Lots of riders buy motorcycle gear online, and with good reason. For one thing, it’s 2022—and there’s simply a lot more choice on the Internet than there often is in nearby shops. Depending on where you live, you may not even have any other choice, since plenty of places don’t have readily available brick-and-mortar motorcycle gear shops nearby.
Unfortunately, riders need to be careful about counterfeit products—even if they claim that they have the necessary safety certifications. This November, 2022 investigation from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s investigative journalism program Marketplace demonstrates the dangers of buying sketchy motorcycle helmets from online sellers.
For its investigation, Marketplace purchased a number of helmets from eBay, Amazon, and Wal-Mart third-party sellers. All the helmets purchased have DOT certification stickers on them, which is all that’s legally required of motorcycle helmets sold in both the U.S. and Canada. The Marketplace team then had an independent laboratory perform DOT impact tests on the helmets—and unsurprisingly, most failed. As the team points out later in the program, it’s very easy to simply purchase DOT stickers elsewhere online and slap them on just about anything you like.
Now, if you’re a seasoned rider who’s purchased more than your fair share of moto gear over the years, you’ll immediately recognize that none of the helmets purchased by the Marketplace team come from well-known helmet manufacturers. They’re all from off-brands, and the one with the Predator dreads is clearly better suited for costume or display purposes than as actual safety equipment.
However, if you’re a rider who’s just starting out, you may not necessarily know any better. You may understandably think that having any helmet is better than having no helmet. You may also be so excited to start riding that you’re ready to just plunk down your money on anything that looks good in order to get out on the road.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re a new rider, because there are so many choices out there. However, as the professional motorcycle instructor at the end of this video advises, your best bet when looking for a safe motorcycle helmet to buy is to purchase one made by a reputable manufacturer.
Another good piece of advice is to also purchase your helmet (made by a reputable OEM) from a reputable seller of motorcycle gear. While there are definitely legit powersports shops and sellers that offer their products on eBay, Amazon, and elsewhere, you need to take an extra bit of time to research the actual seller you’re buying from on those platforms. If they’re a legit seller, it probably won’t take you long to find that out—and you’re more likely to get a legitimate piece of safety gear.
For its part, Marketplace reached out to eBay, Amazon, and Wal-Mart about what its investigation found. All three platforms removed the listings for the individual products that Marketplace identified as counterfeit, and then issued statements to the effect that these things are offered by third-party sellers. They then went on to add that it’s the seller’s responsibility to ensure safety compliance.
While that type of finger-pointing is as unsurprising as it is unhelpful to riders, the best advice we have for you is to take a little time to do some research before any money exchanges hands. Your safety is worth it.