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Bargain Snell Helmets Explained: Be Wary of These Brain-Bucket Deals

Buying a Snell-rated helmet at a bargain price might not be the deal you think it is. Find out what you should know before buying one.

Snell Helmet black
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It happens all the time; shops everywhere offer deals on past Snell-rated models to make room for updated versions. These deals may seem too good to be true. And they are. We suggest doing some research before snagging what at first glance looks like a great deal.

What Is a Snell Helmet?

Snell isn’t a helmet maker, but they do their best to keep your noggin safe. Snell, or the Snell Foundation, was started in 1957. It is named after Pete Snell, whose racing helmet failed to protect him in a racing crash. The foundation’s purpose is to test and rate motorsports helmets in order to create a high safety standard trusted around the globe.

Snell rates helmets on a 5-year interval. As of this writing, the current standard is a Snell SA2020. The previous standard was SA2015, and SA2010 before that. The more technology and safety are thrown into these helmets, the more incremental the improvements get. But they do have a shelf life in the eyes of race tracks, race series, and event holders around the world.

Higher forms of motorsport have even stricter rules on being up to date with the newest standards.

bargain Snell Helmets Explained helmet resting in race seat inside race car

Snell Motorsports Helmets Have a Shelf Life

Race series drivers in professional series like NASCAR, Formula 1, and Formula Drift can afford the newest helmets. But many grassroots series, like some local track events, often allow a 10-year interval.

So after 2025, the Snell SA2015 should be retired at all events. Maybe some track or event will let you “get by,” but do you really want to run with a group that skimps on safety?

Snell SA2010 helmet close-up of rating

Old Snell Helmets

What happens to expired Snell helmets? Well, they’re sold at a steep discount.

Like many things, including bargain Snell helmets, you get what you pay for. You can purchase something for $200 or for a few thousand or more. Either way, saving 25-30% is a good deal, right? Not in the case of motorsport helmets.

Let’s say there is an older Snell-certified motorsports helmet you really like with an MSRP of $500 that’s selling for $350. A $150 savings seems pretty sweet. The issue is you’re giving up usable life with that helmet. That discounted helmet doesn’t look like such a bargain anymore. The same $500 helmet with the latest Snell certification will last you longer. In the end, you’ll save money by not having to buy another helmet once that one’s expired. And, of course, you should add the value of your noggin.

Do Bargain Snell Helmets Make Sense?

There are plenty of reasons why a less expensive helmet today that only lasts you five years on the track might make sense. All we are hoping to do is show how amazing the deal on helmets is before Black Friday, and the holidays might not be so great. In the end, you decide what works for you. No matter if you snag a new helmet or not, we hope to see you on the track soon.

Find great deals on new and old model Snell Certified Motorsports Helmets here.

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