Motorcycle helmets standards, plain and simple...
In the United States, there have generally been two well known
motorcycle helmets standards that are relevant for bike helmets. The
FMVSS 218 or as everyone knows it, the DOT standard is the
mandatory U.S. government standard that all
motorcycle helmets must meet to be legal for sale and for road
DOT standard was first issued in 1974 and was updated in
1980 and again in 1988. There is currently a great deal of work
being carried out by the DOT in preparation for another update in
the near future.
The second standard is issued by the Snell Memorial Foundation, a private
organization that issues its own motorcycle helmet standard. The
Snell certification has a great reputation, and is supported by
many of the top motorcycle helmet manufacturers. Snell testing is
more stringent than the DOT tests, but is purely voluntary on the
part of the manufacturers.
A third helmet standard is in existence from the Economic Community of Europe
(ECE), and this standard is actually the most commonly used
internationally. The ECE 22.05 is required by over 50
countries worldwide. While helmet standards all have
one thing in common, (that is making sure your helmet does what
it is supposed to!), some performance requirements can conflict
between different country standards. A major benefit for all you
riders in the US is that the ECE 22.05 standard does not
conflict with the DOT standard. Testing shows that ECE qualified
helmets will also meet the demands of the DOT standard.
Actually, because the ECE standard asks for impact testing at
higher velocities than the DOT standard, not all DOT
certified motorcycle helmets will pass the ECE standards! So you
could say that the ECE certified helmets are in fact safer in
some ways than the DOT motorcycle helmets.
In fact, studies have shown that something like 95% of
all accidents involving motorcycles occur at speeds below the
velocities for impact testing in the ECE and the DOT standards.
So both standards are very good and an ECE or DOT approved
helmets will give you some excellent protection.
One advantage that the ECE 22.05 standard has is
the mandatory batch testing of helmets before they are released
to the riding public. This means that quality of the motorcycle
helmets that meet the ECE 22.05 standard is assured by a
mandatory sample testing of every production of
helmets before they leave the factory.
When testing is performed, the motorcycle helmet
manaufacturer and a representative from an authorised audit
company (such as TUV in Germany) will be present to witness the
testing. This is called "witness testing". If the motorcycle
helmet fails the tests , its back to the drawing board !
The DOT standard is basically manufacturer
self-certification. The manufacturer will conduct the required
tests in his lab and if the motorcycle helmets pass, they are
considered compliant, until the DOT/NHTSA receives
information (usually complaints) which result in the motorcycle
helmets being recalled from the market.
It is impossible to design one motorcycle helmet that
can provide the maximum protection in all types of crashes. No
motorcycle helmet is going to protect the wearer against all
foreseeable (and sometimes unforseeable) impacts. However, by
choosing a helmet that meets a high performance standard such as
ECE 22.05, DOT or Snell, you can at least give yourself the
maximum level of protection
certified to the ECE 22.05 standard are approved for competition
events by AMA, CCS, FIM, Formula-USA and WERA and are chosen by
nearly every professional motorcycle racers competing in world
championship road racing, motocross and off road events,
including the ultimate sport of Moto GP. Helmets that are
certified to both DOT and ECE 22.05 offer the highest level of
realistic protection .
If you want more information on the ECE standard, the U.N. ECE website has a
full copy of the ECE 22.05 standard in .pdf
Dont forget; it has been proven through many hours of rigorous
testing on mostly unwilling volunteers that HELMETS DON'T WORK
UNLESS YOU WEAR THEM!
Here are my top two choices for buying motorcycle elmets online. The standard that the helmets meet are clearly marked, so you dont have to be concerned about getting something you weren't expecting from these online stores.
,Number two (but only just!)
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Copyright Motorcycle parts accessories and
more, Michael Holmes 2004