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Motorcyclist takes credit for Snell test

739 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  rdempsey
Motorcyclist mag takes credit for new Snell test

Motorcyclist magazine takes credit for an "improved" Snell standard in their article "Snell sees it our way." I did not see it their way, so this is the note I sent:

In your article "Snell sees it our way," you take credit for what you view as improvements to the Snell standard. However, there are criteria, other than the peak G limit and head form sizes, in the Snell and ECE 22-05 testing standards that affect how a given helmet will perform.

For example, the Snell 2010 standard imposes two strikes whereas ECE is a single strike test. The two strike test requires helmets to manage much higher levels of impact energy than the single strike test. Another significant difference is that ECE includes Head Injury Criterion (HIC), which introduces a time duration factor into the evaluation. As you noted in "Blowing the lid off" with respect to the DOT 400 G limit (effective limit of 250g), a time duration requirement effectively lowers the peak G limit. Snell has no such time duration requirement. The double strike and HIC factors are likely to cause helmets to perform differently on the peak G limit test, event though the two tests have the same peak G limit. I expect ECE (and DOT only) helmets to continue to produce lower peak G force test results than helmets built to the Snell 2010 standard.

Regarding the Snell 2010 double hits, you previously criticized this requirement in "Blowing the lid off," as major factor of the Snell test leading to helmets that are too stiff and thereby less safe. You reported that the 2010 standard brings Snell more in line with the ECE 22-05 standard, but as previously mentioned the ECE standard does not require double hits.

Also, the second hit required by the 2010 test is higher for some head forms than mandated by the Snell 2005 criteria. Snell M2005 requires a first hit of 7.75 meters/second (or 150 Joule impact) and a 6.6 m/s (or 110J) impact for the second strike. Under the 2010 requirements the first impact criterion remains the same but the second impact has been increased for head forms ISO A, C, E, and J. It is welcome revision that the 2010 revisions take into consideration head size, but the more stringent requirements for the second impact for most head form sizes is likely to offset much of the potential benefit. The increase in the second impact velocities may contribute to helmets being even more resilient (not less-rigid as you said) causing energy to be absorbed efficiently only at values of head injury criterion well above those which are survivable.

Snell helmets could become more rigid as a result of the increased second impact velocities and still pass a lower peak G limit because many Snell helmets pass the Snell peak G limit with room to spare. The complicating factor for Snell rated helmets is that they also have to deal with the DOT peak G limit, at least here in the states. Hopefully the DOT limit will keep peak G force limits in check, but if excessive G forces are kept down it will not be due to the Snell standard.

So, I wouldn't pat myself on the back and take credit for an "improved" Snell standard if I were you. What riders need is a testing standard that promotes the production of helmets that will protect us from fatal injuries, as well as offering more protection from non-fatal brain injuries. The Snell 2010 standard does not appear to be a step in that direction.
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Please post their response when you get it.
I read the it the other day. It's good to see Snell revise their method of testing, but I don't think they have any plans of telling Motorcyclist Magazine they were wrong. Sad thing is you will still be able to buy the older Snell rated helmets forever if you can find one at a helmet dealer, plus they will still be making the old ones until '09.
Nice letter Im curious to see a response from them, if you even get one
Thanks. I'll post the response, but don't expect one. They seem overly eager to beat up on Snell. Not that I'm defending Snell, but they should at least provide accurate information.
nice reply dude...... its good to see riders getting involved in rider safety
That was very well written. I am anxious to see the response if you get one.
Considering Snell made changes that were directly in line with what the original article took them to task on, after previously resisting anything the article said, I would tend to think that the article/magazine were very much responsible for publicizing the information that led Snell to make changes. I have no doubt that they felt the pressure from that article and had to respond. So, yes, I think they should be able to claim credit for it. Why are you so adamant that they shouldn't, especially when nobody else did anything close to the tests/article combination that Motorcyclist did?

I'm sure Motorcyclist also intentionally wrote the latest article intentionally to jab a thorn in Snell, as Snell trashed them after the original article. IMO, Motorcyclist did riders a HUGE service with that original article.

BTW, I'm not saying the new standard is good/bad, but I think it's accurate to say they researched and made changes due to the exposure and heat that the Motorcyclist article put on them. For that, I'll give them a pat on the back.
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As far as responses, I wouldn't hold my breath. Magazine editors tend to take everything as an insult and issue smartass replies that are critical of the writer. Will be interesting to see what they say, though. You never know, you may even end up in the magazine. I would think your letter is professional enough to warrant that.
Why are you so adamant that they shouldn't, especially when nobody else did anything close to the tests/article combination that Motorcyclist did?
Snell very well may have been responding to the article but I'm aware of other research in which Snell participated that may have contributed to the new standard. Also, Snell tends to continuously develop their standard. In any event, we don't know the reason for the new standard.

I too appreciated the Motorcyclist "Blowing the lid off" article, but my above response was pointing out that I do not think the Snell 2010 standard is a significant improvement (or in-line with ECE) as Motorcyclist claimed in their most recently article.
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