Understanding the ban on non-ISI headphones – Blog entry


At first glance, the new decision that proposes to ban non-ISI headsets is certainly worth celebrating. The average Indian motorcyclist (read commuter) has not shown a tendency to spend money on protecting what is usually assumed to be a fairly large part of the human body. It is therefore laudable that the government intervenes and finally eliminates the option of excruciatingly cheap “roadside” helmets that cost a few hundred rupees. After all, injecting heroin into your veins is bad for your well-being, as is placing a fragile piece of plastic on your head when you travel at speeds that the human body has never evolved. to move. The government is right to ban both things.

But, as with so many policies made in this country, there seems to be a fair amount of frustrating and ill-informed logic or clever molding of the rules of financial gain. Or maybe even a good portion of both. There are two main issues to discuss with the proposed new ISI Helmet Policy.

Problem # 1

The first is what all enthusiasts get excited about. Along with the ban on the hundreds of thousands of garbage helmets that have been mass-produced over the years, also comes the ban on all helmets that do not meet ISI regulations. And unfortunately, this means that after two months it will be illegal to manufacture, sell or store top quality imported helmets in India. This is true even though they already meet high international testing standards such as US DOT, European ECE, and Japanese JIS, as well as independent testing standards such as Sharp and Snell. Suddenly the government wants to make the best helmets in the world illegal in India because they are not ISI compliant.

You might have one of the best helmets in the world, but if it doesn’t meet ISI standards, the government won’t allow it to be sold here.

Now, it’s easy to laugh at the ISI mark of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), but you’ll be surprised to know that the actual rules governing Indian helmet safety standards are not the eye drops you imagine. This is because, as with many of our testing standards, the ISI helmet regulations were originally modeled after international testing standards. In this case, the ISI standard finds its roots in the highly acclaimed and comprehensive European ECE regulations.

You see, India just never had the history and expertise in many areas (motorcycle helmet safety standards being one) like more developed countries. So rather than trying to come up with a new and unique version of ours, it made sense to take a basic version of a proven international standard and adapt it to our needs. Another famous example of this practice can be found in our emission standards which are still generally equivalent to equivalent Euro standards – BS IV is more or less Euro IV. Of course, as we Indians well know, there is a big difference between the rules on paper and the application in practice.

One way to do it here would be to ban the sale of waste, but at the same time recognize a set of internationally renowned testing standards, ideally the much-loved ECE 22.05 standard, and allow import and sale. high-end helmets that meet these standards for Continue. Or if the government insists that all helmets must conform to the Indian standard (which is within its right to do so), then the proposed regulations should be judiciously thought out in such a way as to allow even high-end helmets and high end to pass a series of tests that may well be designed for more affordable and locally manufactured helmets. But as you will read a little below, it looks like it won’t. The government simply cannot claim that this ban on imported helmets is in the interest of protecting local manufacturers. After all, not a single Indian manufacturer has the decades of motorsport experience or, more importantly, the desire to exclusively produce top quality helmets that will cost several tens of thousands of rupees. These guys are all about the numbers and that is where the second and most worrisome problem lies with the proposed regulations.

Problem # 2

In the most recent version of the new ISI standards, it was revealed that the government is proposing to reduce the maximum allowable weight for a helmet from 1.5kg to 1.2kg. Apparently, it’s in the interest of ordinary people to make helmets lighter and more comfortable. But I sense another motive.

Ask yourself who could be behind the push for this particular set of regulations? It’s simple – that would be the helmet lobby, or to put it more correctly, the ISI Helmet Manufacturers Association of India. This group is represented by just about all of the major helmet manufacturers in the country, and this is where the advantage for them arises.

The last few years have seen a massive increase in the acceptance of higher end helmets costing between 2,000 and 5,000 rupees. This popularity was originally built by international brands like LS2, MT, SMK, Sol and others. Many of the biggest Indian manufacturers have now joined the fray and some of the options they have to offer are really not bad. But imported helmets still retain the advantage, especially in terms of brand appeal.

My grocer might be amused, but there’s nothing funny about this potential ban on premium headsets.

Now when this proposal to ban non-ISI lids was first announced, I know from friends in the industry that several international brands were ready to assess their options for ISI certification. But this new weight regulation is a game-changer. In the international market, 1,200g are in the top tier of the lightest full face helmets on the market, with most of them turning to exotic (and very expensive like carbon fiber) materials to cross that figure. . To prove this point, I went to weigh some of the helmets my wife and I have at home using my local grocer’s electronic scale, much to the man’s amusement. Here’s how they stacked up.




AGV AX-8 Bare carbon

1,156 g

Carbon fiber

AGV Corsa R

1340 g

Carbon fiber, aramid and composite


1,585 g

Carbon fiber, aramid, glass fiber and organic non-woven fabric

Arai RX-7X

1504 g

Lamintae ‘Superfibre’


1627 g

Polycarbonate composite

This is only a random sample of helmets, three of them costing well over Rs 50,000, the HJC RPHA 10 at a more “average” price of Rs 30,000 and the CL-17 representing the end. the most affordable of the range at 9,000 rupees. Obviously, the cheapest helmet here is also the heaviest, as only one of the semi-carbon fiber AGVs was able to squeeze under the proposed ISI limit of 1,200g.

All helmet makers know that it is desirable to make a helmet that is lighter in weight, and you know for sure that they would if they could. But there is only a certain point how far you can lighten a helmet without compromising its ability to protect. From there, it seems that the kind of lightweight that the BIS wants to standardize in India can only be achieved (without compromise) at great expense.

The big concern with this new development is that even if some international manufacturers were considering local certification, they certainly won’t as they will have to compromise on safety to meet the new weight limit. I don’t see any of these manufacturers even considering it. But none of the Indian companies have so far expressed concern about this, and ISIHMA has even welcomed the move.

But what can we do?

Surely there will come the argument that I provide an elitist view of things and that a majority of Indian riders do not demand the level of safety provided by expensive imported helmets. To those who think this way, I say that you have every right to do so, and if our government just raises the bar, so be it. But at the same time, I strongly protest that this new and perhaps compromised standard is being forcibly imposed on those who have no desire to compromise their personal safety.

It makes my blood boil that the government is taking away my right to a higher level of protection than it deems necessary. So what can we do about it? Make some noise and be heard! You can start by signing this Change.org petition from Varad More, journalist and unconditional enthusiast; the more signs we receive, the stronger our message will be. But don’t stop there. A recent circular issued by the government says we have 60 days to submit our comments to [email protected] starting August 2. Write and explain your point of view. With any luck, a reason can be seen.

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