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New helmet rules from the United Nations

Your motorcycle helmet has to be produced and tested according to rules from the United nations. After almost twenty years these rules will be updated. FEMA’s Wim Taal explains the most notable changes.

The UN ECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) regulation #22 applies to motorcycle helmets licensed to be sold as road-legal on European roads. The regulation establishes the ‘uniform provisions concerning the approval of protective helmets and their visors for drivers and passengers of motorcycles and mopeds’. The current fifth revision of the regulation (ECE 22.05) will soon be replaced by ECE 22.06.

Added to scope of the regulation will be:

Modular helmets – Helmets equipped with a movable or detachable protective lower face cover, will be tested with or without chin guard in position.

Sun shields – Sun shields cannot restrain or prevent the movement of the visor. On opening the visor, the sun shield can pivot in the working position. By means of a simple movement the sun shield must be able to be moved separately from the visor. Helmets placed on the market with a sun shield shall be tested with the sun shield in working position.

Reflective stickers – In order to comply with national requirements, the helmet may be required to have reflective materials. These materials can be delivered with the helmet, with proper instructions on where and how to apply them on the helmet.

Accessories – Helmets placed on the market with accessories shall be examined to make sure the equipment has no adverse effect and that the helmet and/or visor still comply with the requirements. Testing will be done with and without the accessory and its support with particular attention to energy absorption, sharp edges and field of vision. You are not allowed to modify the helmet from its original specification as manufactured. Accessories must be fitted in accordance with the helmet manufacturer’s instructions. Only accessories tested during the type approval procedure of the helmet keep the type approval valid.

High speed particle test for visors – To make sure visors don’t shatter when hit by something hard during your ride, they shall be tested with a steel ball at 60 m/s. The visor should not fracture or deform, and the visor housing should not separate into two or more pieces, or no longer be capable of holding the visor in position.

Brain injury by rotation – An impact test method of measuring rotational acceleration will be introduced, to test the impact on the brain when the helmet is twisted during an accident. To test this, the helmet will be allowed to fall, under specified angles and with a specified speed on to a rigidly mounted anvil.

So when will this new regulation start to affect us riders? The proposal for regulation 22.06 and all the amendments will be voted on in June 2020, so before then officially nothing will change and regulation 22.05 will still be in place. Only three years after the official date of entry into force of regulation 22.06, will it become illegal to sell helmets and visors that do not comply with regulation 22.06.

The proposal and amendments of UN Regulation No.22 can be found here. This document also includes all the test methods.

Regulation ECE 22 requires every motorcycle helmet to bear a sticker sewn into or onto the retention system (aka: ‘the chinstrap’). This sticker shows the homologation mark, the homologation number, and the production serial number.

Written by Wim Taal

Top photograph courtesy of Cardo Systems

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