Generally speaking, most of the modular helmet is not Snell approved. Although there are a few that have passed the test and got approved in the past, modular helmets are usually not meant to be strong enough to pass Snell tests. It is not a be-all and end-all for any helmet.
Why Most of the Modular Helmet is Not Snell Rated?
When it comes to Snell, they have a very strict standard when comes to testing helmets. That’s why they are considered the most superior certification when comes to helmets.
What Does Snell Test Look in a Helmet?
There are a few tests a helmet has to go through and pass for a Snell certificate. They test the rigidness of the helmet, the power of protective materials, the chinstrap, and the visor. They are done by implementing different types of tests.
The Anvil Drop Test
Snell uses five different shaped anvils for the drop test to find out how good the helmets are in a drop test. It also tests how good are the inside protective materials at absorbing shocks and damage in a different environment. In contrast, the ECE test only uses a flat anvil to test for their certificate.
Dome, Chin, And Visor
The Snell test drops are done from a higher height than any other certification test. They also test the dome of the helmet along with the chin bar. The visor is tested by shooting it with lead pellets with an air rifle and these are just a few among many others.
Modular Falls for Comfort
So to pass a Snell test the helmet have to be seriously solid in every way. No doubt, it has to deliver good performance in every test which is very hard for a modular helmet. And why not since they are mainly made for comfort by sacrificing a little bit of safety.
Why Can’t Modular Helmet not Pass the Test?
A modular helmet is kind of a hybrid between a full-face helmet and an open-face helmet. So you can open up the bottom part of the helmet along with the visor. These helmets often come with different types of features like sun visors or helmet lights which make the helmet more fun to wear.
But all the features come with a tradeoff. To make the bottom part of the helmet retractable you have to make a hinge that can hold them. Unfortunately, these hinges do not last in a Snell test and break very easily in a test.
Another thing is, you have to consider the weight when making a helmet. A modular helmet is a bit heavier than other helmets because of its retractable parts which do not help them in a Snell drop test.
There are Snell Certified Modular Helmets
Despite all the problems of a modular helmet when comes to the Snell test, there have been some modular helmets in the past that have passed the Snell test and gotten a Snell certificate.
LS2 is the world’s first Snell-approved modular helmet. They got the Snell certificate for the LS2 in 2010. Since then a few brands have gotten this certification on some of their product.
Brands like HJC, Shoei, Bell, and Scorpion have also made some Snell-certified products on their own since then. But it is not something all the products of the brand have.
The executive director of Snell invites the company to make and test out their modular helmet and they are happy to test them. But he also mentions that just because of their modular design or extra features Snell will not compromise on any safety features. It will be tested as a full-face helmet because of its hybrid nature.
No Snell Certificate Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad
Yes, Snell is regarded as the highest grade of certificate a helmet can get. But it is more for a racing scene. Legally the helmet has to have DOT certification. Snell certification is only necessary if you are going to use the helmet for racing.
That doesn’t mean you should discard the normal Snell-certified helmets. Snell Certified helmets will always be better than any other helmets in terms of safety. But as a normal helmet, it doesn’t have to be Snell approved to be used in a day to day biking.
Targeted Consumers Plays a Factor
If you are someone who is buying a modular helmet then chances are you are not going to go racing on a track. You are more likely to go out in an urban or rural area and enjoy the scenery while biking at a normal speed.
So the target consumers for a modular helmet don’t need to have Snell certified helmet. Also making a Snell-certified helmet will cost more which can often be out of budget for the customers.
As the executive director of Snell says, if you want to make a snell certified modular helmet then you have to make a helmet for a snell certification test. A normal modular helmet most likely will not pass the test. So making a helmet specifically to be snell approved is often not the wisest business decision.
Should I Buy a Snell Approved Modular Helmet?
If you have the budget and you like the Snell-approved version then obviously. Snell-approved helmets will always have a better safety feature than other helmets. But if you want to buy a helmet for normal daily usage, snell certification is not something that it has to have.
But you have to at least have DOT certification for the helmet to be legal. That said since it is the minimum requirement most of the helmets in the market is DOT certified. So make sure your modular helmet has a DOT certification when buying. ECE-certified helmets are usually better than DOT.
So try to find a DOT certified one or even better ECE certified if possible but Snell Certification is not usually necessary.
Q: Are modular helmets DOT or ECE approved?
Ans: Yes modular helmets are usually DOT and ECE approved.
Q: Are modular helmets safe?
Overall, for a casual rider, a Snell-approved helmet is not necessary. Since making a Snell-approved modular helmet will cost more, which can make it out of budget for customers companies usually do not opt in to make a snell approved modular helmet.