Cheap Protection: Is A $36 Motorcycle Helmet Worth It?

Stumbled upon Wish, an online retailer that ships products directly from China to your doorstep. The product selection is mind numbing and the prices are amazingly low (even after paying freight). There are motorcycle jerseys for $14. Anti-theft brake locks for $16. A motorcycle headlight for $41. You can even open your own tattoo business for $34 with the tattoo starter kit. A $36 open-face helmet? I had to try one. What did I have to lose? Well, in this case, $36.

The helmet is described as (take a deep breath) “Captain America Motorcycle Harley Helmet Retro Helmet Classic Helmet Men Electric Safety Helmet Retro Helmet.” It is priced at $40 but if I ordered quickly, they’d knock $4 off. A promo code gives another $3.60 off. Tack on a $12 shipping fee and the transaction set me back $44.40. The helmet arrived 9 working days later and the helmet survived its long trans-pacific journey perfectly.

The helmet comes with a visor and helmet bag. The shell finish is first rate with the graphics clear and bright. The liner looks great. So far, so good. The helmet is light. Too light. It feels more like a bicycle helmet than a motorcycle helmet. Tipping the scales at 1 pound, 11.5 ounces (with visor and tape included), it just doesn’t instill the sense of protective confidence.

Nothing wrong with the liner’s design, shape or fit but the seam (red arrows) might as well be made out of sandpaper.

The helmet’s liner shape and padding conforms well to my skull. Removing the helmet reveals the liner’s limitation. The liner’s seam is coarse and seriously scrapes the forehead. Enough to cause discomfort. The visor snaps on fine, but above 25 miles per hour, it unsnapped. Blue tape remedied the issue and gave the helmet more of a “retro” look.

The retention strap is the thinnest I’ve ever encountered being used on a motorcycle helmet. Or for that matter, on a bicycle helmet. It is the thickness of an ornamental belt on a cheap pair of hiking shorts.

That’s right where this helmet belongs when riding your motorcycle; under your arm, not on your head.

The helmet’s owners manual and interior label is branded as a Voss Helmet. But the model number (888 CF) didn’t jibe with the model listed on Voss’ website. Contacting Voss cleared things up.

Voss explains the helmet I received is, “not a genuine Voss product. We have been working for some time to get this vendor to stop using this logo, however, it is an overseas vendor so we have had a difficult time of being able to do so.”

This also means if you want to return the helmet because of the uncomfortable liner or self-ejecting visor, it will be going back to China, not Voss U.S.A. (because it is not a Voss helmet).

The helmet does not have a Department Of Transportation (DOT) sticker. That means it is not tested or certified to conform with the DOT standard (or any standard for that matter). In short, the helmet is not legal for use on public highways in states that require a DOT helmet to be worn. The wearer has no guarantee of the helmet’s protective quality.

My Not-A-Voss Helmet is not going to be worn except for costume parties. My head is worth more than $36 (although my wife will argue that). An e-bike rider might find this a better protection option than a bicycle helmet, but I can’t recommend it even for that due to the uncomfortable liner seam.

The bottom line is, if you have a $36 head, wear a $36 helmet. I’ll invest three or four times that amount and purchase a product from a company that stands behind their product (like the real Voss).

The Wish store has a wide range of products. I’ll bet there are some great values to be had, but when it comes to head protection, you don’t want to gamble on an unknown product.

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