When you or your child is riding a bike, it’s crucial to wear a helmet. Riding without one risks a serious head injury. Consumer Reports’ product safety experts say you should replace the helmets listed below immediately if you have one. However, it’s better to ride with a poorly performing helmet than to ride with no helmet.
Two bike helmets for adults and one intended for kids failed Consumer Reports’ safety testing recently. The nonprofit rating service says it is not aware of any injuries related to the problems they found. And, the three manufacturers largely dispute CR’s rating of “Don’t Buy; Safety Risk.”
These three helmets failed CR’s safety tests:
Bontrager Ballista MIPS by Trek Bicycle: Retention system failed during the test
Morpher Flat Folding Helmet: Failed side-impact absorption test
Woom Kids Helmet: Failed rear-impact absorption test
Bontrager Ballista MIPS
A helmet’s retention system is made up of the straps and buckles that keep the helmet on your head. CR tested the retention systems by attaching a weight to tug at it. When this was done on the Bontrager Ballista MIPS, the chinstrap buckle broke and fully released, meaning the helmet would not have remained on the rider’s head. A second sample of the same helmet also failed.
Trek Bicycle, the manufacturer, told CR it could not reproduce the problem in its own tests and that it “categorically disagrees” with CR’s rating. It points out that it has sold over 6,000 units without a single report of a broken buckle. It also says that its helmets have passed all required domestic and foreign compliance tests.
Morpher Flat Folding Helmet
CR’s tests include a determination of how well helmets absorb the force of impact from the front, rear, side and crown. The nonprofit uses a uniaxial monorail impact machine in the test, which basically involves strapping the helmet onto a head form with sensors and then dropping it from approximately two meters in the air onto a steel anvil. That causes the helmet to meet the anvil at nearly 14 mph. The head form’s sensors measure how much force the head would receive.
This helmet failed the side-impact absorption test, meaning that falling and hitting your head on the side could cause serious injuries.
The founder and CEO of Morpher said CR’s test results were “hugely worrying for me as an inventor and manufacturer.”
He added that Morpher helmets are independently tested to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s and European safety standards, but those standards do not require a side-impact absorption test like the one CR performed.
CR noted that the fact that Morpher’s helmet was designed to fold away could allow for easier carrying, incentivizing helmet use. It would be excellent to have such a helmet that performed better on safety tests.
Woom Kids Helmet
This helmet was put through the same impact-absorption test as the Morpher Flat Folding Helmet, but it failed the rear-impact test. Such a failure could mean that a child would not be protected when falling and hitting the back of their head.
The CEO of Woom Bikes USA immediately investigated when it received CR’s findings and stopped all sales of its bicycle helmets in the U.S. and Canada.
He noted that the helmet passed a CPSC-accredited test in 2018, but promised more testing and appropriate corrective action.
If you own one of these helmets, don’t take the risk. Stop using them and replace them immediately. If you have questions, contact the manufacturer.