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Mac Made

AFX Helmets
585 Consortium Ct.
London, Ontario, Canada N6E 2S8


May 23, 1999

From: Steven Shmerler
To: info@afxhelmets.com
Subject: Trying to buy the safest helmet

Dear AFX,

I would like to know which of your helmets will give me the most safety and impact protection at highway speeds. Do you have a list or chart by impact rating so I can buy the safest one?

Many thanks,
Steven Shmerler

Sun, 23 May 1999

From: Doug Hill <afx@skynet.ca>
To: "'Steven Shmerler'" <shmerls@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Trying to buy the safest helmet


Thanks for the inquiry about our helmets. All of our helmets meet the requirements for DOT FMVSS-218, the highest safety standard administered by the department of transport.

Beyond this standard our FX-1 street helmet and our FX-8 off-road helmet meet snell M-95 approval. This standard is usually associated with the highest quality and safest helmets on the market.

We have a link to the snell web site on our web page in the about AFX section. I encourage you to read the snell site and make your own choice.

DOT says their tests are better, and Snell says theirs are better. Our FX-1 helmet passes both.

Let me know if I can be of further help

Doug Hill

May 23, 1999

I guess the only question then is what is the absorption capabilities of your helmets if they're all the same. Is there a speed or impact after which the helmet doesn't protect your head in an accident? I'm assuing there must be a point where the helmet stops working. I've always wondered about that.

Steven Shmerler


Sunday, May 23, 1999


It's rather hard to explain but to sum it up.

DOT requires the helmet to absorb 1 large hit per area , not exceeding 400 g's transmitted to the brain.

Snell requires the helmet to absorb 2 medium hits per area, not exceeding 300 g's transmitted to the brain.

So basically, DOT says their standard is better because it can absorb 1 big hit, Snell says theirs is best because it can absorb 2 medium hits.

That's why we make the FX-1 helmet pass both standards.

Doug Hill

May 23, 1999


Maybe I'm not making my question clear. I don't know about DOT or SNELL, but I'm sure they're both good standards.

What I want to know is the effect of wearing a helmet in a crash situation. What does "1 large hit" or "2 medium hits" mean to me in a real crash? How much impact is that and how does that translate to MPH? See my point?

Said a different way, let's say I hit a tree. I've got your best helmet on.

    1) How much impact does your helmet absorb.

    2) At what speed is the "hit" absorbtion protection of the helmet overwhelmed or superceded by the force or speed in which I've hit the tree?

I'm trying to understand how effective your helmets are. Can I hit a tree head first with a helmet and have the helmet absorb enough force so that I might live? There has to be a speed at which it doesn't matter what's on your head... that the shock cannot be absorbed by any helmet and you are going to be very badly hurt or killed. Is it: 20 MPH? 30? 40? 50? 60? Where's the point of no return, so to speak, approximately, of course.


Sunday, May 23, 1999


Even tougher to answer

I've seen people succumb to head injuries from 30 mph and people walk away from 100 mph all with the same helmet. It all depends on the following:

  1. mass of impact, persons body weight
  2. impact velocity, and resistance to movement
  3. impact area, flat, point, round, tree, guard rail, car etc.
  4. angle of impact, glancing blow, strait on impact
  5. duration of impact, one hit, multiple hits.

Like life, no two situations can provide the same results, so Snell and dot try to simulate the best possible situations by testing 4 helmets each against the following impact edges.

  • Round edge,
  • Flat edge,
  • Pointed edge,
  • Straight edge

Against these edges 4 helmets are tested.

  • One helmet at room temperature
  • One helmet is immersed in water
  • One helmet is heated
  • One helmet is frozen

In the usa and Canada, there are only two acceptable safety standards that apply to motorcycle helmets.

DOT, FMVSS-218 mandatory for all helmets

Snell M-95, mandatory for all helmets that are used for competition based on the requirements of the sanction body and the American motorcycle association.

Refer to the following web sits for additional information, as a helmet manufacture we can only build to meet the safety standards that are required for the specific country. And according to the testing procedure in place in that country.


Sorry I can't help you with the speed/tree thing but as you can see it's a rather complicated set of circumstances.

Doug Hill

May 25, 1999


You cannot in any seriousness tell me that as a manufacturer, you have no idea what kind of impact your helmets can sustain.

I'm not interested in what the government requires. I'm *specifically* interested in YOUR answer about what YOUR helmets can and cannot handle impact-wise. As a consumer, I have a right to know about your product's capabilities. If I asked a stereo manufacturer how powerful is there amplifier, I wouldn't expect a "that depends" answer, or that I'd have to ask the FCC. This what you are doing.

I'm beginning to feel that you are avoiding my question. Are you? Let me ask again. Since you make them and test them:

"What is the maximum impact your helmets can withstand before they break?"

If you cannot answer this in on the street terms, then please tell me in lab testing terms. How much impact do your helmets handle before they break in your compliance testing?

Thank you for your reply.

Tuesday, May 25, 1999


I'm not avoiding any questions, and I'm sorry I can't answer you questions in a understandable nature. The only thing I can again refer you to is how our helmets fair in compliance testing for the two standards. We make them, but we do not test them, by law to sell in canada and the USA we have to have a independent lab test our products. We can not test nor certify our own products. Sounds stupid, sometimes I think so.

    Snell maximum allowed force transmitted to the brain is 300g

    DOT maximum allowed force transmitted to the brain is 400g

Neither test lab provides measures beyond these requirements, meaning as soon as a helmet exceeds any of these levels it fails, if it is below these levels it passes.

I know this is not the degree of answer you want but trust me for us it is that simple. If we go above we fail, if we go below we pass. They don't have a good , better, best rating, just a pass or fail.

Again if you still not happy with my answers I encourage you to contact the test labs and voice your concern. I honestly do not know how to better answer your question.

Maybe you could try another helmet manufacture to see if they know something we don't. this is only our 4th. Year in business. And all we are being told is pass/fail = good/bad

Best regards
Doug Hill

May 25, 1999


>Snell maximum allowed force transmitted to the brain is 300g
>Dot maximum allowed force transmitted to the brain is 400g

What I am looking for is that 400g to the brain would be equal to a 150 lb. (or any weight) person hitting a wall at approx." XX" MPH.

If I hit a wall with no helmet my skull would crack at only xx MPH so if I wear a helmet, that would crack at xx MPH giving my head xx more MPH before it was it's turn...

Does no one know what 400g to the brain means in actual, or projected or simulated crash scenario terms? I find this hard to believe since you are trying to save lives and reduce injury.

If answering these questions in the terms I am looking for opens you up to liability, then just tell me that. I would understand this. I realize that there are many variables in a crash, from speed to weight, to angle of the helmet at contact to the make up of the object being hit such as a wall, or tree or car. Each will create a different scenario.

I just was assuming SOMEONE could say, Steven over XX MPH at your weight, if you have a head-on, your toast.

So is this a liability problem to answer me beyond the "g" terms? I assume that means G as in Gravity? You see, I have no idea what 300g means even? Can you define that too?


Tuesday, May 25, 1999


Again I need to refer you to the actual people that do the testing: Snell and d.o.t.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is totally false. Manufacturers test and certify their helmets. Neither DOT nor Snell test for certification, although they do spot check to make sure helmets meet 218 per the manufacturer's certifcation.]

Following the links in my past email for the web addresses, I don't have the ability to answer your questions. As the test labs don't work in mph. Maybe they can relate it to you in some other terms.

Liability is always a concern, but I would tell you if I knew, I don't know. All I know is we meet the highest safety standards for motorcycle helmets as determined by the governments of Canada and the United States.

And beyond this we meet the requirements for snell M-95 in our FX-1 model.

I don't know what else to say, sorry


>Again I need to refer you to the actual people that do the testing [snip]


Been there and have just received a letter from their lead council (can you believe it's come to this? Is this a conspiracy?) Anyway, Mr. Meteke advises that the DOT (NHTSA) does not do the testing nor the approval nor certification, that the manufacturer is *required* to certify that their helmets comply. The NHTSA does perform tests sometimes to make sure helmets are in compliance, they do not approve or certify. This is teh manufacturer's responsibility per the very agency you directed me to.

As such I was told that you are the proper source to find out what your helmets can and cannot do. So, back to you. Let me try another way:

I weigh 145 lbs. Will your helmets protect me if, while wearing one, I hit a solid brick wall, head-first, at 20 MPH, with a temperature of 60 degrees F.? What can be reasonably anticipated in such a scenario?

* Will the helmet crack? Yes/No
* Will the helmet crack open and break away? Yes/No
* Will the helmet absorb enough energy to prevent a concussion? Yes/No
* Will the helmet absorb enough energy to prevent brain impairment? Yes/No
* Will the helmet absorb enough energy to prevent death from brain injury? Yes/No

Thank you,

Tuesday, May 25, 1999

In the United States the DOT test facility endorsed by NHTSA is SGS you may want to write to them at the following:


Ask for information pertaining to FMVSS-218, they have tested our helmets for DOT.

Ask for Snell all the contact info you need is located there, they have tested and certified our FX-1 helmet.


They do have phone numbers listed, as well as contact names.

Best regards
Doug Hill

Tuesday, May 25, 1999


Will your test facility have answer to my question about what I can reasonably expect to occur in an accident scenario such as the one I asked (140 lbs, 20 MPH below)?

I feel compelled to ask you this because the last place you sent me (DOT) told me that you were wrong in sending me there, that it was your responsibility not there's to test and certify.

So, before I waste my time further, I want to know with certainty that your testing company will answer my question. If you can't tell me this either, then can you tell me who your superior is and how to contact them so that I can find out what your products can and can't do.

Doug, when it comes to my life and safety, I must know the reasonible outcomes when taking risks, such as riding a motorcycle. It is only thru knowing the risks and the options to reduce risk do we as motorcyclists become responsible. We depend upon our helmets to reduce the risks. All I wanted to know was "how much" I can expect, or hope to reduce my risks by. I am sorry if you find me "in your face", but I hope you understand and appreciate my qwest for trying to do the best thing possible for my protection. Being told that a helmet complies, but having no one, not you, no the company, not the NHTSA being able tell me, even in a general way, what that means in real life accident terms, makes the value your your product and the value of the whole certification process suspect, which is something that I had no idea might be the case. I was hoping to hear back from my first email to your company some like: "Our helmets are DOT certified and may protect you up to xx MPH assuming your weight of XX lbs.

I hope you appreciate my dilema, now. It seems I've inadvertantly opend a can of worms, haven't I...

BTW, can you tell me what the label says in your helmets? Is there any warranty or disclaimer information printed on your labels?

Please forward that to me too along with an answer about your testing company and your superior. BTW, I am not going to complain about you, I have to assume that you are not allowed to tell me what I want to know. If I have to sit down with your President at some point, I'll be most happy to do that.

Thanks, Steven

Tuesday, May 25, 1999


Not only am I the president of AFX but as well I own the company. Since I can't seem to provide you with the security you need or the assurance that our product will protect you at a certain speed I suggest that you find a helmet company that will tell you what you want to hear. We only speak the facts. It would be very easy for me to tell you what you want to hear just to make a sale, but I don't work that way.

For you own piece of mind I think you should put all your concerns on one email, and send it to all the helmet companies listed on the snell web site, and buy a helmet from the first company that can meet your requirements. I would be surprised if you get a more concise answer from any other helmet maker.

Other then our own brand my other favorite helmet is SHOEI

They can be reached at: shoeicorp@aol.com

I don't consider you to be in my face, I just don't know how to answer your questions, I do know how to design and build safe helmets that meet the requirements for the countries I sell to.

I hope you find a company that will give you some assurance of what you need to hear. Like I said before we've only been doing this for 4 years, maybe another company might have more detailed test history.

Just make sure you choose a helmet that is Snell M-95 approved, that's all I will let my friends and family wear.

Best regards

Doug Hill

May 25, 1999
To: Doug Hill
Subject: RE: NHTSA Response


I meant to forward NHTSA's reply. I'm sure you can see why I'm unhappy with your replies and direction. You being in the business would/should know what your governing agency does. Your daily business depends on every breath they take. I assume you know just about everything one can about the DOT and NHTSA. I'm beginning to see the picture very clearly. It's a liability issue isn't it... You Can't tell me the truth, can you... We'll get to the bottom of it, if I have bring 60 minutues on board..


    >The NHTSA writes:

    >Dear Mr. Shmerler:
    >NHTSA does not "certify" or "approve" motorcycle helmets. Instead,
    >manufacturers of helmets intended for highway use must certify that their
    >helmets meet Federal motor vehicle safety standard

    >No. 218, "Motorcycle Helmets." While NHTSA does perform compliance testing
    >to determine if helmets meet Standard No. 218, it does not presently "rate"
    >helmet performance in a manner similar to the ratings provided for certain
    >classes of vehicles under the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

Tuesday, May 25, 1999

Steven ,

If you don't like my replies I would suggest you buy another product. After all it's a free country.

I don't know why you have chosen to take your frustration out on our company when I've tried repeatedly to direct you to the people that certify the safest helmets in North America.

This would be the snell foundation, just call them.

As a side note I don't appreciate being threatened, I've answered your questions to the best of my abilities and repeatedly tried to get you to contact snell.

Best regards
Doug Hill

May 26, 1999


I did take my question to others and I am sad to say that you all have basically the same circular replies that never get to the answer. This doesn't mean that the answer does not exist. It means, as I am shocked to find out, that both the government and manufacturers are so damn afraid of litigation, that they wont speak straight. Think about it, as if you haven't already... our government designs a standard for a helmet with no relation to the real world. The standard is based on a weight striking a helmet on a headform on a bench. This has nothing to do with a helmet on a human body in motion. Nothing. Next the force of the weight is supposed to be at 400g, but oddly no one can answer what that means in an accident. No one can or will state that such a force "might" be equal to a person hitting a solid object at such in such a speed, given a body weight of X.

Then the government mandates that motorcyclists have to wear a helmet that meets the standard, but sets it up that neither they nor the states test, approve or certify. They force you, the manufacturer, to do that. Why? You know why. Liabiltiy.

So I have to wear a helmet but no one can tell me what that helmet will do for me beyond handling 400g. "What is that", I ask and everyone goes mute, deer in headlights.

Don't you find it a tad odd Doug, that we don't know up to what speeds your helmets might protect me? Don't you find it odd that because of this no one can tell anyone, not me, not my legislators how effective a helmet is?

I see that there is reference to only 15 MPH in helmet stickers. If that is the level of protection, then why am I wearing one at all? And why is the government and states mandating use for something that "may" not offer much protection at all.

So the bottom line Doug is, you betcha I'm unhappy with your company. You have not been honest, but you are complying with the law. Shame on you. You are providing a product that you CANNOT tell me will help me survive an accident. You can only tell me that your helmets comply with a standard that means nothing in the real world of accidents.

Now, do you want to stop BS'ing me, or tell me something about what you know about helmets in accidents that I can depend upon. We are talking about my life and safety, not your protection of your bottom line. Because if the word got out that helmets were a total scam, that no manufacture or government agency will tell you what protection helmets provide, you'd be out of business and you know it.

Again, I am not singling you out. This did start as a simple request but I am now talking with a number of helmet manufacturers and having opened this pandora's box, find it dispicable.

By the way, where do you manufacture? Off shore by any chance?


Wednesday, May 26, 1999


First of all I must thank you for at least trying one of my suggestions and contact other helmet makers.

Second of all I wish you would contact Snell for a video of how they do tests, this is the agency that tests helmets and owns the rites to the snell trade mark. Like I said before we can only provide helmets for testing based on the requirements put down from snell. If you don't like the fact that they don't provide real world testing, then it's not helmet makers you should take issue with it's the people who make the rules we have to follow.

Don't get me wrong I do understand exactly what you want to know. But you have to believe me I'm not hiding anything, or b.s ing you in any way.

I can't help it if you unhappy with me or my answers, I just don't (not can't) know how to tell you what you want to hear. Like I said before, buy the first helmet that makes you happy. Just make sure its snell approved, (300g) its better then the 400g of dot in my opinion.

As there is only one place in the world that tests helmets, we have to go by their test procedures. As for you not singling me out, then why yesterday and I quote:

" we'll get to the bottom of it, if I have bring 60 minutes on board"

and today

"you have not been honest"

like I said I do not appreciate the threats and now slander, I run a very reputable company that makes helmets that meet the most stringent safety standard in the world.

Believe me, you are taking your frustrations out on helmet makers, it should be on the government and testing and certification companies.

Would you blame general motors for not making a car that can withstand an impact with a tree, when all that is required is a 5 mph bumper. You should continue your cause with the people that make the rules, we have a similar situation that we have to live with.

We make a snell helmet that retails in the U.S. for $99, but other companies make Snell helmets that retail for $100-600, I would like to know how much if any are they better than our helmet, but the answer to me is you pass, under 300g . so from this I take it a $100 helmet is as safe as a $600 helmet. Confusing yes but, as there is one place that tests and approves helmets, they do not have a good better, best ot 1-5 star thing.

Pass or fail, good or bad.

I think for your own piece of mind, you should maybe contact the manufacture of the brand of motorcycle that you own or plan to own and see what helmet they recommend. I assume you live in the United States, and as far as I know all motorcycle companies have their own helmets. ( we do not sell to motorcycle companies)

Our office is located in Ontario, Canada. Our factory is located in tainan Taiwan( off shore as you call it, as is every other helmet maker in the US and Canada) But unlike other makers we have an American insurance company represent us. We sell only to the American and Canadian market. All this information is available on our web page.

Steven, I hope you find a helmet soon, riding season will soon be here, remember no mater what you ride and what you finally buy as a helmet ride safe and responsible.

Best regards
Doug Hill

EDITOR's NOTE: And so this one ends. Still no more info than when we started. Ugh.

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