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The Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards & Comparisons


The only reason we buy and wear motorcycle helmets is for safety. But safety standards for motorcycle helmets are inconsistent. Will the cute anime helmet you bought for your daughter withstand the impact of a lay-down on a concrete road? What about the helmet your brother wears for off-roading and dirt-biking? In a motorcycle helmets international safety standards comparison, some helmets don’t provide the safety you need.

Motorcycle Helmets International Safety Standards Comparison

…The subject of motorcycle helmet safety standards is highly complex, so it’s no wonder the general riding public is confused.Web Bike World

U.S. motorcycle helmets may have a specific shell construction or thickness to allow it to pass the Department of Transportation (DOT)  penetration test. The Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) may have different standards.

Some manufacturers include a DOT/ECE Standards sticker, which means the helmet meets both safety standards, even though the ECE has tougher requirements. Some declare the ECE label can only be applied to helmets sold in European countries, so how can a helmet have an ECE/DOT label in France? It’s because there are global/international inconsistencies in manufacturing, distribution, and sales of motorcycle helmets. Monitoring is minimal.

Other countries with motorcycle safety standards include:

  • Australia – AS 1698-2006
  • Brazil – NBR 7471
  • Canada – CSA CAN3-D230-M85
  • India – IS 4151
  • Japan – SG/JIS
  • Korea – KS G 7001
  • Malaysia – SIRIM
  • New Zealand – NZ 5430
  • Singapore – PSB
  • Taiwan – CNS (compatible to JIS)
  • Thailand – TIS

Obviously, safety standards vary from country to country. For now, your own research is needed to determine if a motorcycle helmet meets or beats your country’s standards.

Non-Government, Independent Safety Standards

In the U.S., we also have Snell Memorial Foundation safety requirements for motorcycle helmets. Where the DOT sets minimum safety standards for helmets, Snell criteria generally meets higher impact standards. “DOT certification is done on the honor system,” says Snell. “The helmet’s manufacturer determines whether his helmets satisfy DOT and then claims the qualification for himself. There is not even a reporting requirement.” Much of the U.S. government’s focus has been to restrict “beanie” helmets, which are pointedly substandard and usually worn by helmet-law protestors.

The United Kingdom also has independent motorcycle helmets safety standards organizations:

  • ACU Gold
  • BSI (British Standards Institution)

Need for a ‘Harmonized Standard’

African motorcycle helmets must withstand extreme heat and humidity. They need a safe ventilation system that can prevent riders themselves from overheating. In the Northeast U.S. and Canada, where temperatures can dip into below-freezing, helmets should have better insulation and the potential for warmth.

The need for harmonized, international safety standards should address climate and situational needs. Obviously, professional motorcycle competitors in controlled environments have helmet safety standards that differ from a desert dirt biker’s helmet.

Buying Style – and Safety – is Your Goal

Here’s the bottom line: Always abide by the laws of your federal and state government. It’s okay to buy a motorcycle helmet online if its safety standards meet or are higher than your country’s standards.

With some of the artistic options available, it’s also okay to express yourself! Just know that your Thor helmet with Viking horns will capture the attention of traffic police more than a “standard” motorcycle helmet. As long as your motorcycle helmet meets safety standards, you are free to travel the country in style! 3553895687_939d97fcd6_o

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