Motorcycle Helmet Safety: Motorcycle Helmet Safety Ratings Explained - getgearedshop

Motorcycle Helmet Safety: Motorcycle Helmet Safety Ratings Explained

Out of all of the motorcycle clothing accessories that you can buy, only the helmet is a legal requirement. Therefore, there are rules and legally enforced motorcycle helmet safety ratings.

All helmets must pass certain tests to be road legal in the UK, but there is still a range of standards and different brands, styles and price points that meet the rating conditions to different degrees.

So, what is a safe helmet? In order to choose a motorcycle helmet that lives up to your personal safety requirements, you must understand to what extent motorcycle helmet safety ratings should influence your choices and how to use the SHARP rating system to find the right helmet for you.

Video: 2:00mins - Watch it instead on YouTube here: Motorcycle Helmet Safety: Motorcycle helmet safety ratings explained

What is a safe helmet? Motorcycle helmet safety ratings to know

The motorcycle helmet safety certifications and standards to know:

  • ECE 22.05 (soon to be superseded)
  • ECE 22.06 (the new European standard)
  • British Kite Mark (yet to be finalised UK version of the above)
  • Shark Helmet Safety Rating (a separate testing standard) 

The motorcycle helmet safety regulations that govern what is road-legal

There is the ECE 22.05 standard, which was replaced by the ECE 22.06 standard effective January 2022. And soon, the British Kitemark will find its way back into our lives to replace the ECE ratings, or at least live alongside those.

These stamps of approval mean the helmet has been subject to regulated testing criteria, so that the helmet is road legal. But: These motorcycle helmet safety testing standards operate on a 'Pass/Fail' basis: A helmet either stands up to a crash helmet impact test, or it doesn't.

You'll never know how much better a helmet performs than the minimum threshold. All the certifications tell you is that the really bad apples have been weeded out. You're still left with hundreds of helmets that are technically safe, but with no way of knowing how much safer some are compared to others.

SHARP rated motorcycle helmets: A 5 star rating system to provide more insight

In comes the SHARP helmet rating scheme. Sharp only deals with helmets ALREADY deemed road-legal and worthy of being worn on your head. It looks at (and tests further) a helmet that has passed the threshold, and awards it between one and five stars based on a range of impact tests. That way, you can easily compare different helmets in the market and have a better understanding of each helmet's safety performance. 1 star is the lowest rating, 5 stars is the highest rating.

This comes with a dilemma: SHARP ratings aren't always what you expect

If the SHARP motorcycle helmet safety rating for a helmet you're looking at is 1 or 2 stars, you may want to kick it to the kerb immediately and look further. You can do better, for sure.

But, what happens when the rating is 3 stars? What happens, when you would expect a higher result from a certain brand or price point, but the helmet you have your heart set on is awared 'only' 3 Stars? How do you decide?

Here's an example: The Shoei GT-Air II helmet is a fantastic helmet: It's got a three star rating. So does the HJC RPHA helmet. So do a few other top of the range helmets from Arai.

Should you prioritise a reputable brand over SHARP motorcycle helmet safety ratings

In the unfortunate event that you crash, it comes down to what you value most, bearing in mind that the helmets you're looking to buy will have passed legal certifications:

  • On the one hand, you might value a premium brand's expertise more. After all, their whole reputation rests on their motorcycle helmets' performance to be the best and safest in the market.
  • On the other hand, you could put more trust in a budget brand that offers a helmet with a four or five star motorcycle helmet safety rating.

Motorcycle helmet safety: What to do next?

To choose the safest motorcycle helmet, that is also comfortable on your head and that you like, the best thing to do is to research the regulations and SHARP ratings. Then talk to a specialist like ourselves to help you find the best crash helmet that does exactly the job that you need it to do and is comfortable to wear.

Once you understand motorcycle helmet safety standards, you can be confident that you know how to tell which helmets to reject. After that, all that's left to do is choose one! And, if you need help to get one that fits right, we are here to help.

Back to blog