Buying a helmet from on-line USA - is it safe for my head

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Buying a helmet from on-line USA - is it safe for my head

Postby lavs » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:55 pm

Hi guys. I'm looking at purchasing a helmet from one of the many US online cycling stores (eg. total cyclist, team cyclist, nashbar, etc.). They are much cheaper than Australian prices, including shipping fee.
My main concern before I take the plunge is related to meeting Australian helmet standards - one of the helmets I'm keen on is the Giro Atmos, which has met approved Australian standards. So I assume if I buy this online I am buying the same Australian Giro Atmos product and therefore it is safe (or is this an incorrect assumption???).
I've also been eyeing off the Giro Ionos, a very new helmet which supersedes the Atmos but is not available in Australia and unlikely to be available in Australia (according to Pacific Leisure Distributors). So my questions are:
1. Is an identical helmet bought overseas still legally usable in Australia?
2. Is it more sensible to buy the Atmos rather than the Ionos because we know it meets Australian safety standards rather than the Ionos which has not?
Ie. if I have a nasty accident in Australia whilst wearing an Ionos will I still be insured?
Thankyou all!!!
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by BNA » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:00 pm

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Postby europa » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:00 pm

G'day lavs, welcome to the pack.

Your helmet from the USA will be the same helmet on sale here - we are not a big enough market to warrant special models, and the American standards are pretty good anyway.

However, that imported helmet will NOT have the Australian Standards sticker on it. That makes it illegal and probably does nasty things to your insurance. However, whether anyone is likely to pick up on the lack of the sticker is another question.

You could just try to avoid falling off :roll:

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Postby Wanta-bike » Tue Sep 11, 2007 11:14 pm

here's one solution:

take the sticker off a helmet u brought here with the 'AS/NZS 2063' printed on it and stick it on the Ionos! hehe :lol:

tho hav u tried on the Atmos? as its a pretty wicked helmet and i daresay that the difference will be quite minimal comparing the Ionos and the Atmos....

...tho having not looked at the Ionos, please correct me if the Ionos has like twice the amount of vents or like half the weight of the Atmos....
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Postby europa » Tue Sep 11, 2007 11:17 pm

Threre are possibly ways of getting the sticker affixed properly, but I don't know what they are and my memory of this sort of thing is probably a decade old now.

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Postby Mulger bill » Tue Sep 11, 2007 11:56 pm

G'Day Lavs, welcome :)

I'm not 100% sure, but I think US lids have a different width to the straps than AU versions, different standards prolly down to US litigiousness :?

Tread very carefully with this, or anything bad will be turned into your fault very quickly by a clever lawyer :roll:

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Postby toolonglegs » Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:57 am

Hello,if you race..then NO.You must have a AU/NZ sticker..these aren't the peel on and off stickers you can swap around,they are the ones that when you take them of they say void.If a race marshal checks your helmet then they wont allow you to race,people are known to make protests against people if they know their helmet is not legit.
Also I have had a Giro Atmos for 8 months,yeah great helmet but mine has a crack dwn the middle,don't know if I am getting warranty but at least I have a chance of it...you wont.
Apart from that I am sure they are identical,because of AU small market it is quite a big expense to bring a new helmet in as it has to go thru the testing.
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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:12 am

toolonglegs wrote:Also I have had a Giro Atmos for 8 months,yeah great helmet but mine has a crack dwn the middle,don't know if I am getting warranty but at least I have a chance of it...you wont.

Wow! I thought you only cracked bike frames. This is a revelation! :shock:
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Postby lavs » Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:11 am

Thanks for all your adivce guys. I'm not a race competitor, so having the special sticker for that reason isn't an issue for me.

I'm thinking I will buy the Atmos from the US as I'm 99% sure the helmet is the same as the Australian version. The discrepancy in price is too great to ignore (approx $150 difference including shipping costs).

I think the legal side of things is an issue, but as it has been mentioned, I doubt it would get picked up by the insurers/lawyers if the need arose.
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Postby mikesbytes » Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:11 am

I was thinking of picking up a Grio from that cheap shop in Paramatta, are they no good? Should I stick to Met?
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Postby toolonglegs » Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:15 am

I got mine from BA in Manly,it is the second one they have had in the last couple of weeks and they are been a problem on warranty...I think because they are a good custumer and so am I they will twist the reps arm...otherwise I will probably keep using it for a while....
I have a Met strad at the mo...has last 7 years,has been bashed into many a tree and still has no cracks :lol:
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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:33 am

mikesbytes wrote:I was thinking of picking up a Grio from that cheap shop in Paramatta, are they no good? Should I stick to Met?

I haven't seen any info suggesting Giro or Met being different as far as quality is concerned. They are probably all made in China in similar factories and have all passed Australian Standards testing. The only differentials with helmets these days seemed to just relate to their appearance, fit and the number of holes.
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Postby triode12 » Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:55 am

mikesbytes wrote:I was thinking of picking up a Grio from that cheap shop in Paramatta, are they no good? Should I stick to Met?


It depends on the fit (shape of your noggin). e.g. The Mets fit me better than do the Giros. YMMV.
Last edited by triode12 on Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MJF » Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:56 am

lavs wrote:I think the legal side of things is an issue, but as it has been mentioned, I doubt it would get picked up by the insurers/lawyers if the need arose.


What insurance would that be? AFAIK, it is not illegal to ride a bicycle with a helmet without a standards sticker on it - it is just illegal to sell one from a shop in Australia. If it came down to you suing someone after an accident and they claimed contributory negligence because the helmet you were wearing didn't have the sticker, you can still argue it was the same as the Australian helmet anyway...
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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 11:16 am

MJF wrote:What insurance would that be? AFAIK, it is not illegal to ride a bicycle with a helmet without a standards sticker on it - it is just illegal to sell one from a shop in Australia. If it came down to you suing someone after an accident and they claimed contributory negligence because the helmet you were wearing didn't have the sticker, you can still argue it was the same as the Australian helmet anyway...

Interesting issue. Does this mean that pro racers from O/Ss have to have helmets for each region they compete in? Hard to imagine. How about recreational riders from overseas? I can't imagine insurance companies would stick the blame of a head injury back to their helmet. At worst, it would only be partial responsibility for having a very very dodgy helmet. For any of the major brands in decent condition, insurance companies won't have a leg to stand on, irrespective of the country of purchase.
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Postby Birdman » Wed Sep 12, 2007 11:25 am

sogood wrote:Interesting issue. Does this mean that pro racers from O/Ss have to have helmets for each region they compete in?


TdF??? Obviously they would have sponsors for every item they use and wear. Do you think they have a different helmet for every tour or race in every country they visit???

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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 11:39 am

Birdman wrote:TdF??? Obviously they would have sponsors for every item they use and wear. Do you think they have a different helmet for every tour or race in every country they visit???

No, I was thinking of major races like the Tour Downunder and other races that attract international riders here in Australia. I doubt those O/S riders would get a special helmet with AS sticker just so that they can conform to Cycling Australia's rule. Bear in mind, having a sponsor does not mean you'll get an unlimited amount of hardware.
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Postby LuckyPierre » Wed Sep 12, 2007 11:41 am

MJF wrote: ... AFAIK, it is not illegal to ride a bicycle with a helmet without a standards sticker on it - it is just illegal to sell one from a shop in Australia ...

Sorry Michael, but in the ACT (as in all (most?) other states) the wearing of an Australian Standards approved bicycle helmet is compulsory, ie. a legal requirement.
If a helmet does not have a sticker in it (AS2036-1996) it isn't an approved one - it doesn't matter if it used to have one or not.
I'm not sure what the regulations regarding their sale are, but the wearing of an approved helment is a personal responsibility. It makes sense that it would be illegal to sell 'non-approved' helmets, but it is most likely that it is illegal to represent a non-approved as an approved one - ie. the misrepresentation is illegal, not the sale.
And, don't worry, an insurer will use any legal position it can to legitimately limit their liability.
edited to add...
Things happened while I was posting.
The issue does come up in events like the TdU - there's some official stuff about it somewhere. It's my understanding that it was treated as a significant issue at last year's TdU.
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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:03 pm

Is Australia and Cycling Australia's position on this AS requirement unique internationally? What's US and EU's position on this?
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Postby europa » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:18 pm

The USA doesn't have compulsory helmet wearing.
Some countries in Europe do, others don't as far as I understand it, though that may have changed with the new common Europe (or whatever they call it).

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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:31 pm

europa wrote:The USA doesn't have compulsory helmet wearing.
Some countries in Europe do, others don't as far as I understand it, though that may have changed with the new common Europe (or whatever they call it).

For racing they do. But I was more specifically interested in the safety standards that regulate these equipments.

Seriously though, there needs to be some kind of harmonization program wrt these safety standards. I find it hard to believe those Euro and US standards are much lower than what we have here. And it's just spin doctoring to say local standards are required to protect our heads better. As far as I see it, local standard is more geared to protect national sovereignty and jobs rather than any real safety/engineering issues. Countries should just get together and establish an ISO standard and be done with it.
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Postby LuckyPierre » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:46 pm

sogood wrote: ... Does this mean that pro racers from O/Ss have to have helmets for each region they compete in? Hard to imagine ...

Not 'each region' necessarily, but possibly each region / country where legislation required specific standards to be met.
sogood wrote: ... I can't imagine insurance companies would stick the blame of a head injury back to their helmet. ...

Sadly, I think that they would. :cry:
sogood wrote: ... For any of the major brands in decent condition, insurance companies won't have a leg to stand on, irrespective of the country of purchase ...

Sadly, I think that they would. :( :cry:

Just for interest, the Australian Burea of Transport Safety has published the results of testing it did to compare the effectiveness of helmets that meet both AS 2036 and Snell B95 standards.
Last edited by LuckyPierre on Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby LuckyPierre » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:49 pm

sogood wrote: ... local standard is more geared to protect national sovereignty and jobs rather than any real safety/engineering issues ...

The ATSB report indicates that there are real reasons.
sogood wrote: ... Countries should just get together and establish an ISO standard and be done with it ...

I absolutely agree!
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Postby sogood » Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:02 pm

Thanks LuckyPierre for the comments and references. Ummm... If one is cynical, then the AS spec was deliberately written to raise the bar a bit more to maintain AS's relevance. Alternatively, maybe cyclists around the world should all buy their helmets from Australian mail-order stores. I can see a marketing angle there. :wink:
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Postby lavs » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:04 pm

So what should I do?

Option 1. Order the Atmos from a US on line store for $200 AUD including shipping.
Option 2. Purchase the Atmos from an Australian store for $350.

The extra $150 gets me a red sticker, but it may be legally problematic if I'm in an accident.

If anyone knows where in Australia I could get the helmet for a more reasonable price than $350 I would like to know. But I feel like a chump paying $150 extra for the same product.
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Postby MJF » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:04 pm

After a bit of digging - it is an offense in the ACT not to wear an approved bicycle helmet, but the ACT references the NSW definition of Australian Road Rules. The definition of 'approved helmet' under those is provided in the dictionary as being a 'protective helmet under another law in this jurisdiction'. There is another law that says that the RTA may approve a protective helmet for bicycle riders... and on the NSW RTA site it says "Approved helmets are marked with an Australian Standard Approved Notification (either red or black)."

So there you go - you can get fined $51 in the ACT for wearing a helmet without an AS sticker. But nothing to say that you can't pull the sticker off another helmet :twisted:
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