet is dead silent :)

  • archer

    Another Sign of the Apocalypse. A comic-book brand matches one of the finest brands in the industry.

  • Doctor Jelly

    I’ve never purchased Icon products, but from what I’ve seen they tend to start falling apart under normal use after about 6 months (vents on top of the helmet coming unglued and the stitching in gloves pulling out long before the leather shows signs of wear). Of course, those that like Icon are adamant the quality is great (including the guy with the gear mentioned above). There’s fanboys for everything I guess…

  • Balzaak

    I’m going to agree with Doctor Jelly about ICON. The quality of their line always seem to give up actually quality for flair.

    On the other hand I’ve been really hearing good stuff about their helmets, though the stigma of their gear and the loudness of their designs (what the hell is up with the horns?) prevents me from wanting to try their helmets.

  • Minibull

    I’ve got a Bell Star 2010 and I’d have to say that it is definatly in the range of the Corsair V and X-12, plus its 200 bucks cheaper and come with an awesome helmet bag. A bit loud, but then a ton of air moves through it.

  • DWolvin

    Seconded on the Bell- customer service is awesome, they replaced my helmet over a minor item (snap didn’t line up with accessory pad), love the looks and airflow. I wear ‘plugs or canalphones and would say they are needed on CA freeways in this helmet, but there is no ‘coke bottle’ or booming, just wind rush.

  • Ryan

    @ archer

    Comic book brand? That kind of reminds me of the whole “Only poor kids buy crotch rockets because they can’t afford Harleys.” Please.

  • Archer

    Bell has come a long way since their merger with Easton Sports. Even though I have close company ties to Easton Sports, I still ride with Arai (my division doesn’t get any employee discount, and I do have a total of five Corsairs and Corsair-V’s, after all…), but the Bell lids are definitely better than they used to be. One wonders why the JDP numbers don’t reflect that better.

    As for my calling Icon a comic book brand- their own marketing underscores that theme. But hey, at least it’s gear. Sort of.

  • Westward

    Bell has some of the most interesting helmets in my opinion along with Scorpion, But Bell has the worst graphics and designs. That alone could change the image of the brand, after all, look what it has done for Icon, notice they scored highly based on flash not substance…

    I usually sport AGV, own a Scorpion helmet, but have been most recently wearing a KBC I bought online for $49 on clearance, that originally sold for almost $300…

    Really like some of the Suomy helmets, but can’t justify the cost…

    C’est la vie…

  • Tom

    Westward, I’m with you on the Suomy costs as well despite being my favorite looking helmet. Plus, even the largest Suomy helmet is way to tight and painful for me. This is is why I’m too scared to buy a helmet online. I’m lusting after the Icon Airframe Predator helmet, but unless I can try one on for a test fit, I’m not ready to drop over $300 and then about $100 more to ship it to Japan.

    How anyone can buy a Fullmer helmet is beyond me. Chinese made quality from Wal-Mart is just not good enough to protect my head.

  • irksome

    Graphics appeal is strictly subjective and tastes seem to migrate; when I started riding, a stripe was cool and a Cap’t America helmet was avant garde.

    My problem with ordering on-line stems from head-shape; mine’s narrow, yours could be round. Arai helmets give me a hot-spot on my forehead/hairline. The Bell I bought last year (after my girlfriend’s cat peed on an Icon) is a perfect fit. I won’t buy a helmet I haven’t tried on and I feel like a shit for size-shopping at a dealer and then leaving to order on-line.

    Why don’t helmet manufacturers acknowledge head shape?

  • Damo


    I am with you on the head shape deal. I wear an XL Shoei, but my dome is long and large, not basketball shaped. I love AGV and Soumy helmets, but I couldn’t find one that fit my head shape.

    the only brands I have tried on that were day one comfortable were: Shoei, Arai, Scorpion and Bell. I have been more than happy with my Shoei purchases, but it comes down to what is the best helmet I can get for the cheapest price on the internet at the time.

    I scored brand new Shoei X-11 Kagayama replica for $300, so I got that. Perfect fit.

  • Other Sean

    If you ask ten Slipknot fans if they’re satisfied with their concert experience, and then 10 people who attend the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, they’re going to have a tie on their hands as well.

    I’ve owned an Icon. It broke after a year.
    I have an Arai that’s been faultless for 3 years.

    Arai=home owner
    Icon=van down by the river

  • Sp33dwagon

    I love my icon helmet, I’ve had it for almost 2 years, never had a problem or a complaint and the only thing I’ve changed are the visor colors. (from the stock clear) I would put it up against any of the other brands of helmets over the years that I’ve owned and say that the quality is at least on par with the other top brands, with the addition of some very killer designs. The graphics may not be for everyone, but i think that is somewhat the intent of the company, to stand out from the others. And its nice to be able to talk to someone in person from the U.S. if there are any issues as well.

  • John Morrow

    Umm Sp33dwagon: Icon’s from asia too

  • Zeitgeist


    Fulmer is not sold at any Wal-Mart as far as I know. They are made in Taiwan and have been since 1969 they are also the #2 brand sold in the US with no officially sanctioned online retailing due the same philosophy you shared with being fitted and trying one on to insure proper fit. Not many companies share that anymore and I do not know if Fulmer will or can hold out due the nature of the beast that is the internet.

    The funny thing is Icon and many others listed are all made in Asia including China. To single one out is not really fair. If your in Japan then you know how the helmets they sell there are quite different in construction and feel to what we get here in the US. Even Europe gets a different helmet in construction. This has been based on the standards set in each country which until with recent revising of Snell was very different from what the EU and Japan use as tests.

    Full-disclosure I have been working on a competitive analysis for a helmet company and have spent the last week visiting dealerships and looking at all brands very closely. That being said there is quality to be had at various price points but after a certain threshold in safety is reached you are paying for bells and whistles. DOT is baseline here in US but the ECE standard seems to be more realistic for cyclist until the new Snell rating came out. Snell finally changed its testing for motorcycles in part after being “outed” in a major moto mag here in the states about the focus on profiting from stickers rather than increasing the study of helmet safety. So if you get something that meets any of the certifications higher than DOT you are getting pretty close to the same level of protection. Of course I hope for all the readers here that we never have to find out if those pretty and cool covers for our ugly and not so ugly mugs meet the need we bought them for.

  • John Morrow

    hmmm straight from Icon

    “Even if your helmet has not been damaged, it needs to be replaced every 3 to 5 years depending on how much you use it. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect the liner materials over time. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal “wear and tear” also contribute to helmet degradation. ”

    Arai has a 5 year warranty and doesn’t suffer from using subpar materials which fall apart after a year.

  • I think you’d be hard pressed to find a helmet manufacturer that doesn’t say replace your helmet every 5 years or so.

  • MikeD


    U made my day.

    P.S: I own an ICON Bucket (Alliance SSR)…and YES…sometimes their graphics are a little “overboard” but that’s their thing i guess. Mine’s solid for said reason although i have lusted after some of it’s “graphic-ed” ones.


  • GeddyT

    I have experience with Icon, Arai, Bell, Shoei, and Shark. Here’s my take:

    Icon Mainframe: Total crap. All gimmick, no quality. After one year one of the air vents fell off. Not very high quality materials in the inside, either. Visor was nothing special. Rubberized paint coating was kinda cool, though. I’ve read that Icon’s justification for their loud graphics and hooligan adds is that if they can at least get squids to wear helmets and jackets, that’s better than nothing. I guess I can buy that.

    Bell Star: Best all around helmet I’ve encountered. Awesome visor mechanism, excellent build quality and comfort, great finish quality. Above average airflow. Louder than Shoei or Arai, but quieter than Shark. Pricey, but worth it.

    Arai Corsair: Comfortable and decent all around except for the visor release system that’s right out of 1980. I can’t see spending over $600 on a helmet that requires a toolbox and an hour to get the visor off. There are companies offering $200 lids that have figured this out much better. When I can buy an Arai that doesn’t have cups over the visor pivots, I’ll think about it.

    Shoei X-11 and RF-1000: The X-11 is the second best helmet I’ve ever encountered. Impressive build quality, light, quiet, decent airflow, great finish. Only downside is the one it shares with the lower priced (and great value) RF series: craptastic visors. Bought a tinted visor to replace the stock clear one and it didn’t line up properly and seal to the helmet. Shoei visors are thin and not perfect.

    Shark RSR2: Awesome build quality, awesome comfort (maybe the best), and the best visor in the business (thicker than any other brand, as has a slick removal system). Didn’t get to test its crashworthiness, but if the marketing is to be believed, it’s top notch. Unfortunately, the same crumple zone protection scheme that supposedly makes the helmet safe also makes it the loudest helmet I’ve ever worn. It’s just HUGE. Makes you look like a LEGO man when it’s on and therefore catches a ton of air. Great ventilation, though!

    Summary: I’ve yet to find a perfect helmet. Throw Shark’s visor on a Bell Star that’s as quiet as an Arai and I’d never look elsewhere again. Of all of the helmets I’ve owned, the ICON would be at the bottom of the list.

  • Archer


    Arai’s sold in Japan are, as you say, different from those sold in the USA. The Japanese Arai RX-7 RR5 in size large uses a much smaller shell than the US spec Corsair-V size large, the interior is spec’d at the same exact dimension on both models in size large, but the fit is completely different. So you get a lighter, markedly smaller and quieter Arai helmet in Japan for the equivalent US head size, a markedly different fit for the same size, a Snell rating, and of course the JIS rating (and a FIM sticker inside the chinbar, which isn’t on the USA models).

  • Shannon McCoy

    If you have a giant head like mine and my buddies the shark is the only way to go. I tried the largest of every brand and can’t get them on or have to ram my head into them. I can’t even get an Icon 3xl over the crown of my head. I use a shark XL or 2XL both fit. I love my RSR2 and would never part with it. I have 4 of them now. And you can’t beat the price compared to Shoei and Arai for their MotoGP quality helmets.

  • If you have a $10 head buy a $10 helmet. My first lid was an Arai. I was young and didn’t know much but that my head was worth the best, even if I had to save twice as hard to afford it. The helmet lasted many years. Later I road raced and I learned to properly fit a helmet and now wear one size smaller than I had naturally choosen for myself. I owned and raced in a Shoei, which I was happy with but eventually went back to the top of the line Arai line. I’ve never looked back or was sorry for any of my Arai purchases. Yes they are expensive probably more than they should be but that’s usually what happens with the best of anything. They have numerous shell shapes/models to fit virtually any head, oval, round, spongebob or other.
    If a part piece or whole helmet have an issue Arai will make it right no problem. Huge amount of cheek pad sizes to totally customize your fit. Ask a qualified Arai helmet rep. Like Bruce Porter to help with properly size and fit just for you. You never regret it. They have consistanly been the most comfortable and most protective of all helmets regardless of graphics. It may just be me but I don’t recall ever seeing an Icon or Fulmer on the MotoGp starting grid.