After just over two decades of life with the same helmet safety standard, things changed in 2021.
The arrival of the ECE 22.06 helmet test signals the eventual end for 22.05, and fast-acting helmet firms are releasing new models with the updated certification.
The new test involves too many changes to go into full details here, but helmets have to undergo a wider range of impact tests now.
There are harder blows, some softer ones and a wider selection of potential impact points for the lab testers to choose from. There are also glancing blows (oblique impacts) as well as direct hits (linear impacts).
The idea is that helmets should show their capability in a wider range of potential accidents, and with a greater area of the helmet proving it offers the right protection.
We can’t say a 22.06 helmet is better than a 22.05 lid, as we can’t say how an older helmet would fare in the new tests. But you can have more confidence that a helmet is up to the job if it has proven itself up to the stiffer tests.
Almost a year after the first 22.06 helmet was launched, here are the five best from the growing crop of lids in the vanguard of head protection…
This was one of the first helmets launched that met the new safety standard, and it’s got off to a flying start with customers. From the first 19 reviews, 17 were perfect five-star write-ups. It’s a sporty road lid with a composite-fibre shell and at 1423 grams (measured, size medium) it’s only very marginally heavier than the NXR that went before it. The ventilation is excellent and the new CWR-F2 visor gives great peripheral vision. It’s also protected by a top-grade Pinlock anti-mist insert. The visor now lifts and locks on a central tab, which is a departure for Shoei. The fully removable liner can be customised to fit by swapping different thicknesses, and the strap fastener is a D-ring arrangement.
It’s no surprise that Arai were among the first manufacturers to respond to the new safety standard by getting the Quantic into shops. It’s a sporty road lid with a focus on ventilation and, as usual for Arai, rider comfort. The vents through the chin and up top are highly regarded, and there’s an innovative switched vent integrated into the Arai badge above the visor. Add in Arai’s customary vents in the visor itself and good airflow is assured. The Quantic runs the same visor as the range-topping RX-7V and it has a comfortable brushed fabric over the soft inner comfort lining. As you’d expect from a sporty helmet it runs the D-ring strap fastener that you’ll find on all Arai helmets. It’s made a good start for customer feedback with the first nine reviewers all giving their Quantic a perfect five stars.
The first 22.06 flipfront to make it into shops, with Schuberth bringing an all-new lid into the category where they’ve traditionally dominated. The C5 is more confidence-inspiring in its construction that previous Schuberths, which managed only average scores in the UK Government’s SHARP tests. There’s plenty of clever stuff in the C5. If you lift the chinbar when the visor is partially open then it’ll return to the same state when you drop it again. The comfort liner is made up of seven parts and that allows more finetuning of fit than any other helmet. Schuberth’s anti-roll-off system keeps it securely on your head and the sun visor’s travel can be limited to avoid nose-visor clashes. There’s a dedicated comms system available, which means it’s child’s play to get yourself connected to your phone, pillion and fellow riders.
The successor to the mightily successful Nolan N87 was the first ECE 22.06 helmet to land with a pricetag below £400 - and the N80-8 cost half of that at the time if you went for a plain colour. It’s a plastic-shelled touring-sports helmet (for us, the micrometric buckle strap fastener means it’s a bit less sports-focused) with an adjustable comfort liner, an anti-mist sun visor that retracts at the push of a button and a Pinlock-protected main visor. For those whose head shape suits the interior, Nolan are an under-rated brand whose lids offer a specification that generally kicks above the price level. The N80-8 is rigged out to accept Nolan’s N-Com Bluetooth units, though that compatibility makes it trickier to fit universal intercoms.
Shark’s first 22.06 helmet is another to land with a more wallet-friendly pricetag as it comes in at a penny under £300 on launch. This one has a composite-fibre shell and aggressive styling designed to appeal to the street riding crowd (though ACU Gold approval means it can be worn on tracks). It’s based on the popular Spartan helmet, with a more comprehensive venting system around the chin. The visor comes from the Spartan GT touring helmet with a three-stage securing system to keep it firmly attached and give a wide range of opening options. The internal sun visor shields eyes from glare and a brushed covering to the lining gives a premium feel inside.