ECE 22.05 < back

The Most Common Motorcycle Standard

ECE 22.05 was created by the Economic Commission for Europe, is legally required in nearly 50 countries, including many outside of Europe, though it is often referred to as “the European standard”. ECE-22.05 is also approved for competition by many organized race associations, such as the AMA, Formula USA and Moto GP.

Lower impact velocity/energy.
This standard features a maximum threshold of 275 G’s. Impact testing is not as stringent as that of either the Snell M2015 or DOT standards, in that ECE 22.05 only requires singe impacts on any particular location on the helmet (DOT and Snell demand two impacts per location) and it tests on two anvils—flat and curbstone—at lower velocities than the Snell standard. Moreover, ECE 22.05 does not include a shell penetration test.

Proponents of the ECE 22.05 approach argue that motorcyclists are unlikely to hit the exact same location on their helmet during any single crash—making double impact testing unrealistic and unnecessary. They also contend that while the lower impact energies generated by the curbstone anvil pose less of a challenge for helmet manufacturers, the shape of this particular anvil is a closer match (than the edge or hemi anvils) to what riders would actually encounter on the roads.

One thing that is beyond debate: the ECE standard strictly defines which sections of the helmet may be impacted during testing. Snell and DOT, by contrast, allow technicians the flexibility to pinpoint spots on the helmet that are most prone to failure and subject those spots to impacts. Critics of ECE’s approach suggest that in clearly outlining and restricting the places on a helmet that can be impact tested, the standard may unintentionally create a situation in which manufacturers build helmets that easily pass the ECE test, yet only offer partial protection.

A wider range of non-impact tests.
ECE 22.05 puts helmets through a wider battery of safety tests (moving beyond impact and penetration tests) than either Snell M2015 or DOT. This standard, for instance, tests the abrasiveness of the helmet shell. A helmet shell that exhibits a high degree of friction on impact is likely to cause the rider’s head to twist more on impact. This, in turn, may increase rotational accelerations and the risk of traumatic brain injuries. ECE’s abrasion test is designed to help manufacturers develop helmets that minimize twisting forces transmitted to head and neck. The ECE standard also includes provisions for testing helmet shell rigidity by measuring how much the shell deforms under loads of up to 630 Newtons.

The ECE, like Snell, does not allow manufacturers to self-certify that they have passed their standard. Instead, the ECE requires that each manufacturer send a batch of helmets to a designated third-party laboratory charged with verifying that the submitted helmets satisfy the standard’s requirements.

*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).

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