Motorcycle helmets may not be required where you ride, but they’re part of your motorcycle protective riding gear equipment that ensures you get to your destination safely. In 1957 the SNELL Memorial Foundation was created. These engineers and scientists established testing methods for motorcycle helmets for safety across the board. Today, there are three main stickers that indicate a helmet is safety-rated. When you understand Snell, ECE and DOT ratings, you can better understand how to buy a helmet that will fit your needs.

ECE Ratings

The Economic Commission for Europe designed a standard for Europe countries. The current standard is 22.05. Any helmet that carries this standard has undergone testing by an independent lab before it can be rated as ECE 22.05 certified. The testing is comprehensive and includes safety features, shell rigidity and face shields. Although the ECE standard is younger than DOT, it is a good standard. However, the testing may not be high enough for speeds of the average rider in the United States.

DOT Ratings

The Department of Transportation rating standard is FMVSS 218. It’s considered a basic certification, but the requirements are quite rigorous. The helmet is tested for a strike anywhere within a large coverage area to show impact resistance. The problem with DOT testing is that an independent contractor does random testing. Helmets are rated on an honor system. Some experts believe that many of the helmets labeled as DOT-certified may not pass the standard.

Snell Ratings

The Snell Memorial Foundation determines the standards for these helmets. Street-use helmets standards are M2015 rated. Race-use helmets have the SA2015 sticker. To earn this certification, the helmet must undergo a rigorous battery of tests by a third party. Snell testing is probably the most thorough of all types of testing. It is expensive to get a helmet Snell certified. This cost is often passed on to the consumer. Snell helmets that are race-certified may not have some useful functions from street models. These helmets are often considered the gold standard and some racing bodies require Snell certified helmets.

SHARP Helmets

Sharp is a newcomer to the helmet safety industry. Instead of a pass-fail system, Sharp rates helmets on a star-system. There’s concern that consumers may not get the helmet that fits their needs. Testing for Sharp ratings are designed for European systems. American riding is much different and often much faster. You may not see many of these certifications in the United States when you’re shopping for Motocross riding gear.

Which Helmet Is Right For You?

Helmets can have one, two or even four ratings. The helmet you choose could have the three main ratings. If there are no stickers on the helmet indicating rating, you should be worried. Choosing a helmet isn’t as easy as just finding one you like. You should take into account fit, riding style, comfort and features. A $100 DOT helmet that fits you is better than a $1000 Snell helmet that is too big.

Shop online for motorcycle helmet sale and find the helmet that fits your needs to keep you safe where you ride.