New FIM ‘Racing Homologation Program’ For Off Road Helmets 

FIM aiming for all off road helmets to meet new Racing Homologation Programme standards – FRHP – and improve safety standards.

 

The Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM) recently applied a new Racing Homologation Programme for helmets in MotoGP and World Superbike racing that will also be applied to all off road disciplines in the near future. 

The new programme aims to improve rider head protection and helmet safety standards with more objective evaluation of their safety features. 

FRHPhe test in a nutshell:

  • Linear impact test to determine the helmet’s response to both high and medium-low severity linear impacts and the level of protection against skull fracture.
  • Oblique Impact test aiming at evaluating the protection offered by the helmet against brain injuries generated by rotational accelerations.
  • Helmet penetration test to measure the helmet’s shell resistance to impact against sharp objects. 
 
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What the manufacturers are saying about the new regulations

To get a better understanding of the new testing programme and regulations, we spoke to Bob Weber at 6D Helmets:

What’s your opinion on the new FIM Racing Homologation Programme for helmets (FRHPhe)? 

Bob Weber: “I think they are going in a good direction here, as standards need to evolve to better protect the athlete. Adding a rotational energy management component is a positive direction, and by the outline, it will become more demanding over time. 

“There is one component we consider a bit aggressive however. We’re not sure it was necessary to increase the linear testing velocity above the 7.75m/sec requirement of the Snell standard, to 8.2 m/sec. This will effectively make the helmets stiffer as most manufacturers will likely add layup to the shell and increase the density of the EPS to meet the demand, and that can directly compromise the helmet’s ability to manage the low-threshold work it needs to do in most crash scenarios.

“The cool thing however, is that they did add a low-threshold impact requirement of 5 m/sec which will challenge the manufacturers to engineer better helmets. This component was added after they studied the 6D ODS technology and what our helmet was doing to improve lower velocity impact performance.

 
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Your helmets already undergo oblique impact testing, as well as meeting many other safety standards; why is it important to perform this type of testing? 

“The medical community has determined that angular acceleration is the primary cause of concussion or worse. An oblique (angled) strike to the helmet causes the helmet to accelerate in that direction. 

“The problem is that the brain is suspended in cerebral spinal fluid and it becomes stressed as it begins to accelerate in response to the impact. Lessening this stress, by uncoupling the outer surface of the helmet from the wearer’s head helps to effectively dampen this change in acceleration. For this reason it is important that the helmet has a method of mitigating angular acceleration.

Do you think the homologation program is appropriated for both road and off road racing or should it be specific for each discipline? 

“Currently it is only in place for closed course FIM sanctioned road racing. They are working on an off-road version as well, however details have not been formally announced. It should be different in our opinion.

Is it good to see regulations for helmet safety moving forward? Should the measures be implemented in all the international helmet safety standards? 

“Yes, like I mentioned above, the standards need to evolve to include a rotational energy component. Some standards will be slower to respond than others, but it will come eventually. Yes, it should be implemented in all international standards.

 
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New safety standards

Until now the FIM has relied on the international standards, ECE 22.05 in Europe, Snell M2015 in America and JIS T8133 in Japan, for the approval of helmets to use in FIM competitions. The new FRHPhe code (‘he’ distinguishing the helmet standard from other safety items included in the Racing Homologation Programme) aims to ensure a more complete protection for the rider and a better control of the helmets used in FIM competitions. 

Current helmet safety standards only perform linear impact and penetration tests to determine the safety of the helmet and it has long been understood this does not go far enough – particularly for the nature of off road riding terrain and the irregular impacts a helmet can be subjected to in a crash. 

The new FIM regulations being proposed for off road, and already in place for road racing, will introduce oblique impact testing procedure to address the brain injuries caused by critical rotational accelerations which reflects one of the most common crash scenarios in motorbike racing – despite this fact it has never been applied before in any international safety standard. 

The new test protocol aims to provide a minimised risk of skull fracture and prevent multiple forms of brain damage, like concussion for example. Many off road helmet brands are already working to mitigate these injuries via systems such as MIPS, Fluid System or Omni-Directional Suspension.

 
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Helmet manufacturers are no doubt pushing technology forwards in the off road market which has traditionally been the poor relation when compared to road/street helmet safety standards. For too long the off road, enduro and MX market has been rife with low quality and cheap helmets which do not reach a high enough level of protection. 

Until the first event of 2020, all FIM road racing championship can race with helmets which meet existing international standards, with the exception of FIM Grand Prix (MotoGP, Moto 2 and 3) and Superbike World Championship where they’re obliged to meet the FRHPhe since June 3 2019. 

A date for the implementation of the new standard to off road is yet to be set but is expected in the next two years at international level racing. 

For more information on the new FRHPhe helmet standard visit: frhp.com  

 

Photo Credit: Future7Media + Sebas Romero + FIM/Good Shoot

 

The Team at Enduro21

jon.pearson@enduro21.com