The Ruroc Problem

Ruroc has recently whipped themselves into a frenzy doing damage control trying to prove that their helmets…well…don’t suck.

Look, I don’t own a Ruroc helmet, so I can’t comment first hand on their helmets. Nor do I plan on ever owning one, because I think they suck. I mean, if all it takes is a few scathing memes and some critical YouTube videos for Ruroc to go into full damage control mode with a barrage of Instagram posts, paid ads, an email campaign, and putting pressure on their paid influencer shills to totally torpedo any integrity they had left, and double down on the “Ruroc is great” narrative with blatantly transparent content, there just might be some validity to the critique.

All it took was some fine artisanal memes to get Ruroc to spin into full damage control mode.

Damage control aside, the problem I have with Ruroc helmets, and why I think they probably do suck, and are absolutely deserving of all the flack they are getting, is simply a matter of quality control, or more accurately, the apparent lack thereof.

To have widely reported quality control issues, despite a premium $450-500+ price, is absurd. It would be unacceptable, and rightfully embarrassing, for Bell, Shoei, HJC, or other helmet brands to have such obvious quality control issues with their helmets. But they don’t have those problems. Why is that? It’s pretty simple. They invest more in R&D, design, and testing than they do in flashy marketing, paying social media influencers, and crafting a “brand.”

I think good marketing is crucial. I’ve worked in powersports marketing as my day job for years, so I totally get the need for killer marketing. An amazing product will only get you so far with customers, and good marketing will get you the rest of the way. The important distinction is that good marketing shouldn’t come at the expense of having an amazing product, and that’s doubly important when that product is meant to save lives.

Also, don’t give me that “but Ruroc is new to making helmets” crap, either. The Ruroc fans need to stop giving the company a pass because they’re “new” to the scene. Ruroc has been making helmets for as long as Icon (both started around 2007), and Scorpion (first released around 2003) only has a few years lead. If making helmets is their business, and they’ve been at this business for a decade, they should have it sorted out by now.

The biggest issue for me is that if these issues with quality control cross over to the features and construction that actually make the helmet safe, then we have a serious problem. To produce a helmet that is unquestionably safe and performs well under pressure requires an unwavering dedication to consistent quality control. If Ruroc lacks the attention to detail to ensure that basic fit and finish are on point, it’s probable that their helmets are not manufactured in a manner that makes them consistently safe, either. To give credit where credit is due, they do submit them for independent testing, and they bear the requisite DOT and ECE homologation. But at the end of the day (outside of memes) consistency is Ruroc’s greatest enemy. The track record just isn’t there, and the overarching quality control concerns remain.

To top it off, Fortnine has proven that gimmicky chin strap buckle systems, like the Fidlock employed by Ruroc in their helmets, while convenient, are inferior to the classic d-ring buckle. Yikes.

Look, I’m not saying that Ruroc’s helmets aren’t safe, but I’m also not not saying that. They’re probably perfectly fine, but I think there are other options.

So what are you supposed to do if you happen to have an extra $450 in your bank account and want a helmet that looks badass, but doesn’t suck?

Fortunately, there’s more than a handful of options available from much more competent and trustworthy helmet manufacturers.

Icon

Icon’s helmet designs run the gamut from fairly subtle to wild and ostentatious. If you demand edgy graphics on your helmet, Icon has you covered. They easily have the best art and design department in the industry and are the O.G.s of serving up wild helmet graphics. Icon even packs MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) into a handful of their helmets, for some next-level, cutting-edge safety. They’re affordable, too; with the exception of their Airframe Pro Carbon, all of their helmets come in at $450 or less. This will leave you with a chunk of money in your pocket so you can buy some Bitcoin, outfit your new Icon helmet with some accessories, buy some other gear, or pick up some fresh tires for your motorcycle, or even buy a second helmet as a backup.

Simpson

For all intents and purposes, Simpson basically invented badass looking helmets. Sported by the Stig and Dyna bros alike, their aggressive automotive-derived Ghost, Outlaw, M50, Speed, and Mod helmets are absolutely legendary. Simpson doesn’t offer any flash, flair, or graphics outside of their tastefully stripped-down aggressive style. It could (should) be argued that Ruroc’s helmets wouldn’t even exist without the trail that Simpson blazed. Frankly, no one does it better than Simpson.

Bell

It’s hard to find a helmet manufacturer more storied and well-respected than Bell. Heck, they essentially invented the full-face motorcycle helmet. Their Eliminator takes that DNA and remixes it with some modern touches. Outside of it’s dual pane ProVision face shield, it’s not packed with features by any means, but that’s a clearly deliberate decision on Bell’s part. It’s light, comfortable, and looks great. The Bullitt is a great stylish option if you want a more classic look. It has a few drawbacks of its own, but there are few helmets on the market with fit and finish like the Bullitt. The MX-9 Adventure MIPS Helmet also has a pretty edgy modern look, and with MIPS technology, its safety and quality is unquestionable.

Biltwell

The Lanesplitter is clearly a chip off the Simpson block. Like the Bell Eliminator, there’s no junk and no gimmicks to be found in the Lanesplitter. There’s also no carbon fiber or other fancy materials. What you will find, though, is a meticulous attention to detail, hand-painted finishes, and a price tag that’ll let you basically put two helmets on your gear rack for the price of a single Ruroc.

Scorpion

The EXO-HX1 and EXO-AT950 both sport modern aggressive styling. Scorpion is well-known for packing a bevy of features into their helmets, and offering pretty unmatched bang for the buck. Like with the Biltwell Lanesplitter, you can put a pair of EXO-HX1 helmets on your shelf for less than the cost of a Ruroc. Scorpion’s attention to detail and robust build quality trickles down from their experience in crafting their flagship FIM approved MotoGP-ready EXO-R1 Air helmets (which, incidentally, are also priced lower than Ruroc’s Atlas helmets, so if you’re willing to sacrifice some style, you can get a legit GP-ready helmet instead), and make these a good choice.

HJC

There’s not a ton of style to be found among HJC helmets, but they do offer some great graphics and licensed designs with the likes of Marvel, Aliens, DC, and others on their helmets. HJC’s bang for the buck is legendary, and their helmets typically punch well above their weight class. They actually have more GP-ready FIM approved helmets than any other manufacturer, so their safety and commitment to quality is second-to-none.

So ditch the Ruroc and pick up a helmet that’s actually awesome, and guaranteed to hold up to the rigors of the road.

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