View Poll Results: Snell vs. DOT

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  • I only buy Snell certified helments.

    25 62.50%
  • DOT is enough for me.

    6 15.00%
  • Only matters to me what is legally required.

    0 0%
  • I don't buy that Snell is meaningfully better than DOT

    9 22.50%
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Thread: Snell vs. DOT

  1. #16
    leave my monkey alone LORAZEPAM's Avatar
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    Hey thanks for the article. I feel better knowing that my Shoei will pass the Snell test if they allowed flip frong helmets to be tested.
    Gale Smith
    2009 Versys
    1999 R1100RT

  2. #17
    WesPeterson
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    Originally posted by Joe

    I'd still like to find someone who's "no Snell, no buy" that can empirically differentiate between it and DOT and the testing rationale behind them.
    Joe

    Thanks for the article. Good resource. As to your quote above, the Snell web site has a Snell v. DOT discussion as to the differences in testing, but it is a quantitative not qualitative discussion (at least there is no explicit ÔÇ£we are betterÔÇØ statement). If you mean that you are looking for proof that a Snell certified helmet is a more protective helmet, me too or the contrary! (that is why I started this thread in the first place). Of course your question can be turned around to put the burden on a DOT advocate. IÔÇÖm just not aware of any third-party empirical data to prove either side of the discussion.

    Absent an empirical answer we do the best we can. My own personal approach is to buy Snell for the following reasons: 1) a Snell certified helmet canÔÇÖt be worse than a DOT only for the simple reason that all Snell helmets are DOT certified as well, 2) Snell states that their tests are ÔÇ£the most demandingÔÇØ ÔÇô itÔÇÖs a non-profit so I am not as skeptical of their claims but of course they may be wrong but as I said above I am not aware of anyone who has empirically demonstrated that their belief is incorrect, 3) whether or not a manufacturer who claims to meet DOT standards in fact does is not readily determinable, i.e., no agency tests to see whether the helmets in fact do meet DOT standards (itÔÇÖs an honor system so you have to trust the manufacturer, for me, no thanks), 4) conversely, Snell does pre and spot test ÔÇô if nothing else you are assured that the helmet really does meet DOT at least.

    I think you can sum it up by saying: Snell is at least as good and could be better. I'll take those odds, but then again, I'm an old lady.

    I didnÔÇÖt see anything on the Snell web site that says theirs is only a ÔÇ£racingÔÇØ as opposed to a ÔÇ£streetÔÇØ standard and I think IÔÇÖm missing the significance. If you mean that the only real difference in protective ability is at speeds none of us will approach then I think that would settle the whole discussion at least for me. Is that what you meant and if so can you point us to that data?

    As to flip-ups, Snell has this to say: ÔÇ£At present, the Foundation has not had the opportunity to test any of the flip up front type helmets. So far, we can not find any fault with these designs as long as they are used according to the manufacturers instructions.ÔÇØ

    I read that a Snell sanctioned one will be coming out in the spring.

    Thanks for your input.

  3. #18
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    This just might be the most informed, rational helmet discussion I've ever seen.

    The links and discussion here have taught me a lot.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  4. 02-03-2004, 01:58 PM


  5. #19
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    Another Article

    I have not read the article yet, but on page 22 of the March Rider is an article with a tease line of Snell or DOT
    -=Brad

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  6. #20
    dlearl476
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    Re: I may be wrong...

    Originally posted by Blue Knight

    I had three BWM System helmets and now a Schuberth and none are SNELL approved.

    Mike
    As you probably know, the "system" helmets were made by Schuberth for BMW and as I understand it, they pass European TUV and EC standards which are as tough, if not tougher, than Snell ratings.

  7. #21
    WesPeterson
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    Originally posted by dlearl
    As you probably know, the "system" helmets were made by Schuberth for BMW and as I understand it, they pass European TUV and EC standards which are as tough, if not tougher, than Snell ratings.
    fyi, Snell seems to think those standards are not as good as DOT. See below from Snell web site. EN 22/05 is the EC standard, I don't know the "TUV" standard you refer to.

    "The tables compare four standards: M2000, DOT, BSI 6658-85 Type A and Regulation 22 Rev. 5, also known as EN 22/05. M2000 and the current DOT Standard (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218) apply largely to helmets intended for the US and Canada. EN 22/05 applies to helmets for sale in Europe and BSI 6658 Type A is the premium level of the helmet requirement once mandatory in England. Although all four standards differ in details, in order of severity they rank firstly Snell M2000, then BSI 6658-85 Type A, then DOT and, lastly, EN 22/05. The following tables and discussion are the basis for this ranking."

  8. #22
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    I just bought a new Arai Signet GTR. It meets both Snell and DOT standards, but mostly it meets my fit requirements.

    And it looks cool (IMHO) with cow stickers all over it.



    I originally bought Arais because they met Snell spec, but I've realized they fit my head the best, which is really what I like.

    Your motivation for helmet selection criteria may vary.....
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  9. #23
    WesPeterson
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    Originally posted by KBasa

    And it looks cool (IMHO) with cow stickers all over it.
    I think you have earned two Fonzie cool points for that lid.

  10. #24
    R1100R "Traveler" DesertRider's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Joe
    Let's get real.... Would you rather have a Snell 3/4 helmet or a DOT full-face?
    That's a false dichotomy because those are not the only choices.

    DOT is the STREET standard. Snell is a RACING standard.
    Can you substantiate that? I've read through the entire Snell M2000 standard and I see nothing that indicates it is exclusively, or even primarily, intended as a racing standard.

    I'd still like to find someone who's "no Snell, no buy" that can empirically differentiate between it and DOT and the testing rationale behind them.
    Not sure I understand the request. It's very easy to define the differences between Snell and DOT certification standards -- just read them. Snell, for instance, sets an upper limite of 300g's acceleration transmitted to the head on impact, whereas DOT allows up to 400g's.

    These flip-up helmets passed a Snell test fine, but aren't labeled Snell...
    Correction: Based on what I see in the article, those helmets passed some of the Snell tests. They were not put through the entire Snell test suite. Maybe they would have passed, but the article did not establish that.

    I do suspect that at least some of those helmets would not have passed Snell testing. HJC, for instance, makes a lot of Snell-certified helmets, so obviously they're not shy about submitting helmets for Snell testing. But they've never submitted the SyMax flip-up, and one can only surmise that it's because they doubt it would pass. In fact I'd bet all those companies would love to be able to say they make the first and only flip-up to be Snell-certified; the fact that they haven't submitted them indicates to me that it's because they don't think they would pass.

    ---

    To me this whole thing is fairly easy: I want the maximum protection for my head. Snell certification requires higher levels of measured protection than DOT, such as the aforementioned more stringent impact standard. Therefore I have a higher level of confidence -- a higher likelihood of sufficient protection -- with a Snell helmet.

    That doesn't mean that in a given crash a DOT-only helmet may not be adequate protection -- it might. But in playing the odds against all possible crash possibilities, a helmet that has passed more stringent standards is a better bet.

    And yes, proper fit is very important. But nothing says that DOT helmets are likely to be any better-fitting than Snell, so that's really not an issue.
    DesertRider in sunny Arizona, USA


  11. #25
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Snell, but that didn't stop me from buying a Schuberth Concept.

    When you get down to it, no matter what helmet you have on, if you snap your neck, you're toast.

    DOT is at the bottom (a joke really), Snell is better and the Euro specs and method of testing, even better than Snell.

  12. #26
    Kool Aid Dispenser! jimvonbaden's Avatar
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    According to a Rider or BMWON Magazine article, both Snell and DOT test on the premise that impact is one the main dangers, and puncture resistance is the key to helmet strength.

    But there was a strong argument, based on research, that the vast majority of accidents where the helmet contacted the ground were of a glancing type. In other words, the helmet was subjected to similar sliding forces as your riding gear, and none of the Snell or DOT requirements address this.

    There was no argument that the Snell requirements were more stringent than the DOT requirements, just that the validity of basing which standard was better was in question because neither addressed the ability of a helmet to withstand a significantly long slide.

    This article suggests that DOT and Snell ratings are insufficient in these areas. It also suggested that testing should be accomplished to set a standard for these concerns.

    This article does NOT say that DOT or Snell are either better than the other, only that they both lack full protection from the most likely cause of injuries, including a concern about the lack of protection for neck injuries. If I remember correctly these concerns were addressed to high ranking members of the DOT and are now under review.

    I sincerely apologize for not having the particular year or month of the article since I am not at home, and wonÔÇÖt be for a few weeks. I also have recently received about 100 1990's Rider, BMWON and other brand magazines. So I can't be sure where I read it.

    Nonetheless, I am more concerned about proper fit, and my ability to ignore that my helmet is even there in favor of concentration on my riding. I want protection, but not at the expense of distraction.


    I hope my information is not too out of date, but I thought I would mention it anyhow.

    Comments?

    By the way, I wear a Nolan 100E Flip Face, so I was gratified to read the previously posted article linked by Joe.

    Jim

  13. #27
    WesPeterson
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    Comments?
    Jim,

    Since you asked...

    If what you relate is true, it's a bit disconcerting but doesn't seem to help one choose a helmet based on safety, i.e., based on your description there is a type of test that no motorcycle testing agency in the U.S. (or Europe since they only impact test as well) uses so we have no idea if any helmet adequately protects from (I gather from your post) sliding.

    Raises an interesting question: are all of these testing agencies incredibly incompetent or willfully ignorant of relevant research? To come to this conclusion one would have to a) believe the conclusions drawn in the article (as you relate it) that the current standards are "insufficient" and b) that Snell, DOT, et. al. have either intentionally failed to consider or have their head in the sand. The other possibility, at least as far as Snell goes, is that they have considered these issues and rejected them. It is mere guess work I my part to determine without more information, but consider the following as an argument that the latter is more likely (guessing here of course) at least as far as Snell goes:

    Snell last updated its standards in 2000 (you seem to indicate that the article you read was written in the '90s) and is in the process of soliciting public comments (ending May 2004) on new standards set to go into effect in 2005 (draft of the new standards are on the Snell web site). Neither of these (the current or the proposed) seem to address the issues you describe from the article. Snell, in its own words, updates its standards "...based on the best advice of manufacturers, users and experts both technical and medical." (DOT has not updated its standards since 1974.) Difficult, but not impossible, to imagine that the Rider/BMWON research has escaped the notice of Snell and those who comment on its standards. Again, easier to imagine that they have been considered but not accepted (note the repeated use of the word "imagine" - I'm not pretending to know what has been considered or not).

    In any event, there is one sure way to make sure Snell at least considers the research in the article - send it to them. As to the proposed 2005 standards, Snell says: "Interested parties are strongly urged to review these standards and to provide written comments, criticisms and suggestions regarding the proposed changes and any other aspect of the standards to this office as soon as possible. The FoundationÔÇÖs staff and directors will review these communications carefully in order to arrive at standards which call out all the protective performance a motorcyclist, auto racer or kart racer can reasonably be expected to wear on his head."

    As I said above, DOT hasn't updated its standards in almost 30 years - I wouldn't hold my breadth that their going to do something anytime soon.

    As an aside, I view it as a given that whatever helmet you ride must fit well and be comfortable - I haven't found that the safety rating of a helmet affects either fit or comfort.

  14. #28
    Kool Aid Dispenser! jimvonbaden's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Wes
    Jim,

    Since you asked...

    If what you relate is true, it's a bit disconcerting but doesn't seem to help one choose a helmet based on safety, i.e., based on your description there is a type of test that no motorcycle testing agency in the U.S. (or Europe since they only impact test as well) uses so we have no idea if any helmet adequately protects from (I gather from your post) sliding.

    Raises an interesting question: are all of these testing agencies incredibly incompetent or willfully ignorant of relevant research? To come to this conclusion one would have to a) believe the conclusions drawn in the article (as you relate it) that the current standards are "insufficient" and b) that Snell, DOT, et. al. have either intentionally failed to consider or have their head in the sand. The other possibility, at least as far as Snell goes, is that they have considered these issues and rejected them. It is mere guess work I my part to determine without more information, but consider the following as an argument that the latter is more likely (guessing here of course) at least as far as Snell goes:

    Snell last updated its standards in 2000 (you seem to indicate that the article you read was written in the '90s) and is in the process of soliciting public comments (ending May 2004) on new standards set to go into effect in 2005 (draft of the new standards are on the Snell web site). Neither of these (the current or the proposed) seem to address the issues you describe from the article. Snell, in its own words, updates its standards "...based on the best advice of manufacturers, users and experts both technical and medical." (DOT has not updated its standards since 1974.) Difficult, but not impossible, to imagine that the Rider/BMWON research has escaped the notice of Snell and those who comment on its standards. Again, easier to imagine that they have been considered but not accepted (note the repeated use of the word "imagine" - I'm not pretending to know what has been considered or not).

    In any event, there is one sure way to make sure Snell at least considers the research in the article - send it to them. As to the proposed 2005 standards, Snell says: "Interested parties are strongly urged to review these standards and to provide written comments, criticisms and suggestions regarding the proposed changes and any other aspect of the standards to this office as soon as possible. The FoundationÔÇÖs staff and directors will review these communications carefully in order to arrive at standards which call out all the protective performance a motorcyclist, auto racer or kart racer can reasonably be expected to wear on his head."

    As I said above, DOT hasn't updated its standards in almost 30 years - I wouldn't hold my breadth that their going to do something anytime soon.

    As an aside, I view it as a given that whatever helmet you ride must fit well and be comfortable - I haven't found that the safety rating of a helmet affects either fit or comfort.
    Wes,

    You are right, it is disconcerting that DOT has not changed their testing requirements in 30 years, and therefor have not considered this kind of testing. I do specificly remember that DOT was there when this subject was discussed, and they took serious interest in it. I do not know if Snell reps were there, but considering when they updated, it is possible they have revised their standards to include this kind of testing. It shouldn't be too hard to check.

    As for fit being a given, I wouldn't go that far. Too many people choose a helmet on style, brand and price with fit a secondary consideration, or they lack the knowledge to understand a good fit and settle for too loose or too tight.

    Thanks for the info, I appreciate the input and I will be looking into the Snell testing standards.

    Jim

  15. #29
    WesPeterson
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    Originally posted by JimVonBaden

    As for fit being a given, I wouldn't go that far. Too many people choose a helmet on style, brand and price with fit a secondary consideration, or they lack the knowledge to understand a good fit and settle for too loose or too tight.
    you are right - well said. I wasn't very clear - I meant only that I believe one can have good fit AND maximize safety so that fit need not compromise choosing the safest helmet, (whatever ones judgment of the "safest helmet" is -as the poll to this post and the discussion in the posts demonstrates, there is not complete agreement on how to determine this).

    Take care.

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