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In 2016, two-wheelers accounted for 33.8% of road accidents. Out of 52,500 two-wheeler riders involved in road accidents 2016, 10,135 (19.3%) were not wearing helmets. Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a road crash than drivers of passenger cars. Wearing an appropriate helmet improves their chances of survival by 42% and helps avoid 69% of injuries to riders, A large number of people buy the cheaper helmets sold on the roadside even though they are aware of the risks involved as these helmets are cheap, but because they want to escape paying a fine for not wearing a helmet. A helmet is a helmet, right? Is there any difference between ISI and fake helmets? What is ISI mark on Helmet? It also talks about Types of Helmets? How Full Face Helmets protect?  How to verify the ISI Mark of the Helmet?  What is Steelbird App?

Why wear a helmet?

Like the egg that cracks open to eventually take the shape of either an omelette or just a sunny side up, our heads too can crack up when you fall off a bike or meet with an unfortunate accident. It is here that helmets play an important role in saving your skull from a fatal injury.

When an unprotected head hits a rigid surface at even 15-20 kmph, the skull fractures and fatal brain haemorrhage is possible. Helmets are built to withstand certain falls.  When you are wearing a helmet during a fall or crash, the force of impact is distributed over the surface of the helmet, rather than concentrated on the head. A helmet reduces the impact on the head by cushioning the impact and absorbing the energy along with bringing the head to a stop in a more gradual manner. If the force on the skull is decreased, the damage to the brain will also decrease, it eventually saves the head from fatal accidents

People reject Helmets as:

  • Not wearing a helmet is cool. Peer pressure among young riders ridiculing helmet wearers.
  • Helmets are needed only for long trips.
  • Considered uncomfortable in tropical weather.
  • Messes up the hair
  • Theft or damage to helmets when not worn
  • Hygiene if the helmet is not owned by the rider.

Myth vs Facts of Helmets

  • Myth: Helmet causes injuries to the neck or spinal cord. 
  • Fact: Helmets conforming to regulations and worn correctly do not cause such injuries
  • Myth: Helmets impair hearing and sound
  • Fact: Helmets may reduce noise but do not affect the ability of the rider to distinguish between sounds.
  • Myth: Any Helmet is better than no helmet
  • Fact: In case of a crash, a rider using a low-quality helmet could get more severely injured or even killed.

Wearing a helmet makes riding a two-wheeler a lot more fun because it protects you from dust, insects, wind noise and even the windblast. It also goes a long way in reducing rider fatigue.

What is Safe Helmet? 

As per section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “Every person driving or riding on a motorcycle of any class or description shall wear a protective headgear conforming to the standards of Bureau of Indian Standards.” A standard helmet protects users from brain injury-related deaths, other serious head injuries, skull fractures and neurological disabilities.  Police can fine only if it’s ‘rider not wearing a helmet’ and ‘Pillion without a helmet’. Many people did start wearing helmets after it was made mandatory, many of them half-face helmets or helmets with a duplicate ISI mark. When police notices, the helmet is duplicate, they warn them; they are not authorized to fine them.

What is a Safe helmet? A safe helmet is a helmet certified by the Indian Standards Institute (ISI)(not to be confused with Pakistani Military intelligence).  ISI is a certification mark given to a range of products sold in India by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), a government organization that sets the minimum acceptable standard for all industrial goods sold in India. The ISI mark assures the buyer that the product in question confirms to Indian regulations for quality, safety and performance.

So, what about the ISI marked helmets sold on a roadside for anything between Rs 100 and Rs 300, half the cost of a genuine ISI helmet which normally costs anything upwards of Rs 600? Are they safe?No, they are not. And while “safe-driving”. ISI helmets are expensive and the helmet-must-law is only a ploy to make money for traffic cops.

Types of Helmets

Full face helmets cover the rider’s face and the entire head. It offers the most protection to the rider and will save you from sustaining serious injuries to your head and skull. Full face helmets also stop the wind blowing off your face, and will also keep noise levels to the minimum, while restraining rain to creep inside. Full face helmets are marginally bulky though compared to other counterparts but are being designed to keep the weight to a minimum as possible.

A three-quarter helmet or open face helmet covers the head of the rider leaving the face open. However, with a half face helmet, you are more prone to facial injuries at the time of an accident. Wind and noise will also come into the helmet offering more wind resistance. The half face helmet offers the ease of riding with sunglasses while communicating with the helmet becomes much easier. You also need not remove the helmet during smaller stops to sip in water or wiping your face. If full face helmets suffocate you, this is the helmet you should opt for.

Modular helmets are a cross between full face and half helmets. The front of a modular helmet is adjustable and can be moved up to convert your helmet into a half face helmet while riding. The modular helmet weighs a little more though, because of the added screws and bolts that make it a hybrid. These helmets are also not completely sealed, so expect wind, noise and rain to creep inside the helmet easily

Half Shell Helmets Also known as the skull helmet offers you the minimal possible riding safety mandated. It offers protection to only the top of the head till the ears leaving the face, jaws, neck all open. Half face helmets are substantially cheaper though and easily comply with the laws making them a good option. Ideally wearing a half shell helmet is like wearing none at all and should be limited to the ones riding a scooter; rather should not be used by them as well. The helmet also offers more wind resistance while riding putting a strain on your neck, while your face is open to the elements of wind, heat, water, rain and so on. Overall, half shell helmets are potentially capable of killing you. Consider thrice before you pick this one up for your bike rides.

Types of helmets: Full face, half face

Types of helmets: Full face, half face

How Full Face Helmets protect?

Full-face helmets offer protection not only to the skull (head) but also to the face (jaw and chin). Full-face helmets are obviously safer than half-face helmets, which offer protection only to the skull. It’s always advisable to wear full-face helmets although half-face helmets may be more comfortable and convenient, and even ISI compliant.

Four basic components work together to provide protection in the motorcycle helmet: an outer shell; an impact-absorbing liner; the comfort padding; and a good retention system.

  • What we see first is the outer shell, usually made from some family of fibre-reinforced composites or thermoplastics like polycarbonate. This is tough stuff, yet it’s designed and intended to compress when it hits anything hard.
  • Inside the shell is the important impact-absorbing liner, usually made of expanded polystyrene.Both the shell and the liner compress if hit hard, spreading the forces of impact throughout the helmet material. The more impact-energy deflected or absorbed, the less there is of it to reach your head and brain and do damage. Some helmet shells delaminate on impact while others may crack and break. These are ways a helmet acts to absorb shock.
  • The comfort padding is the soft foam-and-cloth layer that sits next to your head.  This padding keeps your head comfortable and in some helmets, this padding can even be taken out for cleaning.
  • The retention system, or chin strap, is one piece that keeps the helmet on your head in a crash. You have to strap the helmet or else it would be flung off in a crash, serving no purpose.
Full Face helmet and how it protects us

Full Face helmet and how it protects us

Standard Helmets with ISI

IS 4151 is the standard mark for Indian helmets for two-wheeler riding and is governed by the provisions of the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 and the Rules and Regulations. The helmets covered by this standard are not intended for high-speed competitive events.  Genuine ISI-mark helmets withstand blows to the head and save lives.  ISI-certified helmets go through various stringent tests to prevent brain injuries. For example, the buckle is tested for a load of about 150 kilograms. A locally made non-ISI helmet’s buckle may just support loads of 5 kilograms, and the helmet is almost certain to come off the rider’s head during an accident, rendering it useless.

Foreign helmet makers comply with various global quality and safety standards corresponding to their locations of manufacture. For example, helmets from the USA confirm to DOT specifications while those from Europe conform to ECE specifications. Both DOT and ECE compliant helmets will offer protection comparable to helmets bearing the ISI mark. However, cops in India many of them ignorant about global standards may not accept DOT and ECE compliant helmets.

The full specifications of ISI certification for Helmets can be read here.

For more info on  DOT, ECE, SNELL

How to find if a helmet is genuine ISI certified helmet? Genuine helmets have the “ISI mark”, the helmet’s IS code (IS 4151) above the ISI mark and manufacturer’s code (Central Mass and License or CM/L) below the ISI mark. The ISI mark is non-removable laminated print. Some helmets may also be marked with the manufacturer’s name or trademark, size, year of manufacture and mass of the helmet. There are many reputed helmet manufacturers in India who make ISI certified helmets. Some of the prominent manufacturers include Vega, Steelbird, Studds, Spark and Aaron.

What is difference between Fake vs Real Helmet

 A helmet is a helmet, right? Wearing any helmet is better than no helmet Right? Helmets sold on the roadside, on the other hand, are made of plastic, fibre and other cheap materials. Fake ISI-mark helmets are prone to break in the event of an accident and severity of head injuries are high, more than often fatal.  In the case of a crash, a rider using a low- quality helmet could get more severely injured or even killed. Two-wheeler riders prefer buying cheap helmets because they don’t want to pay off cops if caught riding without wearing a helmet.  Fake helmets are like fake medicine. Both kill. 

Police consider other helmets as ‘half-helmets’ or those not conforming to BIS.

In Jun 2017, Motown India conducted a simple yet decisive test to check the strength of some new local helmets vis-a-vis new branded Indian ones. A few branded affordable new helmets from leading and popular Indian brands Steelbird, Studds and Vega along with a few new unbranded local helmets were picked up for the test. A sledgehammer weighing more than 6.6 kilograms was used to slam the helmets from a height of seven feet. The results were shocking.

  • The moment the sledgehammer came in contact with the top of the half-face helmet, it simply crashed through the skull, thereby exposing its fragile shell. It was like slamming your fist on a raw egg.
  • The second local helmet, fraudulently carrying the BIS mark, too fared terribly. The sledgehammer simply crashed through the helmet, smashing it into pieces.
  • The third full mask helmet, also carrying a BIS number, met with a similar fate.
  • But when it came to the three branded helmets, the results were very different. The branded helmets from Vega, Steelbird and Studds simply absorbed the massive force of the sledgehammer during the crash test. This characteristic of a helmet is the one which saves lives of people during an accident involving a two-wheeler. In fact, each of the helmets received at least three separate blows with the sledgehammer but each time the helmets kept absorbing the shocks.

The sledgehammer test goes to prove that local unbranded helmets stand no chance when it comes to shocks it receives during a fall or a crash. In order to save your head, you have got to wear branded full faced helmets so as not to meet the fate of the raw egg!  The YouTube video shows the Motown Helmet Crash Test | Local Vs. Branded 

According to the United Nations Motorcycle Helmet Study from 2016, globally, two-wheeler riders are the most vulnerable to accidents. Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than are car drivers. Wearing an appropriate helmet, the report adds, improves their chances of survival by 42% and helps avoid 69% of injuries. The report also predicts that 3.4 million deaths may be caused by motorcycle crashes between 2008 and 2020. Some 1.4 million of these could be prevented by the proper use of safety helmets. India had the dubious record of maximum two-wheeler deaths at 36,800 and leaving at least 93,400 injured in 2015.

Substandard helmets are in most cases plastic covers over a layer of polystyrene and that will do little to protect the rider and pillion in case of a crash. Most riders, unfortunately, opt for such helmets as a means to avoid a fine rather than protecting their respective heads. For most ISI marked helmets, prices start from as low as ₹ 750 going up to ₹ 3500. Meanwhile, a DOT, ECE or Snell certified helmet will cost anything between ₹ 4000 going all the way up to over ₹ 1 lakh, depending on the make and model. At the end of it, it is the protection that you think your head deserves decides the helmet you opt for.

There has been little effort from the government in restricting fakes. According to answers received for a Right to Information query, between 2004 and 2014, not even a single two-wheeler rider has been booked for using a non-standardised helmet. According to the Motor Vehicles Act, enforcement is a state subject.

In Jan 2018  cops in Bangalore and Mysore were stopping and fining riders wearing non-ISI helmets, and also half-face/open-face helmets. But  Bangalore traffic police called off its crackdown on non-ISI marked helmets after seeking clarification from the BIS, which clarified that there was no way of determining if a helmet prescribed to ISI standards by just visual examination.

The manufacturers of Fake Helmets are playing with the lives of two-wheeler riders. Each helmet should have a padding inside to prevent the most common injury called concussion, which can be caused by a simple accident.

ISI Mark and Helmet

A genuine ISI certified helmet

Every ISI mark helmet has an ISI number as also a seven-digit Central Mass and License (CM/L) number allotted to a helmet manufacturer who has opted for the ISI mark.

Genuine helmets have the “ISI mark”, the helmet’s IS code (IS 4151) above the ISI mark and manufacturer’s code (CM/L) below the ISI mark The ISI mark is not a removable sticker, it is non-removable laminated print. Many helmets are marked with the manufacturer’s name or trademark, size, year of manufacture and mass of the helmet.

Customers can verify the manufacturer at BIS website by providing the CM/L code in the “Product Certification – Online information – Application/License related” field.

The image below shows a helmet with ISI mark and Central Mass and License number.

The full specifications of ISI certification for Helmets can be read here. 



How to verify the ISI Mark of the Helmet?

Go to BIS website

In Product Certification Online Information > Application/Licence Related . Click on Know your Product/IS No,

Here type your product which in our case is Helmet.

You will see the screen with various ISI standard

  • IS 2745 : 1983 Specification for Non-Metal Helmet for Firemen and Civil Defence Personnel
  • IS 2925 : 1984 Specification for Industrial Safety Helmets
  • IS 4151 : 1993 Protective helmets for motorcycle riders.
  • IS 9562 : 1980 Specification for non-metal helmet for police force

Click IS : 4151 then it shows a list of all license holders in the country.

Now search the page(ctrl+f) with CM/L no : 8697816 shown below the ISI mark.Here you can see the manufacturer’s address on the product label.

BIS details of Manufacturer CML code

BIS details of Manufacturer CML code

Click on the Variety  Column and you will see details as shown in the figure below.  Check if the licence number and details of manufacturer-provided match the details on the product label.

Helmet with BIS mark and manufacturer details

Helmet with BIS mark and manufacturer details


Steelbird App

In 2017 Steelbird launched Steelbird Connect Mobile app that allows a customer to check the authenticity of the Steelbird range of helmets. All the Steelbird products with effect from 1 Jul 2017 will have a unique QR code and a buyer can simply download the application on their mobile phone and by scanning QR code every consumer will be ensured of the genuineness of the product they have purchased. You can checkout app at Google PlatStore

Related Articles:

The increasing fatalities of two-wheeler riders is a big concern, the government has to take the issue seriously and address it on a war-footing. At bemoneyaware, we always encourage you to wear a helmet, and seatbelts if you are in a car. At the end of it, it is the protection that you think your head deserves decides the helmet you opt for. Do not compromise when it is a matter of life and death.


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