This picture of a crash-damaged Quantum is off the Arai website; the rider took out a street sign with his head. He doesn't remember much of that day, but he suffered no permanent injuries. I'm guessing he's a lifetime Arai customer!
I read this question on BARF, and thought my reply would be useful to post for the fans of my Blog, in case there are any.
Given the economy right now, I'm watching every dollar I spend (working for a startup right now is a bit hairy...). That being said, I'm debating if I should buy a new helmet or if a pre-owned (never crashed, good condition) helmet is worth it. I'm a bit hesitant to buy a used one, but given how much money you can save, it'd seems stupid to not consider it. Anyone have good or bad experiences buying used?
Most of the other BARF posters hated the idea of buying a used helmet to the point of silliness. The poster wasn't asking if he should buy a fucked-up, shitty, smelly, dipped-in-pigshit helmet, but about buying used in general.
First off, is the helmet clean and well-maintained? If it looks and smells clean, what's the problem? Nobody ever died from cooties. I wasn't even worried about them in 6th grade.
Second, look for signs of obvious damage. If there are any bad scratches or scuffs on the shell, (other than little nicks from rock chips or rub marks from hanging on a bike or just being bounced around in a closet), you should probably pass. BUT: blows to a helmet, even severe ones, sometimes don't show up on the shell, as the quality of paint and shell are so good from companies like Shoei and Arai. So remove or gently pull back the comfort liner (one reason not to buy a helmet with a non-removable liner) and look for signs of compression in the EPS lining. And if the helmet has been painted or "customized" in ANY way, pass! Just like customized sportbikes, a likely reason for painting a helmet is to cover crash damage.
Finally, look at the manufacture date. Some helmets have it embossed on the safety strap, others have a sticker in the shell somewhere. If it's more than 5 years old, it really is worthless, and not a good deal at any price, unless you know for a fact it spent some portion of that time in a sealed box in a climate-controlled warehouse.
But many posts brought up a good point: with so many excellent $100 (and less) helmets on the market, why bother buying used?