Dangerous counterfeit helmets sold online and which the authorities seem powerless to halt are “a tragedy waiting to happen”, according to an ITV investigation.
The new findings have led to warnings from police and trading standards, along with calls for more action to stop the unlawful sales.
Adverts in online market places and social media offer helmets for as little as a tenth of the usual price with reassurances that they have full safety certification.
Many are counterfeits using the logos of reputable brands, while others are simply low quality imports.
Mark Mayo of the British Standards Institution – the place that literally sets the helmet standard – explained to ITV News how to spot a fake:
- Look out for the helmet’s E-number – this shows the product has been safety tested in Europe
- If there isn’t an E-number, don’t buy the helmet
- Use a reputable supplier
- Look at the helmet yourself, in person, and check it has the right markings
- Spend an appropriate amount of cash – if it looks cheap, don’t buy it
Tests conducted for ITV News by BSI show how little protection counterfeit helmets provide. A counterfeit AGV helmet broke apart and split during a test designed to simulate a crash at just 30mph. Mayo said: “The helmet split from front to back, the rest of the head is then exposed to further impacts which will just cause even greater injury.
“The results are quite shocking, to think there are people out there with those helmets on thinking they are getting protection is very worrying.”
A fake Arai helmet also split on impact, with parts detaching.
“Fatalities will ultimately result from people wearing that helmet and expecting to be protected,” said Mayo, “its a potential tragedy waiting to happen”.
Two fake helmets tested by BSI failed all four safety tests, the real one passed every time.
Trading Standards told ITV News it believed this was an emerging problem which is likely to grow but that many of the online sellers were beyond the reach of UK authorities.
Selina Lavender of the Motorcycle Action Group said: “Really we should be telling people to watch out – they are not just faking a fashion item here.”
“Generally it’s people with less money to spend and those new to biking that are going to be buying the cheaper and inferior products…it’s affecting those who perhaps don’t have the knowledge, so the story needs to be out there.”
The group wants new warnings added to the international alert system used by Trading Standards. “A crash helmet needs to serve a purpose. It’s considered a safety item and really you need to be protected.”
EBay, where some of the adverts were featured, told ITV News: “Counterfeits are not welcome on eBay and we’re committed to combating their sale. Using a combination of technology, enforcement and strong relationships with brand owners, eBay has consistently been an industry leader in working to stop the sale of counterfeit goods, which is a global issue – both online and offline.
“In the rare case a buyer believes that he or she has purchased a counterfeit item, eBay’s Money Back Guarantee applies to virtually all transactions and will cover them accordingly.”
Everyone who does a CBT with Alpha, has it explained why you should buy from a shop and not online. How to ensure the helmet fits properly and meets the required standards.
We are not saying that all helmets online are not OK, what we are saying is that it is sometimes difficult to check that the helmet is an original and undamaged, and considering this is the most important thing you will buy to protect you, don’t take a chance.