[Street] Motorcycle helmets: a new stricter standard comes into effect from July 2022

From July 2022, manufacturers will no longer be able to homologate their new helmets to the ECE 22.05 standard in force since 2007, but will be subject to the ECE 22.06 standard for their new models. Existing helmets currently approved by ECE 22.05 may continue to be sold, but will no longer be marketed in 2024. As a user, of course, you can continue to ride as long as you want with an ECE 22.05 helmet, but remember that it is recommended to change a helmet every 5 years.

ECE has long been the standard of choice for motorcycle helmet safety. Manufacturers must follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of their products. This requires extensive testing. The ECE 22.05 standard seems outdated as helmet design technology has advanced and has not spread to accessories. Since January 2022, the new ECE 22.06 standard is in effect. This will be the only European standard effective from July 2022.

The new legislation introduced new testing (including rotational testing) and raised the limits that helmets must pass before they can be approved and therefore sold. With this new standard, helmets will be hit at low and high speeds with oblique impact tests that take into account the rotation of the brain in the event of an impact. The visor must resist the projection of steel balls thrown at a speed of approximately 216 km/h without breaking, deforming or being attached to the helmet. In order to obtain an accurate measurement of resistance, a sensor will now be fitted inside the helmet, which must prove its resistance not only to impacts but also to abrasion. Modular helmets will pass tests in the open and closed visor position.

For this reason, it has raised the bar for safety in practice. This means that while in some cases manufacturers will have to use thicker plastic shells, they will likely be able to maintain the same thickness by replacing the lamination and different types of composites (Kevlar, carbon and others) for fiber shells. .

But the main variation might be the inner polystyrene shell, remembered as absorbing the energy of an impact. The stronger the blow, the thicker the polystyrene needs to absorb energy without transmitting it to the wearer’s head. However, there is a way to prevent the volume of the helmet from becoming larger by using outer shells of different sizes. By using a single outer shell it is clear that the thickness of the polystyrene must be significant in order to always be able to absorb the energy of an impact, whereas if different sizes of outer shell are used it is possible to optimize the thickness. Inner polystyrene shell needed to absorb impact.

How does the ECE 22-06 standard take into account accessories?

Various communication systems and built-in sun visors have started to be attached to helmets in recent years and are not considered in any way in the ECE 22.05 standard. The new ECE 22.06 standard requires the helmet to be homologated with the installed system. This seems like a big step forward in terms of safety, as many times helmets and even internal polystyrene shells are modified to allow systems and batteries to be implemented. By testing helmets with hardware (internal and external) mounted on the helmet, it will be possible to assess whether the communicator reduces the safety of the helmet. The same applies to indoor sunshades, which cannot be added after approval but must be installed beforehand during laboratory testing.

More security = higher prices

It is undeniable that helmet prices have increased due to new technologies. It is clear that a safer product costs more than a cheaper one. The use of nobler fibers or, as we have just seen, a greater number of caps results in increased costs for manufacturers. Riders should expect helmets that meet the new ECE 22.06 standard to be priced higher than ECE 22.05 helmets. Consumers will pay these new prices. Companies have invested years in R&D and money to revamp their operations. Brands will continue to provide inexpensive headphones to individuals on a tight budget.

But if manufacturers have time to step up, so do customers. Once the industrial chain is established and old stocks are depleted, it will be until January 2024 that stores have to sell them.