Which crash helmet manufacturer makes the safest helmets?
We’ve 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.
Only SHARP testing data gives comparative scores so we can see how well helmets perform relative to each other. So that’s what we use. It’s not perfect and some brands are excluded (read more in the methodology section at the bottom) but it’s the best we’ve got.
So, here are the results of our latest survey – using data from 2010-17 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.
=No.1 – Bell Helmets
For the second time running, Bell Helmets are there at number one. Of the 9 helmets tested by SHARP so far, 8 have scored the maximum 5/5 stars. That’s amazing going by anyone’s standards. The only fly in the ointment is that their most recently reviewed helmet scored a disappointing 3 stars. Could it be that we’re starting to see Bell’s crown slip a little? You can read all our Bell helmet reviews here.
=No.1 – Caberg
Caberg have been making some top notch helmets for a while now, consistently giving great value for money, useful features and very good safety levels. Eleven helmets have been tested so far by SHARP and eight have scored a maximum five star rating, with the most recently tested four helmets scoring maximum marks. That’s a great job Caberg and means they’ve now risen to join Bell as our joint No.1 safest helmet brand. Check out our Caberg helmet reviews here.
=No.2 – AGV
Another Italian helmet manufacturer is in joint 2nd place along with Shark. AGV have been making very fine helmets since 1947 and, of course, they’re known for be-lidding the hallowed head of Vale 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 twenty one helmets tested, seven scored a maximum five stars and thirteen scored a very commendable four. Wowzers – good job AGV. You can find our AGV helmet reviews here.
=No2. – Shark
We couldn’t split AGV and Shark. They scored exactly the same as AGV overall and with both maker’s most recent helmets scoring an average of 4.5 SHARP stars too, we just had to put them together in second place. Six Shark helmets scored the maximum 5/5 stars and fifteen scored 4/5 stars. Only a single, solitary helmet scored 3 stars (again the same as AGV) – so an amazing job from the French crash helmet maker (now with added Lorenzo power for 2016!). Click this link to check out all our Shark helmet reviews.
No.3 – X-Lite
X-Lite are part of the Nolan group of companies. Their stated focus is to produce the safest possible helmets and their thoroughly decent score here shows that they’re bang on the money. There were nine helmets included in SHARP testing and although only two helmets scored the maximum 5/5, all the others scored four stars showing X-Lite are a really trustworthy brand to keep your grey matter safe. Find all our X-Lite helmet reviews here.
=No.4 – Lazer
It’s nice to see Lazer helmets doing so well in our top 10 – but then they should do, having been making helmets in Belgium for knocking-on 100 years! Of the 14 helmets SHARP tested, they scored an average of 4 stars. Not only that, except for the 2 star Lazer Tornado (we’ll forget about that one shall we?), every one of their helmets has scored either four or five stars. That’s an amazing – and consistent – output of safe helmets. Nice one Lazer! Check out our Lazer helmet reviews here.
=No.4 – Nolan
In at joint fourth place is the daddy of the Nolan group brands – Nolan itself. Last time, Nolan just about scraped onto our list at tenth place. But this time they’ve shot up the order because all eleven tested Nolan helmets scored 4/5 stars in the SHARP safety test. Just Wow. What’s also notable is that every one of their tested flip-up helmets scored 100% in keeping their chin bar fully locked – which 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.4 – Grex
This is a great showing for another Nolan-owned brand, Grex. They are the budget range of the Nolan Group so scoring joint 4th place among such a bunch of better-known and more expensive brands is an amazing achievement. There were five Grex helmets in the test and all scored 4/5 stars.
=No.4 – MT
Just like Grex, MT are a real surprise hitting the top 10 above massive brands like Arai and HJC. Of their five helmets tested, two scored a maximum 5/5 stars, two scored 4/5 and two 3/5 putting them in a very healthy joint fourth place – which is an incredible position when you realise most of their helmets come in under £100. Top job. Check out our MT reviews here.
No.5 – Shoei
Nudging up a place from 6th last time, Shoei are known for producing more expensive but well-built crash helmets using high quality materials and good build quality. All of which shows in their good ranking in our safety review. We probably expected Shoei to come out even a little higher still, but with their ten tested helmets scoring either three stars or above, with three scoring the maximum 5/5 stars, it’s a solid performance for Shoei. Check out our Shoei helmet reviews here.
No.6 – Duchinni
New in at No.6 in our list is Duchinni, a little-known Chinese manufacturer who have been creating some very safe helmets at incredibly low prices for years. All their helmets are polycarbonate, but out of eleven tested helmets, they’ve managed one five star and eight four star SHARP tests. And if that doesn’t dispel the myth about expensive helmets always out performing cheap lids, I don’t know what will! You can read our Duchinni helmet reviews here.
No.7 – Scorpion
It’s a very respectable showing for Scorpion EXO. Thirteen crash helmets have been tested by SHARP so far and they’ve scored an average rating of 3.5/5 stars, with every helmet scoring either three or four stars. That’s a very solid showing from the Chinese manufacturer. Look here for our Scorpion helmet reviews.
No.8 – Nitro
Nitro is the only British manufacturer in the top 10 this time round. They’re one of the most-tested helmet makers with 22 having been tested by SHARP over the past few years. And over that time, they’ve scored an average of 3.5 out of 5 stars. That’s the same as 7th place Scorpion, so we had to look to their most recently tested helmet scores to split the two, and Nitro lost out by the merest smidge. Still, that’s a great performance Nitro.
No.9 – Roof
Roof only just made it into our top 10 – not through any fault of their own but because they’ve only had four helmets tested by SHARP so far, and we usually demand a few more tests before we allow them in. But we’ve got a soft-spot for Roof and their quirky designs, so what the hell we let em in anyway. So far, they’ve scored two 4 stars and two 3 stars in the SHARP test, and that’s good enough for 9th place – just. Great going Roof. Here’s our Roof crash helmet reviews.
No.10 – Arai
Squeezing in to our top 10 for the first time is Japanese-made Arai. Widely regarded as one of the last words in motorcycle helmet quality (and price!), as we’ve seen before, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to making the safest crash helmets. However, it is worth noting that, while their average rating from all eleven crash helmet tests is 3.4 stars (which is pretty decent), that figure has been pushed up a little by their most recent tests showing that things might be improving still further. Fingers crossed. You can read our Arai articles and reviews here.
No.s 11-15 – The Rest
11. G-Mac. From the same stable as Nitro. 7 helmets tested.
12. LS2. In 12th place is a Chinese maker with a growing reputation.
13. HJC. Korean-based HJC are in 13th place. 22 helmets tested so far.
14. Viper. 18 helmets tested so far and an average of 3.1 stars scored.
15. Schuberth. Disappointing I’m sure. 7 helmets tested, average of 3 stars scored.
Methodology (you might want to skip this bit 🙂 )
Any 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 only (covering 2010 to 2016) 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.
Sorry Sparx, Osbe, Halfords and the like.
Our main drawback is the limited number of helmets tested for some brands which may 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 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.
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 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 from the last couple of years – so where two brands have scored the same, we use the scores from their most recent tests to choose a winner.
Phew. Till next time!