How to Check a Helmet Is Original: Try My 5 Simple Methods

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In today’s diverse shopping landscape, distinguishing between an original vs. a fake helmet isn't merely a choice; it's a pivotal moment that can determine whether you safely walk away from an accident or not, all while guaranteeing a comfortable riding experience. An original helmet is available for sale on the manufacturer's official website or from a reputable, authorized local/online vendor. It will come with proper packaging, fine imprinting of the company logo, a safety certification label attached to the EPS liner next to the date of manufacture sticker, a tag on the Double D-ring or micrometric chinstrap bearing a verifiable serial number, and a neatly sealed instruction manual, free from spelling errors.

You can further confirm its authenticity by verifying that its weight aligns with the specifications, inspecting the paintwork for impeccable quality, and checking for missing parts. A genuine, complete helmet should comprise a sturdy shell, an authentic EPS liner, properly-stitched removable comfort liner/padding/cheek pads, a dependable, non-plastic chinstrap and closure, intact base plates, and a well-finished base trim. For full-face helmets, be sure to check for a secure face shield/visor system, a meticulously sealed visor seal, and strategically positioned vents with securely fastened and functional vent covers. AGV, Arai, Shoei or any other major name lids also have quick-release systems.

When all these features are present and accounted for, they collectively reduce the risk of severe brain injury by up to 75% and the risk of death by over six times. As Daniel Tolomei wisely puts it in his informative eBook, 'A Beginner's Guide To Motorcycle Helmets:'

“Buying a safe helmet is pretty important. Actually, it’s more important than any of your other protective items. I shouldn’t have to tell you that the brain is precious. A helmet that’s highly rated and trusted will serve you well.”

Top 8 Safest Motorcycle Helmets Available Today

Scroll to the right to find out where to buy, discover the best prices, and see if you might be lucky enough to get a discount from the sellers.

Helmet ModelCategorySafety CertificationCheck & Shop Now
AGV K6 SLightest RoadDOT, SHARP, ECERevZilla | CycleGear | Amazon
Shoei RF-1400Quietest for Road UseDOT, SNELL, SHARP, ECERevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
Arai Corsair-XTop Pick for Track DaysDOT, ECE, SNELL, SHARP, FIMRevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
Scorpion EXO-R420Best Budget-FriendlyDOT, SNELL, ECERevZilla | CycleGear | Amazon
Schuberth C5Premium ModularDOT, ECERevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles
Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPSBest AdventureDOT, ECERevZilla | BTO Sports | Amazon
Icon Airflite PeacekeeperBest Urban CommuterDOT, ECE, SHARPRevZilla | MotoSport | J&P Cycles
Sedici Strada II ParlareBest Built-In BluetoothDOT, ECERevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles

All eight of these helmets carry a DOT FMVSS 218 certification label, signifying their eligibility for sale in both the United States and Canada. Among them, the AGV K6, alongside the Shoei RF-1400, Arai Corsair-X, Schuberth C5, and Scorpion EXO-R420, shines with the new ECE 22.06 approval for the European market. But the Corsair-X distinguishes itself further by achieving additional certifications, including FIM FRHPhe-01 racing homologation and both SNELL M2015/M2020D approvals. The RF-1400 and Corsair-X are both 4-star SHARP-rated, while the K6 stands out with a 5-star SHARP rating. AGV helmets are not SNELL-certified.

Moving on to the Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS, Sedici Strada II Parlare Bluetooth, and Icon Airflite Peacekeeper helmets, they hold an ECE 22.05 certification label. The Airflite, in particular, achieves a 3-star SHARP rating, offering a versatile performance reminiscent of the new multi-functional Shoei Neotec 3, coupled with the serene road quietness of the Shoei X-15.

Refining the Shoei logo on the new Shoei Neotec 3, the most advanced flip-up sport, tour, and city helmet today. While the application of solid colors is mostly automated, the intricate graphics are painstakingly hand-applied. Any minute imperfections are meticulously corrected with brushwork before the final clear coat is applied to each and every helmet. Yeah, it's a meticulous and detailed process!
Refining the Shoei logo on the new Shoei Neotec 3, the most advanced flip-up sport, tour, and city helmet today. While the application of solid colors is mostly automated, the intricate graphics are painstakingly hand-applied. Any minute imperfections are meticulously corrected with brushwork before the final clear coat is applied to each and every helmet. Yeah, it's a meticulous and detailed process!

Weighing 1,732 grams (3.82 pounds) in medium size, the Shoei Neotec 3 is 4 grams (0.01 pounds) lighter than its predecessor, the Neotec 2 (1736 grams/3.82 pounds), though it’s still heavier than the AGV Tour Modular at 1,703 grams (3.75 pounds) and the Schuberth C5 at 1,695 grams (3.74 pounds). The Neotec 3’s chin strap is now 4.5mm (0.18 inches) narrower, it’s compatible with the old SRL 2 communication systems, and includes a two-position vent, as opposed to the open or close position found on the Neotec 2. The vent, however, lacks a bug mesh.

Don't be surprised to find Neotec 3 knockoff, fake, or grey market helmets already on sale!

The AGV Pista GP R Carbon Valentino Rossi Helmet, one of the best helmets ever made

The motorcycle helmets I recommend provide a perfect balance of affordability and unwavering quality, ensuring the utmost value for your investment. These are items I've become well-acquainted with during my more than 50 years of motorcycling experience, where I've led and consulted for reputable companies in over 25 countries, in addition to being an avid rider. They are the very same helmets that have earned my trust and served me exceptionally well during countless adventures.

Understanding the Distinctions: Knockoff, Fake, and Grey Market Motorcycle Helmets

Counterfeit helmet lacking chin pads, susceptible to easy breakage upon minor impact.
Counterfeit helmet lacking chin pads, susceptible to easy breakage upon minor impact.

  • Knockoff Helmets: Knockoff helmets are designed to imitate the appearance and branding of well-known, reputable helmet manufacturers. These helmets often copy the design and logo of popular brands but may not meet the same safety standards or quality control as genuine helmets. Knockoff helmets can be illegal and unsafe for riders because they may not provide the necessary protection in the event of an accident.
  • Fake Helmets: Fake helmets are similar to knockoff helmets but are explicitly designed to deceive consumers into believing they are purchasing genuine, branded helmets. They often carry counterfeit labels, certifications, or branding to make them appear legitimate. Fake helmets are illegal and highly dangerous, as they may lack the necessary safety features and quality standards required to protect riders.
  • Grey Market Helmets: Grey market helmets are imported and sold through unofficial or unauthorized channels. These helmets may not have undergone the same quality control, testing, or certification processes as helmets sold through authorized dealers. While some gray market helmets may meet safety standards, others might not, making them a risky choice for riders. The term "gray market" indicates that these products exist in a legal or ethical gray area, as they are not necessarily illegal but may lack the same assurances as authorized products.

The three terms involve helmets that may not meet the required safety standards but differ in terms of their intent (imitation or deception) and their distribution channels (authorized or unauthorized). You should always choose a genuine, certified helmet from reputable sellers to ensure their safety on the road.

5 Simple Methods to Check a Helmet Is Original

On the left is the genuine AGV Pista GP R Carbon Rossi Soleluna, and on the right is its counterfeit counterpart. A quick glance reveals numerous distinctions, including one that might easily escape notice. The authentic helmet features a visor-locking mechanism upon closure, a feature noticeably absent in the fake version.
On the left is the genuine AGV Pista GP R Carbon Rossi Soleluna, and on the right is its counterfeit counterpart. A quick glance reveals numerous distinctions, including one that might easily escape notice. The authentic helmet features a visor-locking mechanism upon closure, a feature noticeably absent in the fake version.

In my extensive 50+ year journey through the world of motorcycling, I've had the privilege of owning over 100 motorcycle helmets, alongside my leadership and consulting roles for more than 25 helmet brands worldwide. It all began with my inaugural 1972 AGV X-3000, paying homage to the legendary Giacomo Agostini, a 14-time world champion, and it continues with my most recent addition, the cutting-edge 2023 AGV AX9 Carbon adventure touring helmet. And each time I embark on the quest for a new helmet, I consistently rely on these 5 straightforward methods to verify its authenticity:

1. Exercise Caution with "Premium" Helmets at Suspiciously Low Prices and Limited Sizing

The AGV X1 helmet, the very one worn by Niki Lauda during his harrowing crash at the Nürburgring German Grand Prix on August 1, 1976. In the late '80s and early '90s, I proudly displayed this original helmet from the crash in my living room as part of my helmet collection before it was sent to Tokyo, Japan for an exhibition where it mysteriously “disappeared.”
The AGV X1 helmet, the very one worn by Niki Lauda during his harrowing crash at the Nürburgring German Grand Prix on August 1, 1976. In the late '80s and early '90s, I proudly displayed this original helmet from the crash in my living room as part of my helmet collection before it was sent to Tokyo, Japan for an exhibition where it mysteriously “disappeared.”

Fast forward to today, and you'll come across knockoff versions of this historic helmet, albeit in a single size (large), listed on eBay for a staggering US $6,291.00. This phenomenon isn't unique; it extends to other expensive helmets, including the AGV Pista GP RR, Arai Corsair-X RC, and even the latest releases like the AGV K1, HJC RPHA 71, and Scorpion EXO 1400 Evo, among others. It's a common tactic for scammers to exploit the allure of something new or popular.

But let's be real here, does it make sense to stumble upon a $4,000 helmet selling for a mere $100? Sure, we all love a good deal, but as my mother would often say, sometimes a bargain is just too good to be true.

2. Validate the Source

Genuine AGV helmets beautifully displayed at the authorized AGV retailer, 786 Moto Group Co., in Bangkok, Thailand.
Genuine AGV helmets are beautifully displayed at the authorized AGV retailer, 786 Moto Group Co., in Bangkok, Thailand.

To check a helmet is original, simply visit the official websites of helmet manufacturers, authorized retail outlets, or trusted online marketplaces. Compare the product listings, focusing on every intricate detail, peruse customer reviews, and carefully inspect the color schemes or graphic designs. Some well-regarded options for online helmet purchases include RevZilla, MotoSport, CycleGear, J&P Cycles, and BTO Sports, where I've spent hundreds of dollars with satisfaction. I'm sure, I’m not alone!

But, when you're thinking about buying from Amazon, eBay, Wish, Alibaba, or Walmart sellers who aren't the main stores, be extra cautious. Major motorcycle gear brands usually refrain from selling their products directly on these platforms. As the classic Bell helmet company slogan from about half a century ago wisely advised, "If you've got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet!" Or better still, as I, Michael Parrotte, former Vice President of AGV Helmets for 25 years, often like to say:

"For a ten-dollar brain... well, you know the rest." Your safety on the road is absolutely priceless, after all."

3. Inspect Packaging

Minimalist packaging design of the Shoei RF-1400 helmet box, devoid of any distracting advertising slogans or excessive gimmicks. AGV helmets, on the other hand, mostly come in black boxes. Warning: If your helmet arrives in a bin bag or you spot a Shoei with Valentino Rossi special edition colors or an AGV with the Marquez design, it's likely fake!
Minimalist packaging design of the Shoei RF-1400 helmet box, devoid of any distracting advertising slogans or excessive gimmicks. AGV helmets, on the other hand, mostly come in black boxes. Warning: If your helmet arrives in a bin bag or you spot a Shoei with Valentino Rossi special edition colors or an AGV with the Marquez design, it's likely fake!

Inside the box, you'll find some essential goodies: a securely sealed Shoei Pinlock Evo DKS 301, tailored specifically for this helmet, along with a package of instruction documents that include the chin curtain and pinlock locks, complete with easy-to-follow instructions. And to keep your prized possession cozy, the helmet will be nestled in a drawstring bag proudly adorned with the Shoei label.

Now, helmet manufacturers may put their unique spin on packaging, but most follow a similar pattern. You can typically count on a protective plastic cover for the visor, bearing the correct helmet specs, not some generic mess, and the company's logo finely engraved on the front, right where you'd mount your GoPro. Inspect the paintwork for a fine finish.

Uneven painting and the absence of a base trim on an AGV Pista GP Misano '21 – clear indicators of a knockoff  helmet.
Uneven painting and the absence of a base trim on an AGV Pista GP Misano '21 – clear indicators of a knockoff helmet.

Above all, your senses are your best weapon. The moment you lay hands on a fake, you'll feel it, see it, and maybe even smell it, all of which leads us to my next point:

4. Examine Components and Features

Knockoff helmets may bear a resemblance to their genuine counterparts, but telltale signs become evident when you pay closer attention. Loose visors, flimsy shells that allow light to pass through when held up, plastic chin strap ratchets, vents that cannot be securely closed, vents that lead to nowhere, vent covers that detach easily, gaps in the EPS liner (and in most cases, it's made of rubber), and incorrect shell sizes. AGV Pista helmets don't even come in medium size; they are available in medium-small (MS) and medium-large (ML) sizes.

The Sedici Strada II Parlare Bluetooth helmet with a built-in Sena DWO-6 Bluetooth v4.1 system on the left, saving you the hassle of having to install the communication system yourself—it's pre-wired right out of the box.
The Sedici Strada II Parlare Bluetooth helmet with a built-in Sena DWO-6 Bluetooth v4.1 system on the left, saving you the hassle of having to install the communication system yourself—it's pre-wired right out of the box.

You see, every helmet brand takes pride in unique features, some specific to particular models. If you discover the Strada II Parlare's headset missing or improperly placed, it's a clear indicator of a fake.

The same applies to the Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS, which enhances head trauma protection with MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) technology—a yellow, low-friction layer situated between the EPS foam and the helmet liner. The absence of the MIPS layer speaks volumes.

Interior view of the Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS helmet, revealing the vibrant yellow MIPS layer. Observe the presence of size and serial number stickers.
Interior view of the Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS helmet, revealing the vibrant yellow MIPS layer. Observe the presence of size and serial number stickers.

The Scorpion EXO-R420 follows a similar pattern, featuring an advanced multi-layer EPS and weighing in at 3.74 lbs. Thus, any deviation from this weight specification serves as another clear indicator. Furthermore, in today's helmet landscape, nearly all helmets include an emergency release system integrated into the cheek pads.

5. Authenticate Safety Certification, Manufacturing Date, Serial Number, and Country Code Labels

The manufacturing date and safety certification stickers on the EPS Liner of the RuRoc motorcycle helmet.
The manufacturing date and safety certification stickers on the EPS Liner of the RuRoc motorcycle helmet.

Counterfeit helmets have become increasingly sophisticated, often featuring familiar DOT, SNELL, SHARP, FIM, and ECE certification logos on the back. You can easily find the stickers on sale on, say, Amazon. But they tend to overlook other crucial authenticity markers.

Just beneath the comfort liner or padding, you'll find the helmet's manufacturing date (day and year), which is essential for determining its expiration date. Right next to it, you'll spot a safety certification label indicating the current standard rating achieved by the helmet, accompanied by a unique, verifiable production serial number.

Motorcycle Helmet Standards and Their Ratings

Helmet Standard Previous Standard Rating Current Standard Rating (and Future)
DOT FMVSS-218 FMVSS-218
SNELL M2015 M2020/M2020D/M2020R
ECE ECE 22.05 ECE 22.06
FIM FRHPhe-01 FRHPhe-01 (FRHPhe-02 from 2026)
SHARP 1 to 5-Star Rating 1 to 5-Star Rating

In particular, ECE-certified helmets come with a tag on the chinstrap because both the ECE 22.05 and ECE 22.06 standards are quite specific about the labels and stickers that must be used, as well as the necessary cautionary information about solvents or stickers that should not be applied directly to the helmet shell.

The ECE 22.06 homologation mark is quite distinctive – it's encircled. That prominent 'E' country code followed by a number tells you which nation has tested and given the green light to the use of the motorcycle helmet.
The ECE 22.06 homologation mark is quite distinctive – it's encircled. That prominent 'E' country code followed by a number tells you which nation has tested and given the green light to the use of the motorcycle helmet.

For instance, if you spot 'E3,' it means Italy has done the testing and approval. Germany is represented by 'E1,' the Netherlands by 'E4,' France by 'E2,' the U.K. by 'E11,' and so on. The digits alongside the 'E' mark provide additional information, including the type of approval (e.g., '06'), the helmet's approval number, the type of protection offered by the helmet (e.g., '/J' for jet or open-face helmets, '/P' for protective chin bar for full-face helmets), a hyphen, and the manufacturing serial number.

Michael’s Summary and Conclusion

How to Check a Helmet Is Original: This article provides detailed ways to determine the authenticity of a helmet, ensuring it's not a counterfeit. Here are a few straightforward tests that can immediately help you distinguish between a real and fake helmet. The first and most obvious indicator is the price – remember the age-old adage, 'if something seems too good to be true, it probably is,' or 'you get what you pay for.'

Counterfeit helmets often reveal themselves through the face shield and the mechanism. These components are expensive and complex, and shortcuts are frequently taken to save money. Look out for inaccuracies in logos or subtle color discrepancies; these can be telling signs. I've come across numerous fake AGV helmets in Asia, particularly in Thailand. From a distance, they may appear fine, but upon closer inspection, you can spot the incorrect AGV logo.

Labels are also reliable clues; if they're missing or contain misspellings or low-quality graphics, it's a clear indicator that the helmet is not genuine. The source of your purchase matters, too. It's less likely to encounter a counterfeit helmet at a reputable motorcycle store or on well-known online marketplaces like Amazon compared to buying from a small online shop or a roadside vendor.

Counterfeiters tend to target famous brands and high-end models, so consider this when evaluating the helmet's price. Unless it's on sale from a highly reputable seller who also offers the same brand's other models at the normal retail price, you should exercise caution. Companies like Arai, Shoei, and AGV tightly control their distribution and don't sell to just anyone. The appearance and size of the shop or online store can provide valuable insights.

Another significant factor is weight; fake helmets usually weigh significantly more than their genuine counterparts. In all my years of experience in the helmet industry and as a motorcyclist, I've never found it difficult to differentiate between a genuine brand and a counterfeit one. The differences are too pronounced. I believe that the market for counterfeit helmets is primarily composed of either uninformed riders or those who can't afford the real thing but want a similar-looking copy. By adhering to the 'Buyer Beware' philosophy, you can avoid any issues.

As a last resort, consider taking photos and posting them on social media – you're likely to receive quick answers and insights.

AGVSPORT Knee and Body Armor

I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!

Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and non-profit organizations:

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Picture of About the Author:

About the Author:

Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America. In total, he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. He has also served as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985, he founded AGV Sports Group, Inc. with AGV Helmets in Valenza, Italy. For over 38 years now, the company has quietly delivered some of the best protective gear for motorcyclists in the world.

Click Here for Michael’s LinkedIn Profile

Click Here for the Complete AGV Helmet & AGVSPORT History

Click Here for All AGV Sports Group Social Media Information

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