My five-year-old HJC helmet was showing some wear — rock chips in the paint, some small tears in the liner. It’s still sound, I’m sure, but a number of sources recommend that helmets be replaced every 4 or 5 years. It’s not just because of expected wear-and-tear; the DOT and Snell safety standards are periodically revised.
I’d lusted after Arai helmets for several years, and this year I decided to give myself an early birthday present. Some reviewers describe the Arai Vector 2 helmet as an “entry level” helmet — that just means that it isn’t designed to be used as a race helmet. The ~$450 price hardly qualifies as “entry level” in my book (or wallet). I rationalized it by dividing the price by its expected 5-year lifespan. Of course, there are the “how much is your brain worth?” arguments. And I’ll admit that the hi-viz yellow paint appealed to my desire to be visible (for miles). At last — a helmet that matches my DayGlo jacket. By the way, the selection, price, and service at Helmet City are great.
Handling the HJC’s strap and vents had long since become an unconscious set of actions; now I have to fumble a bit to buckle up. It’s a snug (but not overly tight) fit. Wind noise is considerably less than in the old HJC, and the Arai is much more aerodynamic; buffeting on windy rides is substantially reduced. I haven’t even tried using the earplugs yet.
That’s the good news.