Is the DOT, SNELL or ECE 22-06 helmet the safest?

Melensdad

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Actually its a trick question in the title.

Everyone who has done any research knows that a DOT helmet, in order to pass their test, results in a FATALITY to the motorcyclist. Simply put, trusting your life to a DOT helmet will get you killed.

And now there is a NEW standard that will soon be used in approximately 60 nations. The new ECE 22-06 will be coming into effect next year. Currently we have the ECE 22-05.

There is also the SNELL, which is currently a bifurcated 2020 standard, which no longer makes sense. SNELL was a great standard for safety for the last decade or two, but perhaps no longer is as good as it was. It looks like the new ECE 22-06 standard makes the most realistic best standard for helmet safety while the DOT standard is still stuck in the 1950's and still results in fatalities.

This new video from the Canadian Fort Nine website explains why SNELL is no longer the best standard and why we need to be looking toward the new ECE standard to keep our brain firmly attached to our bodies. Enjoy.

 
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Melensdad

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Here is a pretty entertaining breakdown of why DOT helmet standards could get you killed.

 
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Doc

Bottoms Up
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Hey Bob,
I'm helmet shopping. What did you end up with?
Did you dare mail order or did you buy local?
 

Doc

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I read the next thread on helmets. I think you bought an arai
 

Melensdad

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I have an Arai. I love it.

I’m looking at a Schuberth C3, C4 or E1 … but not for this year

I have no problem buying on line as most shops within 2+ hours drive of me don’t stock premium helmets. Premium helmets are worth the high price for their comfort. Not necessarily much safer than a mid-priced helmet but I tend to ride for many hours and that is where you really want the premium comfort of cooling material, the sanitation of anti microbial material, etc. if your goal is to take rides of an hour or so, round trips of 2 hours with a lunch break, then maybe a $600-$800 lid is overkill. If you plan weekend trips riding several hours to a destination or 5-6-7 hour loop rides then pay for a premium lid.

Head shape is critical. If you have an oval head shape you need a helmet for an oval skull. If you have an intermediate oval ….
Arai makes helmets for 4 different headshapes. There are helmet fitting calculators and sizing descriptors on various websites. Use them!

head shape is different than head size
 
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Doc

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Thanks Bob.
I have no idea what I want yet so I'll be experimenting. As far as ride times, I hope to work up to long rides but will start with 2 hour rides mostly. Eventually I want to ride the blue ridge parkway and the great Smokey mountains. Maybe next spring.
 

Melensdad

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For whatever it is worth, there is no definitive test that the premium helmets (which come at premium prices) are actually safer than lower priced helmets in real-world crashes. The data does not exist. But the fact that it doesn't exist does not mean that lower standard helmets are just as safe. Each state and each nation collects data differently and therefore there is no realistic way to PROVE a better helmet is actually better.

Now that said, there are lots of laboratory tests that show the DOT helmets are not as good as the ECE helmets or the SNELL helmets or the SHARP multi-star helmets or the FIM helmets. Actually there are lab tests that prove the DOT standard is fatal to humans. I figure it is best to err on the side of safety. Current ECE 22-05 and current 2015 or 2020 Snell standards are pretty much equal. The new incoming ECE 2-06 standard is better but there are only a handful of helmets tested to that standard. FIM is the best standard of all, but it is mostly a racing standard. I am content with a 2015 or 2020 Snell or ECE 22-05 helmet. But nothing less than that.

FWIW, every standard is higher than the DOT standard and there is no jurisdiction that will actually check to see if you have a DOT sticker on your helmet. But if you buy an ECE helmet and it doesn't have a DOT sticker on it, and you feel guilty about buying a better helmet, you can get DOT stickers at the local flea market, from eBay or from Amazon. They are also on lots of counterfeit helmets that are total crap and don't protect you from a golf ball, let alone a crash, so while I trust major internet motorcycle suppliers there is no way I would buy a helmet from Amazon, eBay or any non-motorcycle specific website that didn't have a serious return policy.

My current helmet meets DOT, ECE 22-05 and Snell 2015 standards. The lovely Mrs_Bob has 1 helmet that meets those same standards and another that meets only the DOT and ECE 22-05 standards, but not the Snell 2015. As of 2020, the Snell standard has become bifurcated and one of their standards meets DOT and the other meets ECE, and I would not trust the 2020 Snell/DOT helmets but I would wear the 2020 Snell/ECE helmets. To my logic the Snell standard has been lowered with their new system. And I simply don't trust anything that is simply a DOT approved helmet. So with Snell modifying their testing to meet the DOT that is sort of a kiss of death. A helmet that meets Snell 2020 + DOT is made very differently than a helmet that meets Snell 2020 + ECE 22-05. So I just go with the ECE 22-05 as the standard. And starting in 2024 the ECE 22-06 will be the gold standard of safety, but, as I previously stated, there are a couple helmets that currently test up to ECE 22-06
 
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Doc

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Thanks Bob. Clear as mud. LOL But, I have to agree with you that going with SNELL or ECE 22-05 seems like the way to go.

When you say 'premium' helmets are you talking the Carbon Fiber 3k and 4k ones? I think you are talking of the 600 dollar ones but wanted to be sure. I cannot fathom spending 4k on a helmet.
 

Melensdad

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Premium being the top brands (Arai, Shoei or Schuberth) or the upper end helmets from AGV, Bell or others. Generally priced north of the $600 point and typically closer to $800

These helmets use higher grade fabrics and liners and are generally considered among the safest.

The multi-thousand $$$$ helmets are typically race helmets and may not be particularly suitable for street use.
 
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Doc

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Actually there are lab tests that prove the DOT standard is fatal to humans.


Bob, I'm confused and concerned by this statement. Is this implying that in some instances a rider with a DOT helmet will not survive an accident? What type of accidents are we talking of? Nothing can protect a rider in every circumstance but we trust that DOT will cover most circumstances. Please elaborate. This is very important info. Thank You!!!!!!
 

Melensdad

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Actually there are lab tests that prove the DOT standard is fatal to humans.


Bob, I'm confused and concerned by this statement. Is this implying that in some instances a rider with a DOT helmet will not survive an accident? What type of accidents are we talking of? Nothing can protect a rider in every circumstance but we trust that DOT will cover most circumstances. Please elaborate. This is very important info. Thank You!!!!!!
We do not trust the DOT standard.

The impact test used by the DOT imparts a fatal skull injury. This has been known for years.

DOT is also a self certified standard so manufactures of lower repute will change helmet models quickly. Doing so allows them to discontinue a helmet that is claimed to be safe before it is subject to any test since the DOT typically tests randomly and usually after a helmet has been on the market a couple years.

So no, do not accept a DOT only helmet.
 
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Doc

Bottoms Up
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Ahhh got it. Thanks Bob.
I did not dig into it and always assumed DOT certification was A-OKAY. Duh on my part. :bonk:
 

Melensdad

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Reminder, there are a lot of FAKE helmets out there. They are designed to look like name brand helmets. They have all sorts of convincing features and claims. Often found on eBay, flea markets, etc. It it seems like a deal that is too good to be true, it is likely a deal that could actually kill you.

 
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Doc

Bottoms Up
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How cruel. What sicko's make these crap helmets and sell them knowing it would fail it's primary / only purpose. They should be put in jail and throw away the key.
Thanks Bob.
 

Melensdad

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How cruel. What sicko's make these crap helmets and sell them knowing it would fail it's primary / only purpose. They should be put in jail and throw away the key.
Thanks Bob.
They are EVERYWHERE

See whole displays of them at flea markets, sometimes at small shops, all over the internet for sale. Where you don't see them are at the reputable on-line retailers and reputable brick and mortar stores. Stick with brand names. Make sure you know what they are supposed to look like, correct wording for the stickers, etc.
 
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Entropy

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A belated comment,

I have being trying to understand the differences between the various standards to determine which one would be best for my needs and budget. There are 3 standards I researched (ECE 22.06, Snell 2020 and FIM 2015) that appear to be trying to achieve the same end goal in that all require the maximin g forces to be below 275g while using a variety of similar velocities. They all use the flat anvil tests, but the other anvils are shaped differently making direct comparison impossible. While the institutes all provide very detailed documents on how tests are conducted, without the test results it's impossible to compare them. The other two anvils used by Snell do look more severe and hence one might conclude that Snell certified helmets can absorb more energy, but the test speeds are slightly lower, so without the data it's hard to be definitive. One thing I have done is compare 2 "identical" model of Shoei helmet, one US - DOT/Snell rated and one European Union ECE 22.05 rated. I was interested to see that the US model was more than 200g heavier (up 15%). This supports the arguments that Snell helmets may have more impact absorption capabilities for higher speeds, but the added weight could cause higher and more deadly rotational forces which Snell doesn't as yet quantify. It also speaks to Snell's history of being focused on automotive helmets used with HANS protection. In this scenario multiple impacts on the same safety roll cage are common and the HANS system with neck support almost eliminate rotational forces. Just as an aside, in order for Snell to use thicker shells and still remain below the 275g limit, I assume they must be using softer inner liners. To me this is totally legitimate if accidents don't have the rotational element and penalties the additional weight brings.

The next point may be moot if you live in the US and don't have access to ECE certified helmets, but in my opinion the new ECE 22.06, and FIM 2020 testing give me the warmest feeling as to what might be the best standards for certifying motorcycle helmets. These test use the highest as well as modest velocities on various anvils and rotational tests while ensuring a very low level HIC (head injury criterion), PRA (peak rotational acceleration) and BrIC which is an algorithm that defines the level of a brain injury that may occur. From FIM 2015 to FIM 2020 the HIC threshold has been reduced by 30% and the PRA by more than 20% which is a huge improvement. The highest allowable HIC under Snell is 2880, but under FIM 2020 it cannot exceed 2400 which is 20% less.

So while nothing I have said is conclusive given the lack of test data, it would appear that if you want the very safest motorcycle helmet money can buy, then you should purchase a FIM 2020 certified helmet. Unfortunately there are only a handful of these helmets available and they usually are the most expensive helmets you can buy. Next best would probably be a ECE 22.06 certified helmet which in time will include more modestly priced helmets. Currently it seems to be mainly SHOEI and ARIA which have helmets one tier down from the FIM certified ones available.

There is another optimisation if you can obtain/use a ECE certified helmet. The UK government did an extensive safety study and used those criteria to do helmet testing and rating. (I have not verified this, but it appears to me that this study heavily influenced the ECE 22.06 and FIM 2020 standards). Rather than give a pass/fail as with certification, they rate helmets from 1 to 5 stars and give the g force criteria for each with a test velocity of 6, 7.5 & 8.5 m/s. (Snell uses 7.7, 7.75 & 8.2 m/s with the lowest velocity being significantly higher than the 6 m/s used by Sharp and the 5 m/s used by FIM). A SHARP 5 star helmet will test on linear and rotational forces at below 275g (same as Snell 2020 linear test with 8.2m/s). 4 Stars peak of 300g, 3 Star peak of 400g, 2 Star peak of 420g, 1 Star peak of 500g and zero exceeding 500g. For some reason, 5 Star helmets can miss 1 of 32 test criteria and only if they meet an old British standard 6658 (300g at 7.5 m/s). As this only represents 3% of the tests conducted, I guess it's a reasonable assumption. It appears that these helmets would pass ECE 22.06 and the helmets that pass all 32 tests would meet FIM 2020 requirements. Interesting and to my surprise there are a number of very inexpensive helmets that achieve 4 Star ratings and there may even be a 5 Star one. The problem is that SHARP hasn't tested many helmets lately and so some of the latest helmets might not be tested as yet.

Regards
 

Entropy

New member
We do not trust the DOT standard.

The impact test used by the DOT imparts a fatal skull injury. This has been known for years.

DOT is also a self certified standard so manufactures of lower repute will change helmet models quickly. Doing so allows them to discontinue a helmet that is claimed to be safe before it is subject to any test since the DOT typically tests randomly and usually after a helmet has been on the market a couple years.

So no, do not accept a DOT only helmet.
For whatever it is worth, there is no definitive test that the premium helmets (which come at premium prices) are actually safer than lower priced helmets in real-world crashes. The data does not exist. But the fact that it doesn't exist does not mean that lower standard helmets are just as safe. Each state and each nation collects data differently and therefore there is no realistic way to PROVE a better helmet is actually better.

Now that said, there are lots of laboratory tests that show the DOT helmets are not as good as the ECE helmets or the SNELL helmets or the SHARP multi-star helmets or the FIM helmets. Actually there are lab tests that prove the DOT standard is fatal to humans. I figure it is best to err on the side of safety. Current ECE 22-05 and current 2015 or 2020 Snell standards are pretty much equal. The new incoming ECE 2-06 standard is better but there are only a handful of helmets tested to that standard. FIM is the best standard of all, but it is mostly a racing standard. I am content with a 2015 or 2020 Snell or ECE 22-05 helmet. But nothing less than that.

FWIW, every standard is higher than the DOT standard and there is no jurisdiction that will actually check to see if you have a DOT sticker on your helmet. But if you buy an ECE helmet and it doesn't have a DOT sticker on it, and you feel guilty about buying a better helmet, you can get DOT stickers at the local flea market, from eBay or from Amazon. They are also on lots of counterfeit helmets that are total crap and don't protect you from a golf ball, let alone a crash, so while I trust major internet motorcycle suppliers there is no way I would buy a helmet from Amazon, eBay or any non-motorcycle specific website that didn't have a serious return policy.

My current helmet meets DOT, ECE 22-05 and Snell 2015 standards. The lovely Mrs_Bob has 1 helmet that meets those same standards and another that meets only the DOT and ECE 22-05 standards, but not the Snell 2015. As of 2020, the Snell standard has become bifurcated and one of their standards meets DOT and the other meets ECE, and I would not trust the 2020 Snell/DOT helmets but I would wear the 2020 Snell/ECE helmets. To my logic the Snell standard has been lowered with their new system. And I simply don't trust anything that is simply a DOT approved helmet. So with Snell modifying their testing to meet the DOT that is sort of a kiss of death. A helmet that meets Snell 2020 + DOT is made very differently than a helmet that meets Snell 2020 + ECE 22-05. So I just go with the ECE 22-05 as the standard. And starting in 2024 the ECE 22-06 will be the gold standard of safety, but, as I previously stated, there are a couple helmets that currently test up to ECE 22-06
Hi

To add fuel to the ECE vs SNELL debate.
SNELL has been resisting the European view for sometime, but gradually they are capitulating and moving closer to the European standard. Way back in 2005 SNELL was funding studies to try defend their position, see ref below.
HIC workshop: final report of workshop on criteria for head injury and helmet standards. A SNELL representative at the conference said SNELL wouldn't use the ECE single hit standard as "it would be too expensive to modify their testing apparatus to accommodate such a change". That is hardly a reason not to update a standard.
If you read the whole document, it is so obvious that SNELL was funding the study trying to make a (very weak) and defensive posture against criticisms to their standards. After reading the document I'm embarrassed for SNELL, in my opinion they threw their good name away. With the benefit of 17 years of hindsight since the paper was published, you can see how SNELL has reluctantly modified their stance, but still holds onto the outdated view that rotational forces are not critical in helmet design and certification.
Undoubtedly helmet makers like AGV, ARIA, SHOEI, etc. due to their own engineering expertise make good helmets that pass the SNELL criteria, but in and of itself SNELL reminds me of NOKIA after Apple brought out the 1st iPhone. SNELL is grappling for credibility and is a dying dinosaur.

PS. SNELL helmets are of a different design to their ECE counterparts even though they might have the same model designation. It would be very rare to find a single helmet that could pass the both standards. This is also discussed in the paper below.

I read another paper where a AGV K4 in ECE and SNELL configuration were tested and the author concluded that the performance was not significantly different over a wide range of test velocities.


Fenner Jr., H., Thomas, D.J., Gennarelli, T., Pintar, F.A., Becker, E.B., Newman, J.A., Yoganandan, N., 2005. HIC Workshop: Final report of workshop on criteria for head injury andhelmet standards. Department of Neurosurgery. MedicalCollege of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
 
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