Jump to content
i28

An introduction to helmet safety ratings

Recommended Posts

i28
Part of the issue with helmets is how you determine what is "safe." Especially since lab conditions for a test may be much more different than the real world results.
 
 
These are the main three standards for helmet safety: DOT (America), Snell, and the ECE 22.05 (European). 
 
DOT seems like the minimum type of protection.
 
Snell is a little more rigorous than DOT but it has been debated if it's actually safer. link here to some of the controversy
To be fair, the Snell standards were updated in 2010 (from the 2005 version) to fix some of the earlier criticisms.
 
ECE is the strongest of the three helmet ratings. This is my "good enough" category for a helmet.
 
 
Link to some of the details for the three different tests: here 
 
 
 
As I said, one of the problems with helmets is that they may perform differently in the real world than in the lab. A resource I used to buy a helmet was the UK's SHARP helmet ratings (which are just more tests beyond the ECE requirement) and the ratings are based on the results of the tests. Even the Sharp rating has some controversy though. Here's an article that describes an academics research on the ratings.
 
 
So the issue is about what you think is "safe enough". All helmets need to pass the minimum requirement for safety (the DOT requirement). ECE helmets will perform better but it's hard to say if one ECE helmet will perform better than another.
Also, the type of accident may affect performance too. One ECE helmet may perform better than another in a certain type of accident but worse in another type.
 
If you are basing helmet safety just on the SHARP ratings alone, then there are tons of lower-priced helmets that are rated better than some of the more expensive helmets. So a good place to start is by finding a proper fitting helmet.
 
 
 
Tips for purchasing a good helmet:
1. Make sure it fits perfectly
2. Try and get a helmet that is ECE certified
3. Consider the SHARP ratings (once again, lab results may vary from real-world results)
 
 
I realize that I'm keeping this simple and skipping some more details and even the Australian ratings. You guys are welcome to add to the convo.
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beemer
I like this thread and I have to ask the question, are all helmets ECE tested? I wonder if some helmets aren't ECE rated simply because they weren't ECE tested. Any knowledge of that?
 
Update: I found this interesting article that kinda goes hand in hand with what you said. Here's a few lines copied from it: "There have been several studies of motorcycle crashes over the last 25 years that have attempted to evaluate any protective advantage or disadvantage of helmets meeting one standard or another (Hurt, 1981; tte, 1991).
 
 
 
No advantage has ever been shown in these field studies for any particular standard, so the helmet industry and individual riders are left comparing theoretical pros and cons of the various standards."
 
 
That came from: http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-helmets/ece-22-05.htm
 
Like they said, additional coverage has always been found to provide additional protection so ECE for me for now on.
 
 
 

Beemer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CapnKirk
I used to be a big believer in Snell. If it wasn't Snell rated, I would not buy it.
 
I now feel perfectly fine wearing a DOT approved helmet based on my own research. As you pointed out, there is much debate about which is better in the real world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i28
I like this thread and I have to ask the question, are all helmets ECE tested? I wonder if some helmets aren't ECE rated simply because they weren't ECE tested. Any knowledge of that?
Yes. In America, to sell a helmet, you only need it to be DOT rated. The ECE standards, similarly, are required only for the countries that enforce it (not required in the US). So if you want to cell a certain helmet in America, you don't have to submit it for ECE testing.  It is possible that a helmet can pass the DOT standards and fail the ECE standards and the manufacturer still decides to keep the helmet and sell it in America only.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bmwpowere36m3
Didn't see this thread, before posting in a similar one.. I pretty much agree with @i2837856393 on his points.
 
My take:
 
[HASH]1 Wearing a helmet
[HASH]2 Properly sized helmet
[HASH]3 Comfortable helmet which goes to [HASH]1 & [HASH]2, because you won't if it ain't
[HASH]4 Meets at least 1 of the three ratings
 
Realize that no helmet is perfect and cannot prevent every injury (like seat belts), but statically they help... sometimes it just not enough. So just as important as helmet is, riding defensively and practicing emergency maneuvers are too.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mjh937
There is now a 2015 Snell standard. I am not sure how it complies to the 2010, but it has been recently updated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pineappleunderthesea
Some newer helmets seem to have a sort of flexible impact liner to take into account the different kind of crashes that can cause concussions (I think it's called rotational acceleration where the head turns quickly and the brain starts shearing around). I think the Bell race star is one of those helmets that can absorb that rotational force, it has different density foam and a sort of movable liner), but I need to do more research since I have no clue if any of the standards take this type of impact into account.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cruizin
Good thread. We discussed this topic in great length a year or so ago but I cant find the thread now.
 
I like Bell helmets personally. They score really high on alot of the "Sharp" tests. What I like about the sharp tests is that the testers quietly go buy each helmet at the store, instead of letting companies submit helmets. This helps keep the results fair and balanced.
 
Here is a link to the Revzilla Gear guide page, and on it is a video on 2016 helmets that is worth watching http://bit.ly/2aUdVmn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pineappleunderthesea
Here is a link that explains rotational injuries and MIPS testing. Looks like Bell might have bought some MIPS patents, so unsure if the research is biased, but worth a read to understand what they're talking about:  linky link
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.