Fake or Counterfeit Bicycle Helmets
Summary: We have seen and others have documented the continuing sale of helmets in the US market that do not meet the
CPSC standard. Cheap helmets online or in low-price stores may not be properly tested and certified.
Sub-standard helmets have always been available in the US market, and still are.
Following the adoption of the first ANSI bicycle helmet standard in 1984, many of the least protective bicycle helmets
were swept from the US market. When the Consumer Product Safety Commission published its standard in 1999 there was
finally a US law that required bike helmets to meet a standard.
There have always been loopholes: if a helmet is labeled for another sport, it does not have to meet the CPSC standard,
allowing many "skate style" helmets to be sold without meeting CPSC even though they are used for bicycling. For fear of
lawsuits, most retailers will not sell them, but some are still available in skate shops and online.
The rise of Chinese manufacturing brought knockoff designs and very cheap helmets, some with fake CPSC stickers. They are
available from major online retailers, Chinese websites, and low price stores. The same problem has led consumers to be
cautious about where they purchase a wide range of products. In 2020 the British magazine Which?
tested 3 bicycle helmets from online sources
and found that all three failed.
Price is not always a marker: there are cheap bicycle helmets that do meet the standard and perform well. We tested some
for this page on cheap vs. expensive helmets
We think the best way to avoid buying a counterfeit or sub-standard helmet is to deal with retailers you trust. Your
local bike shop or a trustworthy online source may be more expensive, but the product is more likely to be genuine.
has investigated the problem in depth and posted
this excellent article