So what does the SHARP motorcycle helmet test really mean?

Published: 04 September 2008

It’s long been a subject of great debate among riders – and particularly helmet manufacturers – whether a £500 top-of-the-range race replica offers better protection in a crash than a £50 budget lid. The new Government SHARP helmet test set out to end this debate once and for all when it published its first batch of test results earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview for MCN, a spokesman for the scheme explained the thinking behind it. He said: “SHARP aims to provide an independent assessment of how much protection a motorcycle helmet can offer in an impact and provide this objective advice to consumers to assist them with their purchase decisions.”

But the scheme has created even more controversy because it rated many cheap helmets above expensive ones. Naturally, those manufacturers whose lower-priced helmets came out of the tests favourably are delighted with the ratings and back the scheme all the way, while some of the most famous brands in the helmet market have criticised the SHARP tests for being misleading and methodologically flawed.

The people at SHARP, however, are convinced that their scheme, launched last November, can save up to 50 riders’ lives a year by helping them select a safer helmet.

Each helmet model is subjected to 22 different impacts on SHARP’s two specially-made test rigs. The tests are designed to replicate real-life accidents so the helmets are tested on flat and curved surfaces. The tests measure the level of acceleration, or G-force, the brain would experience during each impact rather than focusing on what damage is done to the helmets.

In other words, they measure how much of the energy from the impact is actually absorbed by the helmet and how much is left to be transferred through to the brain.

SHARP says: “Laboratory tests show there are real differences in the safety performance of motorcycle helmets.”

Can a £50 plastic helmet really offer as much, or better, protection as a £500 carbon fibre and Kevlar model? According to SHARP, they can, since a Lazer LZ6 which costs just £59.99 received a five-star rating while the Arai RX-7 Corsair – the most expensive helmet tested with prices up to £499.99 – only got three stars.

The SHARP team said: “Our research has shown that good impact safety performance was not restricted to premium price helmets (or those using particular materials or designs).”

Check out the list below to see the results for the first batch of helmets then why not click the 'buy now' button to see how much you could save in our Shopping section.

Make/Model Style SHARP rating (click for more) Size Buy online now
AGV Airtech Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
AGV K Series Full face rating - 3 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
AGV S-4 Full face rating - 5 stars XXS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
AGV Ti Tech Full face rating - 4 stars XXS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Airoh Leox Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XL
Airoh Speed Fire Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL
Arai RX-7 Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Arai Condor Full face rating - 2 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Arai GP5x Full face rating - 5 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Arai Viper GT Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Arai Astro Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Arashi Viper Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Bell M1 Full face rating - 5 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Box BX4 Full face rating - 2 stars XS-XXL
Box BX2 Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Grex RF2 Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Grex R1 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC HQ-1 Full face rating - 5 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC CS-12 Full face rating - 2 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC FG-14 Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL
HJC CL-ST Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC FS-10 Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC CS-12N Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC CS-R1 Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC FG-15 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
HJC IS-16 Full face rating - 2 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
KBC Force RR Full face rating - 0 stars XXS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
KBC VR2R Full face rating - 2 stars XXS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
KBC VR1-X Full face rating - 3 stars XXS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Lazer Fibre Pro Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Lazer LZ6 Full face rating - 5 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Lazer Tornado Full face rating - 2 stars XS-XL
Lazer Vertigo Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Lazer Fibre D1 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL
Nitro N810VX Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Nitro N820VX Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Nitro N330VX Full face rating - 2 stars S-XL
Nitro N755VX Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Nitro N1430VX Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Nitro N1600 VN Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
Nolan N62 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Nolan N84 Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Premier Monza Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL
Roof RO10 Diversion Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL
Roof RO10 Daytona Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
RST Racevent Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
RST Cobra Vent Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Schuberth S1 Full face rating - 0 stars XS-XXXL buy now on motorcycle news
Scorpion EXO-700 Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shark RSR2 Full face rating - 5 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shark S500 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL buy now on motorcycle news
Shark RSF 2i Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shark RSI Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shark S800 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shoei Raid II Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shoei XR-1000 Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Shoei X-Spirit Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Suomy Extreme Full face rating - 3 stars S-XL
Suomy Gunwind Full face rating - 3 stars S-XL
Suomy Spec 1R Full face rating - 3 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Takachi TK-30 Full face rating - 2 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Urban N20 Full face rating - 3 stars XS-XXL
Vemar VSREV Full face rating - 2 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
Vemar TAI2K Full face rating - 3 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
X-Lite X601 Full face rating - 4 stars XS-XXL
X-Lite X602 Full face rating - 4 stars S-XL
X-Lite X701 Full face rating - 0 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news
X-Lite X801 Full face rating - 0 stars S-XL buy now on motorcycle news