World Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards

World Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards

There are numerous safety standards for motorcycle helmets in the market and it may look confusing to some new riders. Here are some of the motorcycle helmet safety standards around the world.

World Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards:

Country Safety standard
European ECE 22.05
Brazil NBR 7471
Taiwan CNS
Australia AS 1698-2006
Japan SG or JIS
New Zealand NZ 5430
Korea KS G 7001
Malaysia SIRIM
Thailand TIS
India IS 4151
Singapore PSB
Canada CSA CAN3-D230-M85

Many countries have laws requiring acceptable motorcycle helmets to be worn by motorcycle riders. Most of the them have defined their own sets of standards that are used to judge the effectiveness of a motorcycle helmet in an accident.

Independent Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards:

Below are some of the motorcycle helmet safety standards issued by independent or private organizations.  

Snell - USA
ACU Gold -UK
BSI (British Standards Institution) - UK

Different types of motorcycle helmet safety standard

SNELL standard

The Snell Memorial Foundation has developed stricter requirements and testing procedures for motorcycle helmets with racing activities in mind such as drag racing, motocross, karting.

However buying a helmet that has Snell certification is completely voluntary. The Snell standards does not replace the DOT standards.

Many motorcycle riders in North America consider Snell certification a better benefit when considering buying a helmet. This is because SNELL standards allow more g forces to be transferred to a rider's head than the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standard.

 the DOT standard does not test the chin bar of full face helmets while the Snell and ECE 22.05 standards do.

DOT standard

The US official law states that all motorcycle helmets sold in the U.S.A. must be DOT "certified". Helmets that do not meet the minimal DOT certification standards may not be sold as "motorcycle helmets."

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) provides the requirements for "DOT" certification of all helmets sold in the United States for use by motorcyclists.

ECE 22.05 standard

Economic Community of Europe (ECE) is actually the most commonly used motorcycle helmet safety standard internationally. The ECE 22.05, required by over 50 countries worldwide. One of the advantage is U.N. Economic Commission for Europe ECE 22.05 requirement for mandatory batch testing of helmets before they are released to the public. 

This means that the quality of the helmet in meeting the ECE 22.05 standard is assured by the compulsory sample testing of every production of helmets before they leave the factory.

ACU GOLD standard

In the United Kingdom, the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) defines a stricter standard for racing than the legal minimum ECE 22.05 specification. Only helmets with an ACU Gold sticker are allowed to be worn in competition, or at track days. Many riders in the UK choose helmets with an ACU Gold sticker for their regular on-road use.


What does these safety standards test on ?

Motorcycle helmets sold in the market that have attained certain requirements are subjected to laboratory tests.

The laboratory tests measure a helmet’s ability to absorb impact.   The effectiveness of the retention system that keeps the helmet on the head, accessories such as helmet visor are also tested.

What is the difference between them?

These helmet safety tests measured the performance of the helmets as well as the ability to absorb impact.  However the methods and requirements vary dramatically from standard to standard.

In some countries, helmet safety standards compliance is overseen and controlled by government agencies.  In other countries, compliance is left up to the motorcycle helmet manufacturer or the distributor of the item.

Some laboratory tests are relatively simple and others are far more complex.  It is important to note that none of the laboratory tests can precisely replicate the real impact that a motorcyclist might face in a crash.

Not one helmet designed to a particular standard can provide the maximum protection for all types of crashes and no helmet can protect the rider from all foreseeable impacts.

Which motorcycle helmet safety standard is approved for competition racing?

Helmets that have ECE 22.05 standard certification are approved for competition events by

ECE 22.05 standard 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 for the rider. 

What type of helmet standard do professional racers wear in MotoGP?

According to MotoGP World Championship Commission (Dorna, FIM, IRTA, MSMA) Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations 2009 page 65  Sporting Regulation 2.12.7 - "Helmets must be of the full face type and conform to one of the recognized international standards:

  • Europe: ECE 22-05
  • Japan: JIS T 8133 : 2000
  • USA: SNELL M 2000

Which motorcycle helmet safety standard is superior?

There is not a single safety standard that is superior to the others. These safety standards are enforced by the respective governments to protect motorcycle riders. A motorcycle helmet with either standard will nonetheless provide protection to the motorcyle rider whether it is a $99 or $500 helmet.