ARF Presents: Certified vs Non-Certified Bicycle Helmet Impact Test from Athlete Recovery Fund on Vimeo.

ARF Video Exposes Certified versus Non Certified Helmets in BMX


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Aaron Cooke

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ARF Video Exposes Certified versus Non Certified Helmets in BMX

Behind-the-scenes look at helmet testing reveals that certified bicycle helmets can be the difference between life and death

TEMECULA Calif., (December 14, 2012) – The Athlete Recovery Fund (ARF) today released a video that exposed the added risks associated with BMX athletes and riders using non-certified helmets vs. certified helmets for BMX riding. The ARF has noticed a trend of head injuries, particularly in the sport of BMX where an uncertified helmet or no helmet at all was used – a common rider trend.  The ARF, along with athletes, helmet manufacturers and action sports event promoters are taking a stand and this recent video provides an insider’s look at the reality of certified vs. non-certified helmets.

“ARF is excited for the progression and longevity in the sport of BMX.  We look forward to sharing this important information that will protect riders of all skill levels.  As young riders continue to push the limits of those before them having the right helmet on can make all the difference to them and their families.”  Aaron Cooke, Executive Director ARF.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) dictates that in order for a helmet to be sold in a bicycle store or marketed toward bicycle use it must pass a range of impact tests that provide a specific rating of G force’s measured inside the helmet when dropped from a distance of two meters onto a test surface.

Skateboarding by contrast has no required guidelines or testing methods for a helmet to be sold.  As both BMX and skateboarding share many styles and products there have been several professional riders wearing non-certified helmets, even in competition.  This style of non-certified bicycle helmet is even more commonly used by general BMX riders because they are readily available and not clearly marked as being unapproved for bicycle use. 

The ARF selected three professional BMX riders to participate in the video, including Brandon Dosch (2010 BMX Dirt Jumping Dew Tour Champion), Mike Clark (2012 Transworld Number One Rider Award Cup Dirt Jumper Award) and Chad Kerley , a top BMX street riding video part athlete and competitor at X Games and Dew Tour receiving 2nd place in both events in 2012.  The ARF documented the process of educating these professionals with scientific detail the difference between certified and non-certified bicycle helmets and the associated risks.  The video was shot at Easton Bell Sports’ (EBS) test facility lab in Scotts Valley, CA where the ARF could test both types of helmets and best realize the results.

The entire experiment was captured on video and the results were impressive and shocking at the same time.  Under the CPSC Standards, in order for a bicycle helmet to be certified it is to be dropped from a height of two meters onto a solid surface with internal G forces remaining below 300 g’s.  A fighter pilot pushes 9 g’s before passing out, an extreme football impact can measure at 150 g’s.  The EBS testing facility first warned that the uncertified helmet could not be tested at two meters or it would break its test equipment. The EBS Director of Helmet Creation suggested doing a comparison between certified and uncertified at a lesser one-meter drop height. 

When the non-certified helmet was dropped the equipment measured over 800 g’s of force inside the helmet.  When the certified helmet was dropped from the same height, under the exact same conditions 159 g’s was measured by the equipment and over five times less the impact force of the uncertified helmet.  It was estimated that while riders may have a headache from the impact in the certified helmet, they would very likely get up and ride away, wheras the impact measured in the non-certified helmet was not survivable. It is the difference between life and death.

The professional riders who attended this test with ARF were blown away by the difference in the helmet comparison.  It no doubt had a huge impression on what helmet they will choose in the future:  “I’ve definitely fallen to my head from further than six feet high wearing that exact same helmet actually (referring to the uncertified helmet) and it’s just, it’s real scary to think how bad it could actually be…you just pick a helmet because of how it looks and how it feels on your head not actually thinking about what it’s going to do.” Mike Clark, NORA CUP 2012 BMX dirt rider of the year.

ARF has held a conference with major event promoters Alli Sports (Dew Tour), X Games and ASA regarding helmet safety bringing this and other data to their attention. In turn, they have all changed their rules on what is allowed during competition.  If a BMX rider shows up with an uncertified helmet they will no longer be allowed to compete.  ARF will continue to spread the message and educate the public on the difference between the two helmets working with manufactures, amateur contests and local skate parks as a way to reach the public. 


About the ARF:

The Athlete Recovery Fund (ARF) started in February of 2008 as a nonprofit that would assist injured professionals from BMX, FMX and Skateboarding with the costs that insurance didn’t cover after a severe injury occurred.  In almost five years of service, over $700,000 has been granted to help athletes and families in need.

The ARF Mission Statement is to provide professional athletes in BMX, FMX and Skateboarding with financial support after a severe injury and granting funds for rehabilitation, equipment, long-term disability and educational scholarships. For more information, please visit



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