As online shopping becomes more common and the race for the best price hurtles toward rock bottom there has been a spike in counterfeit motorcycle parts and accessories. Worryingly, helmets are very much part of that problem. Whether it’s a pop-up retailer are a show or your local market, an online seller, or an unscrupulous dealer, there are lots of places you can buy a bad helmet if you’re not careful.

Luckily, these helmets aren’t too hard to spot, some of the giveaways are dead simple and common, others specific to particular brands. So how do you know if you bought a good lid for a great price or a very big headache? We’re here to help.

The Really Simple Ways To Tell Your Helmet Is Fake

Do the graphics look weird? Is the TM logo missing from the logo? Do any of the words look poorly spelled, or crooked? Buddy – that helmet is le fake.

Go on the manufacturer (OEM) website. Does the Arai SexBomb304XRaid exist on Arai’s official website? No? Then your helmet is fake. Even if you do see your helmet on the website, does the colour scheme or graphics pack you’re looking for show up? For example, if you see a Shark helmet with a Rossi special edition colour scheme on it – it’s probably fake.

Most brand name helmets will show a date stamp on the d-ring, and the visor will have fine imprinting of the company logo, a small safety note, and one of the CE or other protective designation logos embedded in the plastic. You’ll also know on a new one if the helmet is fake if the plastic protection coat on the visor is generic or plain. No real company wastes this opportunity to market at you with cool graphics and important sounding helmet jargon.

The Less Simple Ways To Tell Your Helmet Is Fake

There are other tell-tales too. Almost every brand name manufacturer affixes specific “inspected by” stickers under the helmet lining in the crown of the helmet. You can see it by peeling back the liner. If it’s not there, the helmet isn’t legit.

You’ll also find DOT, SNELL, or ECE logos on most helmets – sometimes more than one of those terms. These are easy to fake and frequently are, but you can tell if the certification is real or not by how often it appears on the helmet, and where. If you can’t see it on the helmet tags under the liner or anywhere else – you’ve been had.  

This last one is a good trick if you feel confident or cocky. You can literally tell a fake helmet with your eyes closed. A lot of cheaper helmets are made with one moderate layer of regular polystyrene foam. It might have vents on the outside, but quality helmets have vent channels and holes specifically designed to promote airflow around your noggin. If you run your hand around the inside of the helmet, particularly in the crown area and it’s completely smooth, or has only a couple of vent holes, and especially if those vent holes don’t line up with all the vents on the outside – you’ve got yourself a fake. This is my favorite one for winning bets and starting fights with stall holders at Sunday markets.

The Mostly Universal Stuff

Most brand-name helmets built in the past few years have quick-release systems that allow the helmet to be removed without putting strain on a downed-rider’s next. The quick release is on the cheek pad, and allows them to be removed without the strap impeding them. If your helmet doesn’t have it, and claims to be an AGV, Shoei, Arai or any other major name, look more closely.

Likewise, almost all high-quality lids have removable cheekpads and liners. Interior parts that are sewn together or rigid in place are a good sign of a knock-off helmet.

Is My Arai Real?

Getting more specific, a few brands have highly specialized design features.

There are several features that you’ll find on real Arai helmets you won’t find on knock off or fakes. These include the double-d rings for the helmet strap. If you see a seat-belt style quick-connector clasp – it’s not an Arai. If you look closely as the D-ring you’ll something else too. The inner ring is not flat, it’s actually got a little tab at the bottom of the D (the flat part) that makes the whole ring an L shape in profile. This is on the inner ring only, and it is supposed to help keep the strap tight.

Another thing is the shape. Arai has always had round helmets and always will. The company believes that any irregular angles can catch and cause more injuries, whereas round helmets always slide more cleanly. That’s why the vents on the Arai helmets are all designed to break away quickly in an impact and are never embedded.

While you will usually see vents in the top of the visor itself, you will never see a visor on an Arai that’s not covered by “ears”. They are there to aid in the sliding motion I mentioned earlier, but also to make sure the visor mounting hardware is not part of the integral safety shell. That’s why you will also never see an internal sun visor on an Arai helmet.

If your Arai has one, it’s a fake. If there’s any hardware between the outer liner and the multi-density foam layers inside, your Arai is an Ainti.

Is My Shoei Real?

A genuine Shoei helmet will come with Shoei shield system. It’s a flush-mount visor mounting system that is unique to the brand. Always compare not only the visor mount, but the close lock on the chin bar with other Shoei helmets. If they don’t look the same, they’re not the same.

Shoei also points out that the vents they use are a unique design and embedded within the outer layer. If your vents feel thin, move too easily, or otherwise look and seem cheap, you might not have a real item.

Just Go To A Store

At the end of the day, finding a helmet is one of the most important things you can do as a rider. It’s not only the brand name that matters. Size, fit, shape, and of course all the technology helmet makers put into their products make you safer and more likely to get through bad moments with less injury. Sure, you can save a few bucks online, but unless you buy the same brand and model year in year out, it’s likely you can’t find the right fit for your head just by guessing.

For the best results when you’re buying a helmet, go to a store, try a few on. Compare the helmets to other helmets, and buy one you can believe in.

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