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Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Helmet Standards Summary


All bike helmet standards test the helmet by placing it on an instrumented headform, turning it upside down and dropping it on an anvil. The anvil can be flat, rounded or curbstone-shaped.

Drop heights are specified between one and two meters (3.3 to 6.6 feet).

The instruments must register less than 300 g's during the impact, and in some cases less than 250 or even 200 g's.

Standards also specify the coverage required, strap strength and stability on the head. Most standards require more coverage in the rear for toddler helmets.


Current bike helmet standards include:

  • CPSC: Every bicycle helmet sold in the US must meet our national standard.
  • ASTM F1447: Identical to CPSC.
  • Snell B90-S: Essentially identical to CPSC.
  • Snell B95: More stringent than CPSC, but little-used.
  • CEN or EN1078: The European standard. Permits lighter, thinner (less protective) helmets than any of the above standards.


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This page was last revised on: March 28, 2012.

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