A motorcycle helmet is a vital safety gear for a motorcycle rider. In Malaysia, motorcycle riders must adhere to strict regulations about helmet standards. The reason why is because Malaysian roads can be dangerous. A good quality helmet can help protect riders from serious injury in an accident. Helmets also provide other benefits, such as protection against wind noise and sun rays.
Malaysia’s motorcycle helmet certifications vary by performance level and price range. So motorcyclists need to research before buying the most suitable helmet. This article will look at what these certifications mean. We will also explore how they impact the safety of modern-day motorcycle helmets.
Types of Motorcycle helmet certifications in Malaysia
The Department of Occupational Safety and Health provides four helmet certification categories: SIRIM Standard, Snell standard, European ECE 22/2005 & DOT Standard.
The SIRIM motorcycle helmet standard is a recommended best practice for motorcycle riders. All helmets must be tested and certified by SIRIM in Malaysia. SIRIM stands for Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia. This standard outlines requirements to ensure fit, durability, and head protection performance. The SIRIM standard is designed per the ECE standard’s testing criteria.
Manufacturers receive compliance after the helmet has undergone a stringent evaluation process. This standard is updated regularly to keep up with the latest technology in helmets.
Snell-certified motorcycle helmets are the safest option for riders in Malaysia. The Snell Memorial Foundation is a global leader in helmet safety standards. It provides certification to ensure helmets meet the highest level of quality. As a result, Snell standard helmets are one of the safest helmets available on the market. Snell-certified helmets are designed to protect riders from head injuries. They also provide superior impact absorption.
These helmets meet rigorous safety standards. Following tests, procedures are carried out for quality checks.
Chin Bar Test
This test is for full-face helmets only. This criterion requires a helmet to have a durable and shock-resistive chin bar to stand up to the impact of a dropped object. Many trials involve dropping a five-kilogram weight on the chin bar to test for such.
Strap Retention Test
This test of the chin strap requires it to bear a load for an extended period without breaking or elongating. The chin strap must carry a 23-kilogram weight for 30 seconds. If it elongates more than three centimeters, the test fails.
This test examines a helmet by ramming it into various surfaces to mimic crashes. The helmet will fail the test if the test dummy’s head accelerates above the threshold.
This experiment is carried out to verify whether a helmet will stay on a rider’s head in an accident. Motorcycle helmet evaluators install head forms into their tests. These simulated human head forms make the checks more reliable.
The helmet is placed topside down at an angle of 135 degrees, with a head formed inside it. Evaluators then use a mechanism with masses and a wire rope to overturn the helmet. The helmet may move to some degree. But it must stay on the head form to succeed in the examination.
A helmet must pass a penetration test for the shell and another for the face shield.
For the helmet body, the examiners will drop a three-kilogram “pin” on the helmet body from a regulated height, and the “pin” must not penetrate the helmet body.
The examination of face shields can differ substantially. For instance, Snell uses an air rifle to propel a pellet at the face shield to determine if it enters. The face shield should be able to block a lead pellet that moves at five hundred kilometers per hour.
The Snell tests helmets to stricter trials than those held by DOT. As a result, helmets are more challenging to pass Snell tests. Therefore, a helmet with both Snell and DOT certifications is undoubtedly reliable.
The United Nations Economic Commission created the ECE standard for Europe. ECE-certified helmets are also allowed by the Malaysian government for motorcycle riders.
European ECE motorcycle helmet standards are comparable to American DOT standards. However, the ECE standard does not include tests included in Snell. ECE standard inspects for more real-life environmental aspects than the DOT test.
Unlike the DOT, the ECE tests if helmets can still be effective after exposure to sun rays. Additionally, they expose the helmet to solvents which may weaken it and make it fail its trials. As helmets can vary in size, the ECE also tests different sizes.
The ECE also tests more than one helmet per production run. The ECE ensures that the quality of the helmets is persistent even after the first batch. They also examine safety stickers to check if they reflect light.
ECE tests many components of the helmet to observe how well it stands up to crash in different places on the shell. The chin guard is also tested against jerk as part of the impact assessments.
A DOT helmet is certified by the US Department of Transportation. This certification means the helmet has been tested to provide the best protection.
To gain DOT certification for the helmet, it must pass four tests: the impact test, penetration test, retention strap test, and peripheral vision test. The rules for this motorcycle helmet certification are more flexible than others.
The impact test comprises striking the helmet against an anvil. Both a flat surface and a curved area are incorporated into this test. It is not enough to pass the test in ideal conditions. The helmet must perform even in humidity, high or low temperatures, or dampness. Simulating such situations during safety tests guarantees the best quality helmet.
The penetration test is stringent. A helmet should endure a six-pound pointed object dropping from a distance of ten feet ten inches. Moreover, the helmet must still pass the penetration test when wet, warm, or cold.
Strap Retention Test
Weights are also used to assess strap retention. Suppose the strap does not break but elongates more than is allowed. The helmet is deemed to have failed the retention strap test. There is only a confined volume of leeway about how far the strap can be extended when forced.
Any helmet that impairs the wearer’s vision will not pass. The helmet must let in 105 degrees of peripheral vision from the center to view as far right or left as possible.
Different tests hardly vary from the ordinary Department of Transportation assessment. For example, a helmet should be durable against shock and sharp objects. It should also perform well in wet, hot, and frigid conditions.
Problems With DOT Certification In Malaysia
In Malaysia, it is thought that the American DOT testing criteria are lenient and need to be strict.
The critical point of the DOT certification is that manufacturers can self-test their helmet products. Also, in 2020, the test failure rate of DOT helmets increased to 43%. So because of this, Malaysian authority does not acknowledge DOT certification and does not allow the use of helmets that only pass DOT tests.
Which Helmet Standard Should You Choose?
It is up to you which helmet you choose. All certified helmets are safe to wear as they pass all quality tests before getting a certification sticker. Also, many riders prefer to avoid heavy helmets or afford such expensive helmets. Therefore, more stringent standards are only sometimes helpful.
SIRIM-certified helmets provide best-in-class safety as these helmets have been designed based on Malaysian conditions, such as heat, humidity, dust, and corrosion environments. In addition to offering reliable protection against head injuries due to crashes, these helmets are also designed to provide maximum ventilation and comfort even in hot climates.
The ECE tests for different sections of helmet performance and helmet endurance. Therefore, the ECE certification is the most advanced and accepted worldwide, including in Malaysia.
Snell accreditation implies more stringent and extended testing than ECE, which provides credence to the notion that it is a superior motorbike helmet standard. The Snell standard requires multiple shock resistance at the same spot. Many testing authorities believe this unnecessary exaggeration on the part of Snell because it does not correspond with real-world situations. They argue that an accident has a meager chance of a rider striking their head and suffering multiple impacts in one exact location on the helmet.
One of the convincing sides of the Snell foundation is that they buy helmets from the market and examine them in their laboratory. There is no interference from motorcycle helmet manufacturers, unlike other motorbike helmet standards.
If you buy a helmet of any model from a trusted manufacturer in Malaysia with any safety standard, you have made a wise decision. The main thing is that it fits properly on your head and you feel comfortable after wearing it.
When evaluating helmet standards, individuals often concentrate on many scientific aspects. All these standards are based on theories. There are debates among organizations about which standard is better than the other. The data is not an essential point that a customer should be looking at. Researchers only agree on which metrics are more accurate.