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Types of motorcycle helmet certifications – an overview of ECE, DOT, Snell, SHARP and FIM

Helmet certification, what do we know about it? If you ask ordinary people, the answers will be something like this:

– This is what confirms the safety level of the helmet.
– Certification will tell you what kind of loads my helmet can withstand.
– The certification defines where and how I can use my helmet.

The label on the helmet tells you which safety standard it meets – DOT, Snell, SHARP or ECE 22.05 / ECE 22.06? At the same time, the helmet can simultaneously meet several standards, which is definitely in the hands of the owner.

There is an opinion that the cost of a helmet depends on what certification it has. Is it so?

What is FIM certification and is it true that it can appear on regular motorcycle helmets?


Briefly comparing the most common certifications, they all examine impact resistance, abrasion, fit of the helmet on the head, reliability of fasteners, elongation of belts and their strength, visibility and:

  • Penetration Test – DOT and Snell
  • Chemical Resistance Test – Snell and ECE R22.05
  • Helmet Removal Ease – Snell & ECE R22-05
  • Chinbone Testing – Snell and ECE R22-05

It is believed that with an impact force of 200-250G, a person suffers severe craniocerebral injuries, but in which it is possible to survive. With an impact force of 300-350G, they speak of critical wounds that leave no chance of survival. All certifications cover the 300-400G range that the helmet must withstand.

The examination takes into account possible changes at high and low temperatures, therefore, during the tests, the helmet is examined under different conditions.

In America, the most common certifications are DOT and Snell. In European countries, ECE R22.05 is used, which is recognized by 47 countries. At the same time, DOT does not contradict the ECE R22.05 standard. Often, helmets supplied to Europe from America have two certifications so as not to violate safety laws.

ECE 22.05 / ECE 22.06

In the previous article, we took a closer look at the specifics of this certification and its upcoming update. Currently ECE 22.05 / ECE 22.06 is the most complete testing system. She combines many techniques from other ratings, which brings her to the top among others.

An important point is the fact that helmets receive certification before going to market, which means that when buying a helmet with an ECE 22.05 tag, you can be sure that the helmet has already passed all the necessary examinations.


The American road safety standard dates back to 1985. This is a Department of Transportation standard that is overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Manufacturers tell regulatory authorities that their helmet meets the DOT standard. If during the test purchase and the subsequent test it turns out that a certain helmet does not pass according to the indicators, then the manufacturer will face large fines and product recall. That is, if the European standard tests helmets before release, then DOT are the standards that manufacturers follow in the first place. Naturally, if a defective helmet is found in a batch of any manufacturer, the same helmet from this batch may already be sold. That’s what’s intimidating about this certification for buyers.

Test information is publicly available on the website of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which publishes its test reports.

Fear should only be for those whose helmet, besides DOT, has no other certification, and the manufacturer has not yet earned an honest name.

The helmet is tested for impact protection by falling from a given point almost two meters high onto a circular anvil and then onto a flat anvil. The force of the impact is recorded by sensors. It is assessed how tightly the helmet sits after the collision. DOT advocates believe that impact absorption and energy dissipation is more important than impact resistance. There is sound logic in this.

Additionally, there is a penetration test, when the helmet is literally pierced.


The Snell Memorial Foundation (SMF), a private nonprofit organization, has developed its own security standards. Snell certification is optional, voluntary, but internationally recognized. It was designed and named after motorcycle racer William “Pete” Snell, who died from a head injury because his helmet in 1956 was far from modern.

Testing begins by checking the fit of the helmet. However, the criteria are not as stringent as ECE 22.05, but stricter than DOT. There is no test for turning, it is enough that the helmet is not removed from the dummy.

The “impact” test checks the safety margin by means of a helmet falling from a height onto a rounded and flat anvil, simulating impacts on different surfaces. The chin part of the integrals is also tested for strength.

I want to tell you about one interesting point in the examination, however, it concerns only professional racing helmets. They are tested for fire resistance, tested with a propane flame at a temperature of about 790 degrees Celsius.


The Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Program is a British assessment system that grades on its own rating. SHARP checks already certified helmets, which means that the examination once again confirms the safety of the helmet. How did it happen?

When the UK joined the EU, it agreed to the ECE 22.05 standards that apply to European countries. Previously, British helmets were rated by the BSI rating.

This is how a new rating appeared, but there are many questions to it. Unexpectedly, budget helmets received five stars as a result of testing, while branded and professional helmets received only four or even three. The founders of the rating were even accused of marketing progress and inaccuracies of criteria.

For testing, a test purchase is made in regular retail stores. Helmets are checked on the appropriate size blank. It should be noted that the head model used is solid, and not biometric, as originally planned.

The “bump” test involves striking a flat and angular surface that simulates curb stones. The blows are applied to the main traumatic places with increasing force. Friction on an abrasive surface is additionally assessed.

Due to side impact testing, some manufacturers have released a range of helmets to meet SHARP requirements. Because of this, such models show a deterioration in the side view. By the way, this is called one of the reasons why budget models received high marks – tougher edges in the minus of the review. In addition, this test does not take into account the blow to the chin.

They refused the penetration test, as they believe that this is not the most dangerous cause of injury.

International Federation of Motorcyclists (FIM)

In 2019, the International Federation of Motorcyclists – the testing body for equipment for MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 – announced an increase in safety standards. In addition, FIM has required that every helmet that meets these standards be accessible to any other rider on the streets of the city.

FIM has an advantage that no other certifications have – real motorcycle racing experience. The Federation plans to set the bar above existing Snell, ECE and JIS (Japanese Safety Standard) standards from the height of its experience.

Yes, frontal and oblique impacts, abrasion and stability will also be taken into account here. It is known that MIPS or EPS inserts are not yet required to obtain certification. The first difference will be testing at higher speeds, at which an ordinary motorcyclist in the city is unlikely to ride. But who gets worse from this?

An important difference that made everyone interested in the new rating is testing depending on the size of the helmet. This is a very interesting topic for reasoning, because the difference in approach between different certifications makes specialists seriously argue. Assessment of the impact of impact force on the human brain should be based on testing in direct proportion to the size of the helmet and the volume of the head.

There are disputes on the network, they say, how under the same test conditions, a larger or smaller area of ​​the helmet is not taken into account … and then – calculations, disputes, foam at the mouth …

So far, we are talking about testing integrals with a D-ring clasp. Separately, it is planned to launch testing of helmets designed for off-road. But it is already clear that the price for such a helmet for a city biker will be serious.

So does certification affect the price of a helmet?

Let’s think sanely. The price of a helmet is made up of many factors, but materials and labor will always be the main ones. An FIM-approved helmet is worth crazy money by the standards of ordinary civilian drivers, not because it was tested by the International Federation of Motorcyclists, but because it is a helmet for professional motorcycle racing. A DOT-certified helmet may or may not be cheaper than a DOT + ECE 22.05 / ECE 22.06.

A helmet made from less-than-class materials is heavier, less comfortable, less ventilated, but it will still be as reliable as a brick. True, aerodynamics will also be like a brick, most likely. A budget helmet can pass ECE 22.05 certification and not cost like a spaceship. But will it be as comfortable in it as in a helmet with the same certification, but made of different materials – lighter? The cost of the helmet is affected, among other things, by the lining material, a lot of buns that the manufacturer came up with for comfort.

Taking the example of SHARP certification, which gave high marks to budget helmets, it can be argued that a safety helmet can come in different price categories. It’s not certification that makes the helmet expensive, but how safe and comfortable the manufacturer makes it.

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