Our helmets are undeniably the most important piece of gear we wear every time we ride our motorcycles. Sure, they can look really cool in different ways and sport a variety of graphics, however, many of us are guilty of taking safety ratings for granted. In the United States as well as parts of Asia, the safety certification for a helmet to qualify for motorcycle use tends to be very lax. In Europe, however, it’s a whole different story.
The ECE standard has long been considered the benchmark for motorcycle helmet safety. It goes through extensive testing, with manufacturers required to follow certain parameters to ensure the safety of their products. That being said, the outgoing ECE 22.05 system is starting to look outdated, with new technology surrounding the helmet design showing up left and right. That is why, since January 2022, the new ECE 22.06 standard is in force, and from July 2022, will be the only acceptable standard in Europe. Naturally, given the implementation of such a change, many questions from European riders have arisen.
A lot is going to change when it comes to the overall design of the helmet. The new ECE 22.06 system introduced several new tests that are much more rigorous than the previous standard, including rotational tests, as well as a variety of other impact tests from all angles. Italian motorcycling publication Moto.IT explains in detail how these changes might manifest. For starters, the new 22.06 headsets may have a thicker shell, especially the plastic ones. Both fiberglass and carbon fiber shells may retain their standard thickness, but will certainly see revisions to the internal polystyrene liner.
Unsurprisingly, new technologies come with added costs, and it’s no different when it comes to headsets. Thus, helmets that comply with the ECE 22.06 standard can be expected to be slightly more expensive than those of the previous ECE 22.05 standard. Companies have invested years of R&D, as well as funds to retool their facilities, so there is no doubt that consumers will have to absorb these additional costs. Of course, expect manufacturers to continue selling budget headphones for those on a budget.
The new ECE 22.06 standard could also potentially affect accessories previously installed as spare parts in older helmets. This means that communicators, action cameras and other add-ons will need to be included in the testing process. It’s still unclear whether or not the entire sub-industry dedicated to helmet accessories will be affected, but the heightened safety considerations surrounding these products are certainly not out of the question.
Finally, if those of you who still have your old 22.05 helmets are wondering if you can still wear them legally on the streets, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, you can still use your previously approved helmet, as the rule only governs the approval of new helmets by manufacturers. That said, it’s highly recommended that you make sure your current helmet is in excellent condition and still well within its lifespan, which has been determined to be between four and six years.