What Makes a Helmet DOT Approved?

DOT approval is required for any helmet you wear on the street or highway, and it’s not a bad sign of quality to use for a lot of other motorsports either. Some of the DOT requirements make less sense when you consider off-road events like motocross, though, and that’s one reason why there are other helmet rating bodies out there. Another reason is to provide guidelines for riders participating in track races and other events where the forces at play are higher than those typically used to assess DOT helmet compliance.

All motorcycle helmets that have met DOT approval are required to have a DOT sticker on them to inform consumers, but there are some counterfeit sticker manufacturers out there supplying makers of nonconforming helmets. That’s why you should know how to assess a helmet for conformity with the DOT requirements. Here’s how to do just that.

  • Check the inner liner to be sure it is at least one full inch thick
  • Feel the chinstrap to be sure it is sturdy enough to remain secure while riding
  • Weigh the helmet to make sure it is at least one pound, as many nonconforming designs weigh less than a pound
  • Check for a full face shield because no nonconforming designs with full shields have been identified so far
  • Look for decorations like horns, because the DOT requires no protrusions larger than one-fifth of an inch

If all these things check out, your helmet’s DOT sticker should be genuine. Like motorcycle seats, mirrors, and headlights, the safety criteria for approval are designed to help you be safe on the road.

Is ECE Better than DOT Approval?

In a nutshell, yes. While there are a few different organizations offering testing approval for racing helmets and it’s hard to say for sure which is best because of different approaches to testing, the commonly used ECE approval rating for race helmets does exceed the requirements of DOT approval in just about every way. That does not mean that all ECE helmets will necessarily meet DOT approval, though. While the ECE uses more stringent testing and adds test types the DOT does not include in its criteria, specific requirements that conform to U.S. law in the DOT guidelines do not necessarily appear in the ECE guides.

If a helmet has both ECE and DOT approval, that’s generally a higher quality design than one with just DOT approval. If a helmet somehow has ECE approval and not DOT approval, it is probably still a good helmet but you’re not going to be able to use it on public roads in the U.S. It’s still a great buy for a trail or track helmet, though.

How to Choose the Best Motorcycle Parts for Your Bike

If you’re looking for top quality brands or OEM to match the build of a premium bike, you’ll find most of the same online retailers you trust for top quality helmets are in the part business. Find great deals on Harley Davidson parts, aftermarket upgrades, and more, all in the same place you get your helmets, jackets, and other riding gear. That makes it easy to save on shipping whenever you need to place an order for supplies.

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