There’s a change afoot in European helmet testing. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05 helmet standard is changing. The new ECE standard (ECE 22.06) will require new forms of testing in order to obtain ECE approval.
Under the new standards, helmet testing will now also include testing for rotation of a rider’s head in a crash, the durability and shatter resistance of the visor, a modular helmet’s rider protection when its chin bar is both in place and open, and testing of attached accessories.
ECE 22.06: Accessory manufacturer concerns
But it’s the last part of the regulation that has some accessory manufacturers very concerned. 22.06, indicates that helmets with any accessories will be examined and tested with and without the accessories attached. Particularly, the tests will pay “particular attention, as (an) example, to energy absorption, sharp edges, and field of vision.”
Worryingly for some communicator and video camera accessory manufacturers, is the new standard’s statement that “Only accessories tested during the type approval procedure of the helmet keep the type approval valid.”
That brief statement means that ECE will only approve helmet manufacturers who submit their helmets with the accessory attached and tested during the ECE approval process. Accordingly, manufacturers worry that the requirement will have a significant adverse effect on their business and for riders.
They are so concerned that the communications manufacturers provided comments on ECE 22.06 regulation. Key aspects of their comments are:
- The regulation was drafted without any input from the motorcycle helmet comms industry, and without its knowledge;
- The text creates a major trade barrier for motorcycle helmet communication
commonly used at present by the motorbike riders;
- The industry will be at the mercy of helmet manufacturers’ willingness to incorporate
(or not) communication products depending purely on their commercial interests
- Communication devices contribute to the active and post-crash safety of the
- The high cost of the tests will eliminate all but the biggest players in the industry
creating an effective monopoly, undermining free competition, and hurting European
consumers’ freedom of choice;
- Being able to communicate while riding increases rider safety (active vs. passive safety). If we can avoid the accident, it is better than mitigating the consequences;
- The high test costs will reduce the number of companies operating in the field and could destroy the industry;
- The destroy (sic) of the legacy industry could develop a market for low-quality products that did not undergo any certification process and sold through the internet from
remote places. This is a major risk to the rider and the society; and
- If any of the industry members manage to cover the cost, we will have to raise our
product prices significantly to compensate for the high homologation expense and this
will downsize the market.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint, the ECE did not meet in June to finalize ECE 22.6. The impact of COVID-19 impact is delaying finalization. We’ll have more info when the ECE finalizes 22.06.