ECE 22.05 has been around for a while now, and the Economic Commission of Europe (ECE) will be moving forward with the new ECE 22.06 standard for the foreseeable future. Industry insiders are all in favor and some are saying that the new standard is the standard to get if you want a safe helmet.
Though, what’s so great about this new standard? Apart from all the new and improved models that most helmet manufacturers are pushing out, and aside from the fact that no more than 22.05 helmets will be approved, this standard brings a new level of safety to riders, and it forces manufacturers to move to higher and higher levels of quality with their products. So let’s explain the ins and outs of ECE 22.06, and let’s explain how it protects riders in the unfortunate event of a crash.
The original No. 22 regulation was implemented in 1972, and the 22.05 standard was implemented in the year 2000. After 20 years on the market, ECE 22.06 was put into effect, which prompted manufacturers from around the world to update their helmets in favor of the newest standard. The ECE standard is also one of the most widespread helmet safety homologations out there, and its use is not only widely adopted throughout Europe, but is also recognized by other countries like Australia.
As such, 22.05 homologated helmets are still out there, and retailers are still allowed to sell such helmets to consumers. However, it is expected that helmets that meet the ECE 22.05 standard only will soon be phased out in favor of 22.06-certified products.
The new regulations will come into effect by January 2024, and that means that ECE 22.05 helmets will be available for sale until that period. After that, only ECE 22.06 helmets will be available for sale, for the countries that follow the ECE’s regulations.
For riders, you can still wear your ECE 22.05 helmets legally, after January 2024, but any new helmet that you buy will have to be certified ECE 22.06. However, for countries like the U.S. where the DOT (FMVSS 218) standard is followed, it’s not as big of a deal.
So what changes with the new ECE 22.06 helmets over the 22.05 stuff? The tests that the ECE will update aren’t just another walk in the park, in fact, it’s a comprehensive change that spans multiple tests, the entire range of sizes and shells per model, and all the variations in between.
Plus, it’s not just the impact attenuation or the shell thickness that will be tested, but also the helmet design which includes stuff like the visor, sun visor, chin bar, fasteners, and even the labels on the lid.
What the ECE tests here are the basic construction of a motorcycle helmet, in which there is a tough outer shell, an inner impact absorption layer, and a comfort liner.
For modular helmets with deployable chin bars, stringent tests are conducted by the ECE to approve the multi-part construction of these kinds of helmets. There are two homologations that are familiar to us at this point, P and J, where P approves the modular lid while closed and J approves it while it’s open. Both standards require that the chin bars stay in place in both configurations to pass as a P/J-certified helmet. If the helmet fails, the chin bar will be marked as non-protective. Even with this testing in place, a modular will only be legal to ride with as a full-face helmet according to the new regulations.
The helmet shell and impact liner must also be resistant to cold, heat, UV radiation, humidity, and moisture, which it must resist degrading over time.
Head coverage and design will also be scrutinized by the ECE, in which there is a minimum amount of head that the helmet has to cover given the appropriate size.
Shell deformation is also a key point in the ECE’s new standard, and the new testing method will include two plates placed on either side of the helmet with a total pressure of 630 Newtons to be applied. This test will be done on the sides and the front and back of the helmet, with a helmet change per test. To pass, a helmet must deform less than 40 millimeters under the maximum amount of pressure, and only 15 millimeters at 30 Newtons of force—the minimum amount of pressure.
Vents will also be tested and scrutinized, and it will also be required by the ECE to avoid riders from stuffing up inside their helmets and causing discomfort. A rider’s ability to hear must also not be impeded by the helmet. The ECE’s regulations mean that a helmet must let some noise in, otherwise, it won’t pass.
Reflective stickers can either be applied or supplied on or with the helmet, respectively. The latter is allowed as long as specific instructions are provided as to where the stickers need to go.
For main visors, the ECE states that a rider’s peripheral vision must not be obstructed from any angle. There is also a minimum level of light that can be transmitted through the visor and the standard states that visors can transmit as low as 20 percent of light which applies to tinted visors. Anything lower won’t pass the ECE’s standard. As such, tinted visors are also tested to see if turn signals, brake lights, or other important road lights can still be seen through the visor.
Scratch resistance is also a testing factor in the 22.06 standard, as well as distortion, refraction, and fog resistance for manufacturers that claim the feature to be present on their helmets.
When it comes to testing, the visors will be subjected to a steel ball shot at the visor at 180 miles per hour.
On top of this, sun visors are also tested by the ECE which cannot influence the natural movement path of the main visor, and it must be independent of the main shield of the helmet. The process of deploying a sun visor is also scrutinized, which has to be simple and easy for a rider to deploy.
Straps and retention systems
Not too thin or too thick, and it must be permanently fixed to the helmet. Retention systems are also tested based on their ease of use, their ability to withstand deformation and stretching, and also their durability.
The ECE requires that the straps and retention systems must withstand at least three kilo-Newtons without breaking. To test this, a 10-kilogram (22-pound) weight is dropped from a height of 0.75 m (29 inches) to check for damage and deformation. Following the test, the hardware must close and open like normal. Modular helmets get an extra test, which they must pass in both the open and closed configurations.
Impact liners and impact testing
The impact liner will undergo several tests, the first of which includes a deterioration test, similar to the helmet shell, but localized based on its proximity to the rider’s head. The impact liner must not deteriorate prematurely due to sweat, cosmetics, and hair products, and also the comfort liner of the lid must not cause any skin irritation.
Impact absorption tests go from 6.0 m/s, 7.5 m/s, 8.2m/s, and 8.5 m/s for the oblique impact testing (13.4, 16.77, 18.3, and 19 miles per hour).
For the standard battery of impact tests, the ECE has since expanded on the criteria for the 22.06 homologation across a range of speeds as previously mentioned. Various surfaces are used both for the direct and oblique impact tests by testing the helmet on anvils with abrasive surfaces such as tarmac.
The oblique impact test is new for the standard, and it tests that the helmet can protect against rotational acceleration, and the number in the test must not exceed the Brain Injury Criterion (BrIC), 10,400 rad/s2. A bar anvil is used in the oblique test, and it’s positioned 15 degrees from vertical, covered in 80-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper, and made from five steel bars.
Chin bars, whether on modular or on standard full-face lids, will be tested for impact attenuation, going through the same anvil drop test as the main impact liner.
Abrasion and puncture resistance testing
Apart from the drop tests, an abrasion test is also set up which tests the durability of the outer shell. The test here ties in with the oblique impact tests and it also checks for the shell’s resistance to intrusion due to prolonged contact with an abrasive surface like asphalt.
A helmet should also be able to withstand a puncture based on the testing, and a drop test with a pointed weight will be conducted to test for penetration resistance.
Helmet accessories are now recognized by the ECE, and these items will be examined by the testing body in order to ascertain whether an accessory will inhibit a helmet’s ability to protect.
As such, helmets will be tested with and without the accessories that are made for them which include communications systems, spoilers, and more.
Accessories that do not meet the manufacturer’s specifications during the test are not acceptable, and any alteration to the helmet after its purchase that alters its specifications during testing will make the ECE 22.06 approval invalid.
The ECE has also put forward standardized labels for 22.06-approved helmets, which account for tags, stickers, and other warnings that help consumers determine the approval, date of manufacture, and warnings that a helmet should come with.
The main label on a 22.06-approved lid will be located on the right chin strap.
What does it all mean?
ECE 22.06 will replace 22.05 as the ECE’s standard moving forward. Helmets with this certification will be more resistant to wear and tear, impacts, abrasions, and more.
We expect new models to launch in the market, and we also expect older models to get updates to keep within the spec of the regulations. Even for markets that don’t follow the standard, we can expect several models to get updated since Europe is just that big of a market for motorcycle helmets.
We can expect more helmets to come in the near future with this certification, and we can expect manufacturers to push new products and introduce new innovations.