Motorcycle Helmet Standard – DOT VS ECE VS Snell VS ACU

Saleh Md. Hassan
February 6, 2018

Motorcycle Helmet is the most important safety gear for a motorcycle rider. It covers and enhances safety for the riders head and face which is most sensitive part of human body. Hence in our country motorcycle user also getting more aware of own safety. Sequentially they are getting more habituated with using standard quality helmets. To illuminate more on the quality helmet & standard we are herewith Motorcycle Helmet Standard – DOT VS ECE VS Snell VS ACU. Let’s head in to the discussion.


Standard Motorcycle Helmet Type & Category

Like the old days it’s not allowed to ride a motorcycle anywhere without a helmet. Again wearing a simple covering shield over the head also is not standard or authentic to ride a motorcycle.

At present motorcycle helmet standard covers various safety values. Considering the safety level standard safety helmets also have few categories. Accordingly there full face, motocross, flips-up, ADV, open face and half helmets are available worldwide.

Hence considering the least safety margin the half helmets are now quite out of standard. It gradually is loosing the authentication for motorcycle riders in many countries of the world. This type is now replaced widely with the open face or ¾ type helmets.

Whatsoever, considering the riding habit and terrain it’s safer to wear full face type street or adv helmets. And wearing at least the ¾ type helmet is minimum safety requirement for riding a motorcycle.

Motorcycle Helmet Standard

Motorcycle Helmet Standard – Manufacturing Standard

The standard motorcycle helmet follows some manufacturing standard. Following those standards manufacturer can ensure quality and reliability of their products. Those also help to gain international standard certification.

Modern motorcycle helmet design and construction is far different from other purpose of safety helmets. Considering three core concentrations motorcycle helmet design and construction is also different. Modern motorcycle helmet design cover the three core feature of

  • Preventing penetration of pointed, sharp or solid objects while riding or in time of crash. Protecting from distortion caused by foreign particles or pressure from outside the Helmet.
  • Secondly absorbing the shock or vibration of crashing or hitting.
  • Maintaining the retention system even in worst situation.

Therefore covering those three core features manufacturer R&D defines their design & construction material. Following those feature they determine the outer shell design &  material, inner layer type and design, padding, retention or latching, ventilation, visor/sun visor type & size, rivets or attaching mechanisms, information labeling etc.

Motorcycle Helmet Standard – International Standards

Hence after the manufacturing standard there are also some standards which certify a helmet to be qualified internationally. Very frequently those are known as DOT, ECE 22.05, Snell, ACU etc. Those certification ensures as that specific motorcycle helmet is manufactured maintaining that quality which defined or standardized by the certification authority.

In parallel with those international certification authorities there are also some local certification authority. They are maintained locally within the specific region or country. Like AS in Australia, NZ in New Zealand, SG or JIS in Japan, TIS in Thailand, SIRIM in Malaysia or IS in India etc.

Hence those local standard certifications cover the local rules and regulations considering their road & environment condition. But often they may not meet the international standard or may overlap.

Coming to the international certification the DOT, ECE, Snell or ACU very widely accepted. Though those certifications come from different region or authorities but they are worldwide considered and adopted standards.

Motorcycle Helmet Standard

DOT Certification for Motorcycle Helmet

DOT certification for motorcycle helmets come from U.S. Department of Transportation. The authority is from USA but it’s an international certification for standard motorcycle helmet.

DOT follows the standards and regulations from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS). DOT certification ensures the most basic and least margin of safety features. Hence those helmets which are not even DOT certified those can’t be considered as motorcycle helmet.

DOT standard is very much concentrated to the skull safety. The user face or chin safety in not under consideration of basic standard. Those are dedicated for full-face or ADV type helmets.

According to DOT standard the half size helmets also can be used for motorcycle as chin protection is not basic concern. But again rest of the three core manufacturing concentration of a standard helmet considered according to the category of the helmet.

ECE 22.05 Standard for Motorcycle Helmet

The ECE 22.05 certification comes from Economic Commission for Europe. The ECE certification comes under the clause no.22 of United Nations Agreement of 1958. Afterward five series (05) of amendment enhanced the regulation and standardized it for wide range of locality and it accepted worldwide.

Coming to the regulation, standard and testing procedure of ECE 22.05 is very similar to DOT regulation and standard. But there are few differences in between them where some of those are significant.

For example DOT certification of the motorcycle helmet comes for specific part of the helmet. But under ECE regulation the total helmet covers under same certification like chin protection or visor protection etc. Moreover ECE regulations are quite wider than the DOT regulation. Thus ECE or DOT with ECE certification is more preferred.

Snell Standard for Motorcycle Helmet

Snell certification is another international standard certification for motorcycle helmet. The standard is very specific and focused for racing type of motorcycle helmet. Snell certification comes from the nonprofit and non government organization that is Snell Memorial Foundation. It’s completely a voluntary organization who works for the safety of racing or sporting gear.

Accordingly certification on helmet the category is very limited for the motorcycle helmets. They standardize for more safety issue that is very significant term in hardcore racing or sporting. For example other category or street type helmet may get DOT certification but can’t get the Snell as DOT may not consider chin protection but Snell of-course covers that.

ACU GOLD Standard for Motorcycle Helmet

ACU Gold is another certification for racing type of motorcycle helmet. It comes from UK based Auto-Cycle Union (ACU). ACU gold certifies those racing legal helmets which essentially maintain the standards of ECE 22.05.

ACU Gold certification is very concretely focused for safety in racing and sporting. Accordingly in United Nation any type of racing or motorcycle sports like Tourist Trophy (TT) the rider must use ACU Gold certified helmets.


So guys, those were the brief on the motorcycle helmet standard, type and certification. Coming to the point which is better for whom and what the differences are those need more detailed discussion. Hope we will come in future focusing on those corners. Until then ride safe, stay safe and stay tuned with us. Thank you all.

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