SAN ANTONIO - Consumer Reports is advising people not to buy three different bike helmets because of potential safety risks.
In Consumer Reports' latest round of bike helmet evaluations, three helmets failed CR's tests -- the Bontrager Ballista MIPs helmet, the Morpher Flat Folding Helmet and the Woom Kids Helmet.
The Bontrager Ballista MIPs helmet failed Consumer Reports' retention system strength test when the buckle broke causing the chin strap to release.
"This failure shows that the helmet could come off your head or move out of place if you get into an accident," said Peter Anzalone, of Consumer Reports.
The Morpher Flat Folding helmet and the Woom Kids Helmet both failed Consumer Reports' impact test, raising concerns the helmet may not adequately protect the head in the event of an accident.
"The impact test simulates what might happen if you get into an accident, fall off your bike and hit your head," Anzalone said.
Wearing a helmet is essential whenever you ride a bike. If you already own one of these helmets, Consumer Reports' advice is to replace it as soon as possible. However, Consumer Reports advises using the helmets if you do not yet have access to another helmet.
Consumer Reports is not aware of any incidents or injuries associated with any of these three helmets.
Consumer Reports has contacted all three bike helmet manufacturers.
Trek Bicycle, the maker of the Bontrager helmet, said it stands by the safety of the Ballista MIPS helmet and is not planning any corrective action.
Morpher said, that while the helmet may have failed Consumer Reports tests, it has been certified to pass all required U.S. safety standards at third-party labs and that the helmets are safe for consumers.
Woom Bikes halted U.S. and Canadian sales of its helmets soon after Consumer Reports contacted the company and is figuring out its next steps. Consumers can contact Woom Bikes USA at 1-844-572-4003 or email@example.com if you have questions.
If you need to buy a new helmet, Consumer Reports' top-tested helmets for adults are the Scott Arx Plus and Cannondale CAAD MIPS. The two helmets for children that got the highest scores are the Bell Sidetrack MIPS and the Garneau Nino.
Here the responses from the three companies to Consumer Reports:
Bontrager (Trek Bikes):
"Independent lab testing conducted after Consumer Reports notified Trek has been unable to replicate Consumer Reports' findings. The Bontrager Ballista MIPS has been on the market in the United States for over two years, with over 6,000 sold without a single consumer claim of buckle failure and was the No. 1-tested helmet by Virginia Tech University in their 2018 bicycle helmet ratings. All Bontrager helmets are rigorously tested at certified test facilities and pass all domestic and foreign federal safety requirements. As certified laboratories have been unable to replicate Consumer Reports' findings, we believe that they are not indicative of the performance or safety or the Ballista MIPS helmet. Regardless, we have reported Consumer Reports' findings to the CPSC and will work with them on anything further they require. Though we categorically disagree with their findings, we appreciate Consumer Reports reaching out to us."
In a phone call, Jeff Woolf, the CEO and founder of Morpher, called Consumer Reports' findings "hugely worrying for me as an inventor and manufacturer."
"Morpher helmets are independently tested to make sure they comply with CPSC and European standards for safety, according to Woolf. "Everything is done with safety in mind," he told Consumer Reports. "We want to exceed CPSC standards." Woolf said he worked closely with his factory to understand Consumer Reports' findings, but that Consumer Reports' test "is not that required by the health and safety standards set by the government." He also said, "I'm not doing this to get rich, I'm doing this to do something good to the world. I'm trying to help people be safe."
"I was both surprised and concerned about your most recent test findings concerning small size helmets that we have sold in the U.S. This was my first notice of potential noncompliance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard and I immediately investigated. In 2018, a CPSC-accredited test lab tested these helmets and informed us that they successfully passed all tests required by the CPSC to comply with the 16 CFR Part 1203 Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets.
"After receiving the Consumer Reports test reports, Woom Bikes USA immediately stopped sales of all bicycle helmets in the U.S. and Canada. And, I have contacted the CPSC and will be sending them a report after more testing has been performed to determine an appropriate corrective action."
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