New SHARP helmet ratings released

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New SHARP helmet ratings released

There are already perfectly good safety standards for helmets, which have the advantage of being internationally recognised. Why on earth did our government have to stick its pointless bureaucratic oar in? Nobody needs these ratings, with their ridiculous name and nobody in their right mind would trust the British department of transport to give them advice on helment safety. If Jim Fitzpatrick can't find something useful to do, maybe we can do without him.

ChrisL wrote (see)

There are already perfectly good safety standards for helmets, which have the advantage of being internationally recognised. Why on earth did our government have to stick its pointless bureaucratic oar in? Nobody needs these ratings, with their ridiculous name and nobody in their right mind would trust the British department of transport to give them advice on helment safety. If Jim Fitzpatrick can't find something useful to do, maybe we can do without him.

really? what are they then? what do they test? how do they compare across different manufacturers or different ranges?How do you know they perfectly good?Can you easily actually look up the testing requirements for EC22-05 or does the ACU sticker you can buy off ebay have any real significance ( especially for roaduse).Maybe you are annoyed because you were daft enough to buy an Expensive helmet that is now rated a 1 or 2? Go on tell us what we should really be looking for....perhaps some expensive graphics or a plastic vent for another £200..at least Sharp are attempting to answer the question scientifically..

But an otherwise poor quality helmet can be reinforced in the specific areas that the SHARP tests target and therefore gain a high rating. Despite the fact that the visor falls off, the lining compresses in a week and the chin strap falls off, it will be a "top rated" helmet.I will stick with the EC and ACU tests thanks

Another case of empire building ... much like the whole CE fiasco IMHO

Gedge - So an internationally recognised standard wasn't good enough and we have to have some empire building British official redo the testing?  No I'm not annoyed because of whatever rating they've given whatever helmet I happen to own (a Shark RSX which is on the list with a five - not that it matters). I'm annoyed because someone's gone to the trouble of creating proper standards and the British government has decided to ignore them. All these tests will do is cloud the issue.

Dimebag wrote (see)

But an otherwise poor quality helmet can be reinforced in the specific areas that the SHARP tests target and therefore gain a high rating. Despite the fact that the visor falls off, the lining compresses in a week and the chin strap falls off, it will be a "top rated" helmet.I will stick with the EC and ACU tests thanks

is that because there is nothing you can do to make a crap helmet pass ec 22-05? after all EVERY helmet tested by the SHARP system is ALREADY ec approved, despite apparrently being crap...as for the ACU test ..what test is that then? you can buy ACU gold stickers off ebay so they have virtually zero value..at least the sharp rating has to be applied and is independently tested (unlike Arai that test their own helmets so could arguably avoid testing areas of weakness, which may explain why they got such a low rating..)

ChrisL wrote (see)

Gedge - So an internationally recognised standard wasn't good enough and we have to have some empire building British official redo the testing?  No I'm not annoyed because of whatever rating they've given whatever helmet I happen to own (a Shark RSX which is on the list with a five - not that it matters). I'm annoyed because someone's gone to the trouble of creating proper standards and the British government has decided to ignore them. All these tests will do is cloud the issue.

For the second time of asking then..What internationally recognised standard is that? SNELL? thats american only and doesn't meet ec 22-05, and the EC standard is europe only...

You are not on their payroll by any chance are you mate?People have worn (and crashed) in helmets for years without the "benefit" of SHARP ratings. Some got hurt, some didn't. I fail to see how another test will change this.

Dimebag wrote (see)

You are not on their payroll by any chance are you mate?People have worn (and crashed) in helmets for years without the "benefit" of SHARP ratings. Some got hurt, some didn't. I fail to see how another test will change this.

No I am not..nor am I a fan of fancy helmets or even tests..but dont see why anyone should mind having an external ( to the industry at least) testing system to help people choose and also to make manufacturers make safer helmets..PS for years people have died in crashes BECAUSE they wore poorly made or poorly fitted helmets too....

Yep, and some people have died in crashes despite wearing well made, well fitting helmets. Some people have survived wearing both kinds of helmet too.My take on it is to get a helmet that fits me correctly from an established manufacturer and which satisfies the legislation in force in this country. Anything else is superfluous really.

Dimebag wrote (see)

Yep, and some people have died in crashes despite wearing well made, well fitting helmets. Some people have survived wearing both kinds of helmet too.My take on it is to get a helmet that fits me correctly from an established manufacturer and which satisfies the legislation in force in this country. Anything else is superfluous really.

superfluous? not sure thats the right term..without testing we would probably still be wearing centurion lids that fell apart on the slightest impact..testing tends to bring about improvement and in my book ( whilst agreeing that it guarantees nothing) that can  be a good thing..Most people buy helmets  for reason of aesthetics or fashion ...helping ensure their choices are also functional can't do any harm..

Read it properly mate, I was implying that any FURTHER tests are superfluous and that the criteria we have in place at the moment is sufficient to ensure that we are not wearing tat.

I can read perfectly well thanks..what I a not sure of , and what no other poster appears to have provided , is any proof that the current Ec22-05 standard is effective ( especially considering the varied results of the SHARP test on ec approved lids)..nor has Christ provided any link or evidence that there exists an internationally recognised standard...

My favorite subject.  1. Snell test above the Snell line, think of a slightly larger version of a Hebrew skull cap and you're there. Reguardless of how good or accurate each test they perform is, the majority of of a full face lids surface area remains untested. 2. It's not that long ago that we were all dripping about helmets that fail the old British standard passing Ec22. The relative merit of Euro testing vs our older test is a moot point now, but an awful lot of riders weren't convinced that the new standard was an improvement.3. Arai, Schuberth et al carry out extensive, scientific testing on their own and competitors kit, but they're not sharing the results or offering their design aims with the rest of us. The pathetic scoring of one of Schuberths top drawer helmets is taken by many to show some fatal flaw in the SHARP system, but the reality is that SHARP uncovered the unusual construction of the helmet. The method chosen (lots of foam inserts as opposed to a single moulding) allows for a superb fit, but the trade off is that the individual cells can be overwhelmed in a collision. Schuberth believed it a reasonable compromise right up until it became public knowlege that their helmet passes more force than cheaper alternatives, at which point they started questioning the validity of the whole SHARP process. Arai, similarly, don't feel that the side of a helmet warrants as much protection as the front, top or back. If they had a dotted line on the outside of the lid the size of 70's headphones with a warning that this area is protected by the users shoulder, not the helmet itself, would Arai fans be quite so happy to defend the firms decision? 4. Independant research shows an even distribution of helmet impacts in road accidents. It has also shown an area the size of a palm print, over the temples, to be particularly prone to damage in fatalities, often refered to as the "X spot". SHARP specifically test this area, and give it equal weighting to impacts front, rear and top. Next year ARAI claim all their UK helmets will pass at 4 stars or better, presumably by improving the protection over the X spot. If this is the specific reinforcement you're talking about Dime, I'm all for it! 5. SHARP (as opposed to sound bite obsessive political slime) are at pains to point out that fit and comfort are vitally important in chosing a helmet and offer some advice on getting it right. 6. Lastly, there isn't a test in the world that looks at the long term durability of a lid. Luckily we live in the UK, so if your visor drops off, your lining compresses and your chin strap falls off, get trading standards involved. Hth.  

A Government test you say?

 Ah, John, the one flaw in my otherwise convincing argument....Cnut

I'm with Flo and Gedge on this.Arai have redesigned the side pods on the new RX7 GP. The official reason is that it's to improve the aerodynamics of the helmet as they're now recessed. The unofficial reason (and I've heard this secondhand off two or three people) is SHARP.In my opinion this is a good thing, as my weird head only fits Arais. The other criticism of SHARP is typically phrased as, "There's no way that a £50 helmet will protect as well as a £500 helmet."In which case I'd like to point you in the direction of this article:http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/gearbox/motorcycle_helmet_review/index.html

I've tested Arai helmets over the years and I can confirm they do their job well, well enough for me to tpype tish os oyu nac usertand em.Me I meen.

Thanks Graeme, that's the first time I've read the whole article. It's pretty much what I'd like TWO to cover (instead of just giving the makers a "we wuz robbed" platform ). Interesting that the US Army consider the ear cup area less capable of taking an impact than the rest of the head (150g vs 175g). Back to Arai's side pods . Interesting too that all the (presumably US market) foam inserts only seem to protect the top of the head...I just loved this quote;"Even though many motorcycles were capable of running the quarter-mile in 11 seconds (or less) and topping 140 mph back in '81, not one of the 900-odd accidents investigated in the Hurt study involved a speed over 100 mph. The "one in a thousand" speed seen in the Hurt Report was 86 mph, meaning only one of the accidents seen in the 900-crash study occurred at or above that speed. And the COST 327 study, done recently in the land of the autobahn, contained very few crashes over 120 kph, or 75 mph. The big lesson here is this: It's a mistake to assume that going really fast causes a significant number of accidents just because a motorcycle can go really fast."One for the "speed kills" stazi, eh?  

Well Flo, that is me well and truly educated. Thank you for raising my understanding of this. Gedge, I am on your side now

I have to say that in principle I think that the SHARP tests are a good thing. For one thing it puts away the old principle that "you get what you pay for", or "if you have a £30 head get a £30 helmet".  Previously what other method did the average user have to determine the difference in the protection qualities in different helmets?  Now at least there is some measure even if it may well be under dispute.  I do dispute the "x many lives could be saved" claims though, as this is down to reading of statistics which I believe is flawed.The fact that visor mechanisms might break or  the finish may be poor is potentially a separate issue.  (I think I have said before that my 5* AGV doesn't appear as well finished IMHO as my previous Shoeis)

I'd like to see if there are any figures for the type of helmet worn againt serious head injuries/deaths.

I'd be interested in that one John, although (thankfully) I suspect the number of motorcycle fatalities isn't large enough to draw too many conclusions from a short term survey. I think that you'd see a large number of Arai and Shoei wearers, for instance, purely down to their large market share...It's one of the reasons why I believe comprehensive testing is so important. (If you mean type to mean manufacturer...)Cost 327 pointed to three main areas for concern- the x point, over generous g loading in some existing tests and the need for full face protection, all addressed by SHARP and possibly to be incorporated into whatever superceeds ECE 22.05, so evidence and figures exist to support the view that full face helmets are the way to go. (If that's the type you mean.) Feckin throbber, me.

Arai's argument for having a thinner shell and foam at the sides is down to comfort. But I can't see it being a big weight saving, and the sides of the skull (at the controversial X point - thanks for the US Army comment Flo) are relatively weak. Given the choice I'd take an extra 100 g of helmet weight for the added foam and laminate.Besides, they could save that by leaving off all of the scoops and spoilers that they seem to think we need. To give Arai some credit, they seem to be designing their helmets for multiple standards. The new RX7 meets both ECE 22.05 and forthcoming SNELL M2010 (or whatever its called) requirements.Then again, I'm not entirely convinced by SNELL as it's led to stiffer shells in the past, which isn't a good thing. That said, the new test is supposed to be a bit closer to the European standard.

So, having been "persuaded" by my local dealer that my 1979 CENTURIAN open face hemlet was neither use nor ornament I decided it was probably time to buy another lid.......not that I ride much these days anyway, just not quite ready to die just yet.      Being a specs wearer I don't like full face helmets, never have, never will,  so I  opted for a Nitro X-550.....now, can somebody please tell me. 1/ Did it not fare well in this report?2/ has this model not even been tested by Sharp?.3/ Should have spend as much  money on a crash helment as the little bike  I ride?or maybe I should go buy a pony and trap?

The result of any test, be it SNELL, EC22-05 or SHARP, can only be an indication of how well a particular helmet scores against a particular set of test impacts. Whether this is representative of effective protection depends on how much the test impacts are representative of real-life impacts that occour during accidents.

A high energy impact requires a strong shell and a dense liner to be absorbed. These characteristics though are unsuitable to absorb efficiently a low-energy impact. The opposite is true, of course.
You might therefore have a helmet which wil give you excellent protection against a single, massive high energy impact, which is quite rare, but a not optimal protection against a low-energy impact, which is more frequent.
The bottom lnie is that while is possible to design a helmet that passes the minimum requirements in a variety of tests, it's very, very difficult to design a helmet that passes with top marks EVERY single possible test.
All helmets that pass the EC22-05 (those on sale here in the UK) offer a very good minium level of protection. On top of that, some models might be optimised, by design or chance to score better than other in a particular test (in this case SHARP). But a helmet that scores 1 in SHARP is not 5 times less protective than one that scores 5. And, of course, a 200 quid helmet is not half as protective as one costing 400 pounds.

Last but not least: a good proper fit is the single most important factor in allowing the helmet to do its job properly. It's far mroe important to buy a helmet that fits properly, rather than one with the higher score in a particular test.

I woudl recommend anyone interested to read this fantastic article: http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/gearbox/motorcycle_helmet_review/index...

Ride Safe,

gedge wrote (see)

Dimebag wrote (see)

I will stick with the EC and ACU tests thanks

...as for the ACU test ..what test is that then? you can buy ACU gold stickers off ebay so they have virtually zero value..

Currently the ACU sticker is on every helmet is effectively just a tax - there in order to fund the ACU.  It is not any form of independent helmet testing whatsoever as the 'Gold' sticker was awarded to 'inspected' helmets that met the (now superseded) BSI Type A testing and 'Silver' to BSI Type B (but that is now discontinued because 22.05 has replaced both tests). The 'gold' sticker is now slapped on any helmet that the manufacturer/importer is willing to stump up the £5 for.

Interestingly, the 2 cheapest helmets I've got scored well:Caberg Trip = 5*X-lite x801 = 4*Co-incidentally (or not, given the reminders about fit being important) they are also the most comfortable, even though they've both remained a snug fit. However, they're both relatively noisy, which isn't a major problem as I wear earplugs.

Which lids can stop a bullet? Think about it ..... If your going at 70mph or above and leave your ride for whatever reason, it's going to feel like being shot if your in the way of a small stationary object, and there is no piece of plastic and foam going to stop it .... or stop it bending your head back to snap your neck ... Sorry for being so graphic, but it happens and too often, no matter what fancy lid.It's about piece of mind over price these days. Yes any testing is good and brings benefits but we need far more than is currently being done .... Are they going to ban low scoring lids? .. Debateable one that!If it fits and is comfy and 'feels' safe then what more do you need? (Apart from bullet proof!)

Scrappy_D wrote (see)

If your going at 70mph or above and leave your ride for whatever reason, it's going to feel like being shot if your in the way of a small stationary object, and there is no piece of plastic and foam going to stop it .... or stop it bending your head back to snap your neck ... Sorry for being so graphic, but it happens and too often, no matter what fancy lid.

On a First Bike on Scene first aid course I was on recently the paramedic said that, by far, the most horrific injuries and most common deaths they see were to wearers Moto-X type full face helmets - because they seem to cause the helmet to 'dig-in' rather than slide and that will give rise for more chance for necks to snap apparently. Worth thinking about that for some of you 'Long Way to Work' and supermoto types! 

FJS, thank you for increasing my awareness of life. I had no idea about the ACU Gold/Silver stickers and to what they related, I presumed that they were awarded after a full on test which certified the helmet for use on a race track. Guess I was wrong. Does that mean that I can ride on a track wearing a helmet that doe not have an ACU sticker?

Dimebag wrote (see)

 Does that mean that I can ride on a track wearing a helmet that doe not have an ACU sticker?

Not, as far as I know, in ACU orgnised events.But you can get your helmet 'inspected' and, for a fee, get a sticker for it.

Scrappy, a kevlar combat helmet will stop a bullet- our British G6 will survive several strikes from an AK-74 at fairly close range. It'll snap your neck if you fall off a bike wearing one though, they're bloody heavy .

I wouldn't believe anything our government says thanks. IMO this is a waste of OUR tax money and even smells of corporatism (government bigs up it's 'friends in business' in order for them to make money.) IMO it's a bit like H.I.P.s, most people take no notice of them and buy by using their own judgement amongst other things..

TD,turn your pm's on

Hey Flo  Why don't we have any kevlar bike helmets? I'm not being funny or anything but it strikes me as odd that we have the technology but don't appy it .....

The foam liner is the part that absorbs the impact, scrappy. Some top flight helmets use kevlar in their outer shell for it's excellent abrasion qualities, but the outer isn't designed to specifically stop penetration, at least to standards like ECE 22-05. Snell and the old British test produced good results against sharp object penetration, but at the cost of very heavy helmets. I was only half joking when I said a kevlar lid would break your neck!

The problem with the SHARP helmet safety scheme, as with any system of assessment is that it raises as many questions as it answers.What does the difference between a low score and a high score mean?  OK the 5* helmets supposedly provide the best protection, and sharp claim in this week's MCN "We have seen differences of as much as 70% in impact protection when comparing high and low SHARP scoring helmets"  What does that mean?  I guess it means that for one impact test the worst result was 30% of the best.  Is it reasonable to assume that every low scoring helmet will be the same?  I don't think so.As most good quality helmets seem to be 3* or better, what is the difference really?  What about helmets that have not yet been tested? I'm also curious to know what will be done in the future.  Assuming that helmet protection is still not as good as it could be.  Will we see 6 star helmets or older 5* helmets reclassified?  

>> We have seen differences of as much as 70% in impact protection when comparing high and low SHARP scoring helmets" What does that mean? I guess it means that for one impact test the worst result was 30% of the best.

Helmet tests measure the force trasmitted to the head during an impact, and the result is expressed in g (where 1g = gravity, or 9.81 m/s^2 to give it the correct value).
For each particular impact, the higher the g-number in the result, the higher the force trasmitted, and therefore the less protection.
I suppose that 70% MCN is talking about refers to the force trasmitted. So if a 5* helmet measured, say, 100g in a specific impact, a 70% worse helmet would give a result of 170g.

Regarding your other questions, as I have written above a test gives a good indication of the real-world protection offered by an helmet only if the test impacts are representative of real-world impacts. Also, an helmet optimised to give excellent results for impacts used in a particular test procedure (say, double hit on the same point) might give very different results for the impacts used in a different test procedure (which uses maybe single hits).

Ride Safe,

Whilst I appreciate your response.  I think you have rather missed my point, which can be summarised as "what does it actually mean?".Although SHARP claim that they have seen differences as high as 70% that statement doesn't make it any clearer what the difference is between helmets scoring differenty.  OK we can accept that a 5* helmet is better, and 1* worst, and all others are somewhere in between (whilst all helmets still meet the required standard).   I appreciate that this is not a simple question to answer..  But it's not answered by the rating system and not helped by the fact that the derivation of the score is kept secret.  The testing system (which is on the whole a good thing) is rather let down by the delivery of the results.

Fair one mate. It seems to me that HMG are trying to dumb down the results to keep things simple, no doubt thinking us knuckle draggers on bikes can barely read. Personally I'd like to see the graphs the engineers bring with them to bike shows posted up on their website, along with a table of results. They don't have to paste it all over the press, just make their results available to us as well as the manufacturers. The chap I talked to at the NEC said they keep an eye on bike forums, so you never know...

That sounds reasonable.I suspect you are right.  They want to present the results to the public in a simple form that people can understand.  Unfortunately for some of us, the simplistic result is just insufficient.  Personally I would like more information to show how or why the particular helmet has scored poorly, and where it has scored well.  In the end it may not help, but I would like to be the judge of that.  Obviously manufacturers get  more comprehensive feedback, otherwise it makes the whole system unworkable.I gather that some of the manufacturers have planned to improve the construction of their helmets in order to score better.  This may be seen as acceptance of the validity of the tests.  But it could actually just be acceptance of the fact that they must work with the test system.   At the end of the day it's simply not clear what is the potential consequence of purchasing a helmet that didn't score 5* in the SHARP test, over one that did.Something I am curious to know (assuming that there is always room for improvement, and helmets have not yet achieved perfection) is what would happen if some manufacturer produced a helmet that out performs a current 5* score.

Job done?  Talking to the guys, I got the impression that they'd probably sing the praises of the new lid far and wide- they certainly weren't shy about praising high scoring lids like Shark, Roof, AGV etc. at the NEC. Different in the press, where they have to be a bit more carefull what they say about specific manufacturers...

iBurty wrote (see)

Something I am curious to know (assuming that there is always room for improvement, and helmets have not yet achieved perfection) is what would happen if some manufacturer produced a helmet that out performs a current 5* score.

Perhaps (and I do not know) that 5* lids are at the limit, with current enforced helmet construction - rigid shell absorbing liner) , of what the human head can cope with and there cannot be a helmet that is 'better' than 5* and still fit the parameters?

iBurty wrote (see)

At the end of the day it's simply not clear what is the potential consequence of purchasing a helmet that didn't score 5* in the SHARP test, over one that did.

Actually there is -  Helmets that perform well when assessed offer users a significantly increased level of protection. Research has shown that if all riders wore the safest helmets available up to 50 lives could be saved each year.From the SHARP website.

FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

Helmets that perform well when assessed offer users a significantly increased level of protection. Research has shown that if all riders wore the safest helmets available up to 50 lives could be saved each year.From the SHARP website.

Actually further reading finds thisResearch indicated a strong recommendation to use 9.5m/s as the upper impact velocity. This may be too severe for many current production helmets.So perhaps there will be development in helmets that are measurably 'better' than the current 5*?

FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

iBurty wrote (see)

At the end of the day it's simply not clear what is the potential consequence of purchasing a helmet that didn't score 5* in the SHARP test, over one that did.

Actually there is -  Helmets that perform well when assessed offer users a significantly increased level of protection. Research has shown that if all riders wore the safest helmets available up to 50 lives could be saved each year.From the SHARP website.

All that says is that a 5* helmet offers you the best protection.  It doesn't provide any detail about what you are getting when you buy a 4* helmet, other than "better protection than a 3* but not as good as a 5*".   Which is the best that the rating system can do. 

iBurty wrote (see)

All that says is that a 5* helmet offers you the best protection.  It doesn't provide any detail about what you are getting when you buy a 4* helmet, other than "better protection than a 3* but not as good as a 5*".   Which is the best that the rating system can do. 

Lets presume that all CE/BSI/Snell helmets meet a standard that 'works' (it may not!).  The SHARP rating looks at those helmets and grades them between 1 and 5.  All still pass the same tests that they did before - they are still approved for use.  But some are tested to be measurably better than others.  I don't think 'how much 'less' a 1* is over a 3* is over a 5* really matters - but you can make a judgement when you are buying - do you want a £119 1* Vemar VSSEV or 5* Nitro N1700 VF?

FJSRiDER. wrote (see)

I don't think 'how much 'less' a 1* is over a 3* is over a 5* really matters - but you can make a judgement when you are buying - do you want a £119 1* Vemar VSSEV or 5* Nitro N1700 VF?

That's an extreme case.  But lets say you are looking at helmets to purchase and you find a 3* and 5* fit properly, but say the 3* has preferable features, maybe better ventilation, pehaps, or whatever.   You are theorectiically compromising protection to buy the 3*, but by how much? 

iBurty wrote (see)

But lets say you are looking at helmets to purchase and you find a 3* and 5* fit properly, but say the 3* has preferable features, maybe better ventilation, pehaps, or whatever.   You are theorectiically compromising protection to buy the 3*, but by how much? 

Not that much IMO - as they all are CE/BSI/Snell certified helmets in the first place. I'd like to see the explanation of how they got to the 'research has shown that if all riders wore the safest helmets available up to 50 lives could be saved each year' statement though.

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