Crash Protection

CRASH assesses and compares motorcycle helmets in terms of their ability to protect the wearer's head in a crash and how comfortable the helmet is to wear.

The helmet's crash protection performance is assessed using the following criteria:

  1. They must have adequate impact performance.
  2. They must remain on the wearer's head during the crash.

Helmets must have adequate impact performance

The helmet must be able to reduce the impact of a crash and manage the acceleration of the head to minimise injury. To achieve this, the helmet must:

  • Cover the frontal and temporal areas of the head
  • Not disintegrate during the impact and,
  • Be able to minimise injury to the head from impacts with different types of objects and different heights.

In all tests, a simulated head with many characteristics of the human head is used to facilitate the measurement of various forces in the crash test. The data gathered is then assessed using recognised protocols, and scores are determined for each specific test.

A helmet's ability to mitigate the effect of a blow to the head is assessed by dropping it onto a hard surface representative of the roadway, and a 'hard metal edge' such as a kerb, roadside barrier or corner of a vehicle.

These test surfaces (anvils) are termed 'flat', 'hemispherical' or 'kerb'. CRASH uses modified tests comprising high and low speed impacts (compared to AS/NZS 1698 requirements) using a flat surface and higher speed impact than UN/ECE Regulation 22* using a simulated kerb surface.

In tests where the helmet is dropped onto a flat surface, the helmet mounted on a simulated head is dropped from heights of 0.8 metres and 2.5 metres (AS/NZS 1698 uses a drop height of 1.83 metres). The helmets are evaluated in terms of their ability to reduce impact to the head, maintain the helmet structural integrity, and ensure the chin strap is still working properly after the test. The test matrix and impact locations are shown in the figure and table below.

Test procedure Location
Energy reduction in high speed impact on flat surface – Impact 1 A
Energy reduction in high speed impact on flat surface – Impact 2 C
Energy reduction in low speed impact on flat surface – Impact 1 B
Energy reduction in low speed impact on flat surface – Impact 2 D
Energy reduction in high speed impact on kerb surface E

Ideally, a helmet should be able to absorb maximum impact energy while maintaining a tolerable acceleration of the head inside the helmet. The testing program measures the ability to maximise the energy impact absorbed by the helmet. This is assessed by dropping the helmet onto a flat and kerb anvils and measuring the acceleration levels of the head.

The following slow motion videos show two of the linear impact tests each helmet undergoes.

Impact energy attenuation test using a flat surface (anvil)

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Impact energy attenuation test using a simulated kerb (anvil)

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Helmets must remain in place during the entire crash sequence

Another factor necessary for a helmet to be effective during a crash is that it remains in place during the crash. The helmet should also remain in place for any impacts that follow the initial crash. Helmets are assessed in terms of their ability to stay on the wearer's head and minimise the rotation of the helmet so it protects the most important parts of the skull. This is assessed by rolling the helmet off the simulated head by applying an upward force at the centre rear base of the helmet. In testing from 2017 onwards an upward force will also be applied at the centre front opening of the helmet.

The strength of the helmet's chin strap was also tested to ensure that the chin strap remained intact and did not stretch to a point where the helmet would come off during a crash. The chin strap was tested by dropping a 10kg weight from a height of 750mm, resulting in a force being applied directly to the strap. This test was derived from UNECE 22.05. This test was discontinued from 2017 onwards.

Oblique impact helmet testing

A new test component was introduced in 2017 to measure a helmet’s oblique impact energy management capability, testing the helmet as it falls onto a moving test surface. This test simulates a rider’s helmeted head striking and skidding along the road, such as when a rider is ejected from a moving motorcycle. A good performing helmet should have a protection system that reduces the rotational forces from the impact to the head.

In this test, the helmet is fitted onto a Hybrid III dummy head with measuring instruments attached. The helmeted dummy head is then dropped from a height of 1.4 metres to strike a platform that moves horizontally at 35 km/h. Each helmet is tested at two impact locations, one near the centre of the forehead, and the other on the temple.

The following slow motion video shows an oblique impact test near the centre of the forehead that each helmet undergoes.

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Due to the changes in testing methods, helmet ratings from 2017 onwards cannot be compared to ratings pre 2017.