Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Consumer-funded, volunteer staff

Helmets Children Promotions Statistics Search

Dateline Features Helmet Recalls

Summary: Back in 2000, we were not impressed with this Dateline show on helmets.

On November 19th, 2000 the NBC news show Dateline ran a five minute feature on the three helmet recalls described below. The coverage was typical for consumer news shows, including some shots of kids riding, helmets falling empty and bouncing on sidewalks, and some shots of CPSC lab testing. The magic 300g threshold was used, with some explanation by Don Mays, who heads the Good Housekeeping consumer test effort that had helped to expose the weak helmets. CPSC's Chairman Ann Brown appeared to say how "scary" it was that someone might be wearing a helmet that did not meet the CPSC standard.

While we applaud Good Housekeeping's initiative in this case, we were appalled to hear in the TV segment that the helmet feature they are running in their January issue recommends only one helmet, the Bell Phantom youth model. A consumer watching the TV show would easily be left with the impression that there are lots of bogus bicycle helmets out there, and you had better buy a Bell. Unfortunately there was no effort to put the failures in perspective, and no mention of the millions of non-Bell helmets sold every year that meet the CPSC standard fully and may fit an individual rider better than the equivalent Bell model, or be considerably cheaper. We were disappointed that there was no indication that the three models that failed were skateboard-style helmets, not regular bicycle helmet styles. (The riding shots and the empty helmets bouncing on the sidewalk were all standard bicycle helmets, not skateboard helmets.) Our own conclusion is that a consumer seeking a skateboard-style helmet should be careful to buy one that meets the CPSC standard and has not been recalled. That does not mean it has to be a Bell! And a consumer buying a standard bicycle helmet is not likely to find one on the market with a CPSC sticker inside that does not meet the standard. Unfortunately there is no lab test data available for current models, and if those who do test helmets choose to test only a few and recommend the leading brand, consumers are left with little choice.

We look forward to the Good Housekeeping article, but probably with less enthusiasm than we had previously had. Here is a link to our review of the most recent article by Consumer Reports, based on 1999 helmet models. And below is our email newsletter featuring the CPSC press release identifying the recalled helmets.

CPSC Announces Three Helmet Recalls

The CPSC press release below is nicely explanatory, including the three manufacturers involved in this latest recall and the fact that CPSC was tipped off by test results provided by the Good Housekeeping Institute and a competing helmet company. You should probably keep an eye out for more about this subject very soon in Good Housekeeping.

In short, there have been no injuries reported, but the helmets do not meet the CPSC standard and would not provide the full extent of protection required. They are brands you are not likely to recognize, and most are "skateboard" style helmets that were also labeled as meeting the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.

If you miss Dateline on NBC tonight, we will post a summary in text on our web page at


Dateline did a lot of taping in the CPSC test lab, so this could be an interesting segment. In our market it will appear between 7 and 8 PM.

Here is the press release.

For Immediate Release CPSC Contact: Kim Dulic November 17, 2000 (301) 504-0580 Ext. 1183 Release # 01-032

CPSC, Three Firms Announce Recall of Bicycle Helmets

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Variflex Inc., of Moorpark, Calif.; NHS Inc., of Santa Cruz, California; and First Team Sports Inc., of Anoka, Minn.; are voluntarily recalling about 243,000 bicycle helmets. These helmets fail impact testing required under CPSC's Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets, violating the Consumer Product Safety Act. Riders wearing these helmets are not adequately protected from falls, and could suffer severe head injuries or death. The recalls are the result of a CPSC investigation, test results provided by the Good Housekeeping Institute and a helmet company's report to CPSC.

CPSC and these firms are not aware of any injuries or incidents involving these helmets. This recall is being conducted to prevent the possibility of injuries.

Variflex Inc. "X-Games Aggressive" Bicycle Helmets

Variflex Inc. is recalling about 240,000 "X-Games Aggressive" bicycle helmets, which are either black, white or chrome. They have a red "X-Games" insignia on the front and "X-Games" is written on the back. A large label inside these helmets reads "SGS CPSC CY50159." And "Variflex Inc." "Static" and "Made in Taiwan" are written on the packaging.

Sporting good and discount department stores nationwide sold these helmets from October 1999 through September 2000 for about $20. Consumers should stop using these helmets immediately, and return them to the store where purchased for a refund or replacement helmet. For more information, call Variflex at (800) 248-5327 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

NHS TSG Helmets

NHS Inc. is recalling about 1,100 "TSG Metallic Gold," 1,000 "TSG Gloss Black" and 500 "TSG Foundation Blue" helmets. The Metallic Gold and Gloss Black helmets have "TSG" written on the front and rear of the helmet. The Foundation Blue helmets have the word "Foundation" across the front and a star and moon on the side of the helmet. They have serial numbers beginning SN: 00170 or SN: 00171, and a date code of January, February and April 2000 written on the white label inside the helmets.

Sporting good stores nationwide sold these helmets from February 2000 through October 2000 for between $35 to $45. Consumers should stop using these helmets immediately and return them to NHS Inc., not to the store where purchased, for a refund. For more information and instructions on how to return the helmet, call NHS at (877) 743-7820 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

First Team Sports "Guardian Junior Helmets"

First Team Sports Inc. is recalling about 1,000 "Guardian Junior Helmets." They are slate blue, and have "Guardian" written on the front and rear of the helmets. They have model numbers 007471, 007958, 009437 or 009455, and date code "2000/04" written on a label inside the helmets.

Sporting goods stores in the eastern and north eastern U.S. sold these helmets from February 2000 through October 2000 for about $25.

Consumers should stop using these helmets immediately, and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information, call First Team Sports at (800) 528-5872 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.