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Does anyone have an explanation of the various safety ratings(DOT, Snell, ECE, etc.)and which are more strenuous?
 

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DOT is the minimum US standard - even a 1/2 helmet "Skid Lid" style can pass this.
ECE/BSI are the Euro and British standards
Snell is a voluntary US certification because DOT is so easy to pass

There have been a lot of discussions around here and other sites as to which provides better protection, with one of the main points being that the Snell standard dictates a double hit in the same spot which tends to make helmets designed to pass it "harder" than the Euro certs, therefore transmitting more force to the head in the vast majority of lesser hits but standing up better to that 1 in a million time you'll hit the exact same spot twice. It is very rare to have a helmet pass both Snell and ECE, I think I've only heard of a couple. Most manufaturers will make different versions of the same model to pass the local certification as they require some different engineering in the foam.

Try this article as a starter:

http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/gearbox/motorcycle_helmet_review/index.html

Personally, my main street and dirt helmets are both DOT/ECE certified, but it's a personal decision. Either way you go you're probably much better off than anyone was 10 years ago.
 

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DOT is the US Department of Transportation - The weakest standard available in the US. All a manufacturer has to do is tell the DOT it is compliant and the DOT takes it's word on it. No testing by third parties.

SNELL M2005 - Is a standard from the SNELL memorial foundation. It has some of the best standards for piercing contact. But as anyone with a background in science knows, when a material is more pierce resistant, it tends to be harder, which is bad for moment absorption. Aka it's a great standard to protect you from a cracking your head open, not so hot for preventing close head brain injury (some studies has suggested worse than alot of DOT alone for this). SNELL standards, once proven do not have to be retested. You can keep producing the same helmet and selling it without proving that the millionth is just as good as the first. The biggest problem with SNELL is it requires a helmet to take a huge hit TWICE in the exact same spot... this is unrealistic in the riding world and is what forces helmets to be of such hard material. Snell was a pioneer in safety but it's testing methods and safety requirements have fallen behind government sponsored entities.

ECE 2205- Europe's standard for road use. This actually requires a single hit with HIGHER velocity than SNELL, BUT it also has moment reduction requirements - which means ECE.2205 helmets are much more likely to prevent piercing and closed head injury from a single hard hit than a SNELL. ECE.2205 also mandates that helmets from every batch produced must be tested and pass inspection. This ensures that every batch will function like the original design.

BSI- British standard, this is the highest and most scientific in the business, a helmet to pass BSI will meet ECE standards, but not all ECE's will meet BSI. Gold stars are awarded to the best helmets. There is also a safety program (new) from the UK, it's government bought alot of helmets and tested them for impacts and gave them a 1-5 star rating. The higher standards in Europe mean there are alot fewer helmets on the UK market.

JMI (?)- Japanese standards, not alot of comparisons exist but the Japanese helmet standards are also very high.

Keep in mind BSI Gold Star/ECE/DOT combo is probably the best for road use - safety wise. Arai's and Shoei's made for the non-US market conform to JMI (?)/ECE/BSI while in the US they only conform to SNELL. Shark is a good company that is only concerned about safety. They conform, even though they pretty much sell to the US, to only the ECE standard. If you insist upon buying a Arai or Shoei, I suggest you import one. HJC HQ-something is a model they sell outside the US and is, through UK testing, one of the safest helmets in the world, at a reasonable price (very few get this rating) most of them costs up to 7 bills. BSI/ECE/DOT helmets, while safe, are also some of the most expensive as they are imported, with the pound at where it is and the euro also hit hard, if you want to import, do it now.

Finally the SNELL memorial foundation will be issuing a new set of standards in late '09 or '10. This will be known as SNELL M2009 or M2010. They have stated these standards will 'address issues with the current M2005, and reflect current scientific knowledge of close head injury prevention'.
 

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This is the article SNELL finally waved the white flag and admitted its M2005 standards sucked and picked up the ECE standard:

http://www.smf.org/standards/m/2010/m2010_cover_10-10-2007.htm

This is from SNELL so how biased against SNELL can it be?

They state M2005 and M2010 are incompatible. and from the looks of the requirements M2010 is actually BETTER than ECE22.05 standards... It's probably a good time to wait another season before getting another lid. Which kind of explains the rash of discount lids recently, the SNELL M2005, which effectively means all expensive helmets on the market, will be discontinued.
 

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+1 on what was already said.

But the UK is intoducing a new "Sharp" rating standard for helmets that is causing some discussion as well.
http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-helmets/sharp-helmet-rating-system.htm

"The SHARP testing methods put an emphasis on side impacts, with the government claiming that 53% of impacts occur on the sides of the helmet. But the data shows that most impacts (64.8%) are on the front of the helmet; the sides are impacted only 23% of the time. Apparently, the 53% figure came from an error, adding the 26.9% damage to the right side and the 26.3% damage to the left side and then using the 53% figure for both sides. "

Lots of info about pretty much every helmet question you have here:
http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-helmets/motorcycle-helmet-faq.htm
 

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Finally the SNELL memorial foundation will be issuing a new set of standards in late '09 or '10. This will be known as SNELL M2009 or M2010. They have stated these standards will 'address issues with the current M2005, and reflect current scientific knowledge of close head injury prevention'.
Seems the SNELL M2010 is moving in the direction of the ECE 20.05 standard, and the M2005 standard is incompatible with the M2010.
 

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This is the article SNELL finally waved the white flag and admitted its M2005 standards sucked and picked up the ECE standard:

http://www.smf.org/standards/m/2010/m2010_cover_10-10-2007.htm

This is from SNELL so how biased against SNELL can it be?

They state M2005 and M2010 are incompatible. and from the looks of the requirements M2010 is actually BETTER than ECE22.05 standards... It's probably a good time to wait another season before getting another lid.
I hadn't seen that yet, thanks for helping to validate my decision to pay extra for a helmet from Europe.
 

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There is actually a group that is part of the government in the UK that test these helmets in a real world crash scenario and give ratings to the helmets (1-5 stars). Although not every helmet is tested, you can get a pretty good idea where many helmets will rank.
EDIT: I see now that this was indirectly linked above in the Webbikeworld article, but here it is anyway.
http://sharp.direct.gov.uk/

You will see that a Snell rated helmet doesn't necessarily do better than an ECE22.05. For example, my Shark S800 is ECE, but not Snell. The Scorpion EXO700 is Snell, but they rank with the same 4 stars. It is also interesting to see that price doesn't always mean better protection. None of the Shoei helmets tested did any better than 4 stars, and some were only 3 stars. The Lazer LZ6 helmet gets the highest rating despite being one of the most inexpensive helmets tested. Of course, it looks like that particular helmet is not available in the US, but it proves a point.

You will also see that expensive fiber composite construction doesn't always do better in a crash. Some of the better helmets are molded thermoplastic. Although, the fiber composite helmets are generally much lighter.
 

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Definitely take the Sharp with a grain of salt. The best helmet you can find (soon) will be Snell M2010. The best helmet you can find NOW is ECE22.05/BSI Gold star versions.
 

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Definitely take the Sharp with a grain of salt. The best helmet you can find (soon) will be Snell M2010. The best helmet you can find NOW is ECE22.05/BSI Gold star versions.
I'm going to hold off on praise for the new Snell standard until they start hitting the public and independant tests can be run.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So a cliff notes version at this time is:

ECE/BSI > Snell 2005 > DOT

Correct? But Snell 2010 will overtake all?
 

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So a cliff notes version at this time is:

ECE/BSI > Snell 2005 > DOT

Correct? But Snell 2010 will overtake all?
I didn't get a chance to look at the Snell 2010 stuff yet, but I'd hold off on putting it up on a pedistal until the helmets have gone through a 3rd party lab.
 

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Just use a cleaned out watermellon or pumpkin and go with god.
 

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So a cliff notes version at this time is:

ECE/BSI > Snell 2005 > DOT

Correct? But Snell 2010 will overtake all?
See, that's the debate because of this article that said DOT only helmets are actually better because, being of a softer shell, they transmit less force to your skull.

I think all agree that a full face helmet is superior to a 3/4 or open face, by the way.
 
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