Death leads to helmet clasp warning

Helmet clasp

The death of a young Irish rider whose helmet came off in a crash has led to a court warning about buying cheap helmets with clasp chin straps online.

Stephen Hyland, 24, of Dublin, died of head injuries in October 2016 when he clipped another motorcycle and lost control of his Yamaha.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Stephen slid 34m along the road, losing his helmet and hitting his head on a kerb.

The court was told his helmet had a quick-fastening clasp buckle and the strap had no stitching at the end to prevent the strap pulling through the clasp.

Stephen’s brother, Michael, said Stephen was fine except for his head injury.

“We believe he’d still be alive if his helmet had not come off,” he said.

Alan Kavanagh of Arai Helmets told the court that the helmet could be bought online for less than €100 (about $A180, $US140).

“A traditional ‘double D’ strap will not pull through,” Alan told the court.

Biltwell Lane Splitter Rusty Butcher retro motorcycle helmet clasp
Biltwell comes with a double D fastener

“The double D is the only strap that’s approved in all types of motor sport.”

He suggested riders buy helmets from shops where the sales assistant can give them advice on fitting.

“However, in a lot of cases helmets are bought online where there is no advice,” he said.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Clasp straps

Helmet clasp
This helmet chin strap has been “fixed” with cable ties!

While motorsport only approves double-D-ring fasteners on chin straps, that does not mean that quick-fastening buckles are unsafe.

Some helmets such as Caberg have clasp fasteners yet receive a full five-star rating on the industry-leading British Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) helmet ranking website.

Quick-fastening clasps are very handy for people who remove their helmet frequently, such as on road trips where they want to remove their helmet for a photo.

The main problem with these clasps is that riders don’t fasten them properly until they click into position.

However, in the Irish case, it was a cheap helmet where the clasp didn’t fail, but the strap wasn’t secure within the clasp.

Once a double D fastener is done up, it should not come undone. It’s your choice.

Click here for our tips on choosing the right helmet for you.

5 Comments

  1. There would be a case of negligence against the manufacturer especially if it had applied the certifications to a faulty product without ensuring it actually met those certifications.
    Tip for those who want to use the helmet locks on these straps,
    Buy a small padlock with a flexible hasp, get one that’s long enough to loop around the strap and hook into the helmet lock. Or get a shoe repair guy to fit a D ring to the exess strap that dangles when you tighten the strap.

  2. My new helmet has a clasp instead of DD. My main complaint (and something I didn’t think about until it was too late) is that the clasp system is not compatible with the helmet lock on the side of my bike. So now I have to carry my friggin helmet with me everywhere I go. The DD worked fine so I don’t know why they had to reinvent it. But hey, that’s progress apparently.

  3. Personally I would never buy a helmet online unless it was exactly the same as one I previously owned as helmet fitting is very personal, some fit perfectly & some the same size are either too tight or too loose. I might compromise on some things but I like to have tyres in good condition, a good fitting trusted brand helmet & comfortable riding boots.
    As the say goes “you get what you pay for”, so don’t pay for cheap if you value your life.

  4. But no mention of what standards the helmet claimed to comply with, if any? I suppose if the helmet was not approved that would have been prominent in the Coroner’s finding. It goes to show that standards cannot predict every scenario.
    Coroners generally make recommendations on their findings. None in this case? I would have thought the coroner would have made some sort of recommendation to review the helmet standards strap testing procedure.

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