ECE 22.06: It may be a term that you are hearing about more and more around motorcycle helmets this year, but what is it? Infinity Motorcycles is here to help answer that question.
Put very simply, ECE 22.06 is a brand-new certification for motorcycle helmets.
If you prefer, our man Tom can give you an insight into the new certification in his video here: https://youtu.be/4cujEqS1lh4
With a bit more detail: the ECE 22.06 is the first update of the UN’s helmet certification in twenty years – that may be why it is being talked about so much, recently – when updates are few and far between there is a lot of talk when one finally comes. This means that the tests that are used to make sure your motorcycle helmet is as protective as possible have been updated.
These additions have been made to the current regulations, bolstering them to better test and measure the protection levels that a motorcycle helmet provides – it also means new helmets will have to adhere to this new required level of protection.
Despite the fundamental design of motorcycle helmets remaining the same over the years – a hard shell that wraps around your head – there have been huge changes in the way motorcycle helmets are designed and made.
Helmets nowadays are designed with not just protection in mind but also convenience, comfort and packed with technology to make your life on and off the motorcycle a little easier. In the time that the ECE 22.05 was introduced, in 2002, motorcycle helmets can now be fitted with intercoms and cameras, made from carbon fibre, and even designed to be worn as a full-face or open-face, and this new certification aims to better address these different kinds of helmets, to ensure the best level of protection for all you riders.
Does this mean I cannot use my ECE 22.05 certified helmet?
No, you are absolutely fine. The new ECE 22.06 certification comes into force in earnest in January 2024, and even then, you will still be able to use a 22.05 certified helmet on the roads.
The new certification is largely targets towards motorcycle helmet manufacturer, in order to improve the benchmark for protection in motorcycle helmets whilst in production. New helmets that make their way to the UK from January 2024 will have to adhere to the ECE 22.06 standards, but we will start seeing a lot of manufacturers introduce helmets that are certified to 22.06 before then. Even at time of writing, we have had two brand-new helmets hit the market that are 22.06 certified – the Arai Quantic and Shoei NXR2.
The ECE 22 tests for certification are all encompassing and the news that they are being improved even further and updated for more relevancy, will be great for every rider.
The Shoei NXR 2 and Arai Quantic above are two of the first helmets certified for ECE 22.06.
What has changed in the tests?
With the changes to the certification, the tests themselves have been updated to be even more all-encompassing and to assess features that were not previously tested in the .05 regulations. These are the changes to the new certification:
High and low-speed testing: Under the 05 certification, helmet rigidity was tested by being dropped at a speed of 7.5 metres a second, under 06 this has been increased to 8.5 metres a second – but there is now also an additional test at a speed of 5.5 metres a second. That may seem redundant but this is to test how the helmet performs in both a high-speed crash (at 8.5 metres/s) and at lower-speed crashes. This is because a super-rigid helmet may be perfectly protective during a high-speed crash but will not absorb the lower energy generated in a slower crash.
Both high-speed and low-speed crashes occur in the real world, so this is an attempt to make helmets a bit more suited to real-world riding.
New impact areas are being tested: In the original 05 tests, helmets were subjected to impacts at five specific areas, under 06 testers will then also randomly select three more additional areas to be tested for impact, from a list of twelve. This again improves the real-world application of the tests – crashes will never just affect five specific areas, so the more areas being tested the better.
Angled testing: 06 will now also test for impacts that are not straight-on by using impact tests on a 45-degree angled anvil.
A new set of standards for flip-up helmets: A new change to the testing applies to flip-up motorcycle helmets. Under 05, flip-up motorcycle helmets were tested with the face-shield of the helmet fully locked down – now, flip-up helmets will be tested with the face-shield down and locked up in the open position.
Visors will undergo even more testing: A new specific to visors test will be implemented in which a steel ball will be launched directly at the visor at 60 meters per second. To pass this test the visor must not be cracked, deform or break off the actual helmet, otherwise the visor is not up to snuff. This will simulate the scenario of being hit by a stone while riding at 130mph.
This test will also now be done on an internal sun-visor if one is featured on the helmet – making sure that any potential damage to the inner sun-visor does not end up affecting your field of vision or shattering to cause damage directly to you.
Darker Visors: Interestingly, under the new certification, motorcycle visors can now have a darker tint. Originally dark tint or dark smoke visors were only sold as track use only, and handy to give you protection against the sunlight on the track without the added weight of an integrated sun-visor. Now, we may start seeing them as road legal visors for everyday riders.
Second-stage testing for deformation: Under 05 there already exists a test to measure how deformed a helmet becomes after an initial impact, but with 06 the helmet will then undergo a second impact to test whether the deformed helmet can still protect on a second occasion. This is to test whether a helmet will remain protective even when impacted twice, as can happen in a crash or slide when coming off the bike.
Specific Testing for helmet accessories: There is a ton of different things that can be thrown on helmets: intercoms, helmet cameras, even built-in features like integrated sun-visors. 06 aims to test whether these accessories affect the structure of the helmet and the protection it can provide, specifically for helmets that come with easy-to-install intercoms, the helmets will be tested with the intercom not fitted and fitted.
The new regulations will most likely not have a huge impact on your day-to-day riding life but they do mean the motorcycle helmets that you get in the future will be even more protective and better performing in a safety sense. Many of the big brands will start implementing these new regulations before the 2024 deadline (like Shoei and Arai), but by 2024 you can rest assured that every helmet that you buy has undergone these tougher tests to be as protective as possible.
This article was written by Aaron Thomson, and edited by Jonah Son and Tom Evans.