What’s the Difference Between SNELL & ECE Ratings?

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When you are shopping for women’s or men’s motorcycle helmets, you may notice that many of them have SNELL and/or ECE ratings (others may have DOT ratings). These are safety ratings that help indicate which helmets have met the standards set by various regulatory bodies. Understanding what each rating means can help you to make a better-informed decision.

Are SNELL or ECE Ratings Better?

SNELL and ECE refer to ratings by the Snell Memorial Foundation and the Economic Commission for Europe, respectively. SNELL sets an entirely voluntary standard and testing procedures. It is not required for any road motorcycle helmets. A few racing bodies require SNELL-rated helmets, but for most people, this doesn’t matter.

ECE sets the standard for over 50 countries in Europe. It is a mandatory standard that is expected to be met by all helmets sold for road use in Europe. Technically, some helmets can be sold without it but they are “novelty” helmet and do not meet the safety standards.

While it is difficult to directly compare standards, SNELL is typically considered to be the most rigorous. However, the ECE ratings are also in-depth. Either rating indicates that the helmet is safe for use on the roads. Most SNELL rated helmets will also pass ECE for sale in Europe.

DOT Motorcycle Helmet Standards

The US Department of Transportation sets requirements for motorcycle helmets for sale in the U.S. Like the ECE, this rating is required for a proper road helmet in the body’s jurisdiction. However, unlike the ECE, the DOT rating is easier to attain.

Again, this does not mean that a DOT-rated helmet is unsafe or even less safe. However, SNELL and ECE have higher requirements. Keep in mind that helmet manufacturers do not always submit their helmets to every rating body.

How To Choose a Helmet

As you are delving into buying, safety should be a high priority. Your helmet is your main defence if you are in a crash. Having a high-quality helmet can be a literal matter of life and death.

Typically, full-face helmets are the safest because they cover the entire face and have few movable parts. Modular helmets are similar but lack the rigid chin guard. SNELL has frequently rejected modular helmets for this reason.

Check for the ratings from each body. First and foremost, make sure that the helmet meets DOT standards if you are riding in the US. Also, consider looking for a SNELL and/or ECE rated helmet. You can typically be confident that these will be safer. Of course, it is also important to find one that fits well and is sufficiently comfortable to wear. After all, you helmet will offer no protection if it isn’t on your head.

Get a Safety Rated Helmet Today

Now that you’ve learned a little bit of helmet safety ratings 101, take a look at some of the helmets currently on sale. Remember, you need to replace your helmet every five years roughly. Maybe it is time for an update. Make sure to check for the full safety rating information of any helmet you consider.

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