In the UK, it is required by law to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, no matter your age. To comply with the law, you'll need to purchase a helmet that meets certain criteria, which can cost around £120 to £500 or more, depending on the make and model you choose. A properly-fitting and highly-rated helmet may reduce the severity of motorcycle injuries and the need to file an insurance claim in the event of an accident, which could save you money in the future.
Important Considerations When Buying a Motorcycle Helmet
Before considering features like anti-scratch, anti-fog and quick-release visors, bluetooth capability, colour, etc., be sure that a helmet satisfies British safety standards. The UK requires all riders to wear a helmet that meets certain criteria, whether you're on a sport bike or a scooter. To be legal, a helmet must achieve one of the following standards:
- British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
- UNECE Regulation 22.05
- a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark
To find a list of approved helmets and see how they are rated for safety, visit the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP), which is a Department for Transport consumer information programme.
How Important is the Safety Rating on a Motorcycle Helmet?
If you're in a very serious accident, wearing a motorcycle helmet with the highest 5-star SHARP rating can reduce the likelihood you'll die by half, versus wearing a helmet rated at only 2 or 3 stars. The most important aspect of a motorcycle helmet in terms of safety is probably its SHARP rating.
A helmet is rated by SHARP based on how it performed in a series of 32 tests, comprised of 30 linear impact absorption tests and 2 oblique surface friction tests. The results from the tests are consolidated into a total weighted injury risk for each helmet model. This total weighted injury risk is then multiplied by an exposure population of 7078 (derived by SHARP from Department for Transport accident statistics) to provide a predicted number of fatalities for the helmet model being rated. Finally, the predicted number of fatalities is used to determine the SHARP safety rating:
Odds of Death by Motorcycle Helmet Rating
|SHARP Safety Rating||Predicted Number of Fatalities|
|5 stars||under 155|
|4 stars||156 to 230|
|3 stars||231 to 305|
|2 stars||306 to 380|
|1 star||over 380|
How Much You'll Pay for a SHARP-Rated Motorcycle Helmet
The cost of a motorcycle helmet varies significantly based upon the safety standards it meets, the style and whether you want any additional features, such as bluetooth speakers. For a standard new motorcycle helmet that meets the minimum British safety standards, the cost typically starts around £29.99. However a high-end, 5-star helmet from AGV or Shark can easily cost £400 or more.
If you're looking for a combination of high safety rating and low price, the cheapest 5-star SHARP-rated motorcycle helmet in the study was the Duchinni D832, priced at £59.99—a small price to pay for safety and when compared to other costs of motorcycle ownership, such as motorcycle insurance premiums.
Average Cost of a Motorcycle Helmet by UK SHARP Safety Rating
|SHARP Safety Rating||Number of Helmets Tested||Average Price||Cheapest||Most Expensive|
Other Protective Motorcycle Clothing Requirements
There is no law requiring you to wear other protective clothing like visors/goggles, leathers, gloves and boots. However it is highly recommended that you do, to afford the most protection in the event of an accident. If you do choose to wear a visor or goggles, they must meet one of the following criteria:
- meet a British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark
- meet a European standard offering at least the same safety and protection as the British Standard and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark (UNECE Regulation 22.05)
Wearing a motorbike helmet with a top-notch 5-star rating can have real-life implications on your life, reducing the chance of death by half or more. With more than 60 5-star helmets on the market across a range of prices starting from £59.99, there are plenty of helmets to choose from that achieve the highest safety rating. Before making a purchase, SHARP recommends that you try on as many as helmets possible within your price range. Of those that fit correctly and are comfortable to wear, choose one with the highest SHARP safety (Star) rating.