Created in 1997, the EN-1078 standard was eventually approved (in 2012) by the European Committee for Standardization (or “CEN”) for all cycling, skateboarding and roller skating helmets sold in the following thirty-two nations, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey or the United Kingdom.
In other words, EN-1078 is a commonly recognized standard.
A different perspective.
EN-1078 has a lower maximum G threshold than the CPSC, Snell B-95 or ASTM F 1952 cycling helmet standards. In other words, helmets that transmit more than 250 G’s to the headform during impact testing fails EN-1078. The other standards mentioned above allow for up to 300 G’s.
Lower G’s equal more protection, right? All things being equal, yes.
But all things aren’t equal because testing standards differ. To be specific, EN-1078 requires four hits per helmet, but those impacts are not as powerful. Furthermore, EN-1078 only requires impact tests on two of the three anvils demanded by the other standards: There’s no hemi anvil impact test here.
Comparing impact energy across various standards can be a challenge since some standards call for impact testing with a single headform weighing 5 kilograms and other standards, including EN-1078, require testing with several headforms of various weights (in this case, 3.1 to 6.1 kilograms).
We can achieve a more “apples to apples” comparison of impact energies by holding headform weight constant at 5 kilograms and comparing the energy created at that weight, per a given standard’s drop-height requirements. In this case, that would mean EN-1078 impact energies are 73.5 Joules on the flat anvil and 53.9 Joules on the curbstone anvil—that’s about 25 joules less per impact on the flat anvil than required by the CPSC, Snell and ASTM standards.
Finally, the EN-1078 standard features lower test lines, meaning more of the helmet is required to withstand impact testing.
But does it provide less protection?
Some observers suggest that EN-1078 doesn’t offer as much protection to consumers because the testing isn’t as demanding. On its face, the argument seems logical, but it’s also worth noting that the actual incidence of brain trauma following cycling accidents does not appear to be higher in countries where EN-1078 is the law of the land. In the world outside the test lab, the EN-1078 standard doesn’t appear to be lacking.
As with the United States’ CPSC standard, helmet brands are responsible for certifying that their helmets meet the EN-1078 standards. They can either self-certify or pay a third-party laboratory to provide testing and record keeping.
*This chart compares impact energies across standards, per each standard’s required drop heights. For illustration purposes, it assumes a headform weight of 5 kilograms, though some standards actually test a variety of different headform sizes/weights).