Most of us are aware that when you purchase items online, you are sometimes gambling at what you are getting. I have never been the victim of buying an item and it being utterly off-base from the online description. But I’ve known plenty of friends who have had this happen to them. Or bike shop mechanics be asked to install a product onto a bike that was purchased online, and it’s made with cheap materials, or something is wrong with it, and they have to refuse to install it.
Consumer Reports did an in-depth report on bicycle helmets and found that many can be legally sold in the United States that do not meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC). They were able to purchase 13 helmets without a certified CPSC label from four online marketplaces and one them was from the massive online store, Amazon.com. This report is an unsettling find when you consider all the kids’ and adult helmets purchased on the cheap at places like Amazon.
No, I don’t agree with people who say, “Well, it’s their fault.” The CPSC labeling is basically an honor system. The time and resources to verify every single helmet (or many other items that need to meet safety standards) out there do not exist. Sure some items get stopped but, consider the millions of things being shipped into the U.S. every month.
A bike helmet is a significant part of protecting our most fragile and complex body organ, the brain. Of course, online marketplaces and buying online is not going away anytime soon. But for products that coincide with safety such as helmets (and any bike part) should be purchased in a bike shop where the employees bring in brands that they would wear or use. The folks who run bike shops are cyclists. If they have a helmet for sale in their shop, it is because they would wear it. They want you to be happy, safe and keep riding so you come back. Trust their judgment. They need your business, and we need their expertise.
Read the full Consumer Report here.
A topic for another day: Most auto repair shops only install the parts they purchase, should bike shops do this?