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Discussion Starter #1
I was in my MSF course on Friday night. We got the section on safety equipment. I asked a question about helmets and if DOT helmets vary much by material. I was told to wait a minute to talk about helmets. A couple of minutes later, here is the gist of what was said:
DOT has four requirements - Outer shell, inner liner, attachment system (usually a chin strap) and a sticker. That's it. Companies are supposed to do some testing of their own equipment.
SNELL Certification is much better - This foundation tests helmets in many different ways and has higher standards than DOT. The SNELL stickers show these helmets are much safer. Also, SNELL only approves full-face helmets. You want to be safe, especially when protecting your head and brain. Don't you think you should have the safest helmet possible.
Also, if your helmet is involved in a crash, it must be replaced. If I drop a helmet and it falls three feet or more, it needs to be replaced.

OK. So, my helmet is DOT, not SNELL. I started digging some online (found other certifications outside of the USA). DOT standards are set and must be followed. The DOT standards and testing differs from SNELL. Some helmets would pass DOT and fail SNELL and some would pass SNELL and fail DOT.

SNELL helmets with higher marks seem to be made out of fiberglass to make the outer shell stiffer. The SNELL foundation drops helmets from 10 feet and 7.75 feet onto the same spot on the helmet. SNELL drops the helmets onto a flat part of an anvil, the round part of an anvil and onto a steel orange (looks like an orange).

DOT requires helmets to be dropped from like 7.75 feet onto a flat part of anvil and a rounded spot (if I remember) but not the puncture test. DOT requires companies to pay to have their helmets tested. DOT also randomly tests a few helmets from manufacturers throughout the year.

SNELL website says - No modular helmets have been submitted for testing. It's not that they wouldn't approve something besides a full face, it just hasn't been submitted for testing. Also, an empty helmet falling from three feet really doesn't suffer damage because there is nothing inside the helmet to compress the padding and the outer shell can take the drop.

The stiffer helmets (that SELL leans toward) seem to actually transfer more g's to the head. The poly-carbonate helmets (DOT but not necessarily SNELL approved) tend to bend and give more on the outer shell, dispensing some of the impact energy and creating less g's to the head. The difference is kind of like a car made of steel and stiff for protection and a car made with crumple zones to absorb impact energy.

So, what do you think? Do people hit the same spot on their helmets when they fall? Do people get launched 10 feet into the air when riding on the street? If you fell straight onto your head from 10 feet, what is the likelihood you would break your neck, no matter what the helmet did? Do companies upcharge because they have the SNELL certification? How many people run into a steel orange when they are riding?
 

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Your thread title is a very apt one for the topic.

People can and will argue the nuances of the two helmet certifications ad nauseam.

I'm not a neurologist, nor have I played one on TV. So I will offer no opinion about which helmet type might be better. (For the record, I have one of each.)

I will, however, state my firm opinion that any safety-organization-certified helmet is better than no helmet. If it's comfortable and people willingly wear it, then it's the best helmet.

.
 

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most new snell rated helmets are ceritifed to Snell 2010, I am not sure if anyone has been certifying to the new Snell 2015.

i personally where a snell 2010 rated helmet, therefore full face.

its your personal decision what type and rating of helmet to wear or not to wear.
 

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I think that just riding along a helmet is not necessary but glasses are even with a windshield. I think that in a crash a helmet should be worn and the biggest strongest one would be best. You certainly don't want to mess up your money maker but you want it to be cool. Catch 22.
 

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Life is a compromise. One could buy a snell, replace all your brakes with dual disc floating racing style ABS, etc, buy only the top rated tires that last 4000 miles, wear full leathers with armor or just give up and drive a HumVee.

When it turns warm and we are all riding again, most will ride on their stock tires, use their stock brakes, wear jeans and a jacket and what ever helmet fits them, style and size. To me arguing about snell vs dot is nothing more than a my oil is better than your oil thread. This topic has been posted and discussed hundreds of times and guess what, two people out of 10,000 buy a new helmet, the rest use their dot or old snell.

Protect yourself, ride safe, but when I pull over at some mountain overlook, please do not come over to me and start *****'n at my DOT helmet. It fits me! I think fit is the most important feature of a DOT or snell helmet. If in my riding I happen to fall 7-1/2 feet onto a steel orange, I'll pay the price. However, from now on I will really keep my eyes open and alert for steel oranges.
 

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The difference between the two is who does the testing for certification. For a DOT sticker, a manufacturer is required to do their own testing, then submits that data to the NHTSA for certification. DOT certification is granted solely on that data. However, the NHTSA also does spot compliance checking of their own and many of these DOT certified helmets DO NOT meet minimum performance requirements, meaning the manufacturer either fudged the data or outright lied. We've seen a number of recalls because of that.

Snell testing and certification is done by an independent lab, where manufacturers submit examples of their helmets for performance testing by the independent lab. If a helmet has a Snell sticker on the back, it has passed ALL DOT requirements as well as all Snell requirements.

We can argue till we're blue in the face whether the stiffer shell on a Snell rated helmet really transfers more energy or not, but the data shows that the EPS liner INSIDE the helmet is sufficient to absorb impact energy and prevent many brain injuries.

I will not ride with anything less than a Snell rated helmet. Period.
 

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I need to add the qualifier that I've bounced my brain off the tarmac twice in my life. Once at 60 mph, the other at 45. Both times I was wearing a Snell rated helmet. The helmets were trashed, but I got up and literally walked away from the wrecks. It is Snell or not riding.
 

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I need to add the qualifier that I've bounced my brain off the tarmac twice in my life. Once at 60 mph, the other at 45. Both times I was wearing a Snell rated helmet. The helmets were trashed, but I got up and literally walked away from the wrecks. It is Snell or not riding.
Do I understand the intention of this remark is that you believe that if you had been wearing a DOT full face helmet that you would not have been able to walk away?

Guess I am just feeling testy today, I'd better go find a "which is oil is better" or "loud pipes thread."
 

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Do I understand the intention of this remark is that you believe that if you had been wearing a DOT full face helmet that you would not have been able to walk away?
i think you're reading in to it / generalizing.

i think he is saying he personally tested (twice) Snell rated helmets, liked the results and he personally would only ride with a Snell rated helmet.

who knows how any other rated helmet or type of helmet would of fared in his testing.
 

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i think you're reading in to it / generalizing.

i think he is saying he personally tested (twice) Snell rated helmets, liked the results and he personally would only ride with a Snell rated helmet.

who knows how any other rated helmet or type of helmet would of fared in his testing.
That is exactly my point. As has been discussed in the past, just because a helmet HAS a DOT sticker on the back, does NOT mean that it will work as advertised in the event of a crash. There have been many brands of DOT certified helmets recalled and discontinued by NHTSA order because their product does NOT meet minimum NHTSA requirements. I would rather not play roulette with my brain, thank you very much.

If the DOT helmets were ACTUALLY TESTED by the DOT to get their certification, it would be a different story. But since they are tested by the manufacturers and the DOT certification is granted solely on those submitted tests, I am, shall we say, dubious of the certification......
 

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The other issue to consider is that, as I understand it, ALL helmets get DOT testing. But a manufacturer has to actually submit to Snell. If a Snell sticker isn't on the helmet, it may not mean that it failed--it may just mean that the manufacturer didn't submit it for testing.

Rumor has it that Snell is going to start rating modular helmets in the not-too-distant future. Right now Snell won't pass a modular.
 

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The other issue to consider is that, as I understand it, ALL helmets get DOT testing. But a manufacturer has to actually submit to Snell. If a Snell sticker isn't on the helmet, it may not mean that it failed--it may just mean that the manufacturer didn't submit it for testing.

Rumor has it that Snell is going to start rating modular helmets in the not-too-distant future. Right now Snell won't pass a modular.

Looks like that 'not-too-distant future' is already here.

LS2 Modular Motorcycle Helmet Epic Black Snell Approved - Honda Gold Wing Parts & Accessories by WingStuff.com
 

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Discussion Starter #15
How much does the chin protection matter in the Snell test? Snell doesn't drop helmets on the chin bar.

From what I read, many manufacturers getting DOT send their helmets to a testing facility/company outside of their own company. This isn't much different from sending a helmet to the testing facility at Snell.

Skrapiron, did you fly up into the air 10 feet on those crashes? Just curious about the basic details. The now famous Hurt Report (testing done in the late 1970s and published in 1981, yep over 30 years ago) points to people falling from a height of six feet or less. I also read that the majority of crashes happen at less then 24 mph by the time braking is applied.

Part of my point was the MSF person putting down the DOT and dismissing it. Then, in not so many words telling everyone to get a helmet tested by Snell.

A company failing DOT testing over and over will not last long in the business.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
most new snell rated helmets are ceritifed to Snell 2010, I am not sure if anyone has been certifying to the new Snell 2015.
The Snell rated helmets at the 2005 standard could be sold until like 2010+, if I remember. The Snell 2010 took some time to hit the market. The Snell 2015 won't kick in until later.

Snell has definitely been huge in forcing overall safety improvements to helmets. Their influence has helped us all, even if we don't wear a Snell approved helmet.

I read reports of people wearing the helmet I have that crashed with them on. This helped quite a bit in making my buying decision.
 

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How much does the chin protection matter in the Snell test? Snell doesn't drop helmets on the chin bar.

From what I read, many manufacturers getting DOT send their helmets to a testing facility/company outside of their own company. This isn't much different from sending a helmet to the testing facility at Snell.

Skrapiron, did you fly up into the air 10 feet on those crashes? Just curious about the basic details. The now famous Hurt Report (testing done in the late 1970s and published in 1981, yep over 30 years ago) points to people falling from a height of six feet or less. I also read that the majority of crashes happen at less then 24 mph by the time braking is applied.

Part of my point was the MSF person putting down the DOT and dismissing it. Then, in not so many words telling everyone to get a helmet tested by Snell.

A company failing DOT testing over and over will not last long in the business.
The MSF instructor is basically correct about the DOT standard. Since it is NOT the DOT doing the certification, companies HAVE submitted falsified data to get their DOT certification. The most recent was Advanced Carbon Composites. They were selling a DOT certified line of minimalist helmets that did not pass NHTSA compliance testing, not once, not twice, but three times! They were ultimately shut down by the NHTSA for their business practice.

If you do a google search on NHTSA helmet testing, you can review the white sheets for every helmet selected for compliance testing. It is eye-opening just how many of those DOT helmets fail compliance testing.

In my case, I had two high-side wrecks, The first, I was thrown from the bike and landed on the cheek/side of my helmet at 60 mph and rolled down the interstate before skidding to a halt. The second, I went over the handlebars and was ejected OVER my windscreen, ultimately landing face first. In both cases, a half helmet or a 3/4 would have likely killed me.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Take a look at this page: here. From 2000, 24 helmets failed the DOT NHTSA testing. Of these, 18 failed for having labeling problems. Knowing helmets fail DOT inspection is one thing, but knowing why they failed is another. 2008 had more helmets that failed for perf problems. Details
 
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