Snell now has 2 different cert testing criteria


I suspected Snell was painting itself into a corner by doubling down on its criteria vis a vis the ECE & FIM test models.

Just to note, this only affects motorcycle helmets from what I understand yes?

Any SA or K-rated helmet remains unchanged in how it’s certified.

The thing is, we’re not strapped into our seats, so in a worst case scenario, I tend to think a MC rating is more appropriate for karting than an auto rating, & MC helmets are frequently used in karting.

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Not really, you would think so but karting doesn’t have the same visor angle requirements that you get in motorcycles. Which is why SA helmets are generally considered the safer helmet for karting as the letterbox is much smaller. Also, SA helmets have to pass all thr normal M rated standards as well as have fire resistance. The K rating is just SA without fire resistance materials.

The problem I have with the Snell rating is that is only the best choice for the most extreme impact. The shock absorbing liner in a Snell helmet is much stiffer than other liners. So in lesser impacts, the damage to the brain is higher in a Snell than those softer liners. It sucks when your helmet causes more injury. I’m only talking liners at this point, not shell material.

We in the motorcycle road racing community have argued for movement away from Snell for this reason. There is resistance to change even with the new data in the motorcycle community, as change is difficult.

I’m not even sure it’s best for extreme impacts. The point of a helmet is to absorb & disperse impact energy, not sustain & transmit it to the wearer.

Another article

When I worked at Trek/Bontrager, I know the helmet engineers had a lot of conversations about solutions to the soft vs. stiff EPS. While I was there they developed their WaveCel tech to help address that compromise:

Something like this might have applications in other head gear too.

SA also adds a roll bar anvil test that M does not have. I do not know if KA has the roll bar anvil. I am not sure SA does not allow larger eye port. It may be just that it does not require it. M requires it. Probably more concerned about the peripheral with M being used on the road. I personally like M for karts. I think with no mirrors the larger eye port might add value.

I agree this is a concern. I am not sure the right answer. I do recognize that a helmet optimized for auto or motorcycle racing will result in greater than necessary forces (deceleration) to the head than something softer. That said a helmet optimized for 150mph crash will provide as much or more protection at 75 as it does at 150. It just will not provide as much as helmet optimized for 75

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My understanding is that the two different standards are because the type of contacts the helmet is likely to withstand. When you are strapped into a car it is possible that you could have repeated contact in the same place on the helmet (think roll cage braces and such) versus the motorcycle situation where you would be tumbling and unlikely to hit in the exact same spot. The car standard needs to “harder” to do this. You head receives more “g’s” but it’ll keep you alive. The motorcycle one is “softer” and you get lower “g’s” but stand a higher chance of total helmet failure.

Did you find that on their site somewhere. That has never been my understanding. I can not find anything their site that indicates that. But I might just be missing it

I read that many years ago in a magazine (back when that was a thing). Big debate about Snell vs. DOT standards. That was the reasoning then, sounds about right. You want the force impacting you to be as low as possible and that’s done with time and distance. Problem is the crushable material has to not rebound and create more “g’s” and be able to do it more than once. Can’t remember if it was Car and Driver or a Cycle magazine.

Likely Motorcyclist magazine. They have done comprehensive articles on helmets a couple times in the last 10 years.

That was the article, & it stirred the hornets nest.

Being in the market for a new helmet I am finding this information more confusing than clarifying. I always felt the Snell rating was the gold standard but at least for motorcycle helmets this change has changed my thinking. The other issue as TJ pointed out in the slower speed sports the current thinking is more about the heads inertia than the just the impact. So on cycling and even MX helmets with MIPS (MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System , which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.) is the current best helmet. You don’t see this in higher speed designed helmets as the concern is still the initial 1 or 2 impacts. It would seem karting is somewhere in between the high speed concerns and lower speed concerns.

Does anyone have first “head” experience on what certification is best for karting?

My hypothesis is that karting overlaps both cars & motorcycles with regard to helmets, but probably leans more to the motorcycling side of the equation concerning impact dynamics & kinematics. Thus, an actual RR MC helmet with an ECE, or preferably, FIM rating would be my preference.

I’ll give Snell credit for revising/updating its testing criteria, but its modeling is still primitive & needs to account for incidental impact vectors incurred from multiple angles.

I assume by RR you mean a racing helmet as apposed to a street helmet?

Either way it is my understanding that the FIM testing includes the rotation force that the MIPS standard is addressing. However this certification is a European thing and appear to only be found on European helmets.

Yes, correct on both points. Guessing, but not sure if you could order a FIM spec helmet direct from a retailer or distributor in Europe, if it’s worth pursuing.