Which crash helmet manufacturer makes the safest helmets?
We scoured the SHARP crash helmet testing data to find out which helmet brands are the ones you can trust – the ones that’ll give you the best protection in an accident.
We’ve had to use data from UK SHARP helmet testing labs because only they give comparative scores so we can see how well helmets perform relative to each other. So that’s what we use, but remember, they use ECE rated helmets sourced in the UK, which may differ from US DOT helmets. So, it’s far from perfect and some brands are excluded (read more in the methodology section at the bottom) but it’s the best data we’ve got.
So, here are the results of our latest survey – using updated data from 2016-20 and showing which are the safest crash helmet brands. If you’re after a new helmet and haven’t got time to read our reviews, you might want to consider one of these brands.
Up from number 2 last year, Arai’s excellent average score has risen from 4.4/5 to 4.5/5 over the course of 2019 putting them at the top of the pile for 2020. Of 6 helmets tested since 2016, their average score has been massively helped with both the Signet-X and Corsair-X scoring maximum 5 stars for safety while all the others scored a fantastic 4 stars. And if you’re after a Snell certified helmet, nobody gets more of their helmets Snell approved than Arai. All of which means – now more than ever – you can trust Arai’s latest generation of helmets to perform. Check out our latest Arai reviews here.
Italian helmet maker AGV rises to 2nd place for 2020. AGV has been making very fine helmets since 1947 and, of course, they’re known for be-lidding the hallowed head of Valentino himself – and let’s face it, he’s not going to put just any old lid on now is he? Actually, he might if the price is right. But anyway, of 6 helmets tested since 2016, three scored maximum 5 stars (Corsa R, Pista GP-R and Veloce S) and the rest were four stars, showing you really can trust an AGV. Wowzers – incredible job AGV. You can find our AGV helmet reviews here.
No.3 – Shoei
Shoei are known for producing more expensive, well-built helmets at the top end of the market. All of which shows in their amazing ranking in our safety review. Across all 13 Shoei helmets tested ever, they’ve scored an average of 4.15/5 and of their most recently tested helmets, both the X-Forteen and RF-SR scored maximums. A massive Well Done Shoei! Check out our Shoei helmet reviews here.
Storming up the chart this year from No. 8 is quality French maker, Shark Helmets. They’ve had 7 helmets tested by SHARP in the last four years with an average score of 4/5 stars. Which is no surprise because whatever the style of helmet and whatever it’s been made of, every helmet tested by SHARP scored scored 4 stars which is an awesome performance (plus the chin bars on both modulars (including the Evo-One 2) scored 100% – which is a real rarity). All in all an amazing job from the French helmet masters. Click this link to check out all our Shark helmet reviews.
HJC are in our top 10 for the second year and in 2020 make their way up to fifth place. It’s a particularly great score because HJC specializes in lower priced helmets – so you don’t have to max out your credit card for great protection. They hit this spot partly because of old favorites like the five star rated HJC FG-ST and partly because their newer C70 polycarbonate lid hit a five star rating too. Overall, their 6 most recently tested helmets scored 4/5 SHARP stars sending them sky rocketing North. Nice one HJC – click to check all our HJC helmet reviews.
In seventh place is the daddy of the Nolan group brands. Every single one of the thirteen tested Nolan helmets has scored 4/5 stars in the SHARP safety test. Just Wow. What’s also notable is that each of their tested flip-up helmets scored 100% when it came to keeping their chin bar fully locked – which really isn’t easy to do. That’s a real testament to their design, manufacturing and quality control excellence. For all our Nolan helmet articles, look here.
No.7 – Bell Helmets
At No.8 , Bell are still doing great but their three star Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS has spoiled the party a bit, meaning they’ve slipped down from 4th place last year. Having said that, Bell has scored a massive 4.4/5 across all 14 tested helmets over the years, which is the highest rating of any helmet brand overall. But because we weight recent reviews more heavily, that was enough to push Bell down the rankings a notch or two. As always, you can read all our Bell helmet reviews here.
No.8 – Airoh
Another Italian brand drops into our top 10 for 2020 – and for the first time. Airoh has had 5 helmets tested over recent years, scoring an average of 3.7/5 stars, with their 5 star rated polycarbonate Valor full face really helping their cause – though none of their helmets have dropped below 3 stars since our 2016 cut-off. Well done Airoh, and here’s to you climbing our top ten over the coming years. Find all our Airoh helmet reviews here.
No.9 – Scorpion
Nudging up a place for 2020 is Scorpion Exo helmets. They’ve had 18 helmets tested by SHARP over the years, with their most recent 7 scoring an average of 3.1 out of 5 stars. A few of their helmets – including the R2000 and R420 – have been Snell certified too, which is always great to see. They might be number nine, but don’t forget, that’s a better performance than lots of helmet makers managed. If you’re interested in a Scorpion, check out our Scorpion Exo helmet reviews.
No.10 – LS2
Our final top ten place is taken by another budget helmet maker: LS2. They’ve had a mixed bag of ratings recently but they’ve had enough helmets making it up into 4 star ratings (including the FF323 Arrow) to squeeze them into our top 10. Of 8 helmets tested since 2016, their average rating is 3 stars out of 5. Check out all our LS2 helmet reviews here.
So that’s our best helmet brands for ECE tested helmets 2020. Read on to find out why our chart simply provides a snapshot using publicly available data to give helmet buyers a way to quickly find safety tested helmets, and why it can’t be comprehensive and give equal covering all helmet brands.
Any chart/study like this has it’s drawbacks of course, but hopefully it’s a pretty good snapshot of how safe some of the main helmet brands will perform in an accident, relative to each other.
This table relies on SHARP crash helmet testing data from the UK only (covering 2010 to early 2020) so it’s never going to be fully comprehensive. And we’ve not included every helmet brand in the list. There’s a few reasons for this. Maybe they’ve not been tested enough to give a reasonably reliable amount of data – or maybe they’ve not been tested at all. Or maybe they’ve so little distribution, that we’ve chosen to leave a brand out. We’ve tended to focus on the main brands – meaning brands that are more widely known and which helmet buyers will want to know about and be able to find in motorcycle stores.
Sorry Sparx, Osbe, Halfords and the like.
Our main drawback is the limited number of helmets tested for some brands which will slant the figures – SHARP choose and buy the helmets themselves, so that’s bound to skew the figures. If a brand’s helmets haven’t been chosen for testing, then they simply won’t appear in our table.
As alluded to above, to avoid sample size skewing, we’ve excluded some brands where a brand hasn’t had a reasonable tested sample size. Why? Well, imagine one brand has 10 helmets tested with an average score of 3 stars, they could be below a brand with just one helmet scoring 4. So because of this, where there’s only a handful of helmets available to score, we’ve usually removed the brand from the survey.
And of course, SHARP only tests ECE helmets bought in the UK, which may be different from helmets found in DOT or other areas. We’ll be looking at how we can include Snell data in future tables to make it more representative of US helmets.
It’s worth pointing out that there are some detractors of the SHARP test too, reckoning that it’s not real world enough. Which may or may not be true. However, we think it’s about as good as it gets – you can read what the test entails here and an analysis of SHARP data here and make your own mind up if you like.
Whatever your point of view, what is going for the SHARP testing regime is that it’s held under controlled circumstances in a laboratory so each helmet should be subject to an identical test – meaning it’s possible to compare the results of each test on each helmet. Yes, agreed, it might not fully simulate the accident where you hit diesel while hanging off your Z1000 and bash your helmet on a curbstone at a 15 degree angle then scrail it down the road for 100 yards, but it does subject the helmet to impacts from multiple sides and show which individual helmets – all things being equal – perform best. So, we reckon it’s about as good information as is available and that’s what we’re basing this analysis on.
The scoring is simple. Where a helmet was awarded five stars, we’ve given it 5 points. Where it scored one star we’ve given it 1 point. We then add up the total number of points and divide it by the number of helmets tested over the last few years to find the average (mean). We then ordered the list, putting the highest scoring first. In the event of a tie-break, we also looked at helmet scores since testing began and took them into account.
Phew. Till next year!