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  #1  
Old 17 Feb 2009
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Helmets in the US of A

A quick question, I was just wondering, for those states of the US where a helmet is compulsory does it have to be a DoT approved helmet even if you're on a European registered bike? I know it's unlikely that some cop would be checking your helmet for a sticker, but it was just a thought.
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Old 17 Feb 2009
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We have a helmet law in Nevada and I have heard of people getting tickets for not wearing one and having non DOT helmets but the non DOT helmets were the little plastic shell helmets.
If it looks like a DOT helmet no one will ask.
In Reno we have "Street Vibrations" in the fall and because they spend millions of dollars they can do almost anything they want.
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Old 17 Feb 2009
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Yes it must be DOT approved to use in the USA. It will have a small sticker on it that says if it is. And DOT approved helmets are not legal in the EU. The testing standards are slightly different.

But if the helmet looks like a real road worthy helmet no police will stop you just to see the sticker. They may look if they have stopped you for something else and want to add to the list of charges against you. We have ridden with EU helmets in the USA and with US DOT approved helmets in the EU for thousands of miles and no one has noticed. The helmets are made by Nolan (US) and Schuberth (EU) and we have used them interchangeably.

There is a certain group of riders in the USA that protest the helmet law by wearing something with the characteristics of a Tupperware bowl lined with a 1 cm. of soft foam. This is what will upset the police.

If it looks like a real helmet and I like it, I would use it and not worry.
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Old 17 Feb 2009
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Mooching round a San Francisco BMW dealer showroom a couple of months ago I noticed there were no BMW helmets on display at all - only Shoei (I think it was).

I asked why and was told they were not sold in USA (or maybe it was just CA).

I further asked if that was a result of the Law or BMW policy. I got no clear answer (typical - BMW the world over!) so asked if I brought my UK registered bike to USA would I be OK if I came wearing my UK approved Flip Front BMW hat. The answer was yes, I would be OK from a Police point of view.

I since noticed BMW Motorrad USA Website has none either - only a fabric, floppy fishing hat!

Maybe BMW helmets are not good enough to pass the American standards.

Funny that - BMW snootily tell me in UK that they are the best in the world and sell no others at all!
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Old 17 Feb 2009
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As I remember the last year that BMW sold its helmets in the USA was 1991.
The rumor was that they got sued and decided that was not worth selling their helmets in the USA anymore.
If they were to submit them for a DOT inspection they would pass but they don't want the liability.
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Old 18 Feb 2009
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Thanks John.

The point remains, if, as BMW UK dealers tell me, their "helmets are the best in the World, thats why we sell no other brands" do they feel their product could incur liability in USA? Double standards or deceit towards customers?

Yet BMW sell their motorcycles and cars in USA which probably account for more injuries that a failed helmet.

It's their wriggling away from the reality of the real World that p*sses me off with them. Oh, and their smug arrogance. I could cite many examples but risk boring you all.

Simply, try to find another brand name on any product on display/sale in its own right in their UK showrooms. Absolutely impossible.
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Old 18 Feb 2009
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The USA and the EU have different testing standards. A helmet built for one will not pass the other. I suppose a helmet could be built to pass both but probably would be uncomfortably heavy. I read that the difference is in impact resistance. The USA uses a pointed object and the EU uses a blunt one to drop the helmet onto. A particular company may decide not to build two different helmets (that look the same on the outside) for two different testing standards. That is a business choice they have to live with.

I personally think that a helmet is more likely to meet a flat object (road, wall, guardrail, vehicle door) than a pointed one (the end of a fence post, pointed rock) but I don't make either set of rules.

I was knocked off a bike by a lady making a left turn from the right lane back in 1966. My helmet hit the pavement and then as I slid along the road it hit a power pole. I needed my helmet then. Since then I just make sure that if the bike is moving, and you're not pushing, that you have your helmet on. I'll have mine on.
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Old 19 Feb 2009
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Good, good

So it sounds like as long as you've got a decent helmet you should be Ok unless a cop wants to get ridiculously picky.

I had this image of arriving on the West Coast from Russia and having to go buy a new helmet, just for the US.
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Old 19 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony P View Post
Thanks John.

The point remains, if, as BMW UK dealers tell me, their "helmets are the best in the World, thats why we sell no other brands" do they feel their product could incur liability in USA?
Dear tony, the simple fact is that all companies face much greater liability in the US than in other countries, because of our laws and litigitious (sp?) society. At some point, it is not worth selling your product in the US if you face potentially ruinous product liability claims.

In the end, it doesn't really matter how good the BMW helmets are, because some lawyer would point out how they could have made them even better, thus saving poor johnny, if they had just done X or Y...
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Old 19 Feb 2009
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Yep - American lawyers have much to answer for in the state of the World today!*

Accepting what people say in various posts above, the odd thing here is BMW appear scared just one of their products, built to known accepted standards, can involve litigation and liability, presumably beyond their insurance levels. This product can only involve claims from one person (or his Estate) - the actual wearer/user of the helmet.

Apart from size, a helmet has fewer parts which can suffer a design or construction flaw or fault compared with a vehicle.

The ultimate consequences/claim from an individual (death or permanent vegetative state?) can be no different if he suffered the injury from an inefficiently designed or constructed helmet or vehicle part.

But BMW promote the selling of their cars and motorcycles in USA, which have far greater potential to bring about claims - not just from the user/driver but all its passengers, and every person and property in the street.

I've never heard of a third party injury/claim coming from a crash helmet hitting someone - but cars and bikes hit things, regularly!


*But I'll forgive you for a !
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Old 19 Feb 2009
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't BMW helmets made by someone else for them? Perhaps it's nothing to do with DOT approval and more to do with manufacturing/licence agreements?
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Old 19 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony P View Post
Maybe BMW helmets are not good enough to pass the American standards.
Funny that - BMW snootily tell me in UK that they are the best in the world and sell no others at all!
The answer to this goes back a few years.

Last edited by mollydog; 25 Mar 2009 at 08:04.
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Old 19 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexlebrit View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't BMW helmets made by someone else for them? Perhaps it's nothing to do with DOT approval and more to do with manufacturing/licence agreements?
Possibly.
But I think not. Some BMW helmets, possibly all, were/are made by Schuberth who are in Germany. But they are not straight 'own label' copies of Schuberth's own helmets so should not have any market restriction under thye manufacturing agreement.
But WTFDIK?
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Old 20 Feb 2009
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Originally Posted by Tony P View Post
Apart from size, a helmet has fewer parts which can suffer a design or construction flaw or fault compared with a vehicle.
I think Mollydog lays out the right answer above, but also I think that helmets are different for a couple of reasons:
1) if you've got a helmet lawsuit, someone is almost certainly dead, which ups the stakes; and
2) with vehicles, a manufacturer could always claim that driver error was involved (too fast, too drunk, too inexperienced, etc.) thus taking some of the blame away from the product. with a helmet, it is easier for lawyers to argue that johnny put the helmet on and thus should be protected from anything bad happening to his head (even if no helmet in the world could have protected him).
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