Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Bicycle Helmet Standards: A Summary

Summary: A basic explanation of bike helmet standards and what they can do for you.

How Do Standards Make a Difference?

Standards are useful to consumers to cover the performance you can't judge for yourself in a bike store--mostly impact management and strap strength. A standard sets minimum requirements, but does not tell you how far a manufacturer exceeds requirements. So a standard sticker inside a helmet does not necessarily tell you whose helmet is superior, but it tells you that the helmet always meets the minimum requirements.

2. Whose standard is best?

3. What does that mean for my promotion program?

On our Inexpensive Helmets page you will find inexpensive helmets that meet the CPSC standard. For more info on quality, check the latest Consumer Reports article. Any helmet certified to the CPSC standard meets the legally mandated U.S. Government standard. That should help to cover program organizers from the legal point of view.

4. What are the tests the standards are based on?

5. How do they compare?

Requirement CPSC ASTM F1447 Snell B90A Snell B95
Drop height on
flat anvil
2.0m 2.0m 2.2m 2.0m*
Drop height on
hemi anvil
1.2m 1.2m 1.3m 1.3m*
Drop height on
curbstone anvil
1.2 1.2 1.2 1.3
Drop rig mass
for impact tests
5kg 3.1 to 6.1kg 5kg 5kg
Total energy** 98 J 90 J 100 J 100 J
300 300 300 300
Coverage vs. CPSC Same Less Same More
Strap yank (Joules) 24 J 24 J 24 J 24 J***
Rolloff test Yes Yes Yes Yes

*Snell B-95 uses a more severe impact for initial certification than for follow-up performance testing,
2.2 for flat anvil and 1.5m for hemi and curbstone.

**adult test on medium headform, flat anvil. Certification
for Snell B95 is 110 J.

***Snell considers the B-95 strap jerk test to be roughly equivalent to the B-90A test, although parameters have changed.
We have lots of detail on each of these parameters on our long helmet standards comparison page