Professor Paddle: carbon fiber vs plastic helmets
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mokelumnekid
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  Quote mokelumnekid Replybullet Topic: carbon fiber vs plastic helmets
    Posted: 10 Jul 2012 at 11:26pm
Someone I respect recently told me that in his experience, taking those head-bumps in a carbon fiber helmet was noticeably less of a thump than a plastic helmet. I think he has the Sweet Rocker (not the full face).

Be interested in other's experiences or opinions. I've only had plastic helmets (WRSI regular and a SR full face).

Thanks,

George B.
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Sam_Graftton
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  Quote Sam_Graftton Replybullet Posted: 10 Jul 2012 at 11:38pm
Sweet is changing there helmets to incorporate a Thermoplastic Composite. From what I heard there finding it to be stronger with this design.

Check it out http://www.sweetprotection.com/

Edited by Sam_Graftton - 10 Jul 2012 at 11:45pm
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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 9:56am
I've heard both sides, Some say carbon helmets are better, some say plastic flexes more and absorbs more impact.  I don't think there are any peer reviewed journal articles on this subject, but I'd like to see some real data and not just anecdotal on this subject.
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nelsonwoods
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  Quote nelsonwoods Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2012 at 7:48pm
well i have a shred ready full face, my last trip to rapid river, i had a good roll and whacked my head real hard on about 37 different rocks(exageration), when i finally got to the take out, i was seeing stars, dizy, and ready to vomit. im not sure what the helmet is made of, but pretty sure its not carbon fiber, definately looking at the possibility of upgrading. not saying the shred ready is a bad helmet, sayin it might not have the best padding siutation.
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Mr.Grinch
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  Quote Mr.Grinch Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 5:43pm
Charles explained to me one day at Aqua Sports that plastic degrades over time, while a painted (UV protection) CF helmet could last a lifetime due to negligible degradation. Made sense to me. In Cali I worked for a company making bass and guitar necks from carbon fiber. We used a clear finish with UV inhibitors. I got into the CF thing a bit while there and spent some time picking the brains of the engineers who worked at the company tha supplied our raw material. Fun note, we used the same raw stock that was being used by GM for the more extreme Corvettes. Blah blah blah.....anyway, carbon is superior, though more costly for sure. The crossweave will not shatter like plastic, reducing puncture depth.

Something to consider that is as important as the shell is the foam between the shell and yer dome. I used a skateboarding helmet in WW for almost three years and it did fine. The foam lining wasn't meant to be wet a lot, but Pro-Tec did a fine job without knowing it. That helmet paid for itself many times both on boards and in boats.

When considering plastic, though, UV exposure combined with continuous hardening does lead to potential problems over time. Not to say that some binding agents (resin in CF and fiber glass) don't cure more over time, but that is why certain chemicals are chosen for certain applications, and why very strict tolerances are applied to the resin/media ratio. UV seems to be the worst thing for CF, and why we don't see much exposed weave on helmets. At Modulus (the company in Cali), we still reccomended that our instruments not see a great deal of direct sunlight because the inhibitors didn't block everything, just most of it by far. Didn't WRSI have a helmet with a clear coat over carbon weave? Probably the same deal. Probably the same deal to meet warranty requirements for automotive body panels (if they can be bought unfinished).

Sorry, sometimes I type too much.....
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KBfree
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  Quote KBfree Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 5:43pm
First off..  this is a personal preference question so the responses might be all over the place. 
I've taken a few shots with a carbon / kevlar helmet and give the materials a ton of credit.  I am a materials engineer so I won't get into the technical stuff too much, but there are many reasons why I chose a carbon / kevlar helmet.  After deciding on what I feel are the best materials, I chose my helmet based on the coverage around the brow.  And although there is no Snell rating for Whitewate helmets, Head Trips is also sold as a motorcycle helmet.  I think the biggest piece of information you can get here is.....choose a helmet that makes you feel safe.  I currently have 5 helmets... because I kept trying different ones until I found one I liked.  This is a very personal item, and I need to feel that it's going to protect me.
 
One example is my WRSI helmet.  I liked the safety and fit, but I felt exposed in the temple and brow.  My kevlar Shred Ready also fits well, but it feels flimsy compared the Head Trips.  I've tested all types of materials at work, and as soon as I put my current helmet in my hands, I could feel how sturdy it was.  Again.. this is a personal thing. 
 
Money aside, Carbon / kevlar wins in my book. 
 
 
**I just looked... they are not DOT approved, but are used for motorcycles.  I use the daffy.


Edited by KBfree - 12 Jul 2012 at 5:45pm
Kirk B
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Courtney
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  Quote Courtney Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2012 at 6:45pm
Originally posted by Mr.Grinch

I used a skateboarding helmet in WW for almost three years and it did fine. The foam lining wasn't meant to be wet a lot, but Pro-Tec did a fine job without knowing it. That helmet paid for itself many times both on boards and in boats.


When I started paddling Protec was one of the few helmet choices.

Jimmy
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