Helmet Safety ratings: DOT vs. SNELL Vs. ECE Vs. SHARP

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History and evolution of motorcycle helmets

Before we head towards to know about helmet safety, let’s see where the word helmet came from and how it took the latest formation. Although, in today’s time, there are many options available in color, size, material, and what not! But earlier, in fact, a century ago, the options were limited. The first helmets were constructed of leather and kind of resembled upside-down cowhide diapers. Sounds fascinating right? Let us learn more about the history and evolution of motorcycle helmets. 

All that started to change in 1935 with the demise of the celebrated armed force official T.E. Lawrence. Otherwise called Lawrence of Arabia, this official was a public saint and a significant character of the British “big names” of the time. He passed on as an outcome of the wounds endured in a bike mishap. This featured the danger of riding a bike without being appropriately equipped. The specialist who went to Lawrence, Hugh Cairns, started an investigation because of Lawrence’s demise. He understood that the mind injuries were straightforwardly associated with those mishaps where armed force officials wore no defensive, protective cap. 

Such was the investigation’s repercussion that in 1941 the protective helmet was required for the British Army’s bike riders, those that had undertakings like couriers or coordinating traffic. We can say that the British Army was the main official life form that ensured the head of motorcyclists mandatory during the Second World War. 

This first authority helmet was made of elastic and plug, nothing practically identical to the present caps. 

A couple of years later, in 1953, Charles F. Lombard, a United States Air Force specialist, licensed the top bike protective helmet with an advanced construction: hardshell outwardly and cushioning within. 

Albeit the head protector was not mandatory for riding, the previously specific producers began to show up after World War II. One of the pioneers in Europe was the Italian AGV. Established in 1947 by Gino Valenza in Amisano – from whence AGV – they began to make cruiser seats and afterward went on to extras, like protective caps. In 1954 the Italian brand had effectively fabricated the principal cruiser head protector made of fiber. This sort of material addressed an extraordinary advancement, and even today, caps are isolated into those with a fiber shell and those that don’t. 

The fame of bikes had arrived at unbelievable statures. This likewise implied that capable creatures in bike security and guidelines for head protectors make started to emerge. 

In 1957 the non-benefit association the Snell Memorial Foundation established a substance that deciphered and set the guidelines for bike security in the United States. The Snell certificate is now quite possibly the most requesting that a protective bike helmet can have. 

Likewise, rough terrain caps were brought into the world around there: they utilized similar ones concerning the street up to that point. They began to use visors against stones and soil to ultimately develop into the current full-go head-to-head street protective cap, which was additionally popularized for Bell’s first time. 

What are different Helmet safety ratings?


It is a guideline dictated by the U.S. Division of Transportation. The DOT rating is government standard FMVSS 218, and any protective helmet with the DOT sticker should fulfill these guidelines. The DOT mark illustrated on the back of the helmet must now incorporate, in order from top to bottom:

  • The manufacturer’s name
  • Model number or name
  • “DOT” below the manufacturer’s name
  • “FMVSS 218” centered below DOT
  • The word “Certified” below FMVSS 218


The Snell Memorial Foundation controls these norms. This is an intentional testing technique and is just needed by certain race bodies. The current standard is SNELL M2020 for road use.

The Snell label recognizes the type of purpose of the helmet is certified for, using letter codes:

  • M- motorcycle
  • SA- special application
  • SAH- special application, frontal head restraint system
  • K- karting
  • CMR- children’s motorsports restricted
  • CMS- children’s motorsports standard


Guidelines dictated by the Economic Commission for Europe. More than 50 nations utilize this global standard in Europe, and any protective helmet with this sticker should meet the current ECE 22.05 norm. The ECE standard defines which type or arrangement of the helmet the support refers to, using the following codes: “J” if the helmet does not have a lower face cover, “P” if the helmet has a protective lower face cover, or “NP” if the helmet has a non-protective lower face cover. 


It is the fourth helmet safety rating that has now gone into the motorcycle industry. The SHARP helmet safety plan doesn’t give affirmations; however, it allows a “star rating” to European-model covers. The SHARP test is probably the best endeavor towards a genuine and complete actual helmet safety test by all accounts. At any rate, it offers an approach to analyze the effect of opposition thoroughly.

How are certifications done?

Following quite a while of development, the cutting-edge cap is created to offer an agreeable and cozy fit while keeping your head ensured. If there should be an occurrence of a fall, its plan retains a large portion of the stun through a layer of crushable foam. It likewise expands your head’s halting time by around six-thousandths of a second (6 ms). This lessens the pinnacle effect on your brain. In the unfortunate case of an accident, the essential safety gear is your helmet, which is the only barrier between you and your head’s physical harm.

To guarantee that the advanced helmets sold in various nations and landmasses agree with the minor quality and safety necessities, there are some specialized certificates that they need to convey. 

In India, the specialized certificates and wellbeing necessities for Motorcycle protective caps are administered and managed by the Bureau of Indian Standards. The new modification occurred in 2015. Thus, the standard is alluded to as IS 4151:2015. 

Also, there are two principle Global guidelines – the U.S. DOT(Department of Transportation) affirmation and the ECE (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) standard. While each cap on the U.S. street should be DOT affirmed, the ECE standard is a confirmation for most European nations, perceived above and beyond 50 countries. Most dashing associations on the planet likewise consider it. 

To get assurance, one should start with energy and its effect. For instance: if that energy is moved to your head — like in an accident — the outcomes can be disastrous. In this way, you are having effect assimilation amazingly urgent in deciding cap wellbeing. This is tried with a drop test from fixed tallness on a steel iron block. The test is intended to determine the administration capacity of your top when gotten through various effect energies. Also, that data is converted into the relative “safeness” of your head protector. 

There are a lot of other significant variables that decide how “safe” a cap is. Entrance assurance, perceivability through the face safeguard, jaw lash maintenance, even how removable the protective cap is in a crisis, and the sky is the limit from there. This plays into how well your protective cap will work on the ride. 

Every protective cap security norm utilizes a remarkable plan of tests, systems, and necessities before a cap can convey that specific accreditation. How about we investigate every one of the protective helmet safety plans: 

DOT FMVSS 218 Certification

The DOT standard of helmet safety is frequently viewed as the most “essential” of helmet principles, yet the testing technique is, in reality, extremely exhaustive. The DOT has severe prerequisites concerning a helmet’s maintenance framework, the field of vision, infiltration obstruction, and in any event, marking. Likewise, it has one of the more thorough effect test plans. The testing system for every one of the necessities is recorded and generally rules out the mistake. Instead, independent contractors are hired to randomly test helmets with the hope of catching the wrong lids. In particular, the guidelines given by the DOT are under the name of Federal Standard FMVSS 218. You can know whether a helmet has met this specific capability if there is a DOT sticker that has been fixed in any of its parts.


  • A high-energy testing plan utilizes the hemispherical blacksmith’s iron and two strikes for each area. 
  • A specialist is permitted to strike the helmet anyplace inside an enormous inclusion territory. 
  • Sensible most extreme admissible energy move of 400 g peak. 


  • “Rule of relying on trust” of random testing is incapable, and numerous caps marked DOT may not pass the norm. 
  • Set number of head forms utilized. 
  • Testing not identified with sway energy, the executives are moderately deficient regarding optics, removability, grating opposition, and a few other significant components.

ECE 22.05 Certification

The ECE 22.05 standard is significantly more youthful than the current DOT standard, and from numerous points of view, offers a more exhaustive battery of testing than its American cousin. ECE norms test for safety features that can add to keeping away from a mishap inside and out. The optical nature of endorsed face safeguards and security factors is not simply identified with sway, for example, shell inflexibility. In contrast to the DOT, each ECE 22.05 confirmed helmet model should be tried against the norm by a free lab before it is ready to move with an ECE sticker. While the DOT and SNELL examination allows a professional to strike a helmet anywhere within a range, ECE tests need fixed point strikes. This leaves open the chance of helmet manufacturers “gaming the system” and beefing up security at those points to pass an unsafe helmet. 


  • Norms are effectively and altogether tried on all protective caps sold with ECE confirmation. 
  • Low pinnacle energy suitable (just 275 g) 
  • The broad battery of testing for an assortment of security-related highlights. 
  • Eight head forms for a more extensive scope of testing factors. 


  • Curbstone blacksmith’s iron and single strike equivalent exceptionally low-energy testing, ostensibly shallow for the higher velocities in the United States 
  • Fixed helmet strike positions make it conceivable to swindle the effect testing. 
  • Headform assortment can mean uprooted focus of gravity during testing, diminishing effect energy in tests by up to 20 percent.

SNELL M2020 Certification

For quite a long time, the protective helmet industry’s sweetheart, the SNELL Memorial Foundation, is still, to a great extent, thought about the best quality level for helmet security. SNELL M2020 confirmation utilizes the most forceful iron block profile, known as an edge blacksmith’s iron, and requests a ludicrously low 275 g most excellent energy move after two blows. SNELL testing is planned with the energy levels and security prerequisites of the circuit as a top priority. This is reflected in the extra testing for attributes like soundness and simplicity of evacuation in a crisis. One essential contrast between SNELL and every other helmet standard is the significant degree of control the helmet expert has over the testing interaction. SNELL professionals search for the most fragile point in the helmet— say, at a metal visor snap or mechanical pivot — and focus on that moment that testing. Experts will strike numerous areas, testing until they are fulfilled a clear sign of the protective cap’s energy-the board capacity has been accomplished. 


  • Guidelines are effectively and wholly tried on all helmets sold with SNELL accreditation. 
  • Low pinnacle energy suitable (just 275 g) 
  • Testing for dependability, removability, face safeguard breaking. 
  • Outrageous “edge” blacksmith’s iron tests exceptional affect energy 
  • Specialists effectively search out flimsy parts on cap, guaranteeing the most intensive testing conceivable. 


  • A more significant expense of private SNELL testing frequently reflects in the higher retail cost of SNELL-guaranteed head protectors. 
  • The race-situated nature of SNELL can bar head protectors with valuable road alternatives (inward sun safeguard, most secluded caps)

SHARP Certification

A general novice to the helmet safety rating certificate, the SHARP Helmet Safety Scheme is the main association to go past a “pass/come up short” certificate for bike head protectors. All things being equal, SHARP tests every head protector utilizing different effect focuses and energy levels and gives a “star rating.” This rating is planned to be demonstrative of a cap’s capacity to oversee energy. While the DOT, ECE, and SNELL appraisals are designed as independent wellbeing accreditations, SHARP is expected as an effect rating improvement to the ECE 22.05 norm. Hence, SHARP will test head protectors that have effectively passed the ECE certificate. The SHARP security plot’s objective isn’t to decide whether a helmet is thoroughly “safe” to furnish European customers with extra data when choosing ECE-guaranteed covers. SHARP uses a very much like technique for testing the ECE 22.05 plan, including a higher and lower speed hit and everything else. SHARP, at that point, utilizes European accident information to figure the tone-coded “safety rating” for every district of the cap. 


  • Helmets are tried utilizing both higher and lower speed impacts than some other testing plans. 
  • The broad battery of effect tests 
  • Five effect focuses per helmet. 
  • Post-sway “helmet post-mortem” is used to recognize likely flimsy spots. 
  • Rating frameworks offer shoppers a simple “pass/come up short.” 


  • Contention over the viability of “star” and “shading code” rating frameworks 
  • Testing planned around European accident information and didn’t consider the energy levels and conditions in American riding. 
  • Curbstone and level iron blocks reenact lower energy levels than the DOT and SNELL-controlled Hemi blacksmith’s irons. 

Which one is the safest?

With regards to protective cruiser caps, never choose the idea of “star rating is incredible.” The catchphrase here is “safety,” and you don’t need your security to be estimated by shallow appraisals given by spontaneous surveys. If you intend to find yourself mixed up with a minor, low-speed accident someplace in London, an ECE-appraised protective helmet will presumably do the work. If you are hoping to take a tumble on L.A’s. 405 turnpike, a SNELL-affirmed cover may be more suitable. Spot affirmed caps would do fine and dandy for the average American get-off, as long as they fulfill the DOT guideline. 

Many variables go into picking a cap, and choosing the proper wellbeing certificate is just one of them. The fit, finish, solace, usability, and list of capabilities of a head protector would all be able to play into the rider’s general wellbeing. A lighter or calmer head protector can help diminish rider exhaustion, and a helmet with mist-free optics can improve perceivability. These highlights may lessen the probability of a mishap in any case. 

Fitment is particularly significant! Every one of the four testing bodies makes it a highlight to try on appropriately fitting head forms. If your helmet doesn’t work as expected, you will undermine its capacity to oversee sway energy. A $100 DOT head protector measured accurately will ensure you over a $900 SNELL helmet in size excessively enormous. 

That’s all about helmet safety ratings from our side! If you need help choosing what helmet certification best satisfies your requirements and your riding method, you can always contact us. We will be happy to use our expertise in helping you! 

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