What is Snell rating? The Ultimate Guide To Snell Certification

What is snell rating

Wearing a helmet is as necessary as fuel is necessary for a vehicle. Because it reduces the risk of injuries and death by a tremendous number. Research has shown that it reduces the risk by 70% in motorcyclists. It also lowers the death risk by forty percent. Many of the death caused by head injuries and helmets cover that part thus dropping the risk.

To reduce the risk of head and other injuries a private foundation named Snell memorial foundation offers certification for all the sportsmen. These include certification for motorcycling, motorcars, and other racing automobiles. It is standard for almost all racing bodies.

A driver without a SNELL rating certificate is not allowed to participate in the racing. There is a criterion for approving certificates for helmets. Let’s read about it.

SNELL rating

SNELL Foundation approves several helmets based on users and groups. They approve helmets for sports like motorcycling, Skiing, Cycling, etc. The helmet used in Motorcycling is called SNELL M (motorcycle) while those used in auto racing are called SNELL SA (Special application). They are not subject to only particular types of tests and experiments rather each helmet has its test and experiments.

SA rating

These helmets are usually used in automobile racing games. They are subjected to several different types of tests and experiments before approval. The tests contain stimulating the roll bar effect so that when you are hit on your head your head is safe.

The interior of the SA rating helmets is made of Nomex and carbon-x which helps in retarding the fire. So when your motorcycle is on fire, your head and face are protected by these helmets.

These helmets are also lighter than any other usual helmet, because of the use of fiberglass in them. The fiberglass not only makes it lighter but also helps in maintaining the shape of the helmet and they are stronger as compared to other helmets.

M Rating

The M rating helmets are specially designed for motor racing games. They do not require fire retarding so their interior is made of nylon. The extra addition to this type of helmet is the vision area. They are designed in a way that you would see more frontal area that is necessary for the racing.

The visual level of the M rating is higher than the SA rating and K rating. The Shoei RF1200 retains the SNELL M safety rating.

K rating

K rating helmets are designed to use for games like Karting. Their experiments are tests are similar to that of SA rating. But there is little difference between them. As the SA rating needs a fire retardant in the interior of it, the K rating does not need any. So the inner shell of the K rating is not made of Nylon.

It is more similar to the SA rating than the M rating except in one area, visual. Its visual area is higher than the SA rating for the requirement of the game.

SNELL Testing

There is a special form of testing and experiments which the SNELL does to give the certificate to a helmet. First, a dummy head is put in the helmet, and that helmet is then rolled and faced to crash. After the crash, the dummy head is thoroughly observed. The more the dummy head is injured the less likely the company would get the certificate and vice versa.

They are also subject to a fall. The helmets are put on the earth and something heavy is thrown on it from 9.8 feet height. If the helmet sustained it alongside other tests, the certificate is awarded to it.

The helmet is also tested for rolling. It is to see how much time the helmet would be on the head of the driver while crashing. After all these tests and experiments, the company has the authority to make helmets with the SNELL foundation label.


SNELL Foundation gives and approves helmets but how to recognize one? There are special labels on it through which you can recognize these approved helmets.

SA2010 SA2015 and SA2020

The SA stands for Special Application while the date mentioned is for the cessation of the certificate. After 12 years of the date mentioned, the certificate would in near future ceases to exist. They would be no longer in use. So the market is advised to keep the SA2010 certified helmets away from the shop.

Nowadays, SA2015 and SA2020 are commonly used because they are going to expire in 2024 and 2032 respectively.


Safety is necessary for driving especially in motorcycling. Because there is a great danger of crashing in it. And in sports where you have to be faster than other opponents, the likelihood of accident increases. For that you need a proper helmet.

SNELL provides such helmets because their helmets are went through different tests and experiments before approval. So next time you go to a racing game, try to wear SNELL rating helmet.

Joost Smith

A Perpetual motorcycle rider with the sound experience & knowledge to analyze and write about motorcycle helmets. You would get to read the most practical reviews, honest opinions, and best possible recommendations through my review articles.