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Should You Invest in Riddell’s Flagship Helmet? A Comprehensive Riddell SpeedFlex Review

Riddell Speedflex Review Featured Image

Founded in 1929, Riddell has built its name to be one of the leading manufacturers of football equipment. With their constant use of innovation to improve their football helmets, Riddell is a recognized leader in helmet technology.

Their 5-Star Virginia Tech rated helmet, the Riddell SpeedFlex is taking the football world by storm. More and more varsity and professional players are switching to this helmet that offers maximum protection and enhanced comfortability.

In this article, we give you a full Riddell SpeedFlex review so you can determine if its right to invest in this football helmet for your football career.

Overview of the Riddell SpeedFlex

The Riddell SpeedFlex is the Tom Brady of the NFL – solid, reliable, and really, really good at its job. In fact, since its launching last 2014, the Riddell SpeedFlex has been one of the most popular helmets on the market.

Designed with players’ needs and wants in mind, the SpeedFlex was created after extensive research, which included a 2 million data point of on-field impacts.

The result? A helmet that introduces several industry-leading features that combine peak athletic performance with top-of-the-line safety components.

PROS

  • Ranked 8th overall in safety and protection by the Virginia Tech STAR rating system, with an overall 5-star rating.
  • Durable polycarbonate shell fortifies your head against collisions.
  • Has an ergonomic fit with an aesthetic.
  • Improved helmet stability thanks The Flexliner.
  • Ratchet-Loc chinstrap attachment system allows for easy adjustments in the heat of play.

CONS

  • Ability to reduce concussions is still debated.
  • Lacks some features of newer helmets.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Helmet

The gridiron is a high-impact place, where collisions are likely to occur on almost every single play. Helmets help mitigate the impact of blows to the head, as a result, they reduce the risk of concussions or other potential damage to the teeth, jaw, or brain.

This means that everyone who plays football should do some thorough research on the best helmet that meets their specific needs and preferences. With that, here are the top three factors to consider before buying a helmet:

#1 Safety

Safety is, of course, of utmost importance when considering which helmet to purchase. It should be made with high-quality, durable materials such as polycarbonate for its shell. Inner paddings and cushions should also be considered whether it will distribute the energy and impact from blows you receive on the field.

#2 Performance

Equally important is a helmet that will enhance your performance. You wouldn’t want to wear protective gear on your head that will limit your vision and distract you from playing because of the moisture and weight. Getting a helmet that’s light and maximizes your movement should be one of your top considerations.
The Riddell SpeedFlex is specifically created for Adult/Pro/Varsity players, therefore is not recommended for Youth players or players weighing under 100 pounds. The weight of the helmet (3.3 pounds) will prove too heavy and arduous on the neck for these players.

#3 Fit

Lastly, your helmet should fit comfortably. Besides feeling comfortable and weightless on your head, it should give you a locked-in feeling that secures it in place. This will allow you to make plays on the ball without feeling encumbered by the doubt of the security of your helmet.

Features and Benefits of the Riddell SpeedFlex

PATENTED SIDE IMPACT PROTECTION (PSIP)

Riddell’s Patented Side Impact Protection (PSIP) is a research-based mandible protection that minimizes the force of impacts from the side.

Part of this technology features side shell extensions combined with side liner extensions, which help reduce linear and rotational acceleration, or “snapping” of the neck that is commonly involved in concussion-inducing hits.

The PSIP is important because many collisions from the side are typically blindside hits, where the player does not see the hit coming, and therefore cannot brace for impact. They are usually more impactful and damaging than on-coming collisions, so the added protection and support in the mandible and temporal regions not only keeps you safe, but also enables you to play to your fullest capabilities, without worrying about taking irreparable damage.

Thanks to the PSIP, receivers can now run worry-free over the middle!

Valve Locks

A small but important feature, valve locks on the inside of the helmet keep the air liner and valve stem locked in place on the inside of the shell.

This is crucial for keeping the protective liner on the inside of the helmet in place, and for adding additional liners and customizing the helmet to achieve the best fit.

Simply use a flat head screwdriver to loosen the valve locks, and install or remove protective cushioning as needed.

Comfort

Thanks to Riddell’s patented FlexLiner, the SpeedFlex is one of the most comfortable helmets to wear.

Top-quality lining on the inside of the helmet improves helmet stability and provides additional comfort. Simultaneously, the occipital air liner at the front adds a new fitting element that protects and cradles the occipital lobe – a feature no other helmet has!

riddell_speedflex_inside_padding

Moreover, the SpeedFlex has been engineered with fit in mind. For instance, the helmet has five inflation locations so you can pump the helmet to conform to various head sizes for the most optimal and secure fit.

What’s more, the SpeedFlex features Riddell’s Ratchet-Loc chin strap attachment enables quick adjustments to the chin strap without having to remove and re-fasten. This comes in handy if you need to make an adjustment during the heat of the game.

Quick Release Hardware

Built into the Riddell Speedflex is a Quick Release system that disengages the facemask from the helmet with the simple press of a button.

This gives the Riddell SpeedFlex an advantage in customization, as wearers can easily detach and re-attach a facemask of their choosing.

What’s more, the SpeedFlex is compatible with several varieties of facemask styles. In fact, over 28 facemasks from the Riddell family of facemasks are compatible with the SpeedFlex.

These include the weightless 2F-2EG-TX and S2EG-TX-HS4 facemasks, the durable SF-2BD-SW, SF-2EG-SW and S2B-HS4, and the carbon-made SF-3BD and S2BD-HS4 which can last the entire season.

Moreover, the Quick Change Liner Attachment System offers further customization with the ability to remove padding and insert your preferred cushioning with screw-in caps.

To top it all off, the customization is available with the simple press of a button or screw of a cap.

Flex System

Built into the shell, facemask, and clip of the helmet is Riddell’s innovative Flex System, which engineers “give” into the helmet, so it recoils with the player’s head when taking impact from a hit.

This flexibility built into the helmet significantly reduces the impact force transfer to a player’s head.

The Flex System is just another integral component of the innovation built into the SpeedFlex for peak athletic performance and protection.

Redesigned Liner System

The next-generation Composite Energy Management padding system helps absorb impact and allows the pads on the inside of the helmet to retain their position and durability.

This means that the Riddell SpeedFlex will grant you state-of-the-art protection throughout the course of many seasons.

Moreover, the Tru-Curve Liner System offers additional comfort and a better fit, as the liner conforms to the player’s head and contours around the helmet’s shell.

With the Occipital Lock, inflatable liners cradle the occipital lobe to further reduce impact and increase player safety.

All of these features of the redesigned liner system come together to create one of the most comfortable, best-fitting, and secure helmets on the market.

High Safety Ratings: 5-star helmet by The Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings

The Riddell SpeedFlex is one of the 15 football helmets that earned 5-stars from the reclaimed Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings, a test of helmets in a laboratory environment intended to measure the effectiveness of helmets in reducing the risk of concussions.[1]

VA Tech evaluated the SpeedFlex by performing 120 impact tests at multiple locations of the helmet.

The STAR value is an estimate of the number of concussions a player might experience over the course of the season. The lower the value, the better the helmet is at reducing the risk of concussion.

The 2019 version of the Riddell SpeedFlex also ranked highly under the NFLPA’s laboratory testing, coming in at 8th best helmet overall. [2]

Thanks to the PSIP and side impact reducing features, along with the redesigned interior padding, the SpeedFlex was awarded a 4.49 STAR rating.

What Buyers are Saying About the Riddell SpeefFlex

Here are some online reviews for the Riddell SpeedFlex:

“Outstanding helmet that is easy to take off and on”

“Amazing customization”

“Perfect for anyone who plays a skill position”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Inflating the SpeedFlex Riddell incorporates the use of a Riddell inflation valve and a well-lubricated Riddell inflation needle. The Riddell inflation needle is shorter than a standard inflation needle, which will prevent damage to the liners.

Lubricate the inflation needle with glycerin, then insert the needle into the valve, making sure not to puncture the opposite wall of the crown liner.

Inflate the crown liner until the front of the helmet is approximately one inch above the brow of the head.

There is also an adjustable backside liner and an occipital cradle which can be inflated in the same way.

The Riddell SpeedFlex is legitimately safer than many other, lower-ranking helmets on the VA Tech Helmet list, but no helmet manufacturer nowadays will say that their helmets are completely safe from concussions.

That is because no two concussions are alike, and there are several extraneous factors that can increase the risk of concussions: the weight of the impact, whether the player sleep well enough the night before or is adequately hydrated, etc.

What’s more, the SpeedFlex is certified to meet the NOCSAE® standard, an independent body that sets the standards for athletic safety through scientific research.

Overall, there is substantial data which shows that linear and rotational accelerations of the head during an impact are highly correlated with concussions, and the SpeedFlex is specifically designed to reduce and mitigate the force of both of these accelerations.

Extensive research does show that helmet design does play a factor in player safety, but whether the SpeedFlex can ostensibly be said to completely reduce concussions is still to be determined.

Rather, what seems to be the trend seems to be shifting towards a framework of understanding the cause of concussions and correctly diagnosing symptoms, in which helmet designs play a small role in an overall holistic approach.

Final Words

The Riddell SpeedFlex is an all-position, top-of-the-line helmet that helps mitigate the risk of concussion while enabling the athlete to perform at their fullest capabilities.

Add to that an aesthetic, iconic look with an affordable price, you have the perfect go-to helmet to solve all your footballing needs. Kind of like Jason Witten on 3rd down!

If interested, check out more details on the Riddell SpeedFlex here.

4.5/5


Liked what you just read?  Check out this article for our list of the 10 best football cleats. Also see our  Riddell vs Schutt review.

Resources

1. VA Football Helmet Ratings. Retrieved from https://www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/varsity-football-helmet-ratings.html

2. 2019 Helmet Laboratory Testing Performance Results. Retrieved from https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/NFLPA/NFL_HelmetPoster_031419_ALL.PDF

3. 2019 Helmet Laboratory Testing Performance Results. Retrieved from https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/NFLPA/NFL_HelmetPoster_031419_ALL.PDF

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