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 data we’ve got.
So, here are the results of our latest survey – using updated data from 2010-18 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 – Caberg
For the first time since we first started running our survey, Caberg now sits alone at the top of the pile (it previously shared No.1 spot with Bell). Caberg has been making some top notch helmets for a while now, consistently giving great value for money, useful features and very good safety levels. Twelve helmets have been tested so far by SHARP and eight have scored a maximum five star rating (though the Caberg Drift let things down a bit recently with its 3 star rating). Overall though, that’s a great job Caberg and means they’re our 2018 No.1 safest helmet brand. Check out all our Caberg helmet reviews here.
No.2 – Bell Helmets
This is the first year Bell has dropped off our number one spot. Of the 12 helmets tested by SHARP so far, 8 have scored the maximum 5/5 stars – which is amazing going by anyone’s standards. But there’s been a couple of flies in the ointment this year. First, they’ve had a few slightly shaky SHARP ratings over recent tests (though their most recently reviewed helmet – the Bell Star – punched back with a maximum 5 star rating). But also, Caberg’s latest helmet reviews have scored a bunch of 5 star ratings, pushing Bell down a notch in the ranking. As always, you can read all our Bell helmet reviews here.
No.3 – AGV
Italian helmet maker AGV sits comfortably in 3rd for 2018 (up from fifth). 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 twenty one helmets tested, seven scored a maximum five stars (including their most recently tested, the AGV Veloce S) and thirteen scored a very commendable four. Wowzers – good job AGV. You can find our AGV helmet reviews here.
No.4 – 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’ve been ten X-Lite 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.
No5. – Shark
A very solid showing for French maker, Shark Helmets. Six Shark helmets have scored the maximum 5/5 stars and seventeen 4/5 stars to date. Only a couple of helmets have dropped the ball a little with the Shark Spartan being their only current helmet that’s scored 3 stars – so an amazing job from the French helmet masters. Click this link to check out all our Shark helmet reviews.
No.6 – Shoei
Shoei are known for producing more expensive, well-built helmets at the top end of the market. All of which shows in their solid ranking in our safety review. If we’re honest, we probably expected Shoei to come out even a little higher still, but with their twelve tested helmets scoring either three stars or above, and with five scoring the maximum 5/5 stars (including their last two tested helmets – the X-Spirit III and Ryd), it’s a great performance for Shoei. Check out our Shoei helmet reviews here.
No.7 – MT
Narrowly nudging out Nolan and Grex for 2018 is Spanish maker MT. It’s probably a surprise for some, weighin- in well above known brands like Arai and HJC. But of their eight helmets tested, two scored a maximum 5/5 stars, four scored 4/5 and two 3/5 putting them in a very healthy seventh. That’s a particularly incredible position when you realise most of their helmets come in under £100! Top job MT. Check out our MT reviews here.
No.8 – Nolan
In at eighth place is the daddy of the Nolan group brands – Nolan itself, this time beating sister-brand Grex by the narrowest of margins. Every single one of the twelve 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.9 – Grex
Ninth is a great showing for another Nolan-owned brand, Grex. They are the budget range of the Nolan Group so scoring joint 9th 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.10 – Lazer
It’s nice to see Lazer helmets doing so well in rounding off our top 10 – but then they should do, having been making helmets in Belgium for almost 100 years! Of the 15 helmets SHARP tested, they scored an average of 4 stars. Not only that, except for the 2 star Lazer Tornado and 3 star Osprey (we’ll forget about those 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.s 11-15 – Best of the Rest
11. Duchinni. 12 helmets tested, with 10 scoring either 4 or 5 stars.
12. Arai. 13 helmets tested, average score of 3.6 stars across the range.
=13. G-Mac. From the same stable as Nitro. 7 helmets tested.
=13. Roof. French maker Roof scoring a solid avg of 3.5 stars.
15. Nitro. 23 helmets tested so far, with the last 5 scoring either 3 or 4 stars.
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 2018) 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 few 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 year!