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The Difference Between ECE & DOT Ratings on Motorcycle Helmets

If you’re in the market for a new helmet, parsing the ratings and endorsements to find the right model can be a bit of a hassle. Luckily, if you are only looking for a street legal helmet and not one that’s designed for track performance, it gets a lot easier. There are only two major bodies that endorse road-ready helmets, and often helmet manufacturers go out of their way to earn both endorsements. If you’re trying to decide which of the two is more important, the first step is understanding what the ECE and DOT endorsements are meant to show you.

DOT is short for the Department of Transportation, the branch of the U.S. federal government concerned with nationwide safety standards for vehicles that use public roads. Individual states often have their own requirements for safety, but to make standards consistent across the country, they adopt core DOT standards for common items like motorcycle helmets or headlights, then add additional requirements where the state government decides to do so to contend with local environmental and geographic conditions. Similarly, the ECE standard is set by the Economic Commission for Europe, to provide a standard for all EU member nations.

Why Your Helelmt Should Have an ECE or DOT Rating

To be street legal in the U.S., men’s motorcycle helmets need to have a DOT endorsement that shows the manufacturer’s build has passed all the required safety tests the federal government has set as qualifiers. These tests are designed to simulate the kinds of forces felt on impact in various common motorcycle accidents. The tests are robust and have a long history, but the standards have not been overhauled in some time. The ECE standards play a similar role in Europe and beyond, since many nations outside the EU have chosen to adopt ECE approval as the benchmark of safety for road helmets within their borders.

While the ECE standard is newer and uses a wider variety of tests than the DOT endorsement, they use separate tests. That’s one reason why many manufacturers seek both. Doing so provides more robust data for future design changes. It also makes it possible to sell the same helmet almost anywhere in the world. If you’re looking for a track helmet you can also wear on the road, find one with either or both of these endorsements as well as a major racing safety endorsement like the SNELL sticker.

How to Find the Right Size Motorcycle Helmet

There are two stages to finding good fitting motorcycle helmets. The first is to simply measure the circumference of your head in centimeters. Use a path that runs from the widest part of your forehead back to the crown and around to close the loop. Then, using that measurement, check out the different head shapes that helmets are made for. Most people use a standard oval, but the other designs are there for a reason. Once you know the shape and size you need, it’s easier to buy with confidence. Great helmet choices for men and women are available from the same place you go to find the hottest new styles each season, including new women’s motorcycle jackets.

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