I remember back in my Motorcycle Training Course we were taught that helmets endorsed by Snell were the way to go. But I have since read an article or two that claim Snell Helmets may actually be too strong (as in, they don’t slow a head’s speed fast enough), and that DOT 's standards should be enough.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Is it worth it for Snell, or are they over-rated?
I think the majority of full face helmets are going to be Snell anyway. I would find a helmet that fits. The big difference between the lower end models are they don’t have as good of linings, the safety is good, but the insides might come apart a bit easier. Get a good helmet, $150-200, for safety, unless you really want the fancy graphics some have.
This publication has also run a campaign to higher standards for crash helmets, in particular to equal the US Snell standard, which is better than the European standard.
We used to have the British Standard, but this is slowly being replaced by this EU standard (ECE 22.05 ), which was set in 1972, and is significantly worse than the British Standard, and very much worse than the US.
The problem for manufactures is that stronger crash helmets cost more to make, and differant countries/groupings have differant standards.
Some of these manfiacturers would like to go to the lowest level possible and get just inside those standards, but this means running several differant production lines for one helmet type for those differant markets.
It must be worth it for them to do it, to make and sell the helmets at the lowest standard that a particular market will allow, or they would not do it.
The reality is that if those manufacturers could find some reason to make the US lower its standards, then they would make more money.
The highest standard is Snell, which is intended to protect riders in competition.
The only manufacture that actually makes all its crash helmets wordwide to one standard, the Snell, is Arai, all the others make them according to the market.
Arai’s take on this is simply that it doesn’t matter what nationality you are, your head will hurt just as much following a crash in Europe as having a similar one in the US.
Big name makes such as Shoei, AGV, Lazer etc do not do this.
You can compare this with other manufacturers,
Go for the Snell standard, they are the best, you do not have to buy an Arai, you can pay a lot less, but I certainly would not pay more than the cost of an Arai, just to get less protection - even if it does meet all the lower standards.
Here is an explanation of Snell standards, which is mainly that it test things that can be measured and proven and have a significant bearing on safety, whilst the other standards do address some issues that Snell does not, there is not enough reliable evidence that those issues are either significant, or are differant enough from the overall standard to be worth addressing seperately.
The crucial thing in the findings is that no matter which helmet, they all exceed the upper impact limits, and all have lower impact transfer levels (which is a good thing) than the actual design standard used in manufacture.