Quality of Helmets? - TwoWheelForum: Motorcycle and Sportbike forums
 
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2008, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quality of Helmets?

I just got word today of something that's bothering me enough to post this, so I'd like to know what everyone's thought is about this.
my cousin is an L.A.P.D. officer and he just so happens to be a sportbike rider as well. He called me today to warn me of what he came across.

This past weekend, he handled an accident regarding a rider and a cager. Basically the cager turned left in front of the oncoming rider and the rider went head on slamming his head onto the roof of the car and died instantly (my condolences). The doctor had bluntly told my cousin that the head trauma was due to the insufficient quality of the helmet, also saying that he has a lot of experiencing dealing with motorcycle accidents and there are significant differences in quality among full face helmets. The doc said a better helmet would've saved his head.
My cousin told me the helmet that was involved was a scorpion that was snell approved, however he didn't mention what model nor is it known how much wear/damage the lid sustained before the accident.
Did I mention that the rider was only going 30 mph?!?

Now I dont know how credible the doc is or if the lid involved was a questionable one or not, but I'm definitely gonna do some homework on this. I admit, I haven't researched the quality of helmets as much as I should, but I'm definitely gonna do that now.

I know the risk of death everytime i hop on my bike, but if I die, I definitely don't want it to be because of a low quality helmet

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 12:03 AM
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I have no real experience, but 30 mph straight into a stopped object would be hard on anyone's head.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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yea but the point i was referencing is that 30mph (thats only 1st gear!) is below speed limit here in cali. could u imagine doing 50mph? ive been commuting w/ my gsxr thru ridiculous traffic extensively lately and have had cagers cut me off plenty of times, so i wanna make sure my big @ss dome is protected by the best stuff out there. and its time i be responsible and do my research and make sure of it....

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
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http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/ge...iew/index.html

interesting but long read. so according to these test results, dot-only certified helmets are actually safer than snell certified?!?

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 09:03 PM
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SNELL n DOT standards are what determines how well a helmet protects your head. A more expensive helmet doesnt necessarily mean it will protect better. usually just means it will fit more comfortably, be quieter, and maybe look better depending on ones taste and style.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 07:15 AM
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many people feel that the ECE 22-05 is a way safer rating than the snell rating. The ECE 22-05 is a batch test and is supposedly more realistic in its methods of testing than the snell test.

And i also read that DOT only helmets are safer than snell because the snell approved helmets are specifically designed to pass the snell certification. And if many people feel that the snell tests are unrealistic, than anyone who buys a snell helmet is essentially buying a helmet whose only realistic purpose is to pass a snell test. When we ride, were not performing a snell test. We dont ride to replicate the conditions of any test.

personally, I just crashed an icon domain helmet. Scuffed up the shell real bad... and dont wanna take chances on the eps being damaged. I keep hearing recommendations towards the ECE 22-05 rating, and my next lid will most likely carry this rating. Im currently looking at the shark helmet line. The new SparX line also has ECE 22-05 lids and they retail for about $100-150 tops.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 05:57 PM
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Helmets don't save everyone.

That said, there are some major differences in the certifications. I think that article is one I've read and if it is it discusses those differences. Scorpions meet DOT and SNELL standards, SNELL tests for higher impact crashes and repeated impact crashes. As a result, SNELL helmets can stand up to more impact but don't absorb less impact as well. There's also the Euro standard which a lot of people like.

In the end, I'd rather have the SNELL approved one because there's always a chance of high impact and they do meet DOT standards.

Did the person in the crash you referenced die because of head trauma or was it something with his spine? It's certainly possible that his head was intact but his neck was not.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 06:00 PM
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My helmets are both SNELL and DOT approved.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 06:28 AM
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Helmets don't protect your neck.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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don't specifically know what happened in the accident, or if any other body parts were injured (im sure there were). but the doc told my cousin that a better quality helmet (im assuming safety-wise, not cost-wise) would've kept him alive, so therefore i can only assume that the primary reason for death was from the head trauma. but then again, i'm only speaking from my assumptions...and also keep in mind, this guy's only a doctor, not an engineer or quality control for shoei or arai....

but its a crazy thought at how those polycarbonate shells absorb more impact than my fiberglass one...

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Last edited by p00kienrayray; 03-09-2008 at 01:53 PM.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 11:14 AM
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a year ago, my buddy was in a bad accident and his head was fine and the helmet wasnt too bad. he had an akuma helmet on. i personally wear a shark. i also heard there is a company that makes a jacket "air" bag.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 10:56 AM
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Thumbs up The answers are out there...

Everything you need to know about motorcycle helmet safety can be
found in the '05 Motorcyclist extensive article, comparing SNELL,
ECE, and British standards. The gist of the article is, SNELL helmets
are harder than their ECE or British counterparts, and thus transmit
MORE force to the rider's head, thus more potential trauma.
2 of my 3 helmets are Italian-made, thus meeting the ECE standards,
as opposed to SNELL.
The next time I get a "lid", I will seriously consider the new Craft ones.
They're made in Europe, not China or Korea, and are the only helmets,
they say, to meet ALL THREE standards (and the black chrome ones
look awesome, too!). And actually cheaper than Arais and Shoeis.
What's not to like?
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p00kienrayray View Post
don't specifically know what happened in the accident, or if any other body parts were injured (im sure there were). but the doc told my cousin that a better quality helmet (im assuming safety-wise, not cost-wise) would've kept him alive, so therefore i can only assume that the primary reason for death was from the head trauma. but then again, i'm only speaking from my assumptions...and also keep in mind, this guy's only a doctor, not an engineer or quality control for shoei or arai....

but its a crazy thought at how those polycarbonate shells absorb more impact than my fiberglass one...
If this isn't a bs post, then the following....The doc likely never saw the helmet, nor would he be qualified to make any judgments about crash helmet performance in the least even if he did see them on occasion.

Fiberglass is used to save weight, not for any other reason. Just as in any other use of fiberglass. It's stronger for a given weight than plastic resins with no support. Shoei and Arai have big racing marketing history, so they use and exploit lower weight materials and designs, because everything made for racing centers around weight and aerodynamic advantage, typically with less priority to performance. In the case of crash helmets, performance standards are just that, and materials are not something that is specified to pass the thresholds.

There is speculation that because car parts may give that crash helmets should be tested against concave surfaces, and that helmets made to withstand convex, or load concentrated surfaces will allow more g's in such events, but that is not likely when dealing with the physics of such a hit. The roof of a car may actually absorb some of the energy of the hit, and when the least resistant surface reaches it's stopping point, the next will take the energy. That means it will flatten out and the helmet liner will continue the braking process, with the head applying the force just the same.

Here's what Ed Becker of Snell said about various surfaces from some email correspondence:

"I don't know what initial assessment was made when the hemisphere was first invoked in standards but it and the flat were both in the first Snell standard issued in '59 and both came from BSI standards which were really the first consumer crash helmet standards anywhere. Although the idea seems appealing, ultimately, helmet testing is not really crash simulation. The hemi is not based on any commonly encountered road feature or grill ornament. We use it because it is simple and because we have a history of helmets tested against it that later proved effective in the field.

The reason to keep the hemisphere is that in crashes, heads and helmets can't count on striking flat impact surfaces only. By demanding that helmets meet test criteria for hemi as well as flat surfaces, we get good assurance that the same helmet will offer protection for every shape of surface between the two. A helmet that has done well against the hemi and the flat will do even better against a highway dot or a section of curbing.

In the spirit of this, at least one expert has suggested that we test against concave anvils selected to match the outer curvature of the helmet shell. Some measure of the flat anvil performance draws on shell characteristics. With concave impacts, we would eliminate the effects of the shell so the test would effectively dictate impact liner behavior. Once the designer had solved the concave impact requirements, he could then optimize liner thickness and shell stiffness to meet the hemi impact requirements. If the helmet could meet both the concave and hemi (convex) it would surely do even better against the flat. The directors were impressed with the concept but decided against it. The scheme called for the degree of concavity to match the helmet curvature but it didn't seem right to let the helmet choose the impact surface. I was glad not to have to mess with it mostly because we would have needed several sets of concave anvils each of which would have been much more expensive to machine than a simple flat.

There are more ways to go off a bike than anyone could anticipate while we get only a relatively few tests on which to base our judgments. The procedures are set to encompass a broad a range of potential impact surfaces in the severest impact configuration and at the severest impact velocity we think manageable. Some think our standard pays too much attention to the hazards inherent in load concentrating surfaces. But from COST 327 and from ITARDA data from Japan, that seems to be where the fatalities are occurring. Maybe because other standards aren't paying enough attention. Right now, though, we do have a good indication that helmets prevent brain injuries, not always but often enough that every motorcyclist ought to wear one. And often enough that I'd hesitate to tinker with the balance between the flat and hemi anvils in the “hope” of getting an improvement.

The reason that many EC qualified helmets do poorly in Snell testing is that the helmets might not handle the load concentrating anvils, the hemi and the edge. In Snell type testing, we see the helmet wall crushed completely before the impact is over so that the remainder of the shock is transmitted directly to the head form. The reason that many Snell qualified helmets may not do well in EC type testing is because of the more stringent flat anvil impact criteria. ECE 22-05 invokes the head injury criteria in addition to a peak g limit. Because of other differences in the standards, however, it looks as if Snell and EC 22-05 may be compatible for sizes XL and greater. There's no doubt that they diverge pretty starkly as head size gets smaller.

The real issue with helmets though, is, eventually, you get the protection demanded in the standard and not much more. Europe is looking for lesser protection from load concentrating surfaces so their helmets have trouble against Snell's hemi and edge. Snell has set conservative criteria for evaluating flat anvil performance but Europe's are even more conservative. The upshot is Europeans may get a moderately softer bump for a less severe impact but they may be at greater risk in a more severe crash or against a more hazardous impact surface. People with Snell or BSI 6658 type A helmets, conversely may get a moderately harder bump but may also have an advantage in more severe impacts or with load concentrating surfaces.

Since we believe that this moderately harder bump is still well within safe limits, and we've got a few studies indicating that adults and children do well wearing bicycle helmets qualified with the same 300 G criterion, the difference seems to favor those wearing the Snell qualified headgear.

The hemi doesn’t necessarily prejudice the standard toward or away from particular shell materials. Fiberglass may delaminate but polycarbonates may split or, in some cases, fold-in past the point where resistance to further flexion starts to diminish. I think the advantages one may offer over another are largely economic. You can build Snell qualified helmets with either so the choice will depend on production volumes and on labor costs versus tooling costs."

And here's what Becker says on the subject in his reply to Motorcyclist Magazine regarding the data from the COST 327 European accident study data and road hazards:

The COST 327 report, the same European study mentioned in the article, goes further. It suggests that this number will be much larger than 25% and the resulting hazard much greater than mere flat impact imposes. Their crash study indicated impact surfaces as follows:

“A round object was the most frequently struck, 79%, and the severity of injury was fairly evenly distributed. An edge object, for example a kerbstone was the least likely to be struck, 4%, but the most likely to cause a severe, AIS 5, injury. A flat object was struck in 9% of cases but was the least likely to cause an injury.”

The immediate conclusion is: the asphalt slab testing is, at best, incomplete. Impacts against flat surfaces will not tell anyone all they need to know about protective performance. Flat impacts are not the whole story and, if the European data is good, and I’ve got no reason to doubt it, flat impacts may be the least important crash consideration."

"Frequently, when a rider spills onto the pavement, he will not be able to maintain a controlled slide while his cruising velocity gets scrubbed off. If he gets even a little out of shape he’ll start to tumble and sustain multiple strikes to all his extremities. His helmet may need to manage a succession of impacts. And there’s also no doubt that if he goes off his bike and strikes something less friendly than flat pavement, for example: a vehicle turning left across his right of way, even that first impact by itself may be considerably more serious than any eight foot drop could ever be."

According to the Hurt Report:

Over eighty percent of riders with head injuries, were either not wearing a helmet or it came off (Hurt, 1981).

Here's a diagram from the COST study data that shows the areas of the head most likely to be impacted:

http://www.flamesonmytank.co.za/images/helmetDamage.gif

The severity of the impact energy used in Snell tests also requires a greater coverage area than any other standard, even when the test lines cover less area, and especially at the edges where the integrity is most compromised by the impact energy.

Snell has revised the 2010 standard to be more in line with ECE equivalents, with a reduction to 275G peak, and headform weights to correspond to new data that correlates head size to weight so that the divergence in HIC values will be negated. So, Snell helmets will still give the additonal range that is so valuable, while also keeping in line with the threshold values used by other standards, which should ease industry trade concerns over building different specs to sell in different regions and the loss of profit margin over the issue for manufacturers.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 06:55 AM
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Question ouch!

You don't know if the guy had previously damaged the helmet, that could have weakened it before hand, I saw a guy that had screwed spikes all across the top of his helmet one time. I like KBC myself.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pootiestang View Post
I have no real experience, but 30 mph straight into a stopped object would be hard on anyone's head.
Yes it most definitely would. I slammed into a car at about 30 mph with my leg and foot (riding a cruiser type bike) and my ankle popped...my foot twisted around toward me and my femur (thigh bone) popped out through my jeans....yep that was a fun day.

I know this thread is about helmets and heads but as stated...a straight on shot with your head into a hard surface isn't going to be a good thing no matter which helmet you're wearing. I'm not talking about glancing blows and or bouncing down the street...I'm talking straight on BAM with your head.

I'm fine with my Snell/Dot approved helmets...HOWEVER sure...I will look into these ECE 22-05 rated helmets and others as well.

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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leftcoasttim View Post
Everything you need to know about motorcycle helmet safety can be
found in the '05 Motorcyclist extensive article, comparing SNELL,
ECE, and British standards. The gist of the article is, SNELL helmets
are harder than their ECE or British counterparts, and thus transmit
MORE force to the rider's head, thus more potential trauma.
2 of my 3 helmets are Italian-made, thus meeting the ECE standards,
as opposed to SNELL.
The next time I get a "lid", I will seriously consider the new Craft ones.
They're made in Europe, not China or Korea, and are the only helmets,
they say, to meet ALL THREE standards (and the black chrome ones
look awesome, too!). And actually cheaper than Arais and Shoeis.
What's not to like?
That article is an interesting read but I don't know that I would take everything it says as fact. I often see bias in their articles. Just my


License2ill - Thanks for posting that info, it's nice to hear from the actual companies sometimes.

Personally, I'm waiting for a helmet that meets both the Euro standards and Snell but at this point they counteract each other. The US DOT standards aren't that amazing, most helmets meet them.

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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 11:39 PM
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That article is an interesting read but I don't know that I would take everything it says as fact. I often see bias in their articles. Just my


License2ill - Thanks for posting that info, it's nice to hear from the actual companies sometimes.

Personally, I'm waiting for a helmet that meets both the Euro standards and Snell but at this point they counteract each other. The US DOT standards aren't that amazing, most helmets meet them.
Any DOT-spec'd helmet can pass ECE. That's why they are pushing for DOT and ECE recognition. The manufacturers want to produce a single spec to the lowest common denominator.
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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-13-2008, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by p00kienrayray View Post
The doc said a better helmet would've saved his head.
My cousin told me the helmet that was involved was a scorpion that was snell approved, however he didn't mention what model nor is it known how much wear/damage the lid sustained before the accident.
Did I mention that the rider was only going 30 mph?!?

I know the risk of death everytime i hop on my bike, but if I die, I definitely don't want it to be because of a low quality helmet
No helmet can protect the head(brain) from all forseeable impacts and injury. Choose the helmet that actually fits the best depending you your head shape/size. Several companies (ie. Arai, Shoei) even make different models for a variety of head shapes but for comfort and protection it will take a bit of trial and fitment to determine what fits best.

Don't ignore the rest of the gear while riding as well. Gloves, jacket, pants and boots. While head injury is most likely to be fatal, leg(especially), hand, arm & shoulder injuries are far more common.

Far and away the best thing is to learn the mental skills necessary to avoid getting into the crash in the first place. Operator error is more likely to get riders into trouble. Speed, alcohol, lack of cornering and braking skills all can contribute to an increased likely-hood to being a statistic. Look into exercising the brain and maybe pick up a book like "Proficient Motorcycling".
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