It’s something we all know: Buying cheap motorcycle gear puts you at risk, if you crash. Not that the old, tired marketing campaigns used to justify high helmet prices are entirely truthful either; the jokes about a $5 helmet for a $5 head are silly. There’s no point in overpaying for gear that meets the exact same safety standard as a lower-priced helmet.
But, most riders have figured out that online marketplaces are filled with no-name brands sold with fake DOT stickers. Some riders care, and others don’t, but CBC Marketplace recently did an investigation into this situation. See below, if you wonder what happens when you crash in a crapola helmet:
The Too Long/Didn’t Read on this story is that CBC bought these helmets off third-party sellers on Amazon, eBay and Walmart. Then, the helmets were shipped off for third-party testing, where many of them failed impact testing. CBC contacted the sellers, and reportedly the helmets were withdrawn from the market.
None of this should surprise savvy riders, as we’ve all seen chintzy helmets that obviously meet no safety standard still being sold with DOT stickers. However, it’s worth noting that even the DOT standard itself is perhaps not as strict as it should be, and testing is left up to the manufacturers on the honour system.
So, if you’re buying a helmet, your best bet is to go through a reputable manufacturer with a reputation to uphold. You don’t need an $800 helmet; you can often find mid-tier helmets marked down to $200 or even less, if you shop sales. An HJC or Bell or ICON helmet will protect you in a crash, and some of them are even available with Europe’s excellent ECE rating system, which is frequently updated and strikes a compromise between the laxness of DOT standards and the high race-bred standards of Snell, which may not be desirable for street riders at legal speeds.
Don’t buy random helmets off the internet. Of course then there are helmets pretending to be a known brand, too. Just don’t buy helmets from random sellers on eBay, Wish, Alibaba, etc.